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Edinburgh International Film Festival 2019...

...by David Anderson Cutler

EIFF 2019

It's that time of the year again...come rain or shine, when we all head off to the glorious capital city of Edinburgh.

Must admit, the LGBT content [this year] is - for the want of a better word - sparse. Last year's festival presented 20 LGBT films...with a few additional surprises. This year, a mere 6 - not including all the retrospective films!

Still...there are always the surprises, we've just got to find them...hiding behind all that subtext and/or homoerotica! And, let's face it, practically every film made [nowadays] has - at least - one LGBT character...who ticks the [now obligatory] diversity box!


Day 1...

Didn't get to see Boyz in the Wood...but, here are the Boyz...

BoyzintheWood


Day 2...

Aniara @EIFF2019

Aniara
by Pella Kågerman & Hugo Lilja

Earth is buggered...let's all bugger off to Mars!

Here's a film with - quite possibly - the longest timeline in cinematic history...it literally spans 1000s of years. Aniara is a dark, pessimistic tale about humanity...the hopes and ambitions and the crushing reality when it all doesn't go to plan...all explored within the confines of a rather large, out-of-control spaceship!

It takes a brave filmmaker to take on the might of Harry Martinson's epic poem...purists will probably pick fault with every scene. But, hey...not everyone is a purist! This is a version, an interpretation of the text...it makes you think, it makes you sad, it makes you ask yourself questions...what would you do if you found yourself infinitely hurtling through infinity? That's not a question you blurt out at a dinner party!

The directors have worked magic with their budget...the atmosphere is palpable, the claustrophobia is tangible, the hopelessness is indisputable. It's not without a few faults...but, considering the budget and the richness of the source material...it's a damn decent effort.

So-Pretty@EIFF2019

So Pretty
By Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli

Made by a niche demographic...for a niche demographic. Most definitely...not one for the hoi-polloi!

In these PC times, when the snowflakes are frantically searching for their own identities...be it fluid, non-binary, trans or cis...ad nauseum. It comes as an ironic surprise...So Pretty is a film that hasn't a clue what it is...it calls itself a drama, although it is [almost] devoid of a story...and, for the most part, it seems to be completely improvised. The aesthetic is part cinéma vérité, totally guerilla, too Dogme-95-ish for comfort...and, topped off with an obvious [and sycophantic] Warholian nod. In other words...this is low budget, home-made, artistically challenged fayre.

It veers from the [wholly] pseudo-intellectual to the mundane to the ooh-you-wouldn't-want-your-mother-to-watch-this...the [bewildering] ass-whipping scene will bring tears to your eyes! It screams: Hey, we're crazy queer kids, we do crazy things! This 'Queer Thang'...well, it's all rather reminscent of the good ole Punk days...alas, without the humour, the style, the angst or the music! [C'mon Punk was funny!] So, just to be controversial...this kind of 'Queer' is merely the post-post-modern Punk for today...a poor photocopy of the original. Yip...subcultures [do] come and [do] go, leaving in their wake films like these. Perhaps, in years to come So Petty will be afforded the same kind of attention [and praise] Andy Warhol & Paul Morrissey continue to receive. For they did - indeed - definitively defined their subculture. Sadly, So Pretty is without definition.

The-Grizzlies@EIFF2019

The Grizzlies
By Miranda de Pencier

Here's a film that bellows: Canada...make amends!

A straightforward narrative...without any bells or whistles...that really does kick the Canadian government in the proverbials! Tradition and modernity will always be at loggerheads...but, when the suicide rate soars among the young...something has got to be done. Heads have got to be bashed and solutions threshed out. This is an ongoing tragedy...but, what makes it more tragic is...it is all completely avoidable.

The Grizzlies is both heart-breaking and uplifting...the message is clear and uncomplicated. Invest and keep on investing until this shocking suicide statistic has been reduced down to 'normal' parameters...and then, keep on investing...in education, sport, art, tradition...and, people.

A fine film...with a young, inexperienced cast who all step up to the plate and more. Hopefully, this film will get the audience it deserves...not only does it show the importance of education...but, it educates the audience. Now...that's something more films should do!


Day 3...

