Friday, 26 June 2009

Fest Day 10: A momentous day

The highlight of the L.A. festival yesterday was a 40th anniversary digital restoration of Midnight Cowboy followed by a wonderfully entertaining Q&A with Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, during which they told raucous stories for more than an hour about making the film together. Meanwhile, outside the cinema, helicopters circled over the neighbouring hospital where Michael Jackson died yesterday afternoon - and Farrah Fawcett had died in the morning only a couple of miles away. A seriously surreal day.

Here are a few highlights from yesterday and today - the first two film films are at Edinburgh International Film Fest, the third and fourth are at Los Angeles...

dir Lindy Heymann, 09/UK **
Two Liverpool teens freak out when their beloved football star is traded to Madrid, but instead of just sobbing themselves to sleep, they concoct a drastic plan to change his mind, kidnapping him and taking him to an abandoned caravan. From here, the film turns into a low-key thriller, as these girls don't quite know what to do next with the man they have loved so long from afar. The problem is that the film feels a bit made up as it goes along too - with contrived plot elements and no real sense of pace. But the three central cast members (Kerrie Hayes, Nichola Burley and Lee Doyle) are very good,

I'm Gonna Explode
dir Gerardo Naranjo, 08/Mexico ***
A combination of teen-angst drama and on-the-run road movie, this stylish Mexican film keeps us gripped through its unpredictability. At the centre is the privileged teen son of a right wing politician who links up with a working class girl while in detention. They concoct a brazen fake kidnapping scam that not only rattles the establishment but also gives them a taste of life outside the pressures of society. The dark, energetic story that follows has an anarchic Pierrot le Fou/Bonnie & Clyde tone to it, intriguingly told from a teen's point of view. > FULL REVIEW

Mid-August Lunch
dir Gianni DiGregorio, 08/Italy ****
We don't often see films that centre around characters who are middle-aged or older, but this charming comedy-drama keeps us engaged with sparky personalities and recognisably real situations. Writer-director DiGregorio plays a man who stays home in Rome with his mother while the rest of Italy goes on holiday. He reluctantly ends up watching three other mothers and aunts of two other people, and while they drive him round the bend, he also rises to the challenge with warm humour. There's not much plot, but the underhanded dialog and witty situations keep us smiling while making a lovely point. > FULL REVIEW

Passenger Side
dir Matt Bissonette, 09/US ***
This gently quirky drama centres on two brothers (well played by Adam Scott and the director's brother Joel Bissonette) who spend a day driving around Los Angeles on some sort of ill-defined quest. The premise is extremely simple, but effectively examines the relationship between these two men through sardonic dialog and snappy wit. Meanwhile, director Bissonette shoots the film in a slightly askance style that keeps us on our toes. It's a little meandering, and there's a loud clunk of plotting when things all come clear in the end, but it's an enjoyable journey.

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