Tuesday, 22 June 2010

EIFF 7: Altered states

More starry red carpets in the sunshine yesterday, as Edinburgh enjoyed a warm and very long evening (the longest of the year, actually). Jury member Sir Patrick Stewart took centre stage last night for a masterclass interview, while the press office hosted a lively film quiz. Meanwhile my eyes are getting blurry with all of these films (I saw five on Monday), but we're in the final stretch now toward the closing night film on Saturday.

Here are some highlights from Tuesday's schedule...

Police, Adjective
dir Corneliu Porumboiu; with Dragos Bucur, Ion Stoica 09/Rom ****
Including all those dull moments that are left off-screen in other cop movies, this dry, slow-paced Romanian drama portrays the tedium of an investigation with remarkable realism, dry humour and a quietly political kick... M O R E >

dir Nick Whitfield; with Ed Gaughan, Andrew Buckley 10/UK ****
This surreal and quirky British comedy-drama benefits from strongly resonant performances that help us go along with the absurdist plot. It also has an intriguingly emotional tone that catches us off guard... MORE >

Henry of Navarre [Henri 4]
dir Jo Baier; with Julien Boisselier, Joachim Krol 10/Fr ***
The sweeping nature of this story is slightly undercut by apparent budget limitations (most noticeable in the sets), but the story has real power and keeps us gripped throughout the 2.5-hour running time. It's the tale of the boy king from Navarre who married Princess Margot and got entangled in the political/religious wranglings of the Medici family - conspiracies, assassinations, massacres, betrayals - as the Catholics and Protestants fought for control of France. The strength of the narrative more than makes up for the unstarry cast and slightly lacklustre production values.

High School
dir John Stalberg Jr; with Sean Marquette, Adrien Brody 10/US ****
This isn't really a festival kind of movie - it's a stoner comedy. But it's raised above the fray by a razor sharp script that keeps us laughing from start to finish as the class valedictorian (Matt Bush) and his stoner pal (Marquette) try to get their entire school high to throw off a mandatory drug screening. Snappy dialog and crazed situations keep it very lively indeed, more than making up for the cheesy filmmaking. Whether it overcomes charges that it makes drug use look like fun is another issue altogether.

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