Monday, 24 June 2013

Festival Days: Think before you watch

Set in Tunisia, the Dutch film Die Welt opens with its protagonist Abdellah (Abdelhamid Naouara, above) giving an impassioned plea to a customer at his DVD shop not to watch Transformers 2, because it represents not only American cinema at its most ridiculous, but it is also packed with lazy ethnic stereotypes. The customer ignores him, but we don't! And it's appropriate that the film is screening at both the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the East End Film Festival in London this month. I'm watching lots of things at both festivals this year, along with the regular releases. So my festival reports are taking a bit of a different form this time.

Among the regular screenings, we caught up with recent US release The Internship, a deeply silly comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Museum Hours is a strikingly artful exploration of how art and life mingle, set around a museum worker in Vienna. And Dream On is a clumsily made teen drama that has some important themes in it.

Festival-wise we had a chance to see Mike Figgis' playful mystery thriller about movie-making and creativity Suspension of Disbelief. There was also the lively documentary Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, packed with unseen footage and new insights. And the offbeat, unsettling Mexican drama Halley.

There are also a number of films at the Edinburgh festival that I've already seen. Among my favourite films of the year are Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha and Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell. Otherwise, I really enjoyed Monsters University, found the eco-terrorism drama The East to have some potent moments, and thought the Icelandic true thriller The Deep was pretty haunting. We Steal Secrets is a strikingly well-made exploration of the culture of secrecy, while Shane Carruth's surreal thriller Upstream Color is worth a look for it's pure bravura, not that it's easy to make much sense out of it. Full reviews to come.

Coming next week: Daniel Radcliffe in the true drama Kill Your Darlings, Tommy Lee Jones in the true WWII drama Emperor, and Amanda Seyfried in the true story of the pornstar Lovelace. Plus lots and lots of festival films. Watch this space...

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