Film total today: 3
Films seen so far this year: 213 (20 to go)
Still no bears. But today's entry is brought to you by The Unpleasant Lair of Spank the Monkey and monkeys are almost as good.
French film about a man who begins to doubt his own existence after he shaves off his moustache and no-one notices.
I absolutely adored this, largely for personal reasons which the photo below should make abundantly clear. Basically, I have recently grown a beard - it started as a couple of days of Not Shaving and then I started to like the idea. I quickly realised that here was something I could actually achieve but, crucially, without doing any work whatsoever. If only everything else in life were so easy. Anyway, I also figured it would be good not to have to shave in Edinburgh. The thing is, hardly anyone has commented on it! But I digress. In the film, Vincent Lindon plays a man who has worn a moustache for the last 15 years. The film opens with him shaving in the bath and he casually asks his wife (Emmanuelle Devos, currently in the running for the Most Films At The Festival Award, alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor) how she would feel if he shaved it off. She tells him not too, that she's grown used to it, but he shaves it off anyway. However, his wife doesn't notice. They go out to dinner and their friends don't notice either. Neither do his work colleagues the next day. He becomes angry, because he thinks his wife has told his friends not to say anything, but when he confronts her she says, "What are you talking about? You've never had a moustache." From that bizarre, intriguing premise, the film gets stranger and stranger: he leaves out photos that show him with a moustache, but they disappear and his wife denies they ever existed. A woman in the street confirms that he does indeed have a moustache in his passport photo. Then his wife buys him a hideous green jacket and makes him wear it to a restaurant. Finally, he's driven to distraction and hunts through the garbage, waking his wife up to show her a handful of hair. Then, just when his wife is about to have him committed, he escapes to Hong Kong, where he does nothing but ride the ferry all day. And then comes the brilliant ending, which I won't spoil. Lindon is terrific, with his hangdog expression and strangely sad eyes - he underplays it and it works brilliantly. Devos is really good too and you're never sure what exactly is going on. Four stars - this is easily one of my favourite films so far. It's also definitely getting a theatrical release later in the year.
Joss Whedon's hotly-anticipated big screen edition of Firefly, his brilliant-but-cancelled space-western TV show
A bit of history first. For those who may not know, Joss Whedon is the writer-creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, as well as a space western series called Firefly that ran for 13 episodes before being cancelled. Although I'd seen all of Buffy and Angel, I didn't actually get around to seeing Firefly until about a month ago, when I realised the film would be out soon. Anyway, I loved the show so I'm coming to the film from a fan's perspective, rather than seeing it without knowing anything about the characters etc. And, speaking as a fan, I loved it. It delivers on all counts - you laugh, you cry, it has heart-stopping action sequences and, crucially, characters you really care about. It's also brilliantly acted. I was really pleased to see David Krumholz as Mr Universe - he's one of my favourite unsung character actors. My Inner Geek also gave a great whoop of joy when I spotted the still from Flash Gordon (the original Buster Crabbe version) on one of Mr Universe's screens. Anyway, Serenity is the current shoo-in for the audience award, largely thanks to the screenings being packed to the gills with hardcore Joss-fans, all of whom will have torn the "excellent" part of the voting slip. I'd be surprised it it got less than 99%, to be honest. Put simply, it rocks. Five stars.
Multi-character film set in Edinburgh over the course of one night.
I wasn't initially planning on seeing this, but I bumped into an old friend in the delegate centre and it turns out that the director (a very nice chap indeed) is a friend of hers, so I went along. I'm really glad I did - I really liked it. I'm kind of a sucker for a good multi-character piece and this had some great characters, a cracking script and some lovely little moments. It looks terrific too - Edinburgh at night has probably never looked lovelier and there are some breath-takingly beautiful shots of the sky, etc. The actors, none of whom are famous, are all wonderful (one of them looked like the lovely Zooey Deschanel), except maybe the little girl, although she was saddled with a difficult part to pull off. The plots (which don't overlap, for once) include: a female taxi-driver forced to keep her daughter with her in the cab for the night; a priest who meets a feisty teenager with a dark secret when she takes refuge in his church; a young runaway boy who meets an older rent boy while waiting for the bus to London; and a desperate man whose wife has left him in charge of their two children, who steals a dog and attempts to sell it in order to feed his family. I really hope this gets the release it deserves - if not, it'll almost certainly show up on TV at some point. Best line: "Do you know this wee lassie reeks of pharmaceutical grade cocaine?" Four stars.
Kinky Boots Party
This was a huge amount of fun. Free cocktails all night and lots of really good food served on trays by feisty Edinburgh ladies. I had a nice chat with Chiwetel Ejiofor (see below) and we talked about Serenity, Kinky Boots, Dirty Pretty Things and so on. I then met Joel Edgerton and as soon as I heard his Australian accent, I realised that the reason he'd been so damn familiar was because I'd seen him in both Ned Kelly and The Hard Way. That's a tribute to his performance, because I genuinely thought he was from Northumberland in the movie. I also met Damien Lewis and he told me that Robert Redford was more of a diva than Jennifer Lopez (I'm paraphrasing) and that she'd been incredibly professional and basically 'normal' during the filming of An Unfinished Life. He also talked a little bit about why his film Keane had been pulled from the festival and said some unprintable things about festival politics. He's also a lot taller than you'd think.
The real highlight of the night, however, was meeting Joss Whedon and the cast of Serenity. It had been rumoured that they'd be turning up and eventually they did, although my friends had left by then. They were all buzzing over the success of the press screening and were really keen to talk about it. I spent about 25 minutes talking to Joss Whedon, congratulated him on the film, talked about David Krumholz (he loves him too), how he'd cast Chiwetel (he'd seen Dirty Pretty Things), the various things on Mr Universe's screens (the Godzilla cartoon is actually from a Max Fleischer Superman cartoon, which they got cheap by agreeing not to use Superman's image), and quizzed him relentlessly over Wonder Woman (I couldn't persuade him to promise to give Lynda Carter a cameo role; he definitely wants to cast an unknown, like they've done with Superman; and Morena Baccarin is definitely on his shortlist). I then spoke to Jewel Staite (lovely), Sean Maher (nice, smiley, seemed shy), Morena (delightful), Nathan (hilarious) and the very lovely Gina Torres, who, it turns out, is married to Laurence Fishburne.
Top: Joel Edgerton, star of Kinky Boots.
Middle: Chiwetel Ejiofor and Damien Lewis.
Bottom: Me and Nathan Fillion (taken by Nathan).