Jeff Daniels and Ryan Reynolds star in Paper Man, which opened the Los Angeles Film Festival on Thursday night. This weekend I'm covering both the Edinburgh and LA fests from London for a few days while I do laundry and repack between my trips to Scotland and California. These daily blogs will include updates from both festivals, just to keep me on my toes.
Stars are traipsing up and down red carpets in both cities, presenting their films to hopeful festival audiences, while punters in other cities are in multiplexes watching deafening Terminator and Transformers sequels (and those watching quieter movies in next-door cinemas are wondering if World War III is taking place outside).
Below are notes on three festival films - the first is at Edinburgh, the second is at LA and the third is at both festivals...
dir Duncan Jones, 09/UK ****
David Bowie's son turns out to be a remarkably adept director with this introspective sci-fi thriller that has echoes of 2001, Solaris and Silent Running in its tale of a man (a terrific Sam Rockwell) who's working alone on the dark side of the moon when he runs into himself in the mining station. Besides the low-key suspense, the film is a superb examination of what makes us human. > FULL REVIEW
In the Loop
dir Armando Ianucci, 09/UK ****
Peter Capaldi is hysterical as a British government spin doctor in this raucous political drama, which plays out as a satire but is actually far more accurate than anyone wants to believe (especially as it is already echoing in headlines). The film is spun off from the TV series The Thick of It and broadened to include some priceless American government figures played by the likes of James Gandolfini, Mimi Kennedy and David Rache. While the Brit-cast also creates vivid, iconic characters. Don't miss it. > FULL REVIEW
dir Scott Sanders, 09/US ***
A pitch-perfect pastiche of 1970s blaxploitation movies, this nutty comedy follows the outrageously manly title character (hilariously played dead-straight by Michael Jai White) as he seeks revenge for his brother's murder. Packed with pimps, hookers, dealers and shady cops, the film is a riot of cheesy humour - much of which is extremely clever. Sadly, as the plot kicks in, the joke begins to wear a bit thin. It's still very funny, but the filmmakers don't hold enough inventiveness out for the final act, which leaves it feeling repetitive. And they also never make anything more out of the promising material than an extended sketch comedy.