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Edinburgh International Film Festival Preview


Preview

Our reviewers offer their picks from the EIFF programme.

Image of Edinburgh International Film Festival Preview

With the Edinburgh International Film Festival programme launched last week, our reviewers have been quick to get stuck in.  From a packed eleven days, we’ve rounded up some of the films we’re most excited about covering.

Kevin Ibbotson-Wight

The Dead Don’t Die

Jim Jarmusch/ USA/ 2019/ 105 mins

Not, of course, Jarmusch’s first foray into horror territory, but The Dead Don’t Die is a straight-ahead comedy, eschewing the despairing hipster decadence of Only Lovers Left Alive entirely.  Okay, reviews of his new zombie comedy haven’t been entirely gushing like gnawed arteries, but you can’t ignore a cast that includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny and Adam Driver.  Plus, when Jarmusch plays with genre conventions, the results are always at least interesting; as Dead Man and Ghost Dog amply demonstrate.

@Vue Omni Centre, 21 and 23 Jun 2019

Darlin’

Pollyanna McIntosh/ USA/ 2019/ 100 mins

Pollyanna McIntosh was almost a literal force of nature in Lucky McKee‘s The Woman, one of the more savage indie horrors of recent years.  She directs the follow up herself and returns to her feral titular role.  This time she’s determined to rescue her equally ferocious daughter (Lauryn Canney) from the confines of a Catholic care home.  If it’s even remotely on a par with its brutal predecessor, then Darlin’ will be a must see for fans of cinematic extremity.

@Filmouse, 25 and 26 Jun 2019

Robert the Bruce

Richard Gray/ USA/ 2019/ 124 mins

Scotland’s legendary hero gets a second cinematic outing in a year, after Chris Pine donned chain mail in The Outlaw King.  This is a sequel of sorts to Braveheart with Angus Macfadyen returning to the role he played in Mel Gibson‘s epic slab of nonsense.   Robert the Bruce is sure to draw in the crowds for its World Premiere, with its predecessor having inspired acts of ridiculous performative Jockery for a quarter of a century now.  It promises to be more stripped-back, contemplative affair however, which sees Robert recovering from injuries sustained in battle.

@Vue Omni, 23 and 25 Jun 2019

Bait

Mark Jenkin/ UK/ 2018/ 90 mins

I’m a sucker for moody modern black and white.  It always brings to mind the great joy of classic cinema, and Mark Jenkin‘s gone full retro by shooting Bait on a Bolex 16mm camera.  Heaven.  Bait taps into the growing clamour for regional representation throughout the UK as Cornish fisherman Martin (Edward Rowe) struggles to reconcile his idealised childhood existence with the modern Cornwall of London tourists and fishing vessels refurbished for boat tours.  Similar thematic concerns to those of any Edinburgh resident who’s tried to pound the pavements with any great speed come August then.

@Odeon 21 and 23 Jun 2019

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

Rob Garver/ USA/ 2018/ 96 mins

A documentary exploring the life and career of the great Pauline Kael who, as the title suggests, turned film criticism into an art form during her time at the New Yorker from 1967-91. Arguably vying with Roger Ebert for the position of the most influential film critic ever, What She Said reflects on her legacy with liberal sprinklings of the films she reviewed and contributions from the likes of Quentin Tarantino, David O. Russell and David Lean.  Anyone involved in film criticism will have been at least indirectly influenced by Kael and Garver’s documentary is a timely tribute in what would have been her centenary year.

@Odeon 24 and 29 Jun 2019

Mark Carnochan

The Art of Self-Defense

Riley Stearns/ USA/ 2019/ 105 mins

Coming out of South by Southwest with a lot of steam behind it The Art of Self-Defense rolls in to EIFF this June. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, who has recently taken a step back from Hollywood and gone back to his indie roots, the film follows a mild mannered accountant who takes up karate after a mugging in the street. Covering themes of toxic masculinity in the most wonderful and bizarre ways, The Art of Self-Defense is a sure fire hit at this years festival and should be near the top of everyone’s list.

@Vue Omni Centre 21 and 23 Jun 2019

Astronaut

Shelagh McLeod/ Canada/ 2018/ 91 mins

Any film entered in to the festival, or any film festival for that matter, starring legendary actor Richard Dreyfuss is sure to garner a lot of interest just from his name alone. Add in the wonderful premise of this film (a lonely, widowed, pensioner dreams of becoming an astronaut) and you have something really special on your hands. No doubt it will be a tearjerker but it will definitely make you feel as warm and cosy as a homemade cardigan.

