Thursday 30 June 2011

Edinburgh Film Festival 2011 Round-Up

The Edinburgh International Film Festival ran from June 15-26 this year, and I was there watching films and doing interviews for The List's online coverage. Here's links to the various bits I wrote:

Perfect Sense (pictured) - review/interview feature

Project Nim - director James Marsh interview

Troll Hunter - writer/director André Øvredal interview

Weekender - stars Henry Lloyd-Hughes and Jack O'Connell interview

How Should EIFF Move Forward? - overview

The List's EIFF Awards

I was also part of a discussion about this year's Film Festival on last week's Radio Scotland Movie Cafe, and you can listen to it here until Sunday 3rd July.

Monday 20 June 2011

Bridesmaids review (The List, Issue 681)

Kristen Wiig (Adventureland, Whip It!) comes close to grasping the comedy crown from her Saturday Night Live colleague Tina Fey with this hilarious reinvigoration of the chick flick. As co-writer and star, Wiig disposes of traditional schmaltzy predictability, replacing it with the kind of frank raunchiness that’s led to success for blokey comedies like The Hangover and I Love You, Man. With the added oversight of gold-plated comedy producer Judd Apatow, Wiig clearly has her sights set on similar box office glory.

Wiig plays Annie, a 30-something singleton who has settled for less than her ideal, working as a shop assistant since her self-run cake shop went bankrupt, and occasionally falling into bed with commitment-phobic sleaze-bag Ted (Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, stealing every scene he’s in). When her newly-engaged best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks her to be chief bridesmaid Annie is delighted, until she meets Helen (Rose Byrne), Lillian’s new best friend; a beautiful, rich bitch who seems intent on driving a stake between Annie and Lillian.

Bridesmaids has all the hallmarks that the association with Apatow suggests: the main characters act in a refreshingly realistic and believable manner, the cast list overflows with comedy talent – Brit Chris O’Dowd is a stand-out – and the jokes are very funny, unapologetically resisting the boundaries of taste and decency (you won’t quickly forget the dress-fitting scene). The only flaw is that the film is let down by weak storytelling; the script fails to connect Annie’s personal journey with the overarching wedding story and, more problematically, director Paul Feig allows scenes that should be moving the story forward to outstay their welcome for the sake of dragging out a joke. Like a drunk wedding guest, Bridesmaids is very funny, but someone should really have kept it under control.

General release from Weds 22nd Jun. This review first published in The List magazine.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Life In A Day review (The List, Issue 681)

This film is the result of a massive YouTube project, directed by Kevin Macdonald and produced by Ridley Scott, that asked people around the world to make a film of their life on a specific day, 24 July 2010. From the 80,000 videos submitted (a mind-numbing 4,500 hours of footage), Macdonald and his army of editors have meticulously crafted this unique and entertaining hour and a half glimpse at one day as lived around the world.

A lot of the material flashes by in quickly-cut montages, throwing up some powerful stand-alone images - a cow being slaughtered is particularly shocking, as is footage of people tragically crushed at Germany’s Love Parade. Macdonald’s over-reliance on music to create mood and connect clips together occasionally feels manipulative; much more effective are the moments that he allows one individual’s story to develop and speak for itself, from a Peruvian shoe-shine boy, to an American cancer-sufferer, to a charismatic round-the-world cyclist. Interestingly, the perspectives offered on humanity are overwhelmingly positive, indeed joyful; audiences will find themselves laughing often out of a sense of recognition and connection with these disparate lives.

Life In A Day is in selected cinemas from Fri 17 Jun. This review first published in The List magazine.