Love-Type-D@EIFF2019

Love Type D
By Sasha Collington

The question is: Would you take and act on [dating] advice dished out by an 11-year-old? Well, if you have been dumped as many times as this character has...desperation makes people do incredible things!

However, the implausibility of the whole scenario and the lightness of tone makes this an underwhelming rom-com...with little in the way of genuine 'rom' and pushing too hard for the 'com'. Such a shame, the two little boys do deliver a rather nifty little comedy act. But, it's too cutesy...obviously [and most bizarrely] intended for the family market...can't quite see the families packing into the cinema to see this! Perhaps, adolescent girls...desperate to clich their first boyfriends...all they need is an elephant-strength love potion!

It's all just a little too immature!

The-Art-of-Self-Defense@EIF2019

The Art of Self-Defense
By Riley Stearns

Let's face it, Jesse Eisenberg is a bit of a Marmite actor...you either love or loathe. Well, my dears, he uses that dichotomy to his utmost advantage in this timely tale of toxic masculinity.

Riley Stearns takes his story - inch-by-inch - into the darkness...what makes it so gripping is the tongue-in-cheek [almost camp] posturing of the alpha-males, Alessandro Nivola's Sensei is a howling homage to narcissism. Everybody loves an underdog...but, when that underdog transforms, through self-empowerment...most will applaud and cheer...until it goes too far. When the self-empowered become the self-righteous...oh dear!

The Art of Self-Defense takes it to the absolute limit...in the beginning, you will love [or loathe] Mr Eisenberg...in the end, you shoud loathe his character...although, some will - undoubtedly - love him. It all depends on your own moral compass...!

This is a film that has everything...with one added bonus...intelligence. It's frightening!

The-Dead-Dont-Die@EIFF2019

The Dead Don't Die
By Jim Jarmusch

Zombies have been done to death...well, Mr Jarmusch knocks his zombies out of the park and beyond!

When a film features a lusty Scottish mortician who just happens to be a Samurai warrior and takes the form of Tilda Swinton...c'mon, it's a no-brainer...this has got to be seen to believed. She - quite literally - steals every scene...one, in particular, involving two dead bodies, a Sumurai sword and funky make-up. One of the most outrageous and satisfying belly-laughs in the history of cinema!

Bill Murray does nonchalant Bill Murray to [the expected] perfection...with Adam Driver, bouncing all the way, as his sidekick...showing the power of understated comedy.

The Dead Don't Die goes off-piste so often...it really is - at times - a case of WTF! Go with it, this is Jim Jarmush doing his thing with done-to-death zombies...it's a treat and a trial and it will give you [and leave you with] that - utterly joyous - belly-laugh!


Day 4...

Yesterday@EIFF2019

Danny-Boyle@Eiff2019Yesterday
By Danny Boyle

Not what you would expect from Mr Boyle!

It's not the greatest film ever made...in truth, it's a bit daft...but, if it's the feel-good factor that you're after...well, they don't come much better than this!

The Beatles have been wiped from the world's collective memory [hysterically, so has Oasis...and, bizarrely Coca-Cola, think about it]...all, apart for one [lucky and luckless] busker...who just happens to know practically every song the Fab4 produced. Vicarious fame and fortune dangle before him like a lush donkey's carrot!

Whether you are a 'Beatles' fan or not...the biggest surprise in Yesterday is how fresh these songs come across..and that's all thanks to a beautifully natural performance by Himesh Patel, not an easy transition from being a [long-time] soap star to the big screen. He does it with aplomb...and, most importantly, he is absolutely, cheek-tweakingly adorable.

However, Ed Sheeran is not a natural actor [hey, it's not his gig]...but, credit where credit's due, he gives it a go and embraces the self-mockery...that's nothing but admirable. 'Dude' instead of 'Jude'...just hysterical!

So...suspend disbelief and enjoy. This is solid entertainment.

Astronaut@EIFF2019

Astronaut
By Shelagh McLeod

Cosmic sentimentality...a sweet and safe little film without any artistic risks whatsoever. Just a plain old-fashioned story...reminiscent of Cocoon [sans les extraterrestres]...about regrets, missed opportunities...and, legacy.