@Filmhouse 22 and 24 Jun 2019

Samurai Marathon

Bernard Rose/Japan UK/ 2018/ 105 mins

Bernard Rose (Candyman) is back with his first feature film in four years; this time taking a rather intriguing turn in to the genre of the samurai film, Japanese-language and all. Inspired by the real-life race (still held annually in Japan) established in the 1850s by an ageing feudal lord who, in response to the arrival of American fleets, challenged his lazy samurais to complete a marathon. With a familiar name to ease you in to it, a fascinating tale, plenty of drama and action added in to the fold, Samurai Marathon is a must for the samurai lovers at the festival.

@Odeon 25 and 26 Jun 2019

Cage-a-Rama 3D (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance & Drive Angry)

Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor/ USA UAE/ 2011/ 96 mins; Patrick Lussier/ USA/ 2011/ 104 mins

When Matchbox Cineclub and EIFF announced they were working together you could be sure that they were cooking up something good. Matchbox Cineclub are famous for hosting events/festivals around the cult side of cinema, so much so that this is actually the third installment in the Cage-a-Rama series. What makes this one so special? Well, because it’s in 3D!

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance @Filmhouse 22 Jun 2019

Drive Angry @Filmhouse 22 Jun 2019

Balance, Not Symmetry

Jamie Adams/ UK/ 2019/ 96 mins

It is unclear how many people share such an opinion but it seems safe to say that Scottish cinema is in an excellent state at the moment. Certainly the best it has been in a while and perhaps the best it has ever been. Over the last year or so Scotland has seen its fair share of excellent movies, and wide releases, with productions such as Outlaw King, Mary Queen of Scots, Beats, Wild Rose and Anna and the Apocalypse, to name a few, and this year EIFF is celebrating it with an excellent stream of Scottish films (both old and new) in which Balance, Not Symmetry is the cherry on top. Co-written by Biffy Clyro’s front man Simon Neil, as well as being scored by the band. Bands and musicians scoring films is no new feat, with many having done so before, but in a country where music is so infused with cinema it represents a surprising first in the country’s history. A special event in every meaning of the word, Balance, Not Symmetry is a must see at this years Fest.

@Festival Theatre 23 Jun 2019

Nico Marrone

Aniara

Pella Kagerman, Hugo Lilja/ Sweden Denmark/ 2018/ 107 mins

An adaptation of Harry Martinson’s 1956 epic poem, Aniara follows a spaceship carrying passengers to Mars that is knocked off-course. Lost in the depths of space, the crew and passengers must handle the isolation and find a way to survive without descending into madness. A breakout film from the Toronto International Film Festival, the film looks to blend claustrophobia and tribalism, delving into how humanity can fall apart in such an environment.

@Vue Omni 20 and 23 Jun 2019

Gwen

William McGregor/ UK/ 2018/ 85 mins

This Gothic drama set in an isolated Welsh community during the height of the Industrial revolution possesses many of the same hallmarks as The Witch, one of my favourite films from 2016. In blending pagan ritual and small-town mentality with the backdrop of technological advancement, Gwen has a lot of potential to craft a truly unsettling film brimming with suspense if it can successfully balance these elements.

@Odeon 23 and 25 Jun 2019

Them That Follow

Britt Poulton, Dan Madison Savage/ USA/ 2018/ 99 mins

Olivia Colman has always been a brilliant character actress, and her recent success thanks to Broadchurch and her excellent portrayal of Queen Anne in The Favourite is certainly well deserved. As such, it will be intriguing to see her take on a far darker role as a member of an extreme Appalachian Pentecostal group attempting to rein in a disobedient child. Of course, a film is more than the sum of its actors so hopefully the rest of the film can live up to these lofty expectations.

@Vue Omni 26 and 29 Jun 2019

A Girl from Mogadishu

Mary McGuckian/ Ireland Belgium Morocco/ 2019/ 113 mins

Making its international premiere at EIFF 2019,  A Girl from Mogadishu follows the true story of one of the world’s foremost activists against female genital mutilation and gender-based violence, Ifrah Ahmed. Starring How to Get Away with Murder’s Aja Naomi King, the film will no doubt be a heartbreaking and powerful portrayal biopic that will address very important issues.