Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Edinburgh Film Festival 2011: Eva, Ewan and the Troll Hunter

Eva Green & Ewan McGregor in Perfect Sense

The Edinburgh Film Festival is nearly upon us, and will open the festivities tomorrow for eleven days. This venerable institution might not be in the same league as Cannes, Venice and Toronto, but still, it is one of the oldest film festivals in the world, and indeed, it will be celebrating its 65th edition this year. It made the welcome move of separating itself from the actual Edinburgh Art Festival a few years ago, where it lived in its shadow. There have been some well documented issues about the politics of the festival, as well as criticism of the quality of the films presented last year. But I am not interested in covering these stories. Rather, I want to keep the passion of cinema at the forefront, hence the following and arbitrary list of a few films not to be missed in this year's line up.

Perfect Sense by David McKenzie, with Ewan McGregor, Eva Green...

David McKenzie made a name for himself back in 2003 with his first feature length film, the critically acclaimed Young Adam, already with Ewan McGregor, and featuring the most graphic use of ketchup and mustard ever seen on film. His following films, Asylum, Hallam Foe, and the bizarre, L.A. set Spread, did not quite live up to his earlier expectations.

His new film is a love story set in the background of a world where the population is slowly loosing their sensory perceptions. This makes it sound not just a bit similar to Blindness (2008) by Fernando Meirelles until you watch the trailer. The approach seems a lot softer, the atmosphere suitably moody and romantic. It is difficult to predict where the British director is going to take his story after this intriguing premise, but the gorgeous cinematography and the presence of the ever so watchable and deliciously bonkers Eva Green makes it one to follow. I have a ticket for the gala screening on Saturday so expect my review on Sunday.

Trollhunter by André Øvredal

This has been billed as a Norwegian Blair Witch Project. It follows a similar premise and uses a similar mockumentary style, with a group of students investigating some mysterious killings and local legends. Except that, instead of featuring an camera-shy witch, trolls are to blame, and they are very real and difficult to miss, busy as they are smashing cars, trees and stepping on people, with a few critics noting some references to that other monster mockumentary, Cloverfield. This was presented in Sundance this year where it got a great reception (and it must have been a welcome respite from all the quirky indie rom-coms presented there!) so again, not to be missed. News have already emerged that an American remake is being worked on, with Chris Columbus directing. Catch the original while you can! The trailer shows some seriously impressive special effects.

The Turin Horse by Bela Tarr

The Hungarian master has announced this will be his last film and arthouse cinema will certainly be a less interesting place without him. I caught up with his films on the late, with the incredible Werckmeister Harmonies (2000), and have been a fervent fan every since. While his previous film The Man From London, a George Simenon adapation, was somewhat of a letdown, his latest, The Turin Horse, has been hailed as one of his best when presented in Berlin this year, where he won the runner-up prize. The film is a fictionalised account of what happened when German philosopher Nietzsche witnessed a horse being mistreated and the mental illness and depression which followed. (Was Nietzsche being a bit of a drama queen? I saw a dog being pulled tightly on a leash last month, yet did not lose faith in humanity as a result). The trailer reveals very little, except that this is in black & white and with a fairly slow pace.

A couple more. Alex de la Iglesia, the cult Spanish director of Day of the beast and Perdita Durango, will be presenting Balada Triste de Trompeta, a nightmarish and baroque fantasy featuring killer clowns across History, which has been met with some extreme, love & hate reactions in Venise where he won best director. The trailer is absolutely mad, more about this later. And finally an Argentinian apocalyptic comedy, Phase 7, directed by Nicolas Goldbart, set entirely in an apartment building as the world is coming to an end.

I shall be reporting during my brief visit at the festival on the week end (and with rain forecasted for the whole time, I shall be seeing quite a lot of films!) so watch this space.


  1. Great list, Perfect Sense is a must see for me.

  2. Thanks, are you going to the festival? I'll be there for a few days and seeing Perfect sense on Saturday so expect the review by the end of the week end