Mr Dreyfuss delivers a stoic performance...aided and abetted by a script that maintains the mantra: Never give up...wishing, hoping, living.There is, however, a smidgen of respite from the heart-tugging...in the form an elderly gay gentleman who has not lost his eye-for-the-men and vocalises his pent-up lust with neither shame nor reticence.

Of course it's sentimental, how could it not be!?! Considering Mr Dreyfuss' cinematic girth...Jaws, Close Encounters...and, his Oscar-winning, The Goodbye Girl...Astronaut is a modest film, it will certainly warm the cockles of many hearts, both young & old...and, for those of a certain age, it's poignancy will resonate in so many ways.

A solid, lovely wee film...just a little bit on the safe side.

The-Furies@EIFF2019

The Furies
By Tony D'Aquino

Eeew...if it's blood, guts and gore that you're after...you've come to the right place!

This is vicious...sometimes, you really have to cover your eyes...as these kidnapped young women are hunted [and killed] by 'extravagantly' masked men...in the wilderness that is the Australian outback. It's unrelenting!

The cinematography captures the geography perfectly, the editing is brisk...and, the music is striking. Being his debut feature...Mr D'Aquino has done the right thing...surrounding himself with technicians who know their jobs. The result is an over-the-top, wholly misogynistic, assault to the senses...so much so, it actually becomes quite funny in a macabre way...when you laugh at an exploding head...it really is time to question your own sanity!

Thrilling, nasty stuff!

The-Fall-of-the-American-Empire@EIFF2019

The Fall of the American Empire [La chute de l'empire américain]
By Denys Arcand

The Canadian master-filmmaker...does it again! No, it's not a sequel to Mr Arcand's similarly entitled [brilliantly poisonous] The Decline of the American Empire - still, the obvious [titular] dig at his next-door-neighbour is more than just a slap-in-the-face!

There's nothing quite like drilling home your message via sarcasm and wit, Mr Arcand does not - in the slightest - hold back. This is crime-caper done to perfection...with an added [blistering] social commentary. The crux of the film is a moral issue...akin to Robin Hood...stealing from thieves for the greater good of the community. Then...there's an unbridled assault on education and intellectualism: Intelligence is a handicap!

What makes this all work is Alexandre Landry's ultra-charismatic performance...he's a delivery-man with a PhD, a bit of a geek, who falls for an exorbitant escort...while being chased by hardcore, torture-weilding criminals and harassed by a duo of police officers...who are contending with a few sexual issues, she had him, he wants her, she's switched teams!

Messieurs Landry et Arcand take everything in their stride...the pace is furious, the 2 hours zip by...indeed, the Canadian master-filmmaker...has done it again!


Day 5...

The-Tobacconist@EIFF2019

The Tobacconist [Der Trafikant]
By Nikolaus Leytner

What a story! What a film!

This is direction, Nikolaus Leytner has the unique vision and ability...to put everything that is in his mind's eye onto the screen. A period piece with daubs of nightmare and flourishes of fantasy...

The rise of Fascism...witnessed by and seen through the impressionable eyes of somewhat naive, young man. This is a character who grows - exponentially - before your very eyes. Oooh...how you will involve yourself with his fragilities and friendships. How you will smile as he grows into his adult's skin...and, how you will weep...as life's realities take their toll.

T'is always a pleasure to see a young actor step up to [and beyond] the plate...this should be his breakout performance, he literally carries the film from start to finish...talk about character arcs, this arc is mighty. With touches of Cabaret, tête-à-têtes with Sigmund Freud, cigar etiquette and the snivelling, rotten musk of the Black Shirts lurking...The Tobacconist is a story that needed to be told...and, with might, has it been told well!

Stunning.

The-Red-Phallus@EIFF2019

The Red Phallus
By Tashi Gyeltshen

The cinematography is splendiferous...but...the acting...well, there are two ways of looking at using non-professional actors...you may find a diamond-in-the-rough...or, as is the case here, you don't. With the exception of Tshering Euden, she does do a decent job...but, all the others...it's a great big oops!

