Greetings from bonnie Scotland. The 2014 Edinburgh Film Festival officially kicked off on Wednesday night with the world premiere and opening night gala of HYENA – Gerard Johnson’s latest crime drama. You can read our review of that here but there’s hundreds of other films screening here at Edinburgh to tell you about. As well as reviews we will be bringing you round ups of what we’ve liked and disliked throughout the festival so here’s some of what we’ve seen so far:
A portrait of extreme rural American family life, MEDEAS explores the consequences of a patriarch no longer in control of his family. Ennis, a dedicated dairy-farmer played simply yet emotionally by Brían F. O’Byrne (MILLION DOLLAR BABY), is facing the prospect of not being able to provide for his wife and children whilst they become increasingly distant thanks to their own anxieties. The more we think about MEDEAS the more we appreciate the beauty in its’ portrayal. Not the fastest paced film in the world and certainly one that appeals to your artistic side over anything else but it’s worth a watch for the ending alone which left us gobsmacked by sheer bleakness.
James Franco’s collection of short stories has been adapted for the screen in Gia Coppola’s directorial debut PALO ALTO. Rebellious teenagers getting bored and restless and experimenting with sex, drugs and violence. Sound familiar? Whilst the film might not cover any incredibly fresh ground Coppola’s debut is a film that manages to capture the confusion, anxiety and hormones of adolescence with an interesting tone and great performances from the young cast. Look out for our full review coming soon.
The search for love and all its’ difficulties are on show in writer/director Ryan Piers Williams’ character driven X/Y. There’s Sylvia (played by Williams’ wife America Ferrera) and Mark (Williams), broken up after 6 years together but not sure what they really want, Jen who has a compulsive inclination to lying, shopping and men and Jake who runs around New York unable to get over his break-up. Each strand of the film has interesting attributes but unfortunately the only one to come to fruition is that of Sylvia and Mark. The character of Jen, played by the brilliant Melonie Diaz, has the set up for a great story arc but is hung out to dry by the screenplay. Williams’ tale explains emotional relationships are complicated and the expression of these can be impulsive, frightening and explosive but perhaps less time spent in explanation and more in how all his characters are affected would have provided a stronger conversation with the audience. THN spoke to America Ferrera and Ryan Piers Williams during the festival and you can read our interview in the coming days.
Director Jim Mickle follows up his 2013 horror WE ARE WHAT WE ARE with tense drama triller COLD IN JULY which mixes genres and tones craftily throughout. For the first act the film is the character-driven story of Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) who is woken by an intruder in his house one night who he shoots dead to protect his wife and young son. Stalked by the father of the deceased Russel (Sam Shepard), Richard is in a constant state of threat and fear trying to adapt and the audience are drawn into his state of mind. It’s not a clear-cut case though and soon Richard is working with Russel to discover the bigger mystery the police are hiding. Cue Don Johnson in a brilliantly unsubtle role and an epic tone change which is part mystery, part buddy road trip caper. You’re not quite sure what is coming next with COLD IN JULY but the film still hurtles towards a thrilling and satisfying conclusion with the three leads sharing great chemistry throughout. COLD IN JULY is released in cinemas on 27th June and comes highly recommended.
That’s your lot for now but EIFF is in full swing and they’ll be plenty more to bring you over the next week or so.