Happy Birthday, Mr President…

Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me-eee,
Happy Birthday to me.

32 years on the planet, and life still has the capability of surprising me. Certainly, when I was at Edinburgh last year, attempting to celebrate my birthday, watching Serenity (and actually getting a little annoyed by it), and trying to focus on the distant point when I would be leaving, I didn’t think that in a year’s time I’d actually have something that (vaguely) resembles a completed novel. I certainly don’t know exactly where I’ll be (or even where I’m going to be living) this time next year… but I can at least look back at some of the excessively nutty things I’ve done during my 32 years on the face of the Earth, and feel rather proud at the fun I’ve had. And hopefully, I’ve got plenty to do before my time is up. Hurrah!!

Right, from musings of mortality, to the world of films. Once again, I managed five films yesterday- although I think I was getting dangerously close to burn-out with the last one, as it was rather nicely done but I didn’t enjoy it that much because I was in such an unpleasant mood. I’ve got four lined up for today, and things are going to start settling down a bit this week as the press screenings tail off, and I might get a chance to actually enjoy being in Edinburgh rather than just sitting in darkened rooms watching patterns of light being projected on a white screen. I’m hoping to conquer the major hill known as Arthur’s Seat that lies just next to Edinburgh- I didn’t get all the way up last time, and I’m determined to at least try again, if not actually succeed this time. I’m also going to try and see some live stuff, but I think mainly it’s all going to feel like a shambling race for the finish line. Once I get to Friday, all I’ve got to do is get through another lengthy bus journey, and then Edinburgh will be over for another year, and I can start battling the novel (as well as considering exactly what to do next…)

The films themselves…

GRETCHEN- Anyone who’s seen NAPOLEON DYNAMITE or Todd Solonz’s HAPPINESS will find this very familiar. It’s an off-kilter tale of teenage woes as a dumpy girl falls for a pot-bellied bad boy and experiences major emotional trauma. There’s a couple of great sequences and it uses music very well- but it’s also grotesque, formless and downright annoying at times, as well as taking an absolute bloody eternity to end.
TWELVE AND HOLDING – a wry, intense look at growing up in American suburbia, as a young kid is killed accidentally when a prank goes wrong, and the friends (and twin brother) left behind all find different ways of dealing with the tragedy. Funny and heartbreaking, it’s beautifully played and very well directed, despite a couple of predictable elements.
loudQUIETloud- a music documentary all about the 2004 reunion tour of the Pixies, this was a very well put-together film with great concert footage and some excellent moments- but I don’t really feel that I learnt anything from it. Unlike some of the best music documentaries I’ve seen, like DIG! and SOME KIND OF MONSTER, I think you need to be a Pixies fan to get the most out of this.
AIR GUITAR NATION- a gloriously funny look at the seriously nutty world of the World Air Guitar Championship, and the people who compete in it. Packed full of great tunes and major laughs, this is great fun, but it’s also surprisingly heartfelt and respectful, not treating it as a freakshow but letting the OTT personalities of the competitors come through. Definitely one of the most entertaining of the festival so far.
SHEITAN- Very, very oddball French horror, with a group of rave-happy teenagers falling foul of a group of DELIVERANCE-style countrybound nutcases led by a maniacally grinning Vincent Cassell. Sexy and deliriously weird in places, but it’s ultimately too kooky for its own good, and ends up feeling like twisted silliness for the sake of twisted silliness. And don’t even get me started on the garbled and inconclusive ending…
SOMEONE ELSE- A very well shot British romantic comedy drama about a guy who dumps his girlfriend for another woman, gets dumped himself, and then slowly realises his mistake. There are some great elements here, and it’s a genuinely cinematic romantic comedy that’s aiming for a Woody Allen-style mix of laughs and melancholy- but the central relationship is actually the least interesting part of the entire movie, and it gets stuck between whether it’s going to be comic or dramatic, never really making up its mind.
WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY- a slightly over-whimsical but charming fantasy all about what lies in wait for you when you commit suicide- which turns out to be almost exactly the same as our own world, just “a little worse”. Patrick Fugit goes on the road to try and find his recently deceseased girlfriend, but is soon meeting up with beautiful drifter Shannyn Sossamon, and while not every element in this film works, it’s still a very imaginative and engaging film that has shedloads of truly twisted, eccentric and dark comedy.

More soon. I’m off to watch stuff, and have some fun as well…

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