Now...if you are going to use no-pros...you had better be a director worth his-or-her salt. Tashi Gyeltshen demonstrates the biggest mistake a [relatively inexperienced] director can make...he completely forgot about his potential audience. If film-making is all about bums-on-seats and telling a story to those bums...these bums on these seats are sound asleep...because, the story doesn't quite unfurl and the unfurling is akin to treacle coming out of a vinegar bottle! In other words: Slooow!

Talk about overly long-takes...who wants to watch a gas-ring [burning] for 2 minutes? Some will label it 'mood' and/or 'atmospheric' - forget those labels...this is monotony.

Manta-Ray@EIFF2019

Manta Ray [Kraben rahu]
By Phuttiphong Aroonpheng

An intriguing beginning...a man adorned with fairy lights walks through a forest covered in fairly lights...visually, it's stunning. But, what does it all mean? The director gives you plenty of time to mull it over.

A perplexing middle...a peroxide-blonde man finds an unconscious man deep in the mangroves, he extricates him without any trouble, nurses him and allows him to share his home and life...and, he doesn't utter a word [throughout the entire film]! The villagers perceive them as a married couple...up until the peroxide-blonde disappears. In walks his pregnant ex-wife, who shacks up with the mute foundling...and then she bleaches his hair! What does it all mean? Seemingly, this film is a damning indictment on how [badly] the Rohingya are treated in Thailand...however, being so utterly abstract, that damning [and important] 'message' is all but lost.

And, not just a cacaphonous ending...but one that will cause your jaw to slam uncontrollably onto the floor...it's cryptic...perhaps, surreal...in truth, it's just plain stupid.


Day 6...

The-Souvenir@EIFF2019

The Souvenir
By Joanna Hogg

Film-school drivel...from a 'seasoned' [as in, no Spring chicken] film-school graduate...who ought to have known [much] [much] better!

With such mighty names attached to this narcissistic, preachy 'project' - Martin Scorsese [executive producer ] & Tilda Swinton [with daughter-in-tow]...this a classic case of: It's not what you know...it's who!

It would be far too easy to [completely and utterly] rip this mind-numbingly repetitive 'film' apart...and, quite possibly, in doing so...incur a rather costly libel!!! So...without further fuss [or, ado]...I will say no more...other than...a 'Part Deux' [sequel] is in-the-works [with the same fabulous names attached]...a word of advice: Read, just a handful of, the [public, entrance-fee-paying] reviews on IMDb...and then, perhaps, you will climb down from cloud-cuckoo-residence and realise that your [parentally] fully-funded-far-flung-film-school days are NOT as interesting as you have deluded yourself [and some fabulous names] into believing!

But...hey, well done...for getting Tilda and Martin onboard! And...winner of the Grand Jury Prize @ Sundance!?! Must admit Ms Hogg...you keep non-hoi-polloi 'good' cinematic company! Proper...cinematic elitism.

Cronofobia@EIFF2019

Cronofobia
By Francesco Rizzi

A film that goes from the interesting [albeit confusing]...to the rivetting [albeit wonderfully mundane]...to the downright pedestrian.

Yes...the final third threw a spanner into-the-works and screwed everything [so frustratingly] up! Aaargh...sometimes, the need for artiness is not needed whatsoever! Just keep it real.

This is an impressive feature debut. Francesco Rizzi has it all...vision, voice and talent...with a little fine-tuning, [third act] tucks and tweaks...his next project could easily knock it out of the park. Not many directors can intrigue an audience...then, absorb them...and lose them all in the space of 93 minutes...as they say, two out of three ain't bad...but, three out of three makes for a solid cinematic career!

Bulbul-Can-Sing@EIFF2019

Bulbul Can Sing
By Rima Das

Bulbul can't sing!

What an odd little film...it has been screened at many LGBT film festivals throughout the word...yet, it is not [by any stretch of the imagination] a first-tier LGBT film. Yes, it does feature a young gay man...who gets periodically forgotten about throughout [but still manages to pack a well-placed punch or two]...the main themes in this film are burgeoning sexuality, traditional patriarchy...and, that old favourite...arranged marriages...in rural India, where time stands still...despite the howling cries from modernity.

