Sunday, 22 June 2008

Beautiful people

Hollywood actor Enrique Murciano (right) tried to bring a bit of California sunshine to Edinburgh yesterday, wearing trendy shades despite the fact that it was raining buckets outside. He almost pulled it off, too, as for a couple of hours watching his new film Mancora, we are transported to sunny Peru for a road movie that sends a car full of gorgeous people to the eponymous coastal town, where they hook up with all the wrong people, indulge in a bit of local drugtaking and generally wear very little clothing. It's a fascinating film packed with surprisingly adult themes, although it does drag a bit in the final act as we wait for someone, anyone, to snap out of their self-indulgence. Thankfully they do, and the film's sexy, sun-drenched imagery is just what we rain-soaked moviegoers needed.


The rain didn't dampen the photo call for Stone of Destiny, the Scottish heist-caper movie based on a true story. Pictured above: writer-director Charles Martin Smith, Charlie Cox, Robert Carlyle, the real Ian Hamilton (played by Cox in the 1950-set film), Kate Mara and Billy Boyd. Some reviews in Scottish papers have been extremely sniffy. Sure, it's an open-hearted, fairly cheesy romp, but only true cynics could hate it.

Meanwhile, Good Dick turned out to be one of the best films of the festival, although no one seems able to use the title in a sentence without eliciting a giggle. Actor Jason Ritter and writer-director-star Marianna Palka were on hand to chat to the audience. It's an extremely well-written romantic comedy that never plays down to the audience, and packs some serious messages subtly around its oddball but extremely endearing characters.

My late-night screening was the world premiere of Crack Willow, a very dark British film that drifts into surreal David Lynch territory with subliminal cutaways and freakout images. Writer-director Martin Radich looked a bit Lynchian too as he introduced the film, which I think was about the anger and confusion that follows grief - but I can't be too sure. For adventurous filmgoers only.

Today's highlights include...

Better Things (Duane Hopkins, UK) ****
An impressive new voice in British cinema, Hopkins uses seriously inventive camerawork, editing and sound design to examine issues of love and death, with some rather intense scenes of drug addiction as well. It's a powerful, disturbing and very bleak drama.

The Kreutzer Sonata (Bernard Rose, US) - the director reteams with his Ivansxtc star Danny Huston (plus sister Angelica) for a drama about obsession, based on a story by Tolstoy - comments coming tomorrow.

Elegy (Isabelle Coixet, US) - Dennis Hopper, Ben Kingsley, Penelope Cruz, Patricia Clarkson and Peter Sarsgaard star in this university drama based on a Philip Roth novel - comments coming tomorrow.

Paris (Cedric Klapisch, Fr) ***
This multi-strand drama from Paris features strong performances from Romain Duris, Juliette Binoche and Fabrice Luchini (plus a scene-stealing cameo from Karin Viard).

King of Ping Pong (Jens Jonsson, Swe) ***
Intriguing coming-of-age story about an awkward teen who begins to suspect that he may not actually be the son of his adventurer father after all - simply because he and his cool little brother are far too different. Surprising and involving.

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