I don’t know if it’s the fact that the novelty has gone, or that I know I really can’t afford to splash out in the manner I did last time, or if I’m just trying to fill my time as best as possible, but I’ve yet to see an advert for anything on at the Fringe Festival that truly makes me think “Yes- I’d really like to see that…” The street walls and building sites are once again decorated in a massive collection of giant posters, but it just doesn’t seem as dazzlingly different as it did last time. Maybe, when it comes down to it, it’s the knowledge that I’m here for work. Last time, it was easy to forget, to say “Well, it’s just a matter of surviving and getting through to the end…”, but one of the results of that was I ended up missing quite a lot of stuff. I don’t want to make that mistake this time, and I want to be able to get to the end of the Festival having missed as few of the films I genuinely want to see as possible. (The fact that I remember exactly how uncomfortable it was to watch films in the Videotecque viewing area is only adding to my determination to get it all right).
The one thing I’m trying to make certain of is that I’m eating well. Film Festivals aren’t really designed to be survived in normal ways- and unlike the screenings I usually go to in London, there’s no chance of any food at any of them. The result of this is that you’ve got to either eat ridiculous amounts of sweets and convenience food, or you’ve got to factor in enough time to be able to eat properly. I’m generally doing a mix of both options at the moment, but hopefully I’ll be able to get it right sooner rather than later. There are going to be some seriously busy days coming up (If I wanted, there’s a couple of days where I could probably manage to see eight films in one day, if I really wanted to). Ultimately, it’s a mixture of trying to see as much as possible, and trying to pace myself so I don’t end up ill. We shall see what the final result is…
Okay- the films so far…
PALIMPSEST- a seriously disturbing Police drama from Poland that managed to feel genuinely Lynchian, without simply ripping Lynch off wholesale. It’s the story of a cop investigating the death of a colleague, encountering intrigue and complications, but also having to deal with the fact that he’s gradually losing his mind. Building up serious levels of menace and throwing in some horribly unsettling, dream-like imagery this was downright spooky, and also managed to throw in what could politely be described as a ‘twist’ without it feeling overdone or unoriginal.
SPECIAL- a low-budget, sweet-minded comedy drama, where a likable doofus (played by Michael Rappaport, who seems to have made a small career out of playing these kinds of roles) is looking for meaning in his life, and agrees to take part in a drug trial. Unfortunately, the side-effects of the drug mean that he thinks he has superpowers, and he’s soon dressing up in a white leather jumpsuit and attempting to fight crime. It sounds kooky as hell, and that’s how it starts, but what’s impressive is the way the filmmakers evolve the story in a gradually darker direction, and it’s ultimately a seriously touching film about finding your own strength. Rough around the edges, but no worse for it.
LIVES OF THE SAINTS- genuinely magical and thoroughly gripping, this British mixture of crime drama and magical realist fairy tale is co-directed by photographer Rankin, and was a hell of a lot more powerful than I expected. Set in a slightly skewed version of London crammed full of rich, almost theatrical dialogue, it follows the lives of a group of people connected to a corpulent Greek crime lord, all of whom are changed by the discovery of a spooky child with paranormal abilities, who may possibly be an angel… Starting off like a Lock Stock clone, this is soon dealing with powerful ideas of religious faith and salvation, this is impressive stuff with one of those lush, richly orchestrated soundtracks that doesn’t put a foot wrong.
THE HOST- Never have great expectations. I’d made the mistake of reading some reviews on Aint It Cool news, the home of hyperbole, and as a result was expecting an absolutely kick-arse monster movie from this South Korean CGI blockbuster. What I got was pretty damn good, and featured some wonderful moments, but didn’t quite balance out its flaws, and the jumping of tones between dark, bleak horror and campy slapstick didn’t always work. A slightly jumbled plot didn’t help matters, and while I wasn’t strictly speaking disappointed, it wasn’t as focussed or effective as the director’s previous film Memories of Murder, and didn’t manage to push to the breathtaking levels that films like OldBoy and A Bitttersweet Life have managed for me before.
The rest of today was taken up with shopping and sorting things out, but I should soon be neck deep in movies. The festival screenings properly begin tomorrow, and I’m going to request as many as I can- one of the main problems I had last time was not having enough to do, and I want to do as much as I can to avoid that problem. Keep myself busy, keep my head down, and the days will go faster.