Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a big compilation of reviews from this year's Edinburgh Film Festival. Below you'll find reviews for Whedonite crack SERENITY as well as Lasse Hallstrom's AN UNFINISHED LIFE and GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS. Enjoy!!!
Hi again Harry.
Since I've seen little other coverage of movies at the Edinburgh Film Festival thought I'd drop you a mail on a few other films I've seen.
On a Clear Day
This is a UK based flick set in Glasgow about a guy, Frank (Peter Mullan), who loses his job in ship yards and struggles to find something to fill the void in his life and ends up deciding to swim the English Channel while attempting to get closer to his alienated son Rob and also the loss of his other young son years before.
Basically this is a feel good movie which I suspect the US crowds will lap up since its very much in the vain of The Full Monty. The cast all round are superb with Mullan leading the way, Boyd provides the main gags of the flick and is very much there as the funnyman which he excels at. It can be a bit one paced at times and I'm not giving much away by stating that it has an oh to predictable ending but it is a good natured family flick for all to enjoy.
Most of the lead cast were there including Peter Mullan, Brenda Blethyn and Billy Boyd, there were introduced before the flick but sadly didn't really do much but wave and didn't reappear after the film which was more than a little disappointing.
Another feelgood movie. This is another regional UK movie, set in the North of England around a shoe factory which has been passed down father to son, but when the latest father dies his son Charlie (Joel Edgerton) discovers that the company is in trouble and ends up shutting it down. While his fiance attempts to get him to sell up and get on with his life Charlie seeks an alternative and meets a drag queen, Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who provides the answer in producing Kinky Boots for men.
Pretty straight forward flick which I think will probably appeal more to women than men with the whole shoes thing and the many musical numbers. The cast do their jobs ok but fail to really sparkle with a heavily underused Nick Frost being a disappointment, very funny guy, not so funny script.
Both leads were present and did a Q&A but due to the make up of the audience didn't realy get much more than "did the boots hurt" type questions... yawn... NEXT!!
An Unfinished Life
A gem. Pure and simple a terrific movie. This was the world premier of the new Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, Cider House Rules) flick, staring Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez. Sadly none of whom were present, instead we were dumped with an english actor Damien Lewis (Band of Brothers) which wasn't quite as interesting really!
The basic plot of this is J-Lo is a single mother, Jean, who is in a relationship with an abusive boyfriend (played by the aforementioned Damien), she has had enough so runs of taking her daughter Griff (played by the wonderful Becca Gardner) with her. Having nowhere to go she returns to her old town and to the father of Griffs dead father Einar (Redford). Einar lives in a small village with his lifelong friend and former worker Mitch (Freeman) who is disabled having been mauled by a bear several years before.
At first Einar is reluctant to take in Jean and Griff, blaming Jean for his sons death but surprise surprise Griff slowly melts his old heart. Theres nothing big or clever about this movie and the plot and story aren't exactly Oscar winning but what this movie does have is some excellent performances by the leads which makes you believe in and care for the characters and wanting to see where the story takes them. Redford excels as the grumpy old Einar and shows just what a class act he is, Freeman does what Freeman does really, plays the soul of the movie and Gardner looks like a future star, giving a very strong performance for one so young and more than holding her own up against a legend like Redford. J-Lo, well.. shes ok.. she plays the part well enough but I found it hard taking in Jenni from the block as a simple farm girl really and kept waiting for the fur coats and limos to appear.
If you love simple, well acted stories then this is the film for you, see it.
Green Street (Hooligans in the US I think?)
The new Elijah Wood flick by first time writer/director/producer, German born, Lexi Alexander. Wood plays a young American Matt, who is wrongly kicked out of Harvard and travels to London to be with his sister Shannon (Claire Forlani). While there he becomes friends with Shannons fiances younger brother Pete (Charlie Hunnam) who is a football casual, going to West Ham matches and getting involved in street fights with rival teams. Matt is quickly drawn into their world despite his sisters best attempts to prevent it and their world falls apart around them as a result of his and Petes actions.
This is a pretty good flick all round, its shot well, using handy cams and a very gritty film to give a real feeling of being in the streets and bars of London in the 80s with the cast. The atmosphere of the whole thing of going to the football match is captured really well and as a regular football goer I can testify that they got it pretty damn perfect.
Alot will be made of the violence side of this movie and in fact Lexi stated that several festivals in the states had refused to show it as a result but thats so wrong. If thats why they aren't showing it then they are completely missing the point of the movie. The violence is gritty and real, no kungfu kicks or wirework here, its all knees in places they shouldn't be, bottles smashed in faces, bits of wood break legs, real street fighting. Its not set to pounding rock music and hyped up. Its there because thats what these guys do, its the real world folks and to tell a real story you have to show both sides, the good and the bad. To tell this story without showing the violence would make it pointless.
The cast are excellent, particularily the very likeable Charlie Hunnam who is superb and really looks the part despite his later revelation that hes not really a football fan and knew very little about it having been in the states most of his life. Elijah plays out his role pretty well but I did find it a little hard to believe the way he was in the fight scenes as he really is sooooo small and frail I couldn't see him lasting more than 2 seconds in a real scrap like that. Aside from that little nit picking full marks all round.
