EIFF 2014: We’ll Never Have Paris

(We’ll Never Have Paris, Simon Helberg and Jocelyn Town, 2014)

We’ll Never Have Paris thinks it is a corrective to the overly-sentimental, chocolate box story-telling of most romantic comedies. It thinks by depicting a “perfect couple” break up, sleep around, then fumble back to find another its doing something revolutionary. Unfortunately in trying to revitalise the genre it foregoes its most crucial ingredients: charm, likeable characters, wit, and romance. And a fucking point.

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EIFF 2014: Something, Anything

(Something, Anything, Paul Harrill, 2014)

Peggy (Ashley Shelton) is a gorgeous young woman with all the trappings of a lovely bourgeois existence: handsome husband, beautiful home, career in realty, and a baby on the way. But when Peggy miscarrys, the seeming idyll of her world is shattered and she finds herself utterly bewildered at things not turning right. To the vocal consternation of all around her, she sets about systematically dismantling her world, searching for a means of reorganising and structuring her life so it seems to have meaning again.


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EIFF 2014: Garnet’s Gold

(Garnet’s Gold, Ed Perkins, 2014)1195067_Garnets-Gold

Mortality is a bitch, cinema is wont to remind us, so it is a good idea to try and achieve something before you get shuffled off this mortal coil. So it is in Ed Perkin’s documentary Garnet’s Gold, the tale of one man’s flails to make something of his life, worried he’s let much of it slip by in a cosy somnambulant fugue. Garnet Frost is an affectless, intelligent eccentric determined to discover the buried gold of Bonnie Prince Charlie, which, apocryphally, was lost in the Scottish Highlands in the 18th Century. There’s little sense he could possibly be successful, certainly as his friends see it, and you get the faintest hint Garnet himself doesn’t really think he stands a chance, either. But he wants to do something, anything, important.  Continue reading

EIFF 2014: Sorrow and Joy

Sorrow and Joy (“Sorg og glæde” Nils Malmros, 2013)

It is an unfathomable tragedy: film-maker Johannes (Jakob Cedergren) returns home one night to discover his wife Signe (Helle Fagralid) has killed their infant daughter during a psychotic episode. This event (drawn from the real-life experiences of director Nils Malmros) forms the basis of the story of Sorrow and Joy, in which Johannes sets about protecting his wife from the Danish legal system while simultaneously exploring his own culpability in the tragedy.  As he struggles to come to terms with the event, he describes their relationship from first meeting, courtship, marriage, and finally the anguished days following their daughter’s murder.

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EIFF 2014: Life After Beth

Life After Beth (Jeff Baena, 2014)

Improbably prolific sub-genre rom-zom-com gets its latest offering in the form of Life After Beth, the debut feature from writer/director Jeff Baena.

Zach (Dane Dehaan, he of the piercing blue eyes) is distraught following the death of his girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza). His parents (Paul Reiser and Cheryl Hines) are shockingly insensitive in the face of his loss. Conversing with Beth’s father (John C Reilly) proves to be Zach’s only respite, a sympathetic ear prepared to listen as Zach explains Beth’s last words to him were heated and dissatisfied. Continue reading

EIFF 2014: The Infinite Man

(The Infinite Man, Hugh Sullivan, 2014)

“Am I crazy to think we could be happy?”

Relationships can often be the foreground for an attempt at a sort of paradoxical time travel: you find yourself desperately trying to recapture the joy and spontaneity of your happiest moments with someone, but end up diminishing things in the attempted recreation. Such wisdom is lost on Dean (Josh McConville), the hare-brained inventor and protagonist of The Infinite Man, who is trying to recreate the perfect weekend with his paramour Lana (Hannah Marshall). When his meticulously scheduled efforts are interrupted by Lana’s Continue reading

EIFF 2014: The Skeleton Twins

When actors best known for their comedic chops are looking to demonstrate their dramatic range, it’s de rigueur for them to turn to depression (see: Jim Carrey: Eternal Sunshine, Steve Carrell: Dan in Real Life, Zach Braff: Garden State). And so it is with Kirstin Wiig in The Skeleton Twins, convincingly slumped and dead eyed in the role of Maggie, a dental hygienist and multiple adulterer whose thoughts are drifting to suicide. Fellow Saturday Night Live alumni Bill Hader is on hand as her twin Milo, similarly in a mighty funk – he’s a failed Continue reading