My first full day here at the Edinburgh Film Fest was a very long one - five films from 9am to after midnight. But it was a great day, and I managed to stay awake not only through all of the films but also until my weekly BBC Five Live film review slot at 1.30am. It probably helped that I walked a total of at least two and a half hours around the city between screenings. Blood circulation always helps, I've found.
The highlight of the day was the screening of Terence Davies' new film Of Time and the City, an impressionistic documentary about his hometown of Liverpool. It's a simple, gorgeous film that mixes various kinds of images with a collage of audio narration, music and clips. And in the end it's more about age and nostalgia - and therefore thoroughly universal. Davies (pictured) was at the screening and gave us a fantastic 45-minute Q&A afterwards. So much personality and passion for his work, even with the obstacles that have kept him from working for the past eight years.
The other highlight, sort of, was a late-night screening of the cheap-o horror comedy Blood Car, shot on no budget at all by filmmaker Alex Orr, who was here to introduce the film and then offered a hyperactive, hysterical Q&A afterwards. The film is so badly made that it boggles the mind - with no sense at all of continuity, but a hilarious storyline (about a vegan who's trying to invent a motor that runs on wheatgrass, but inadvertently creates an engine that needs blood instead). Throw in some hilarious references to the high price of petrol and ubiquitous American federal agents, not to mention gratuitous sex and gore. I have a feeling it will probably become a cult classic.
Also yesterday, I caught Majid Majidi's The Song of Sparrows, a beautiful Iranian drama about a man trying to make ends meet in whatever way he can, and then struggling when he realises he needs to bend his strong moral code to help his family. Bristling with life, elegantly shot and edited and full of vivid characters who are all grappling with internal issues, this is one of my favourite films of the year so far. Not surprising since Majidi's The Colour of Paradise (1999) is one of my favourite films of all time!
Here are some of today's offerings...
Trouble Sleeping (Robert Rae, UK) - drama about a Palestinian woman in London - comments coming tomorrow.
Somers Town (Shane Meadows, UK) *****
After the terrific This Is England Meadows is back with another stunner, a sensitive gem of a film looking at two teens (brilliantly well played by This Is England's Thomas Turgoose and newcomer Piotr Jagiello) as they meet and become friends around London's Kings Cross. It's rather slight plot-wise, but rich in themes and packed with humour and drama as the boys become infatuated with a Polish waitress. Full review coming soon.
The Wackness (Jonathan Levine ,US) ***
There's a nicely gritty tone to this tale of drugs and friendship on the mean streets of New York City. But as the plot and characters lose their believability, the film almost collapses under its pretensions... MORE >
Red (Diesen and McKee, US) - Brian Cox, Tom Sizemore and Amanda Plummer in a smalltown thriller - comments coming tomorrow.
Querelle (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Germany 1982) - part of the Jeanne Moreau retrospective, this incredibly atmospheric drama is based on a Jean Genet story and plays out like a fevered dream of lust and suspense.
Donkey Punch (Olly Blackburn, UK) ***
Fans of gratuitous gore and violence will probably enjoy this grim pseudo-thriller set on the open sea with seven hot young things. But it's not actually scary, suspenseful or unpredictable... MORE >