cryptogirl: (Margot)
[personal profile] cryptogirl
In all my festival-going years, I've somehow managed to miss the Film Festival. Partly it's because my Edinburgh visits tended to be in August, and partly I was never old enough for half the films. I decided to make up for it this year. My bank account will never forgive me :(

The weekend prior to the festival, they had a whole three days of films on a giant screen in St Andrew Square for free. I like free, so we duly trundled in to see Metropolis.

I found out this was the somewhat controversial Giorgio Moroder version, coloured and resubbed with a pop soundtrack. I actually thought that the music worked well on the whole, with the exception of the dreadful Pat Benatar track for the love-themed scenes. Pounding synths go well with grim pounding machinery, it turns out.

As for the film? I loved it. I've only ever seen the famous snippets of scenes (for instance, in Queen's Radio Gaga video), but those glorious shots of an Art-Deco-ish, monorails-and-biplanes future are justly praised. The plot seems to be one of those things that remains topical: the rich city with a Worker's City underneath where the unwashed masses toil at giant machines, the secret meetings of the workers waiting for the great mediator to fix everything, the...erm, robot-women made by mad scientists. Visually, it's lovely; the special effects are impressive by 1920s standards, the hand-drawn scenery is gorgeous, the metaphors striking (seven deadly sins coming to life, the evil robot as the Whore of Babylon, the Tower of Babel). Plus, Freder and Maria are impossibly handsome.

I'm particularly selective about the sci-fi I like, both on screen and in print. I don't like super-hardcore, spend ten pages telling me how your rocket obeys the current knowledge of physics. I do like good characters, a compelling story and good visually descriptive epicness. Metropolis pretty much delivers on all counts. Can't believe I've only just got round to seeing it!

The first EIFF offering proper is directed by, and starring, Noel Clarke, who readers might know better as Mickey from Doctor Who. The man himself was at Cineworld and introduced the film- it's been compared to The Matrix and Inception, but it was filmed on something like a 200 times smaller budget.

I would agree with Pete in that it's less Matrix and more like a cross between Memento and Equilibrium. The non-spoilery summary: A former soldier wakes up in the back of a van with a captive child and no idea how he got there. Eventually he realises that every 9 minutes he 'reboots' into another body, and that the real him has been up to no good. Faced with very little time to find out the truth, he jumps through brothels, government detention facilities and swishy laboratories to find out who's behind it all. It's a very slick affair, with CGI cityscapes and very Matrix/Max Payne fight sequences. Clarke explained that many of them were filmed in one take, and that they experimented with various visual effects, slo-mo bullet time clearly being the favourite. They're pretty impressive and there's a LOT of them, to the point where you're sort of impatient for dialogue to finish because you just know there's another fight scene coming in a few minutes.

At times I felt the dialogue was a little stilted (I'm no scriptwriter, but some of it didn't flow so well). Other than that the pacing was good and performances were strong, especially from Ian Somerhalder of Lost/Vampire Diaries fame, who's a perfectly cold villain, and the venerable Brian Cox (no, not *that* one). There's plenty of nods to contemporary issues like surveillance, terrorism, torture and so on, which Pete liked. Hope this one does well on general release.

Ah, Hostel director Eli Roth's tribute to Cannibal Holocaust. This was picked by Pete as having an interesting plot which can be neatly summed up as 'rich clueless students go all Gap Yah to save the Amazon natives, get eaten instead'. I could happily leave it there, but there's more to it than that.

Said clueless idiots are taken on their activism romp by the charismatic Alejandro, who duly marches them to where construction workers are busy ruining everything so they can chain themselves to trees. Unfortunately it all goes a bit wrong when he fails to mention the 'detonate explosives and attract the police' part. Then there's an obligatory plane crash, and the grisly cannibal tribe part kicks in. It all builds up to a set piece where the nicest character is hacked to bits by the tribe's elder- and as a horror fan it had enough gore to keep me engrossed. It gets a bit wittier after that, as the students start to bicker and fight and you start to wonder who exactly the 'savages' are; there's a suicidal vegan, a creative way to use someone's weed stash and Alejandro getting his comeuppance for staging the whole thing as an elaborate PR stunt to get more social media attention. This was the first film I've seen in 4K, and boy was this a good choice with its sweeping shots of the rainforest and the brightly coloured tribesfolk. It turns out that only the main cast were professional actors; the rest were a mixture of locals, the actual police and a previously unfilmed tribe.

We found some of this out due to the unexpected Q&A afterwards with none other than Roth himself, and the lead actress Lorenza Izzo who'd come all the way from Santiago. Roth stayed for much longer than he needed to to take fan questions, everything from how he did impaling scenes (hidden bike seats) to how he persuaded an isolated tribe to act in a movie when they'd never seen one (take a TV and generator and show them Cannibal Holocaust). Apparently they thought it was hilarious, which somewhat wasn't the answer the couple behind us were expecting, who'd come to see this last minute and were Concernedtm about how the tribe felt about their portrayal*. Oh, and as Eli was in Inglourious Basterds as the 'Bear Jew' he had a few quality Tarantino anecdotes; it was nice too hearing his enthusiasm for classic Italian horror directors like Lenzi and Deodato, and the inspiration for the setting- mostly Herzog's fault.

What I thought he nailed completely was the 'slacktivist' culture. He was unimpressed by the slickly marketed, Twitter hashtagged stream of bollocks like Kony and Occupy, where 'you can just retweet something, sit back and get on with your comfortable life'. The first half hour doesn't hold back in its gleeful shredding of the activists' idiocy ('It's Quechua' 'What's that?' 'SHE'S A SINGER') and the ultimate kick in the face- Justine covering up the gruesome events in interviews- is just how I'd imagine a PR machine kicking in to spin the hell out of things. So, yeah, if you like biting social commentary that also involves people's eyes being poked out and limbs being hacked off, this is the film for you. Or something.

* He had also done a goodly amount of research into various South American tribes, particularly in Venezuela and Brazil. I'm fine with doing some artistic licence on top of that, even if it goes a bit Mysterious Cities Mayincatec. He also researched the Pishtaco myth, which put something of an interesting spin on the scene where Justine is covered in fat by one of the natives...

Tomorrow we're seeing Garnet's Gold but I can't decide what to see for the last weekend. Damn my eclectic tastes :(


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