Friday, 29 June 2012

EIFF 10: Get me out of here

Well, a freak catastrophic storm cut off Scotland from England yesterday just as my train pulled out of Edinburgh. We got as far as Berwick-upon-Tweed and after an hour or so there (with absolutely no information announced by the East Coast line), we were brought back to Edinburgh and told to fend for ourselves until the line was reopened, which might be three days. So I'm back here, trying to find a train to London, probably down the West Coast line, which was reopened this morning, apparently. Not a great day! I really should have gone in for this morning's press screening of the closing film Brave, but I've been working on getting home. Anyway, the festival carries on regardless...

dir Gabe Torres; with Stephen Dorff, Chyler Leigh 12/US ***
Fans of trapped-in-a-box movies (see also Ryan Reynolds in Buried) will race to see this thriller, which centres on Dorff in a glass box in the boot of a car while all manner of chaos goes on around him. The kidnappers who put him there want some vital information, but they clearly have too much time and money on their hands as they indulge in a range of stress-inducing physical and mental torture set pieces. Knowing from the start that Dorff is our tough-guy hero, we are sure he won't crack under even the worst pressure, and he's lucky to have a CB radio, mobile phone and torch in there with him. So there isn't much suspense in the film, really, but it's very well shot, Dorff is very watchable (which is important since he's the only one on-screen) and the premise is nicely bewildering, keeping us guessing about what's going to happen next. While the final series of events is more than a little corny, at least here's a sting in the tail.

God Bless America
dir Bobcat Goldthwait; with Joel Murray, Tara Lynne Barr 12/US ****
After World's Greatest Dad, Goldthwait is back with another pitch-black comedy that's both hilarious and deeply disturbing. Like Kevin Smith's blistering Red State, this film scythes through the mindless degradation of the American media... FULL REVIEW

First Position
dir Bess Kargman; with Aran Bell, Michaela Deprince 11/US ****
This Spellbound-style doc follows a handful of hopeful dancers to a youth competition where their future will be decided. With jobs and scholarships on offer, the stakes are very high for these teens and pre-teens, and the filmmakers follow them through their training routines and home lives. Each of them has a different story - Bell is in a military family that moves all over the world, Deprince is an orphan from Sierra Leone adopted by an American couple - and as the competition approaches we become extremely invested in them, like nervous parents waiting in the wings. One of the most compelling dancers is 16-year-old Joan Sebastian Zamora from Colombia, who dreams big and has the talent to back it up. Watching him and the others blossom under the pressure is thoroughly engaging.

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