Monday, 22 June 2009

Fest Day 6: Stick it to the man

Scott Sanders brought his hysterical new pastiche film Black Dynamite to the Los Angeles Film Festival on Saturday. The film is also screening this week in Edinburgh's festival. After returning from Edinburgh on Friday, I've been in London for the past three days, and after seeing Bruno tonight I'll be flying to Los Angeles tomorrow to attend five days of the festival there. Here are a few films on today - the first two in Edinburgh and the third in both Edinburgh and L.A., The fourth, somewhat unbelievably, is premiering at the L.A. fest tonight.

Mesrine: Public Enemy No 1
dir Jean-François Richet, 08/France ****
Following on from Killer Instinct, this is the second half of the epic biopic about notorious French criminal Jacques Mesrine, played blisteringly by Vincent Cassel. This part is set in the 1970s, and the film takes a period style with much grittier action and fascinating philosophical themes. Cassel has a lot more to do this time, as Mesrine enters his well-known paunchy phase, adopting the slogans of Germany's Baader-Meinhof gang as he corners the authorities into action. It also features several terrific heist/escape sequences and a fantastic role for Mathieu Amalric as a quirky character who deserves his own film.

Pardon My French (Un Chat un Chat)
dir Sophie Fillières, 09/France ***
Chiara Mastroianni plays a blocked writer in this extremely strange French comedy-drama. As she deals with issues surrounding her mother and son leaving her lacking in confidence and losing her grip on reality. The film takes a similarly surreal approach to the story, which is sometimes clever and interesting, but also gets a bit annoying from time to time. Fortunately the actors are good enough to keep us engaged.

dir Marco Bechis, 08/Brazil ****
Beautifully shot and performed with raw authenticity, this drama centres on a group of Guarani indians in Brazil who challenge a local rancher over land rights. This is told in a refreshingly off-handed way that might alienate some viewers, but it really captures the feeling of the time and place, as well as the local culture and traditions.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
dir Michael Bay, 09/US **
Not as disastrously franchise-ending as the recent Terminator movie, but this sequel shows the heavy hand of indulgence. And in the case of Bay, that's a heavy hand indeed. It's two and a half hours of gigantic robots hitting each other while the human characters run around and try to scream about the din of metal against metal. Because of this, and an overcomplicated, illogical plot, it's just not nearly as much fun as the first film. > FULL REVIEW

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