Posts Tagged ‘eiff’

EIFF 2012: Killer Joe


You may never eat fried chicken again after watching William Friedkin’s opening film of the 2012 Edinburgh International Film Festival. The tone of the film is set straight away as we open on a disgusting looking trailer park in the pouring rain, a desperate and angry man hammers on a trailer to eventually be met by Gina Gershon naked from the waist down. This is a darkly funny film that can be shocking in parts, sad in others and everything feels dirty. Starring a strong ensemble cast with Matthew McConaughey at the centre in a creepy and sometimes scary performance. McConaughey is better than he has ever been as Joe with the rest of the cast also putting in stellar performances; Juno Temple plays the perfect balance of unstable and innocent, Thomas Haden Church and Emile Hirsch are a brilliant double act as dense father and son and Gina Gershon plays a wicked step mother. The plot of the film is a sort of bleak fairy tale about a hateful family trying to solve their money issues. Chris (Hirsch) needs money fast and so goes to his father with a plan to murder Chris’s mother and collect her insurance money. This is where Joe comes in; being a cop who kills people on the side. The one catch is that Joe wants his money up front or a retainer and unfortunately Chris’s sister Dottie (Temple) is Joe’s desired retainer. This film is worth watching for the acting alone, but see Killer Joe for trashy fun, a grotesque family drama that is extremely difficult to watch in parts but trashy fun none the less. Just

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don’t plan to eat at KFC afterwards.

EIFF 2012: Rent-A-Cat


I like cats, let’s get that out the way right at the start here. Rent-A-Cat does not disappoint on the cat quota, if cats are your thing then this film is for you. However this film is more than just a feature length viral cat video. Sayoko (Mikako Ichikawa) is the wonderfully quirky lead of the

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piece who strongly believes in the power of cats to fill the holes in people’s hearts and by the end of the film so will you. The film is split into four episodes, each focusing on a different lonely person but the overarching story belongs to Sayoko and her search for companionship.

Cats may be everywhere in this film but loneliness is the main theme. An old lady, a business man and an employee at a car rental company all turn to Sayoko and her odd cat rental cart for help. Unfortunately all the cats in the world don’t seem to be able to cure Sayoko’s own loneliness. Sayoko’s is brilliantly played by Ichikawa, instantly likeable and charming the audience connect with her at once.

Unfortunately there are a number of problems with the film that let it down. Though I was charmed from an early point, the episodic structure and deliberate repetition throughout the film began to drag. The film repeats dialogue, metaphors and even structure in each episode of the film, it’s an interesting idea it just didn’t work to great effect other than to make the film feel longer than it actually was. The film has a run time of only 110 minutes yet it feels much longer.

The main character is engaging, it looks great and there are cats everywhere. This film has the potential to be great but unfortunately the structure lets it down.

EIFF 2012 Feature: Fukushima

Nuclear Nation

On March 11th 2011

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an earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan’s east coast. It was the most powerful earthquake to hit Japan since records began and had a devastating effect on the whole country. The tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant causing a number of nuclear accidents including nuclear meltdowns and the release of nuclear material into the atmosphere. It was the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in the 1980s. This year at the Edinburgh International Film Festival there have been three separate films about the disaster and its aftermath.

The earthquake and tsunami devastated the landscape, we have all seen the images of destruction; boats where houses should be, waste land instead of towns and nuclear power stations crumpled. These images are yet again on show here in the documentaries Nuclear Nation and No Man’s Zone. The difference between the two documentaries is how these images are used. Nuclear Nation focuses on Futaba, one of the affected towns, whose residents can no longer go home and are relocated to a Tokyo suburb to live in an abandoned school due to the radiation. No Man’s Zone follows a documentary crew as they visit the area and shows us the extent of the destruction, ghost towns and towns soon to be demolished.

The success or failure of these documentaries relied not on what images of destruction they showed but on the effect this destruction had on the people of this area. It is Nuclear Nation that triumphs here, by focusing on the town of Futaba and its survivors this film has a real human heart to it. The mayor of Futaba stands out as a man trying to keep his people together, slowly coming to realise that he may never be able to take them home. His anger and frustration at the situation are clear as he reminisces about the town and curses the nuclear power plant for ever being built. The government and the nuclear company promised so much for a small town, subsidy money and well-paid jobs that ultimately mean nothing now that the place is uninhabitable. As numerous interviewees point out if it were just an earthquake and tsunami they could be back in Futaba now rebuilding, it’s the existence of the nuclear plant that stops them from going home.

At its best No Man’s Zone also shows the human side to this disaster with a smattering of interviews from survivors. Unfortunately the interviews are few and far between and instead we focus on the long shots of the new landscape making the film seem baron. This baron feeling is deliberate; it mirrors the baron nature of the wasteland that now exists where there were once towns and farms. The director, Toshi Fujiwara, has said that he was attempting to create a ghost film without it being a horror movie. This is achieved but by dehumanising the situation to such an extent No Man’s Zone lacks the emotional drive that is required. On top of this the narrator sounds cold and monotonous, I believe this is to show the seriousness of the disaster, not that the viewer isn’t already aware of this, but it just adds to the overall effect of dullness. This should be a documentary about people and all that they have lost; family and friends, their homes and their livelihoods. Instead it is about long sweeping shots of destruction and empty towns and countryside, which just isn’t enough.

Although both documentaries cover the

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same situation it is Nuclear Nation that stands out as the better film. Audiences will connect more with the characters of this film rather than the empty shots of No Man’s Zone.