Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015 Lineup Announced 0 74


This morning new festival Artistic Director Mark Adams announced the lineup for this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh.

As always, it’s a packed year with plenty to offer from all sorts of different genres and countries. There are a total of 164 films showing from a whopping 36 different countries, including 24 world premieres, 85 UK premieres, 8 international premieres, 16 European premieres and 2 Scottish premieres.

This year the various different Strands include: Best of British, American Dreams, New Perspectives, Night Moves, Focus On Mexico, The Young and the Wild and many more.

So what are the highlights we can look forward to at this year’s fest? Here are our picks:

  • Pixar returns to Edinburgh after 2013 Monster’s University with their latest inventive adventure Inside Out, which visualizes the emotions of a little girl in the form individual characters i.e. sadness, disgust etc.
  • Following its World Premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, the post-apocalyptic zombie drama Maggie is playing, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in what some have described as his best ever performance, alongside Abigail Breslin.
  • After getting rave reviews at Cannes, the Amy Winehouse doc ‘Amy’ from ‘Senna’ director Asif Kapadia. This will surely be one of the most popular choices for film lovers at Edinburgh.
  • Ewan McGregor returns to the festival with his new religious drama Last Days in the Desert, in which he plays Jesus in an imagined chapter of his life during his last 40 days of fasting and praying in the desert.
  • American comedy star Kristin Wiig has two films at the festival; Welcome to Me, in which she plays a woman who wins the lottery and decides to buy her own TV show, and The Diary of a Teenage Artist, about a teenage artist in ’70s New York who starts an affair with his mother’s boyfriend.
  • The already announced festival Opening Gala is The Legend of Barney Thomson, the directorial debut of festival favourite Robert Carlyle. Similarly, the Closing Gala was already announced in the form of Iona, a Scottish drama from ‘Shell’ director Scott Graham.
  • Oliver Hirschbeigel (‘Downfall’) has his WWII drama ’13 Minutes’, a big nominee at the German Film Awards.
  • Following his hit indie drama ‘Joe’, director David Gordon Green has Manglehorn, a drama starring Al Pacino and Holly Hunter.
  • Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are reportedly excellent in ’45 Years’, the latest film from acclaimed ‘Weekend’ director Andrew Haigh, which is already a strong contender for this year’s Michael Powell Award.
  • On the horror front, director Corin Hardy (who’s directing the upcoming reboot of The Crow) has his scary-looking “in the woods” horror The Hallow.
  • As always, the festival has a Retrospective segment and this year it’s “Little Big Screen,” which celebrates the best of ’60s and ’70s TV movies and the lineup includes: Steven Spielberg’s Duel, Tobe Hooper’s Salem’s Lot and Michael Mann’s The Jericho Mile.

In addition to the films themselves, there’s also a plethora of exciting in-person events including interviews live on stage with the likes of Ewan McGregor, Malcolm McDowell, Jane Seymour and Hong Kong action maestro Johnny To.

Adams had this to say about this year’s lineup:

We are delighted to be presenting such a thrilling, fun, challenging, provocative, exciting and balanced programme. There really is something for everyone and we hope that filmgoers will get a lot of pleasure out of this year’s Festival.

That’s it for our preview. Of course those are just a few choice selections of the many more things this year’s EIFF has to offer. For a full look at the lineup take a look at the EIFF 2015 brochure over on the official website where you can also book your tickets now!

The festival takes place between 17-28 June in cinemas across the city. As always, Thoughts On Film will be at the festival to cover as many films as possible. Watch this space!

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I’m a freelance film reviewer and blogger with over 10 years of experience writing for various different reputable online and print publications. In addition to my running, editing and writing for Thoughts On Film, I am also the film critic for The National, the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland, covering the weekly film releases, film festivals and film-related features.

I have a passion for all types of cinema, and have a particular love for foreign language film, especially South Korean and Japanese cinema. Favourite films include The Big Lebowski, Pulp Fiction and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Movie Review: Home Again 0 422

This review was previously published at The National.

Despite an obviously talented leading lady in Reese Witherspoon and a family pedigree behind the camera in making this sort of rom-com flutter sweetly off the screen, Home Again struggles to finds its way out of cloying cliché and narrative contrivance.

This is the directorial debut of Hallie Myers-Shyer, daughter of genre stalwart Nancy Meyers (The Holiday, What Women Want). It focuses on the life of Alice Kinney (Witherspoon), a single mum who has just turned 40 and tries her best to raise her two daughters Isabel (Lola Flanery) and Rosie (Eden Grace Redfield) in Los Angeles with her job as an interior decorator.