Rima Das is her own one-woman production company...quite literally, doing everything herself to get her projects off the ground and onto the silver screen...that, in itself, has to be admired. This is as decent a film can be when non-professional actors are used...the leads do do an admirable job...sadly, the support does not fare as well!

Bulbul has a pivotal scene involving the two young women...they are caught flirting [illicitly] with a couple of boys...all Hell breaks loose! The townsmen beat the girls black-and-blue...well, that was the intention, what we see is a slap-happy, sloppy improvisation that goes on for far too long. It really is a case of...less is more. If performers can't do stunt-fighting convincingly...then don't show it. There are other ways to convey violence...via sound and crisp editing.

Weaknesses aside, Bulbul Can Sing has a captivating freshness. Rima Das' voice needs to be heard, she is tackling subjects that need to be told and seen...modernity stops for no man...it's just that in some places some men do what they can to stop it themselves...the reprecussions can be tragic. A film that - surely and hopefully - will change [traditional] minds!


Day 7...

The-Captor@EIFF2019

The Captor [Stockholm]
By Robert Budreau

Who doesn't love a bumbling criminal with a heart of gold?

Be warned...this is not an accurate re-telling of the botched bank heist that led to the psychological 'discovery' of the Stockholm Syndrome. Instead, this is a tongue-in-cheek, almost caper-ish rendition of the 'facts' and Ethan Hawke just rolls with it. He's cheek-tweakingly lovable!

It's a mad approach to the actual madness, not too dissimilar with Dog Day Afternoon...hitting a perfect balance between comedy and drama...between sentiment and survival. As you would expect, nothing goes smoothly for our anti-hero...and every error of judgment is met with a carnvorous performance by Vladimir Jon Cubrt who - as the bank manager - steals every scene with his snide and cynical coolness.

So...with Bob Dylan crooning away in the backgroud...take a pinch of salt, suspend disbelief and enjoy...this has an unexpected charm and a jaw-dropping silliness. As daft as it is entertaining.

X&Y@EIFF2019

X&Y
By Anna Odell

Artistic boundaries do not exist...well, they bloody well ought to...and, if they did [or, do], this incredible indulgence would never have made it to the screen!

After a tortutuous [and mind-numbing] 112 minutes, it all amounts to one great big pile of pseudo-intellectual-sexual guff...packed to the rafters with mental and physical probings...who is me? Let me bonk me to find out! Galloping ginger cats...there goes the audience!

Part scripted, part improvised...wholly incomprehensible and lamentably risible. Ms Odell - increduously - gathered a mighty fine company of actors, convinced them to do as she directed, forgot [completely] about the audience...as nothing is answered in the film...the only question that remains is...why?

Thirty@EIFF2019

Thirty [Dreissig]
By Simona Kostova

Here's a little experiment...I asked a complete stranger [who just happened to be a young man] to recommend a film, something that wasn't on my list. He recommended this...saying it was completely brilliant.

Sometimes you get a pleasant little surprise...and, sometimes you don't.

Alas, Thirty falls into the latter category...but, what makes this interesting is...this is filmmaking for a different generation. Me, I like a story...something that grabs you and doesn't let go until the very end. Thirty has no story...it's just a bunch of friends, approaching thirty and moaning about everything and anything...

It's all very cinema verité - realism to the core...the only problem is, other people's realities can be a complete bore to watch. Hey...different generation...different mindset!


Day 8...

I-See-You@EIFF2019

I See You
By Adam Randall

Well...if ever a film keeps you on your toes, keeps you guessing...and, on the edge of your seat throughout...here it is!

Seriously, this is clever stuff...especially when the perspectives change, a very difficult mechanism to pull off...well, Adam Randall hit a home-run! Nothing is as it seems...no-one is who they seem. A cheating mother and wife, held to account by her son and husband...it sounds like a good old-fashioned, bland domestic melo-drama...well, there's nothing bland nor mellow in this home invasion thrilling thriller.

The amount of twists and turns is dizzying...but, always believable...think of doing a jigsaw puzzle without seeing the picture first, bit-by-bit the darkness is revealed. This is dark...so very dark played against the idyll of sweet suburbia...as the rot sets in and takes over.

