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

Funny Festival Events Part 3
I steal (umm, did I say that out loud?) an invitation to a chi-chi drinks reception from…ummm…let’s just say somebody who pissed me off royally at the festival this year, and who had done so a coupla years ago too. It’s being run on behalf of Edinburgh Film Focus, which is some organization I’ve never heard of. I go along one Friday night to kill a few free beers and some time before I go to see Alan Warner speak at the Book Festival, from where I had managed to steal a copy of the substandard crap that is Porno, the sequel to Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, and Straw Dogs, a cool book about post-humanist philosophy. Nicked that one because it had a quote from JG Ballard on the front.
Anyway. I go along to this tedious drinks event and sit in a corner drinking by myself, eyeing the talking heads present disdainfully. I manage to sink six beers in less than an hour, musing that drinking on a stolen invitation makes every beer all the sweeter. I even endeavor to find out what the fuck Edinburgh Film Focus is, and ask a woman with a badge of theirs on about it.
“We’re a locations organization,” she tells me. “Say Spielberg wants to film in Scotland…”
Hahahahahahahahahaha…what a load of fucking pish. Spielberg in Scotland, gimme a fucking break. I immediately block out anything further she has to say to me. She is living in la-la land, and I can’t be bothered with this shit. I grab a coupla walking beers and shoot down to the Book Festival to hear Warner. It is cool. To cut a long story short, I end up offending Irvine Welsh’s editor, the mighty mighty bosstype Robin Robertson, after having a go at a snotty PR bitch employed by him.
I interviewed Warner a few weeks before, but only had five minutes to do it at the end of his reading because she had forgotten about me and hadn’t set aside time for us to talk. I wouldn’t even have mentioned this if she hadn’t cut me dead for no good reason and walked away when I’d told her I was gonna send her a copy of the article I’d (half) interviewed Warner for, being conciliatory and civil. Bitch.
London PR people. I fucking despise them, both in the book and film world. They are know-nothing 20-and-30-something middle class women with powertrip complexes because they are the minders to the stars. Fuck each and every one of them. Sideways.
“You’re beginning to realize the media is run by scumbags” – old film-writer friend of mine telling me the truth.
Spider ^ ** ^ Directed by David Cronenberg ^ Starring Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne ^ 2002
Okay. I’m gonna be open and honest and up-front about this one: I truly didn’t understand it. Is it gauche to admit that? Good. I hope so. But I’m not the only one. Met plenty of other people who didn’t understand it either, so I’m not alone.
Ummm…Spider (Ralph Fiennes) gets out of a London lunatic asylum. He’s been put in there for murdering his step-mother. His mind unravels…and things get really confusing. And then the film ends.
I usually like Cronenberg. He’s nuts, but entertaining. This film, an adaptation of the novel by Patrick McGrath, just left me cold. I missed the new flesh and auto-eroticism and whatnot. I dunno, shit. There are plenty of you out there who would have loved to be in my seat instead of me. Doesn’t life suck?
The Last Great Wilderness ^ **** ^ Directed by David McKenzie ^ Starring Alistair McKenzie, Jonny Phillips ^ 2002
Well, whadya know, another entertaining, great Scottish flick. This was probably my fave film of the festival, for what that’s worth(less).
In a kind of odd, coincidental synchronicity, this film’s events, like those of “This Is Not A Love Song”, are kicked off when two guys in a car run out of gas in the Scottish Highlands. They are Charlie and ‘Vincente,’ a hitchhiker whom Charlie picked up and who is on the run from various nuts from Spain after he fucked some top criminal’s wife.
The two men hike from their car to a nearby hotel to get some gas, and here things start to turn really weird. The hotel is run by an inscrutable old Scottish man who presides over a collection of damaged people with sexual problems. The interplay between some of the residents and the two newcomers is priceless, and this thing carries on like a Scottish version of a David Lynch film at some points.
“TLGW” veers between bleak imagery and genuinely funny black humor incessantly, and the film is all the better for it. Every performance in the film is excellent, and there is a sex scene between Charlie and one of the blonde female residents that is one of the most, beautiful, moving and empathetic representations of the act I’ve seen on the screen for a long, long time. This is a dark but accessible movie, which foreign markets could surely go for; it doesn’t really limit itself to being Scottish, although the Celtic darkness in its running time is Scottish through and through. Director McKenzie just finished shooting the new Ewan McGregor feature “Young Adam”, based on the cult work of Scottish literature by Alexander Trocchi, smackhead progenitor to Irvine Welsh’s opiate chaos prose. And judging by the tone and quality of this film, the adaptation is in safe hands. Fingers crossed…
So there you have it folks. A few no-bullshit reviews, some guttersniping and griping and general filmic totem-trashing. Bring on next year and queuing with normal people in the pouring rain. Cos it’ll still be a helluva lot better than the muppet show I just had to endure.
Onwards…




Posted on September 10, 2002 in Festivals by
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