Scott Wilson: Edinburgh International Film Festival – rest of the fest

The 71st Edinburgh International Film Festival is over and done with. Scott Wilson checks in with what to look forward to in the coming months, and what to avoid…

IN BETWEEN THE GLITZ AND THE GLAMOUR of the red carpet and networking events, there’s a little bit of time to fit a film or two into your schedule. Film festivals are opportunities to see a hodgepodge of cinema – sneak peeks of future blockbusters are nestled beside inaccessible documentaries that will never be shown in your country again.

Faced with a stressful amount of options, I took a deep breath and hoped for the best.

Starting off with a horror-comedy about students in a high school involved in a murder mystery scandal sounded sensible and safe, but Bad Kids of Crestview Academy (★☆☆☆☆) is awful.

Daphne is a lonely and cynical film, but with a warm heart.

Noticeably void of acting, and with dialogue that makes videogame cutscenes look like Oscar-winning performances, it’s redeemed by falling into the so-bad-it’s-good category. Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings fame is having the time of his life as the principal teacher who screams “my car!” after witnessing a student fall to their death and crash through it. An uninspiring start, but deserves to be a cult classic.

Daphne (★★★☆☆) is miles better, largely down to Emily Beecham’s incredible lead performance, for which she shared the festival’s Best Performance in a British Feature Film award with Anne Reid. It’s a film for 2017 about a woman who is apathetic and disconnected at a time the world is over-sharing and always tweeting.

After witnessing a violent robbery one night, Daphne struggles to frame her feelings. She’s pushed and pulled by a kind bouncer she tries dating and her mum who wants the best for her. She’s facing loss and is challenged to do and save the thinking for later. It’s a lonely and cynical film, but with a warm heart.

Double Date

Jim is approaching 30 and his best mate is mortified he’s still a virgin. Before he hits the big 3-0, he’s going to help Jim get laid. In walk two beautiful women, Kitty and Lulu, who are either out on the pull or are looking for the final male victim in their blood ritual to resurrect their dead dad. Double Date (★★★★☆ – pictured) is a riot. Bloody, violent, and laugh out loud funny, this horror romcom deserves an audience.

Despite its timeliness, Brother Jakob (★★☆☆☆) didn’t work for me. Director Eli Roland Sachs decided to document his brother’s conversion to radical Islam, detailing all the changes that came with it like leaving friends behind and sending aggressively religious emails to everyone he knows.

But, like Jakob, the film is lost in its search of meaning – Jakob is an interesting person who seems forlorn and desperate to find and feel faith, and this is far more interesting than the conflicts his religious conversion brings. It’s an intimate look into a confusing time for a family, but given how personal it is, it may struggle to connect on a wider scale.

Those who have seen Nocturnal Animals will vividly remember a certain scene involving Aaron Taylor-Johnson pulling over Jake Gyllenhaal’s car. Killing Ground (★★★☆☆) is an entire movie containing that level of tension.

Secluded and hunted on a camping trip, an Australian couple are determined to survive two gun-wielding sadists. They’ve already offed one family and left the remains to prove it. This is grizzly, uncomfortable stuff, but its singular vision is admirable, and a late bait-and-switch is darkly comic.

Kaleidoscope

Anne Reid shared the Best Performance in a British Feature Film award for her performances in Romans and Kaleidoscope (★★★☆☆ – pictured). Centred around Toby Jones’s Carl, who has just been released from prison, Reid plays his nuisance of a mother, always invading his space as he tries to recalibrate his life.

He ignores her calls and throws her out of his house in the small hours. He’s also beginning to date again, but the murder of a local girl who’s been chopped up by tools not unlike the ones Carl has in his kitchen haunts him, as he can’t quite remember what happened to his online hook-up.

Kaleidoscope is utterly disorientating, told through the eyes of a man struggling with normality, guilt, alcohol, and piecing together what happened over the last few days.

Kaleidoscope is utterly disorientating, told through the eyes of a man struggling with normality, guilt, alcohol, and piecing together what happened over the last few days.

Maya Dardel (★★★★☆) is going to kill herself. Believing her most artistically productive days are behind her, she decides to audition young, male writers to whom she can leave behind her earthly possessions.

In a masterful turn from Lena Olin, Dardel is assertive, sexual, and has seen it all before. The men (or boys) are modern, homogenised, and Dardel just wants some authenticity – someone who writes because they absolutely have to write it down. It’s a cross-generational meeting of minds and cultural scenes, with a lot of philosophical and artistic pondering as Dardel and her would-be heirs get a feel for each other (figuratively and literally).

It won’t be for everyone, but, like Elle, it’s a film commanded by an older woman, a demographic often ignored on screen. Olin is balletic as she takes Dardel down an unchartered path towards death and cementing a legacy, while looking for someone who she believes deserves what she will leave behind.

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