Friday, 19 June 2009

Fest Day 3: Strong women

Rebecca Miller and Robin Wright Penn were on the red carpet last night for the premiere of their film The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, which was followed by a cool, low-key party at the Voodoo Rooms. The weather today is gloriously sunny, so of course it's time for me to head back south to London for a brief interlude before I embark on Part 2 of my summer film fest.

Here are a few highlights from Edinburgh yesterday and today...

Sin Nombre [Without a Name]
dir Cary Joji Fukunaga, 09/Mexico ****
With lush cinematography and a very strong sense of character, Fukunaga tells the story of two teens who are thrown together as they travel from southern Mexico to the US border. One is a Honduran travelling with her father to meet his wife in New Jersey, the other is a local gang member trying to escape violent revenge. The actors are raw and natural, and the unlikely connections between these characters makes the film utterly riveting - and also very emotional.

White Lightnin'
dir Dominic Murphy, 09/UK ***
Based on a real person in the American backwoods, this deeply unsettling film tells the story of Jessco, a glue-sniffing addict who finds purpose in life through a bizarre form of tap dancing, but can't quite get his life on track, even when he falls for an older woman (played by Carrie Fisher, who's a blast of fresh air in the film). But it's a relentlessly dark journey into Jessco's soul, and the final act is hauntingly grisly.

Big River Man
dir John Maringouin, 09/US ****
From Slovenia, Martin Strel is a larger-than-life character, both literally and figuratively, and this doc follows him and his son as they continue Martin's efforts to swim the world's longest rivers. Having already conquered the Danube, Mississippi and Yangtze, he tackles the Amazon, which is not only a test of physical endurance but also drives him around the bend mentally. The film is skilfully shot and edited, with a narrative that's both funny and riveting as we can't imagine what these people will do next.

Little Soldier
dir Annette K Olesen, 09/Denmark ***
Trine Dyrholm delivers an astonishing performance as Lotte, a tightly wound soldier just back home in Denmark from Iraq and working for her father - as a driver for his new Nigerian girlfriend Lily (Lorna Brown), who works as a prostitute. These two tough women couldn't be more opposite, or at least that's how it seems. And their relationship is a remarkably complex journey, as Lotte's save-the-world mentality clashes with Lily's fierce determination.

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