THE 56TH EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: PLANET WANNA-BE HOLLYWOOD

Revengers Tragedy ^ * ^ Directed by Alex Cox ^ Starring Eddie Izzard and that guy with the big chin from the crap known as “Shallow Grave” ^ 2002
Well, I was pretty damned excited about this one. A new film by Alex Cox? Quality mayhem. I made my way across to the press conference for this one wearing a Repo Man (one of my all-time fave films) tee-shirt a kid I know in Pennsylvania (hi DW!) sent me. Cox and his star Eddie Izzard were doing a photo call outside the Sheraton and Cox was delighted when he spotted the tee-shirt. I ended up talking to him briefly about Repo Man (and shaking his hand for the film) on the way down to the press conference in the Sheraton basement, and was horrified to feel my brain freeze and to hear myself just saying sickmaking sycophantic crap like “I just love that film.” Still, I quoted “ordinary fuckin’ people…I hate ‘em” to him and he told me that was a real quote from a real repo man, which was cool.
Pity about “Revengers Tragedy” then.
This is an updating of an archaic play by Thomas Middleton. I knew Cox had updated this film, but thought he might have updated the dialogue too. He didn’t, so when you were trying to watch what was happening on-screen you were missing the convoluted Olde English muttering, and vice versa. The dialogue just ultimately proved to be impenetrable to me, not jelling at all with the contemporary visuals, so I just walked out after ten minutes.
Another one bites the dust. Better luck next time, Alex.
This Is Not a Love Song ^ **** ^ Directed by Bille Eltringham ^ Starring Michael Colgan, Kenny Glenaan ^ 2002
Ah, you see, this is more like it. Finally, a good film, and a Scottish one at that! Wonders will never cease!
See, here’s the thing about Scottish film. It generally tends towards dark and depressing subjects that don’t translate too well outside of Scotland. And if a film is not arty…well, it’s pretty much fucking doomed. The Scotsman newspaper recently talked of “Morvern Callar” as being ‘untainted by crass commercialism’…which is just utterly fucking ridiculous. If films don’t make money, as most Scottish films don’t, no matter how worthy, this will cripple an industry and not allow it to make more films. The head filmic honchos in this country are a bunch of chancers called Scottish Screen. They recently appointed a woman with no filmic experience to be their chairman – she had worked in a fucking bank!
So there we have it. Scottish Screen is run by a load of people who are completely out of touch with the viewing public in this country. They do not seem to recognize that film viewers here have been brought up on Hollywood fare, and expect a bit of (whisper this blasphemous concept) entertainment upon occasion as opposed to portentous, pretentious shite.
Now, having said this, “This Is Not a Love Song” (named after the PiL song of the same name, which gets a great orchestral reworking at strategic points during the running time) is not the lightest of films. However, it is a damned good and entertaining piece of work, even if its material is dark.
Story concerns two guys named Spike and Heaton. Spike, who is an amiable, dumb man-child, gets out of prison. Heaton is there with a stolen car to give his old friend a special greeting. They go for a run into the country, and run out of gas. Wandering to a nearby farm, they search around.
The farmer puts in an appearance as the two men, split up, try to find some gas. The farmer has been robbed before and herds Heaton into a shed, locking him in there to call the police. But Spike manages to get his shotgun and take command of the situation. However, the farmer’s daughter arrives on the scene unexpectedly and Spike accidently shoots her dead. The two men then set off across the moors, pursued by locals bent on revenge. And they don’t want the two fugitives jailed…they want them dead.
This film is carried along mainly on the strength of its writing, and the excellent interaction between the two main characters. We actually care about them, and are torn between understanding the desire for revenge on the part of the locals and Spike’s horror at what he has accidentally unleashed. Both Glenaan (a Scottish filmmaker, director of the controversial “Gas Attacks” of last year) and Colgan give excellent performances, and the stylish DV work gives the film a real air of menace. This is written by Simon Beaufoy, the guy responsible for “The Full Monty”, and is a world removed from that film. See it and enjoy, even if it does have a few niggling wee plot holes. That’s all I’m gonna say.
Get the rest of the fest in part eight of THE 56TH EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: PLANET WANNA-BE HOLLYWOOD>>>




Posted on September 10, 2002 in Festivals by
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