I am about to scribble down some notes about the Artistic Director’s fashion taste, which has gone steadily upward through the Festival. Tonight it’s a flattering black chiffon number, complemented by an oriental wrap over bare shoulders, and cascading down in subtle layers. I am distracted. She is explaining the voting system on the audience award cards. No card. No one has a card – wrong film. McGill handles the mistake with aplomb and moves on, giving Paranoid Park a deservedly glowing introduction. This is the latest movie by Oscar-nominated director Gus Van Sant. And if you didn’t get a ticket you’ll have to wait till it goes on general release on November 2.
One of the many clever things about Paranoid Park is how it achieves its effect. At one point in the movie, for no big reason, I feel emotion for the characters welling up inside me. I glance left and right. The man and woman on either side of me are similarly affected. Then the movie ends. Woosh.
I can sympathise with the presenter as well. I am so wasted that I arrived for the screening an hour early by mistake. No probs. I work out that Komma, an impressive but weird movie, is just finishing. The director Martine Doyen is doing a Q&A. I take the chance to ask her about the film.
Komma has maybe the most attention-grabbing opening of any film in the festival. The protagonist wakes up in a body bag in the morgue. This zany film moves so quickly you can barely recover from one shock before the next hits you. But I wanted to tie Doyen down about the ending. We’ve pieced together the beginning, how the woman getting acupuncture suddenly loses her memory, and so on for the myriad mysterious plot twists, but the perfectly poetic ending still seems a bit anticlimactic. The Q&A is being carried out through an interpreter. No, she didn’t consider alternative endings. And money was tight anyway. I just think if she’d dramatised it more it would have massive box office potential. (Komma is on again on Saturday if you want to make your own mind up.)
My film before that also highlighted the problem of voting slips. “It wasn’t ‘not my thing’ but I didn’t think it was very good either,” says a woman to me on the way out. I liked the film, but sympathise. Your voting choices are: “Unmissable”, “Really Good”, “Enjoyed It”, or “Not My Thing”. This movie - Extraordinary Rendition - is about the CIA practice of snatching suspects and torturing them in countries where torture isn’t illegal. The audience are politically aware and it is ‘their thing’ but that doesn’t necessarily mean it works as a movie, does it?
The audience vote only applies to some films. Sponsored by Standard Life, “the winner is chosen by audience votes from in the Gala and British sections. The award celebrates mainstream cinema delights: narrative skill, characterisation, suspense, spectacle, comedy, etc.”
Going to a racetrack is only fun if you make a bet. Once you vote on one film, the race becomes more exciting. Here’s the results so far:
Audience vote (we've added in the highest Eye For Film review rating in brackets):
- Ratatouille () (on again Sunday)
- In The Shadow Of The Moon (on again Sunday)
- The Counterfeiters ( - on again Sunday)
- Control () (on again Sunday)
- Special People ()
- Knocked Up ()
- Death Proof () (cinemas nationwide September 21, 2007)
- Stardust () (on again Sunday)
- Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle () (cinemas nationwide from mid-September - date to be confirmed)
- A Mighty Heart () (cinemas nationwide September 21, 2007)
Most of these films will be on general release soon, and the result could still change. Special People and The Counterfeiters, for example, also have a second screening this Saturday.
Special People is an engaging comedy drama about a community film teacher and a class of wheelchair using students. The Counterfeiters is a very solid movie stretching from 1930s luxurious Berlin through the brutality and horrors of the concentration camps. The Counterfeiters and Seachd are the only subtitled contenders in the top ten. Have you made any predictions?
Once again, Eye For Film has brought you one of the most comprehensive sources of festival reviews on the web (or anywhere for that matter). Nearly all the feature film reviews are up, but we’ve included the star ratings of some still being uploaded to help you decide on Sunday’s viewing.
Best of Fest (Sunday):
(highest Eyeforfilm vote in brackets)
- Blind Mountain (Mang shan) Filmhouse 3 10:00
- What Would Jesus Buy? Filmhouse 2 10:15 ()
- Once Cameo 1 10:30 ()
- LYNCH Filmhouse 1 10:30 ()
- The Monastery: Mr Vig And The Nun Cineworld 12:00 ()
- Protagonist Cineworld 12:15
- Skills Like This Filmhouse 2 12:15
- Weirdsville Cameo 1 12:30 ()
- Ratatouille Cineworld 12:30 ()
- We Are Together Filmhouse 1 12:30 ()
- Control Cineworld 14:00 ()
- Beauty In Trouble Cineworld 14:15 ()
- In Search Of A Midnight Kiss Filmhouse 2 14:15 ()
- Razzle Dazzle: A Journey Into Dance Cineworld 14:45 ()
- And When Did You Last See Your Father? Filmhouse 1 14:45 ()
- Tekkonkinkreet Cameo 1 15:00 ()
- Stardust Cineworld 16:30 ()
- The Waiting Room Cineworld 16:45
- Day Watch Filmhouse 1 16:45 ()
- I Served The King Of England Cineworld 17:00 ()
- The Counterfeiters Cameo 1 17:30 ()
- The Hottest State Cineworld 19:00 ()
- Death Proof Cineworld 19:30 ()
- Hallam Foe Cineworld 19:45 ()
- Auftauchen Filmhouse 3 22:00 ()
- In The Shadow Of The Moon Cineworld 21:45
- I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK Cineworld 22:00 ()
Some other ratings:
- Children Of Glory ()
- The Ice Plant ()
- Missing ()
- Paranoid Park ()
- Rocket Science ()
- The Serpent ()
- Strawberry Fields ()
If your favourite isn’t reviewed yet, check back soon.
Friday also brings a second chance to see my favourite film of the Festival. Phantom Love. This is one for those who like a surrealist challenge (8pm Friday @ Cineworld 3).
Remember, star ratings are only useful if it is the type of film you like. Razzle Dazzle is a mainstream crowd pleaser, but our other two top-rated movies will divide audiences. Death Proof is Tarantino at full tilt, but appealing far more to cinephiles than his previous work. I’m A Cyborg, But That's OK marks a change of direction for director Park Chan-wook and is more Edward Scissorhands than Lady Vengeance. This film is the very offbeat story of an otherwise normal girl who believes she’s a cyborg. Committed to a mental institution, it is another inmate who helps her find a way out of her fantasy to eat real food instead of licking batteries.
A festival isn’t complete without stars on the Red Carpet. Today had several, but were the stars up to scratch?
Chris Cooper, Tilda Swinton, Samantha Morton, John Waters, Stockard Channing and Jim Broadbent. All well-known to dedicated filmgoers, but do they compete with last year’s? Is Julie Delpy a name on the tip of everyone’s tongue? No, I thought not (even though I’m looking forward to her talk on Sunday immensely). The man in the street couldn’t tell you who most of these people are much less name their movies. Not like last year. Sigourney Weaver and Sean Connery pressing the flesh – now that’s star appeal! Also last year, Ewan McGregor sent a message by videotape. Maybe next year, dear organisers, you might bus him in? Or send him a motorbike.