“After a well documented stumble in 2011 where Edinburgh International Film Festival looked to be losing its way, it returned in 2012 with a new Artistic Director, Chris Fujiwara, and a sense of being newly emboldened,” writes Ross Maclean at the top of his list at STV of ten films to catch. “The line-up for 2013 features 146 films from 53 countries and seeks to continue forging this new path with a roster of interesting films and a distinct focus on the lesser known.”
Running through June 30, Edinburgh opens tonight with Drake Doremus‘s Breathe In. When it screened at Sundance, Jeremy Kay gave it four out of five stars in the Guardian and noted that “Doremus won the festival’s dramatic grand jury prize here two years ago with Like Crazy and reunites with his leading lady Felicity Jones, who took the special jury prize for acting in the same film.”
Zeba Blay at the House Next Door: “Guy Pearce turns in a reserved performance as Keith, a former musician and dissatisfied family man longing to leave his job as a high school music teacher and return to the exciting life he had before he and his wife (Amy Ryan) left New York City for a quiet, suburban existence. Enter Sophie (Felicity Jones), an 18-year-old British foreign exchange student who joins Keith, his wife, and their teen daughter for a semester in the United States. There’s a nearly instantaneous attraction between Keith and the mysterious Sophie, and most of the film is a slow, steady burn toward the initiation of their affair, which plays out as more a chaste schoolyard romance than a passionate tryst. Still, the chemistry between Pearce and Jones is electric; scenes between the two that are light on dialogue and heavy on meaningful glances are striking, subtly conveying the tension building between the two characters from their first moments on screen together. But while Doremus initially lays out an intriguing study of suburban discord, the film’s third act strains under the weight of a wearying predictability.”
More from Ryland Aldrich (Twitch), Nora Chute (Thompson on Hollywood), Peter Debruge (Variety), Tim Grierson (Screen), Alistair Harkness (Scotsman), Ross Maclean (STV), Todd McCarthy (Hollywood Reporter), Michael Nordine (Film Threat), and Rodrigo Perez (Playlist, B+). And Edward Davis has interviewed Doremus for the Playlist.
In the Telegraph, Louise Gray recommends Eric Steel’s Kiss the Water, a documentary on the reclusive Scottish fishing-fly maker, Megan Boyd: “She was awarded the British Empire Medal but declined to pick it up from the Queen because she was busy playing bridge and who would look after her dog Patch?”
Brian Ferguson talks with Matt Hulse about Dummy Jim, a “part feature/part documentary” about “a deaf factory worker from Aberdeenshire,” who, in 1951, “embarked on a solo cycling trip from his home to the Arctic Circle—3000 miles away.” Lists of further recommendations in the Scotsman come from Alistair Harkness and Jon Melville.
Updates, 6/21: “Poland’s Wojtek Smarzowski nails down his position in the front rank of Europe’s writer-directors with his fourth feature, domestic box-office smash Traffic Department (Drogowka),” writes Neil Young in the Hollywood Reporter. “Don’t be fooled by the bland title: this breakneck-fast plunge into a rancidly corrupt Warsaw police-division is strong meat indeed, its violently savage cynicism expertly marbled with a streak of ribald black humor.”
David Cairns recommends I Am Breathing, “the emotionally devastating—but ultimately life-affirming and often funny—documentary by my friends Morag McKinnon and Emma Davie. It deals with the slow death of an exact contemporary of mine from Edinburgh College of Art, Neil Platt, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease. He wrote an amazing blog about his approach to the end, and left this filmic record of his existence partly as a way for his infant son to eventually know him.”
Update, 6/22: “Classy performances add much-needed color to the somewhat beige A Long Way from Home, writer-director Virginia Gilbert’s low-key debut,” writes Neil Young in THR. “Based on her own short story, this Anglo-French co-production is a decent showcase for veterans James Fox and Brenda Fricker as long-time-married expats.”
Update, 6/23: Once again Neil Young in THR: “Essentially an excuse for audiences to spend 90 minutes with one of the most genially loveable protagonists in recent memory, Svengali is a showbusiness satire of the breezily gentle variety. Chronicling a wide-eyed Welshman’s haphazard attempts to help an unruly London rock-band up the ladder of success, it’s utterly dominated by big-screen newcomer Jonny Owen, the writer-producer-star expanding his own internet-based sketches of the same title.”
Updates, 6/29: “The experimental documentary Leviathan has won the Michael Powell award for best British feature,” reports the Guardian‘s Andrew Pulver. “Paul Wright’s haunting For Those in Peril, which was selected for the Critics’ Week at Cannes, was given a special commendation ‘for its passionate portrait of a young Scots survivor of a tragedy at sea.’ … The award for best film in the international competition went to another documentary, Mahdi Fleifel’s A World Not Ours, about the Palestinian inhabitants of the Ein el-Helweh refugee camp in Lebanon.” And he’s got the full list of winners.
“Between La petite Lise (1930), which deserves to be considered alongside Lang’s M when early sound cinema is discussed, and Gueule d’amour (1937), a magnificent melodrama that works along far more stylistically conventional lines, it’s been hard to see exactly what kind of filmmaker [Jean] Grémillon is. A great one, certainly, but what qualities unite his work?” David Cairns posts an overview of the festival’s retrospective in the Notebook.
At In Contention, Guy Lodge finds that “there’s an unshakeable melancholy to This Is Martin Bonner that proves sneakily uplifting once you let it sit with you awhile.” Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction “is the rare star portrait that enhances its subject’s mystique rather than dismantling it; the man behind the myth is apparent, with the myth itself yet to receive its due after seven decades at work, the film’s happy to examine both.” In a second dispatch, Guy “graze[s] the handpicked short film program.”
Updates, 7/4: “Though the shorts were not my favorite Grémillons,” writes David Cairns in a followup piece in the Notebook, “they do illuminate the rest of his body of work. Documentaries on alchemy and astrology expose the filmmaker’s fascination with the esoteric sciences, a major part of his life, which informs the tarot scenes in Lumière d’été and Maldone, where the cards indeed know all. Grémillon’s sonorous, dreamy tones probably make him the greatest director-narrator outside of Orson Welles, and his self-penned music may be the finest outside of Chaplin‘s.”