Poncey Drinks, Torture Porn And Fairy Cakes
Posted on Thursday June 19, 2008, 14:21 by Damon Wise in Edinburgh International Film Festival
So far, the best thing about the Edinburgh International Film Festival being in June is that you get to see places you don't normally get to see. For instance, the venue for last night's opening party was just great, a multi-layered event space with several bars, a roof terrace and actual proper sort of library with books in it and everything. The wine was free but some of the lager wasn't. There was stout brown beery drink with a white head, probably from Ireland or somewhere, which was free too, but I don't drink that, so there's a pointless sponsorship deal for you. So why not think lovely, refreshing thoughts of Stella Artois or Fosters or Carlsberg and maybe there'll be a party tonight with some of that for free, now that I've promoted it and all. The party itself was themed (“40s glamour” I think is what it said on the ticket I never actually got, which I why I can't remember where it was held either), and for once everybody seemed to get into the spirit of things, especially in the main ballroom, where a swing band was playing and we encountered, rather unexpectedly, the artistic director of the London Film Festival. And a publicist from Warner Bros who doesn't actually have a film in the festival. It's been quite free and easy like that this year.
The Edge Of Love crew had a canny VIP area that was tucked away, but you could see up into it a) if you craned you neck and b) if you really wanted to. Otherwise it wasn't an especially starry night, although we were introduced to actor Linus Roache, who's here with Before The Rains, which he actually did a DVD commentary track for this morning, ahead of its release even – how modern age is that? He seemed like a very nice man, so stop thinking about lager and think about Before The Rains: “A sweeping, sad-eyed romance, set in colonial India,” is what it says in the programme, although I haven't seen it yet. Unfortunately it has been quite tricky on the whole screenings front – some things I've seen already, and other things are screening quite far ahead of the official schedule, so keeping a daily blog that's in synch with everyone else is going to be a bit awkward. From today's proper screenings, I notice that I've seen A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures by British filmmaker Chris Waitt, a sort of road-trip docu-confessional in which the director attempts to asses his feeble track record with the fairer sex. It's reviewed in this month's Empire and I quite agree with Dan Jolin's assessment. If I could work the internet I'd put a link to it here.
It's now 1pm on Thursday and I'm writing in The Point's Monbollonbollobnnbnn bar, or whatever it's called, because the internet is free here whereas it's TWELVE POUNDS FOR 24 HOURS in my room. The morning was an interesting one, primarily because it started at 9am with Mum And Dad, a great first-time horror flick – well, more of a hardcore black comedy – by another Brit, Steven Sheil. An ensemble piece starring Perry Benson, who's also here with Shane Meadows' lovely new movie Somers Town, Mum And Dad simply defies belief. Set in a grim, grey suburban dystopia in the shadow of Heathrow airport, it sees a hapless Polish cleaner (Olga Fedori) fall into the clutches of a sick, twisted family who rape, torture and maim passing strangers, just for laughs. Although it bears some superficial similarities to the recent wave of 'torture porn' movies (it really is NOT for everyone), Sheil's film shouldn't be lumped in with the likes of Captivity. Wisely sticking to its limits, the film is a sometimes dry-heavingly hilarious domestic satire, transplanting sibling rivalry, parental discipline rituals and the arguments every family has had (“Now look what you've gone and made me do!”) to a blood-spattered council house, littered with the remains of its victims. Shocking is definitely one word for it, but actually, when you think about what Fred and Rose West got up to – an inspiration here clearly, albeit obliquely – Mum And Dad is actually rather coy.
I bumped into Sheil at a reception straight afterwards for EM Media, who (it says here) promote and provide support to the burgeoning film industry in the East Midlands. He seems very nice, actually, and not at all the sick and twisted individual one might imagine. EM have six films here, including Sexual Failures, Mum And Dad and Donkey Punch, which is screening tomorrow. Donkey Punch, as you might have heard, is another cracking British horror-thriller-drama-thing, but its makers will do well to best producer Lisa Trnovski (yes, that's how she spells it) and her unique marketing ploy for Mum And Dad: lovingly decorated fairy cakes. I'm off now to see Standard Operating Procedure, about the American army's behaviour in Abu Ghraib. It seems somewhat fitting after Mum And Dad, but I doubt very much there'll be fairycakes afterwards....