Lexi (who is VERY hot incidently), Elijah, Charlie and also Leo Gregory (the psychotic Bover in the flick) and some other guy whos name escapes me were all there and did a very long and open Q&A after the film. Lexi went into quite a bit of detail about how she'd seen these things first hand as a kid in Germany (a country reknowned for its football violence) and had decided to write about something she knew well for her first picture. She also went to great lengths to explain how the violence was relevant and that she certianly wasn't condoning it and although she had been around the trouble hadn't gotten involved. A point missed by the guy who wrote the BBC new review who basically made up his story calling her a "former hooligan".. wrong.. she at no point said that asshole. Feel free to send them abusive emails as this review is utter rubbish.... This one! Right here!. He also claims that Elijah became a "west ham regular" despite Elijah being asked "did you become a fan" to which he replied "No, he doesn't like sports".. doesn't get much more clear than that!
Anyways.. a thoroughly enjoyable movie and well worth checking out if you can find a cinema thats showing it. They are struggling to get finance to promote it and no doubt with the subject matter it could well get buried but heres hoping enough movie smart fans check it out and give Lexi a further chance to show us what she can do.
Surprise movie tonight so I may drop you a mail after that if its anything interesting.
The Lost Boy
I can vouche for HOOLIGANS... and for the statement about Lexi Alexander being hot. Hoo-boy! Thanks for the reviews, man... Now below are two SERENITY reviews. The first is one that I'll probably more agree with. I'm sure Joss Whedon is a nice enough guy, but I just don't get it. Never have... and his devout fans scare me just as much as radical religious zealots... I think Whedonites are edging dangerously close to the Scientologist arena... at least the hardcore ones. Anyway, this first review comes from a non-fan and is mixed... The second review comes from a fan. Here's review #1!
I’ve seen a lot of reviews on your site of Serenity from people who unashamedly worship at the church of Whedon. So my take on it may be of interst. I’m familiar his work but I’ve never seen more than a handful of buffy episodes and I have never watched firefly.
A lot of people write really long reviews but I’m going to keep this short
Serenity had its world premier during the Edinburgh film festival. During the week there has been a number of public screenings and a q+a session with Joss. One fan had paid £210 on ebay for the £15 ticketed Q+A event!
Is the film good?
As a non fan I enjoyed watching it but I never felt I was watching anything more than a good b-movie. If I was too pitch it to a movie studio I would say it was “chronicles of riddick but with more jokes”.
Each character was interesting and had personality.
It had a believable universe.
The story was entertaining.
It’s too jokey. I can live with one character getting funny lines but does every single character need to crack a joke at some point????
The story relies on background knowledge from the TV series. I found it difficult to understand what characters where talking about or who certain characters were.
The FX was a bit ropey. They did a good job with the money available but it did look like a TV series at times. No-one had screen presence. They were all good actors but no-one was a star.
Fans will love it but mainstream audiences will ignore it. I like to call this the “star trek movie principal.” If anyone is willing to take a chance on it they will have a good time.
And now for the fan... I wonder if he liked it?
Just got back from the Edinburgh Film Festival screening of 'Serenity' This was the 2nd or 3rd screening and I haven't seen anything online so I thought I'd share my spoiler-free thoughts.
As far as I know this was the first time anyone had seen the finished product. In short, it rules. It is joint first with War Of The Worlds a my best big-budget film of the year.
As a fan of Firefly it gave me everything I could want. It is funny, it is scary (really scary at points), it is sad (God damn you Joss Whedon I don't know whether to kiss you or kill you), but it is a two hour rollercoaster of adventure, both physical and emotional.
The story is set up so that even those who know nothing of Firefly will never need to. I wouldn't say there are in-jokes but fans will benefit from the emotion attached to the characters. Whedon skillfully slides through the exposion in ways that surprised the audience, and sets up the action and climatic conflicts for later.
Stylistically - Serenity has changed from the TV show. The layout is the same, but she no longer looks like a TV set - its a shiny, metal spaceship. I guess it detracts from the ship as a character, but it looks better. My one complaint is that the characters do not seem to treat her with the same respect and love they do on the show. At one point Serenity is 'changed' and I wanted Kaylee to stand up to Mal more than she does.
Outwardly the ship i pretty - the CG is good but not overused (a big complaint of mine in Star Wars). Theer are all the zooms and off-kilter camera angles in the CG sequences that make it feel as if you are free-falling with the crew while being shot at by plasma cannons and the like - to compare the spaceship sequence to the opening of episode 3, this is truly brilliant.
Whedon has managed something George Lucas could not, and that is to have real audience emotion engagement with the cast while in a sci-fi setting. The main point, which is why I believe Serenity will succeed at the box-office, is that the film focuses on the characters, their emotions and the extermely difficult decisions they must make, not some soap opera plot. The plot element is there, but it is balanced finely, never too convoluted or hammy.
Will we get a sequel? From the glowing (shiny) response of tonight's audience I would say its more than possible. I don't know if I want one. I do, obviously, but part of me is glad I just got to see the film version of Firefly, to have some plot points closed, to see what happened to these characters, but after the events in the movie and the changes to the Firefly/Serenity universe, I'm too emotionally drained to even consider what may happen in a sequel.
Gorram you Joss Whedon, you know how to push my buttons too well!