Saturday, 19 June 2010

EIFF 4: Toys and boys

It's still sunny and glorious here in Scotland, and the Edinburgh Film Festival continues to throw on the world premieres and parties. On the red carpet yesterday, the cast and crew of Huge, a British drama about comedy. (Pictured: star Johnny Harris chats to the crowd while Ben Miller, festival organiser Hannah McGill and Jason Isaacs pose for the paparazzi.)

Here are a few highlights today...

Toy Story 3
dir Lee Unrich, scr Muchael Arndt 10/US *****
Pixar outdoes themselves again with this hugely enjoyable sequel, which also inriguingly includes the more melancholy tone of their recent hits. The plot follows Woody, Buzz and crew into a daycare centre that seems like toy paradise but may be more like a prison. From here we get lots of action, sharp comedy and real emotional resonance. It's quite simply one of the most enjoyable, entertaining and even meaningful films of the year.

And Everything Is Going Fine
dir Steven Soderbergh, with Spalding Gray 10/US ****
This unusual documentary tells the life story of Spalding Gray in his own words, using clips of his performance pieces (which were mainly anecdotal monologues about his life) and interviews. Not only is this a breathtakingly well-edited film, but Gray's work raised several recurring themes - mainly examining life and death, including suicide. But even with the dark themes, he remains funny and oddly life-affirming. A remarkable film.

dir Shimmy Marcus, with Martin Compston, Nicola Burley 10/UK ***
Martin Compston delivers a charming central performance as a young guy in the 1970s who is introduced to Northern Soul through a girl (Burley) he has a crush on. The music is wonderful, and so is the dancing. The plot gets a bit convoluted, though, taking some dark turns just when we want it to turn more rousingly crowd-pleasing.

Chase the Slut
dir Ryan Denmark, with Vanessa Claire Smith 10/US ***
Perhaps a bit too clever for its own good, this low-budget American comedy starts out as a blackly funny look at small town morality, as Chase (Smith) is challenged to seduce the son of the pastor of a strange cultlike church. Amid the wackiness, the characters charm us with their realistic reactions. So it's a little strange that the film drifts into some dark emotional moralising at the end. But never mind, by then the filmmaker has won us over to this enjoyable little farce.

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