Tuesday, 26 April 2011

DVD Review: Blame it on Fidel

When it played at the EIFF a few years ago I remember being less than impressed by the description of Blame it on Fidel in the programme (how I make my EIFF choices will be covered in a future post- I bet you can hardly wait).  As a result I decided to give it a miss and so I only got round to seeing it fairly recently.  It tells the story of a young girl, Anna, growing up in early 70s Paris whose parents embrace radical socialism.  The subsequent adjustments to their lifestyle- behavioural and material- naturally have a marked impact on her.

I think I was put off for two reasons: firstly I was fearful from the promotional comments that politically I would find it annoying.  I imagined a film full of gross caricatures of left activists, an over-simplification of ideas, and difficult to like characters.  To an extent this assumption turned out to have some justification.  Their house is soon full of barbudos who come out with such statements as "Mickey Mouse is a fascist" and "your child is a reactionary" while Anna and her brother feel themselves more and more neglected as a result of their parents' newfound priorities.

My second concern was given the subject matter and the fact that first time director Julie Gavras is the daughter of lefty director Costa-Gavras, that this could turn out to be a tad self-indulgent and that the lead character could be an unrealistic and overly sympathetic representative of her younger self.  On this I was most definitely wrong.  If anything, it's actually difficult to like the child at all to begin with given how spoilt and selfish she is at times.  As the film proceeds, however, we see an impressive level of complexity conveyed as Anna wrestles with her surroundings and education.  The scene where she puts into practice the lessons she's learned in solidarity is both touching and amusing.  It's in this more fundamental story, how children process and assimilate information and how ideas and experiences shape our perceptions, that the real interest lies and there's certainly enough here to make me look  forward to Gavras's next film, due out later this year.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

New Poll: Diabolical Attempts at a Scottish Accent

Well I enjoyed the last so I thought I'd give another poll a bash.  Before explaining what it's all about though, here are the results of our last poll- your favourite film set in Embra.

Greyfriars Bobby- 2%
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie- 0%
Restless Natives- 20%
Hallam Foe- 5%
Shallow Grave- 12%
Trainspotting- 40%
The Illusionist- 20%

Congratulations to Trainspotting- a worthy winner.  I don't think many of us will be surprised by the result; I caught it on telly last night and was as struck by its energy and relentless pace as the first time I saw it.  Interestingly for a comparative newcomer, The Illusionist picked up a very respectable 20%.  I was also pleased for the more than respectable showing of Restless Natives.  Was it the Big Country soundtrack?  Was it the cityscapes of the less scenic areas of Edinburgh?  Was it the way that it deals with the unfulfilled desire for adventure that lies in all of us?  Or was it the ongoing plug in the banner of this page?

So what next?  Well, in keeping with the Scottish theme I wanted to look at an area that has long bugged me- piss-poor attempts at Scottish accents.  This is a very personal issue for me; growing up in Englandshire I had many an annoying day as school mates took the piss out of my accent.  When I would then hear an atrocious Scottish accent on telly or at the pictures then it felt like a continuation of the piss-take.

There's a few good examples, but which is the worst?

Harrison Ford
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Best Line- "Wer her ta say tha tepistrees!"

I know it's not to be taken seriously but this really is poor.  Harrison Ford's 'Lord MacDonald' seems to have arrived in Austria via South Africa and possibly Russia.

Christopher Lambert
Best Line- "Em Canner Mclewd af tha Clen Mclewd"

Fish in a barrel but he had a more convincing highland accent in Greystoke- the Legend of Tarzan.

Mel Gibson
Best Line- "Freeeeeeeedom"

I quite like this one actually but I am under the impression I'm in the minority.  I have more problems with his hair extensions.

Jessica Lang
Rob Roy
Best Line- "Though I love his honour, 'tis but a shadow to the love I bear him."

Could have had my pick from this film but have plumped for Oscar winner Lange's Norwegian inflected effort.

Robert Duval
A Shot at Glory
Best Line- "It was me who had his dorrterr stohlen from him"

Hands up who actually saw this.  I thought as much.  Watch the trailer and I'm sure you'll agree that he merits a place on the short list, even if he is overshadowed by a performance from young Ally McCoist so bad that he somehow convinced me he wasn't a jokey womaniser.

Honourable mentions to Mike Myers in Shrek, Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire and James Doohan in Star Trek.  If you can come up with better suggestions early on then I may be inclined to add them.

Cast your votes!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Normal Service Has Resumed

Apologies for the delay in posting my humble thoughts on all things film-related in sunny Embra.  I won't bore you with the reasons for the unplanned hiatus (although you can find some of my interim work contained here and here) but I'm now back and raring to go.  Or at least as much as I am ever raring.

Perhaps the first thing I need to get sorted is a new poll.  I'll do that later in the week but any suggestions?  I'm also about 20 films behind in my reviews so I'll need to address that in the next couple of weeks too.  

One of my most recent viewings was of the low-budget Scottish feature The Inheritance.  Made for just £5000, it got me thinking how easy it is nowadays for any numpty to produce a short film (see below for evidence).

This is obviously due in part to the ubiquity of cameras, either on our posh mobies or my own defunct Flip micro.  Equally as important, however, is the availability of easy-to-use editing software that requires neither the budget nor expertise that previously made film-making a more elite pursuit.

It was only a matter of time before people far more talented that me demonstrated the real potential in all this. There's now even an iPhone Film Festival accepting submissions, some of which are really quite impressive. Have a look at some of them at http://www.iphoneff.com/.  I might hold off on submitting mine for the time being.