With the 2017 edition of the Edinburgh International Film Festival just a week away, our writers have given the shortlist a good long look – and like what they see. Here’s a rundown of the some of the ones we think you should keep an eye on this June and July.
If the return of Twin Peaks has had you foaming at the gills and desperate for more, this Polish thriller could well be the salve needed to slake your penchant for all things freaky-deaky. Signposted in the programme as a “dark and unnerving requiem for a relationship” which contains a “nightmarish Lynchian alternate reality of doubts,” Animals has superb potential for what-the-fuckery.
Another title from the Focus on Poland section, The Sun is a modern adaptation of Albert Camus’ wonderful novel The Stranger (L’Etranger). For those unfamiliar with the story, it’s a tragically absurd exploration of what happens when a seemingly benign member of society turns violent, then subsequently refuses to behave how society dictates. The Sasnal couple sharing the director’s chair have transplanted the action to a xenophobic, neo-nationalist setting, promising to be both highly intriguing and incredibly relevant.
Call me a man of simple pleasures, but smart people pretending to be stupid while speaking in a Kiwi accent gives any comedic effort a head start, in my book. This mockumentary centres on the 2015 National Poultry Show in New Zealand, where rival chicken breeders get their hackles up and their talons out. I’m expecting an enjoyable but ultimately silly romp somewhere in the centre of a Flight of the Conchords and Father Ted Venn diagram.
Is it naïve to expect big things from perhaps the biggest production at EIFF? Terrence Malick has released a whole host of stinkers since his 1998 masterpiece The Thin Red Line, but hopefully this latest effort will get him back on track. With a strong cast (Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender and everyone’s favourite pause-heavy pretty boy Ryan Gosling), Song to Song is a singular love story set against the backdrop of the Texan music scene.
This psychological thriller starring Toby Jones looks extremely promising, with its exploration into the tormented mind of a man recently released from prison whose attempts to adjust to normality are challenged by the return of his dominating mother into his life. Written and directed by Toby’s brother, Rupert Jones, the film appears to be a worthy successor to David Cronenberg’s Spider in its portrayal of the mental decline of a socially-isolated individual.
The infamous Japanese schlock auteur Takashe Miike returns in a sequel to his live-action manga adaption, The Mole Song: Undercover Agent Reiji. Judging from having seen Miike’s violently insane Ichi the Killer, I’m expecting more of the same visual insanity and flagrant disregard for political correctness and common decency, in the seemingly-insane adventures of undercover cop Reiji (Tôma Ikuta) in the Japanese criminal underworld.
Korean director Bong Joon Ho follows up his international comic-book adaptation Snowpiercer (2013) with a return to the creature-feature sensibilities of 2006’s The Host. However, this tale of a young girl doing whatever she can to prevent the titular Okja from falling into the hands of a powerful corporation appears to be more along the lines of E.T., which should result in this film being a Bong Joon-ho film suitable for all the family – a strange thought if you’ve ever seen his previous films!
This Hong Kong horror-comedy following a team of vampire hunters looks like a throwback to the heady days of the genre in the 1980’s and 90’s with films such as Mr Vampire and The Haunted Cop Shop, with an expert blending of gruesome monsters, slapstick comedy and, of course, the obligatory romance. I’m looking forward to an action-packed romp that will not only satisfy fans of Hong Kong cinema but also entertain audiences who can’t tell their geung si from their ginseng!