Friday, 27 June 2008

Top of the world

Tightrope walker Philippe Petit arrived in Edinburgh yesterday and showed off his balancing skills atop the delegate centre. He's promoting the documentary about him, Man on Wire, which traces his jaw-dropping 1974 stunt to walk on a wire between the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center.

A few highlights today...

Just Another Love Story (Ole Bornedal, Den) ***
This noir thriller from Denmark starts as a quiet study in obsession, sparked by vivid cinematography and editing, as a forensic photographer (Anders W Bertelsen) inadvertently pretends to be the boyfriend of a beautiful girl in a coma. But rather than go down the While You Were Sleeping route, this film drifts more towards Vertigo, and then into pure terror and black irony. It sometimes feels a bit contrived, but is utterly gripping

The Princess of Nebraska (Wayne Wang, US) ***
A lower-budget companion piece to Wang's A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, this is an even more effective drama about immigration and human connections, as a young Chinese student travels from her university in Nebraska to San Francisco, where she encounters friends both old and new over the course of 24 hours. It emerges that she's pregnant and trying to consider her options, and everyone offers very different advice. Lively and energetic, this is a terrific little film, with a few clunky, preachy scenes but a wonderful central performance from Ling Li.

Bigga Than Ben (Halewood, UK) ***
Ben Barnes (aka Prince Caspian) stars in this raucous mock-doc about two Russians (the other is played by Andrei Chadov) who visit London with the intention of making a film to help their countrymen rip off the British system. It starts with Borat-like inventive wackiness, knowingly satirising everything about the city while also creating a series of vivid characters. But when it turns very serious, it stops being quite so engaging. It's a rather drastic shift that the film never quite recovers from. There are some superb themes in here, but once the hilarity ends we kind of lose interest.

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