Sam's Greetings From Edinburgh
Posted on Wednesday June 24, 2009, 10:53 by Sam Toy in Empire States
Only three nights in, and this year’s festival experience seems to me to have blurred into some self-induced, Apocalypse Now-style odyssey. Where did I start going wrong? The jet lag, the constant liver-bashing, the parties? Costcutter baked goods at 4am? All of the above, I guess. Still, the quality of the films are pulling me through. As promised, I was recently at the press screening for Le Donk & Scorz-Ayz-Ee. Given the pre-existing praise of Nev & Damo, I’ll not waffle on anymore here: suffice to say that I really dug it. A completely unexpected turn from all involved, it’s hilarious for nearly all of its 71 minutes, with Paddy Considine finally getting a chance to unleash his little known, yet mile-wide comedic streak. Le Donk – the long-gestating character, and background star of many a Shane Meadows short – is the actor’s Partridge or Brent. Meadows, meanwhile, gives the five days of improvisation a genuinely moving (yet not overdone) story arc, which brings to mind Anvil as much as it does Spinal Tap (or, more aptly, Bad News). I spoke to both of them today, along with Scorz-Ayz-Ee and producer Mark Herbert, and was astonished to learn that one key scene involving The Arctic Monkeys wasn’t stage-managed. Make sure you see this film.
I embedded myself for an interesting double at Cineworld yesterday, of Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience, and Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist. The former is an odd entry, one of Soderbergh’s ‘small arty ones’. About two thirds of the film is a frustrating watch: cold, clinical and with, let’s face it, boring characters. They’re even bored with themselves. For me it brought to mind the emptiness of American Psycho’s protagonists, without the satire. But of course, Soderbergh is quite a brilliant guy, and just when you’ve written the film off, he pulls the rug out from under us for the final act, where everything falls into place, providing a rewarding... experience.
Again, much has been written on Antichrist now, so I’ll not go into too much detail, but I have been trying to see this since Cannes, not just for the hype which it has generated since. The result? It’s a good film. Not great, but it certainly has its moments – and not necessarily the ones which have been getting all the attention. The opening looks beautiful, and basically any time an animal turns up, it’s great. It adheres to von Trier’s belief in the idea that good and evil are constructs of the mind, and in that respect it felt most to me like a continuation of the ideas he pursued in The Kingdom (the Danish made TV supernatural TV series, not Stephen King’s Garth Marenghi-alike version, nor Peter Berg’s Iraq thriller). The ‘scenes of a graphic nature’ however, aren’t really anything that a well-seasoned horror fan would flinch at. Except that five shots into the movie, you see it going in and everything, so be warned.
My screening lucky streak had to end though, and this morning I caught “Dario Argento’s” Giallo (pictured), because I’d heard it was so bad that it may never screen again (which shouldn’t be the fate of any film). The quotation marks are because he’s all but disowned the film, and sources say he’s unhappy with the final cut. It’s not difficult to see why: it’s a complete mess, even by the standards of the genre. I’m not quite sure how Oscar winner Adrien Brody got involved (my suspicion is that it was the only role that would allow him to chain smoke), but he’s also credited as a producer. It’s a pity that Argento couldn’t rework it into a parody of his own style, perhaps somehow inject some satire in there – you get the idea that’s what Brody started going for – but lines such as “She’s too beautiful... he hates beautiful things” are just ridiculous if played straight, and the reveal of a major character’s past drew one of the biggest laughs of the festival thus far. Can’t win ‘em all...