Saturday, June 28, 2008

Almost the end

It's the last day of the festival proper - tomorrow is "best of the fest" and the award ceremony, but I will be heading south by then. I've got three films to see today, but I finally saw my "wow" film two nights ago - "Man on Wire".

"Man on Wire" is the story of Philippe Petit and his high wire walk between the two towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974. Currently leading the vote for the Standard Life Audience Award and deservedly so, it's a stunning film. It lasts 2 hours, but the film is so absorbing that the time just flies by. It uses archive footage and home films made by Petit and his friends and collaborators in the run up to the attempt, combined with interviews with those people now. Director James Marsh was joined on stage afterwards by Philippe Petit himself, to enthusiastic applause led by Sean Connery, who happened to be sitting directly behind me, (BTW is it a bit pervy and wrong to think a man aproaching his 78th birthday has got the sexiest voice in the world?) Definitely the best film I've seen all festival, and indeed, for some time.

Lots of EIFF news here, including a podcast with Brian Cox (another man with a rather fine voice) talking about his new film "Red", which on the basis of the clip I've seen, is another tour de force performance from him.

Last batch of reviews and photos tomorrow, all being well.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Still in Edinburgh

But I've had a couple of days off the film festival, because A was here, and instead of films, we did art, food and shopping!

The last film I saw before A arrived on Monday was "Warsaw Dark" directed by Christopher Doyle, fabulous cinematographer but unfortunately not having that same glorious vision as a director. The film was a mess visually and story-wise, leaving me clueless as to what was going on most of the time.

We saw a fabulous exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art - "Foto: Modernity in Central Europe 1919-1945" - very absorbing, well worth visiting and spending a good chunk of time there.

And just to do a quick EIFF catch up, at last I can post photos:

Linus Roache at the premiere of "Before The Rain"

The jury, headed by Danny Huston and also including producer Sigurjon Sighvatsson, actor Joely Richardson, director Iain Softley and the author Scarlett Thomas.

Back with more reviews tomorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More Edinburgh

Greetings from chilly, damp Scotland, and a quick update of films and stuff.

I've been to a couple of good panels, one on the relationship between writers and producers, with Jeremy Brock and Buncan Kenworthy giving some very good advice and insights, and one with Warp X talking about their model of film-making and distribution. Also been to a couple of staged readings of screenplays at the Traverse Theatre, which have been really enjoyable; they're an odd thing, though - not a play, because the actors are seated and reading a screenplay complete with directions, but not a film because it's happening on stage. They give quite a good idea of how the film might shape up, and are a useful exercise for the writer, though.

Saw two films on Saturday - "Married Life", starring Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper and Patricia Clarkson, and "The Wackness" starring Ben Kingsley. Sue really liked "The Wackness" but I was bored rigid and thought it was dull and overlong. I quite liked "Married Life" but it has a very old-fashioned feel to it, and not just because it was set int he 1950s. The cars and costumes were lovely, though.

The highlight of the festival so far was seeing Brian Cox "In person" yesterday, being interviewed about his life and career by Hannah McGill, and showing clips from some of his films. It was a really interesting talk, and he's a very entertaining speaker.

Last night's film was "Paris", starring Juliette Binoche, a film about intertwining lives in Paris and my favourite film so far. The stories were really engaging, the people felt real, and the city itself becomes a character in its own right. The director (will come back later when I have my catalogue with me to add details) said in the Q+A afterwards that he was inspired by Robert Altman and films like "Nashville" and "Short Cuts".

I'm still waiting for my "oh wow" film though - this year's selection is nowhere near as good as the previous two years. But I'm having a couple of days off the festival from tonight because A is coming up - hoorah!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Came up to Edinburgh on Thursday, lovely sunny day, tickets for films in my sticky paw, cute little flat - everything seemed lovely. By Friday, not so lovely, which is why I haven't blogged yet because I simply haven't been in the mood.

Thursday's films were both good - Terence Davies' "Of Time and The City", a beautiful lyrical poem to Liverpool, combining masses of archive footage with contemporary digital footage and a narrative voice over by Terence Davies, it told the story of the city from a very personal point of view. Then, later, "Before The Rains", a Merchant Ivory style epic romance starring Rahul Bose and Linus Roache (of whom I got a nice photo but I left my connecting cable at home so it'll have to wait, I'm afraid), directed by Santosh Sivan. Lush cinematography and an old-fashioned morality tale combined to make a beguiling couple of hours.

Then I discovered the drawbacks of having a flat in Grassmarket. Most of the drinking population of Edinburgh were underneath my window shouting until 3:30am and beyond. Then the roadworks began at 7:30. Oh joy. So, I was not a happy person to then find out that my type of badge (and my type only) means I don't have access to the stand-by list. Every other type of badge can get free tickets to films. Not mine. Complaints have been made, apparently, and not only by me - I'm due to see someone to "discuss" it later.

Still, settling down in a darkened room makes all other worries go away for a while at least, so I went to see "Somers Town", Shane Meadows' latest film, a sweet and gentle story about Polish immigrants and a runaway from Nottingham. It's very funny, and nicely optimistic. Followed that with a bit of networking at the Scottish Screen party at the delegates centre, then legged it back out to Cineworld for "The Kreutzer Sonata", directed by Bernard Rose and starring Danny Huston (sadly, I failed to get a photo). It was darker, quite violent and sexual than I'd expected - it was a good film, but there was a very rough and ready appearance to the film which I didn't think was supposed to happen with digital. Anyway, Sean Connery was in the audience, and he enjoyed it - or at least, he said he did.

This morning, I went to a UK Film Council short film-maker's networking breakfast which was very good - some nice food, some good people to talk to, did a bit of promotion for Glimmer and Hull Film. Hoping to get into a script-in-hand reading later, and I've got tickets for two films tonight, but right now I'm off to find out why I can't get internet access in the flat.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A little bit of yes

Heard yesterday that one of the one-minute plays I submitted for Gone In 60 Seconds has been accepted, and will be performed in Leeds next week - June 12th, 7:30pm at Stage One, Leeds Uni to be precise. A "yes" for a little thing is still a yes, and I'm really pleased (and also kind of relieved) to get something accepted.

A one minute play is an odd thing - it seems easy enough, doesn't it, to write something that's only a minute long, a page of text? But in one page you have to get beginning, middle and end, and tell some kind of story, and give actors enough to do to make their characters come alive. It's actually a fairly tricky task. Small, but tricky. I think there was enough space in the script for the actors to have some fun with how they play it. Anyway, I'll find out soon enough as I am planning to head to Leeds to see my tiny play - anyone fancy meeting up for a night out?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I'm after your dosh

I'm doing Race for Life next month with my film pal B; please sponsor me! Click on the fancy little button in my sidebar, and bingo, it's really really easy to donate money. The wonders of technology, eh? I'm not sure how much racing we'll be doing, given that "training" hasn't exactly taken place so far (on my part, at least); but we'll attempt to trot round York race course and try not to be last. And if loads of people sponsor me, and I get past my target by race day, I might even allow my photo to be taken and post it here.

There. What more incentive do you need?