Jumping to conclusions will only get you outsmarted...few films leave you with a lasting impression...you'll be checking your cupboards and garages, lofts and sheds...who's watching you!?!

Chilling, thrilling stuff.

Them-That-Follow@EIF2019

Them That Follow
By Britt Poulton & Dan Madison Savage

Religion gets a [predictable] pounding!

 

 

 

 

Arent-You-Happy@EIFF2019

Aren't You Happy? [Das melancholische Mädchen]
By Susanne Heinrich

I don't get your humour...

That's a quote from the film...talk about hitting the nail precisely on the head! Really, seriously, unabashedly...there are not enough [respectable & repeatable] words to accurately describe how [truly] awful this film is!

It's really only 70 minutes [too] long...with 9 minutes of end credits [yes, we timed them!].

So...not to be a total malcontent...here are the positives, there are quite a few willies on show [one being particularly impressive]. That's it, that's all.


Day 9...

Synonyms@EIFF2019

Synonyms [Synonymes]
By Nadav Lapid

Winner of Berlinale's Golden Bear...seriously, did they watch the same film!?!

Well, we can think of quite a few 'synonymes' to describe this utter mess/shambles/mishmash/ of a self-indulgent/cacophonous/thread-bare/pretentious film. Where to start...

...with the story, of course...wait a minute...what story? It all centres around Yoav, a young man who likes to show off his manly tackle and [oooh your poor ears] hasn't mastered the art of speaking at a normal [and acceptable] level...in other words, he shouts...throughout the entire film!

Yoav has 'escaped' his native [and despised] Israel...decanting to Paris. Within a matter of minutes, he ends up in a stunning [but bare] apartment, being robbed [while showering] of his entire possessions...leaving him, in the cold heart of Winter...bare-butt-dick-dangling-naked!

Then...everything goes all Jules et Jim [sans la magnificence de Truffaut]...a young, wealthy couple rescue him from a hypothermic bath-tub...warm him, clothe him, feed him and hand over [without the blink of a smitten eye] a wad of cash. As if!

Admittedly...it all sounds rather interesting and there are certainly some eye-pleasing moments...but, that's just the first 15 minutes...the remaining 105 minutes are a fanatical assault to the senses [and to Israel]! Now, this all might be [a bit] semi-autobiographical and Nadav Lapid just wanted to get a load off of his chest...well, he certainly did that...and, forgot about the audience [there were quite a few walk-outs at the press screening]...it's all about communication m'dear!

There are better ways to rant and rave...rather than [actually] ranting and raving for nearly 2 exhausting, ear-splitting hours. Synonyms is a scathing critique on [a very pervasive] Israel...perhaps that was the point. Why be subtle...when you can just throw it out there - unrelentlessly - at the top of your [screeching] voice, taking no prisoners whatsoever!

Indeed...food for thought!

Skin@EIFF2019

Skin
By Guy Nattiv

A mighty performance from Jamie Bell...

 

 

 

 


Day 10...

Masters-of-Love@EIFF2019

Masters of Love
By Matt Roberts

It all centres around an up-coming [obviously, on-and-off] lesbian wedding...it's ensemble, it's low-budget...and, it's a little bit wordy!

Everything is told...nothing is shown, this could have been - quite easily - a radio play! And, perhaps, it would have worked better on the old wireless...watching these - most unlikable - characters is a chore too far.

The grossly irritating vlogger is punchable, the crappy-stand-up-comedian is [for want of a better word] crappy...as for the lesbian couple, one half high-maintenance, the other..bordering on the apathetic.

The conflicts [of which there are many] are all self-made and resolved quickly...it's all very dizzying how readily the 'forgivenesses' are dished out.

Look...this is a debut feature and it does creak under the weight of inexperience...obviously, the intention was...to produce a Richard Curtis-ish quirky little rom-com. Here's a little bit of advice: Start off by creating characters the audience will like, relate to, take into their hearts. Otherwise, like this bunch...no-one will care a jot what happens to them. And, as for lasting impressions...well, all forgotten, soon after.

Carmilla@EIFF2019

Carmilla
By Emily Harris

Over the years, Sheridan Le Fanu's novella has been done to death...with varying degrees of success and failure.

