Wednesday, 27 June 2012

EIFF 8: Staring at the sea

Straight from Cannes, the anthology film 7 Days in Havana beings the EIFF back to Cuba again, with segments from a series of top directors. And the Latino seaside theme continues in Chile's The Lifeguard - both films are covered below, along with the world premiere of Peter Strickland's new movie. Last night was the festial's elite party in Edinburgh Castle, to which mere mortal journalists aren't invited. I haven't heard anything about how it went, but it was nice to have a free evening since there are two parties tonight: a tango-themed concert for Future My Love and a later event for the anthology film The Fourth Dimention.

7 Days in Havana
dir Pablo Trapero, Benicio Del Toro, et al; with John Hutcherson, Emir Kusturica 12/Sp ***
There's plenty of colour and culture in this anthology, which could have been titled La Habana Te Amo, to match the similarly uneven Paris Je T'Aime and New York I Love You. It has moments of artistic inventiveness, but barely breaks the surface... FULL REVIEW

Berberian Sound Studio
dir Peter Strickland; with Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco 12/UK ****
Clever filmmaker Strickland (Katalin Varga) aims this film right at movie geeks, mixing comedy, drama and horror to tell the story of a tweedy British sound designer (Jones) who travels to a notorious Italian studio to mix the audio for a grisly 1970s schlock movie. The director insists that this is a serious historical drama, but the voice actors and sound artists all recognise it as a trashy romp about demonic witches. Intriguingly, Strickland only shows us the film within a film's title sequence, evoking the rest of it through a wonderfully detailed sound mix as we see how the audio track is assembled. This is often wickedly hilarious, not to mention an engaging look at analog sound assembly. Then things start to twist and turn, as the gruesome movie starts to merge with real life. Stunningly visual, the film is utterly mesmerising. Well, right up to the slightly unsatisfying coda.

The Lifeguard
dir Maite Alberdi; with Mauricio Rodriguez, Jean Pierre Palacios 11/Chl ****
From Chile, this sundrenched, sand-blown film chronicles a few days in the life of Mauricio, a lifeguard on a busy beach that has a fierce undercurrent. His philosophy is that preventing someone from getting into trouble is better than swimming to their rescue, so he uses his whistle liberally while never going into the water. This puts him at odds with Jean Pierre, the guard the next tower, who seems to do nothing all day long, waiting for someone to get into trouble. That's pretty much the plot of this film, which just follows Mauricio's interactions, including people asking stupid questions, trying to flout the rules, gossiping about each other and tormenting him about his dreadlocks. What makes it compelling viewing is the astounding cinematography, editing and sound mixing, which skilfully and artfully capture the tiniest details. And this includes getting far beneath Mauricio's skin.

No comments: