Wednesday, 3 March 2010

glasgow film fest in review

if you attended any screenings as part of the glasgow film festival over the last couple of weeks you'll have noticed the skinny's little, black-and-white, 4-page cousin kicking about. it was called the cineskinny and i had a couple of reviews published there and online (at that i thought i'd share on the blog:

BERGFEST (Florian Eichinger, 2009)
With just four actors, one isolated location and a subtext laden with unspoken resentment, Florian Eichinger’s intense, theatrical chamber piece impresses on a tight budget. The cast bring convincing gravitas to their slow-burn emotional tussling: Martin Schleiss, in his feature debut, is quietly temperamental as a young actor forced to acknowledge past suffering when his girlfriend (Anna Bruggemann) dupes him into spending the weekend with his estranged father Hans-Gert (Peter Kurth) and his youthful partner Lavinia (Rosalie Thomass) in a remote Alpine hut. It’s an economical and familiar set-up - stock a pressured scenario with bottled-up protagonists and let the sparks fly - but Eichinger exerts admirable restraint, downplaying distressing revelations yet retaining a tense unpredictability. It’s only let down by occasionally unconvincing behaviour from certain characters, whose actions create dramatic tidiness at the expense of psychological plausibility. Otherwise it’s a strong study of parental guilt and childhood trauma as chilly as the icy vistas it occupies. (****)

KANDAHAR BREAK (David Whitney, 2009)
“They’ve been fighting in Afghanistan since Alexander the Great - it’ll never change, so leave the fuckers to it” shrugs an apathetic minesweeper near the beginning of Kandahar Break. If you’re looking for further socio-political insight, you’ll be disappointed: after introducing such promising themes as the amorality of Western capitalism and the ethics of British companies accepting Taliban contracts, the script takes a sharp downturn. While countless films have framed the suffering of others through that of a detached outsider receiving a crash-course in foreign woes, here it feels particularly superficial. The simplistic ‘escape from Afghanistan’ structure is topped with an implausibly neat post-9/11 denouement that offers unconvincing closure in a political situation still awaiting its own resolution. Fluffed potential aside, the film is sporadically successful, particularly in evoking the early fear and confusion prompted by a combination of gun-waving local intolerance and the protagonist’s own ignorance. Yet such minor accomplishments fail to redeem Kandahar Break’s more deep-rooted flaws. (**)

i saw a bunch of other movies too, reviews of which will dribble online over the coming months when the films (hopefully) get wider releases. one film that has already got full distribution sorted is 1234, and i'll have my interview with director giles borg up on the site later in the week.

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