Emily Harris decided - for some unknown reason - that she would have a bash at telling this familiar tale...well, she certainly gave it a bash and a bashing...hey, everyone has the right to free interpretation!

The problem with this Carmilla is...it's too safe. It's not Gothic enough, not - by a long shot - lesbian enough...and, no-where-near vampiric enough...even the nasty governess is not nasty enough...but, that's probably the fault of the casting director! Enough with the enoughs!

More biting, more blood, more sweaty, seething Sapphism...more horror! Less of the insects...why all the shots of creepy-crawlies? Yes, the film should have been creepy...a few bug shots do not constitute creepiness!

'Less is more' is a mantra that many filmmakers - wisely - follow...unfortunately, in this unusual case...a wee bit 'more' would have paid dividends...the atmosphere and cinematography were major stakeholders...sadly, the 'stake' missed the heart!

Acute-Misfortune@EIFF2019

Acute Misfortune
By Thomas M. Wright

Not a pleasant man...but, a superlative [and stylish] bio-pic.

Adam Cullen's art is bold, brash and immature...like the man himself. He was the archetypal suffering artist...alcohol and substance abuse helped put him into an early grave...aged 46. However, he had the wherewithal to recruit a young biographer before his untimely demise...insuring his name and his art's longevity.

This is Thomas M. Wright's [impressive] first film...unlike his chosen subject's art, Mr Wright has defined his own style with an acute eye for detail...he has [wisely] surrounded himself with cinematic technicians who know their craft and shared his vision. The music is a magnificence. The editing, award-deserving...and, the cinematography is aesthetically distinctive. But...it is the writing that catapults this into the stratospehere.

Erik Jensen was young, inexperienced, grappling with his sexuality when he was thrown into the lion's den...as Adam Cullen wrestled with his [many] demons...the dynamic between them is electrifying as they tussle with their own respective vulnerabilities...trying to make sense of what is happening. This is - fundamentally - an abusive relationship...with an even darker twist. The image of Mr Cullen standing naked in the doorway of his young sleeping biographer is an ode to his darkness and a subtextual howler!

Yes...it's easy to dislike Mr Cullen, Daniel Henshall's mighty portrayal doesn't do his legacy any favours whatsoever...until! That's when his real demon is exposed...a strikingly realised goose-bump moment.

Man, situation and film...all unique. Masterful work.


Day 11...

End-of-Sentence@EIFF2019

End of Sentence
By Elfar Adalsteins

Character arcs aplenty...

 

 

 

 

Good-Omens@EIFF2019

Good Omens
By Douglas Mackinnon

 

 

 

 

 

 


Day 12...

Before You Know It
By Hannah Pearl Utt

...still no poster, even though this film has been shown at quite a few festivals! The PR team - most certainly - are not doing their job!

What an oddly framed film...it starts off lesbian, ends lesbian and there's nothing lesbian in-between!

So...rather than this being [solely] about a lesbian...it's much more, it's a slightly goofy look at three generations of womanhood...men - as you would expect - get a rum deal. There's the lying, feckless, controlling father and the cheating, incompetent, smarmy therapist...other than these two [brief] appearances, men don't get a look in.

Before You Know It rattles along at such a pace and - hey, before you know it - it's over. That's a compliment...as daft as the story is, Hannah Pearl Utt runs with it, full pelt...there are a few stumbles along the way but nothing too jarring. Seriously, this is light-hearted fayre...with the odd poke at the male-dominated establishment...

And then...in walks Judith Light as the caked-in-make-up daytime soap star, somewhat reminiscent of Norma Desmond...just a little less fearsome...oooh how this film could have exploded if there had been a generous serving of unbridled ferocity! The situation - most definitely - warranted it!

Being lied to all your life...no, not just a piddling little lie...but, a god-almighty whopper...Before You Know It should have gone down the route of outrage and been outrageous in doing so...alas, 'safe' was the way it went...resulting in a safe and chirpy little film, enjoyable...but, sometimes, you want to be left with a kick in the teeth rather than a smile on your face! Or, do you?!?

Mrs-Lowry-&-Son@EIFF2019

Mrs Lowry & Son
By Adrian Noble

A bagatelle of words and emotions...