EIFF 2009

The Edinburgh Film Festival finished a couple of weeks ago. As ever, I went along and saw a bunch of films and stage interviews. The programme had been a little disappointing, mostly due to feeling a little constricted – some things that are usually present were dropped (Mirrorball being the most obvious example) and the late night movies weren’t very late night, starting about 10:30 for the most part. That said, it was a lot of fun – I was more successful than normal in avoiding duds and there were several things that really stood out.

Two films I saw early on that really stood out were Moon and Exam, two low budget indie science fiction films. Moon has had an awful lot of publicity already so I won’t repeat what other people have said about it. Exam is a very tight, taut thriller – eight people in a room in the final test of a long interview process, one of whom will get the job. Both films looked great – a testament to how affordable good CGI has become. I’ll be interested to see what follows them now there’s some examples of low budget SF out there, and I’m not sure what to make of the fact that both of the films were British.

Pontypool was also excellent, a zombie movie about the dangers, or possibily salvation, of talk radio. If you see it (which you should) make sure you stay for the end of the credits.

Also good was Modern Love is Automatic. It’s a low budget indie flick which reminded me an awful lot of The Unbelievable Truth partly in terms of visual design but more in the way it decided to just jump off and handle things in a totally non-naturalistic fashion. It’s a really tricky thing to pull off without looking like you just don’t care about the audience (witness a lot of “experimental” films) but it’s very impressive when it works and it worked here.

On the down side Dario Argento’s Giallo had the audience laughing, and I’m fairly sure it was an at laugh rather than a with laugh. There came a point in the film where it felt like they’d just run out of enthusiasm for the whole thing and were just throwing anything on the screen to tie up the loose ends. Very disappointing at a film festival. That was the only real blip, though – overall it was good though there was cost cutting in evidence.

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