Freshly separated from her British music mogul husband Austen (Michael Sheen), she embarks on a drunken birthday night celebration that leads to her meeting a trio of 20-something lads – Harry (Pico Alexander), George (Jon Rudnitsky) and Teddy (Nat Wolff) – who are trying their best to break into the Hollywood movie business.

The young men improbably end up staying in Alice’s guest house while they work on finishing the script for their first film. Before long they become an integral part of her life, from Alice embarking on a romantic relationship with Harry to George helping out Isabel with her school play. To quote the title of the director’s mother’s 2009 film – it’s complicated.

Except the film mistakes the kind of enjoyably frothy complexity exemplified by the best of the genre for skin-clawing convolution that renders much of the romantic and comedically-tinged drama of Alice’s life lacking in authenticity. Not that it needs the ring of truth that comes with, say, a Ken Loach picture but you need to be able to invest and believe in these characters’ lives as presented.

The approach to gender and generational relationships is simplistic which, of course, is nothing new to a genre that, at least in its Hollywoodized state, so often throws up films meant to be taken as easy-going fluff. But it’s particularly frustrating here when it squanders the potential thrown up with the initial concept of a woman trying to find herself again once she’s out of a stale relationship by entering into one with a much younger man.

It strangely seems far more interested in the plight of the three young men working as three cogs of one creative machine – director/producer, writer and actor – to get ahead in the movie business.  But even then it smacks of implausibility, like a cheap rom-com version of the bromance found in Entourage but without any of the snarky wit or Hollywood satire. Despite decent chemistry between a likeable assembled cast, Home Again is a tough pill to swallow as it rings false through and through.

3.5 out of 10

Movie Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin 0 454

This review was previously published at The National.

The world of celebrated children’s author A. A. Milne and the creation of his beloved Winnie the Pooh stories are chronicled in this frightfully polite biopic from director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) that flirts with dipping its toes into darker waters but steadfastly clings to safe tropes and always with its top button firmly fastened.

We start off in 1941 where we find an ageing Milne (Domhnall Gleeson in questionable make-up and greyed hair) and his wife Daphne (Margot Robbie) living on their secluded East Sussex farm. They receive a telegram informing them that their son, C.R. Milne, is missing presumed dead after heading off to fight in World War Two.

We then jump back in time to Milne on the front lines of the First World War. He returns from the fighting a changed man; suffering from PTSD (popped balloons evoking sudden gunfire et al.), becoming increasingly sick of just making people laugh with his West End plays and the general hustle-bustle that comes with big city life.

He convinces his reluctant wife to move to the country for some peace and quiet and where his infant son, Christopher Robin (played by Will Tilston at the younger age, Alex Lawther as he gets older), can go on the childhood adventures he deserves with the support of loving nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald).

Settling into the kind of serene life he craves, he is inspired to create Winnie the Pooh and the rest of his soon-to-be-beloved friends inspired by the stuffed animals with which his young son has become so enamoured. Unfortunately for Christopher – referred to by everyone as “Billy Moon” – his father uses his real name in the stories, turning him into one of the most famous boys in the nation.

Despite the obvious attraction of it exploring the world famous Pooh stories, it’s a film much more interested in the effect it has on a fractured family clinging on to peacefulness, not least the unwanted attention thrust upon a young boy who simply isn’t equipped to handle it and how his parents carry on oblivious.

If anything it takes a curiously bleak outlook on what these stories mean to the world once they’ve been put out there, conveying a somewhat confusing message for a film that ultimately wants us to celebrate these stories as immortally cherished tales; that the Winnie the Pooh embraced immediately by the public and has now stood the test of time for almost a century is in some way missing the point of what it truly means to the author and a son who, inadvertently or not, was used as a tool of innocence to sell the idea of an idyllic childhood in Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood.

It’s bolstered by almost uniformly moving performances; Gleeson plays Milne with a kind of damaged empathy that makes you feel like you get to know the author beyond the public persona. Macdonald is oftentimes heart-breaking as Christopher’s devoted caregiver and Tilston walks away with the film as the adorably sweet-natured young Christopher. It’s only with Robbie that the film makes a misstep; she’s miscast as Milne’s wife and never stepping out of the shadow of cold motherly cliché.

In spite of its darker leanings, the film remains too buttoned up to properly wrestle with those themes in any sort of lasting way, far too polite to ever dive head first into the murky waters into which the drama intermittently peers.

Wrapped in Ben Smithard’s handsomely old-fashioned cinematography and soaked in Carter Burwell’s perpetually swelling score, it’s an aesthetically and emotionally appealing but nevertheless fairly vanilla period biopic best suited to being enjoyed on a rainy Sunday afternoon with tea and biscuits.

6.5 out of 10