The View From Here

Edinburgh Film Festival -- Saturday round up

Michael Bonner

It's raining at the moment and the press screenings have temporarily halted to allow the local cinemas to let real people in to see normal movies, like The Bourne Ultimatum. I thought I'd take advantage of this lull in the proceedings to catch up with what I've seen.

Yesterday, I got very excited about the brilliant In Search Of A Midnight Kiss. I met the producer Seth Caplan and director Alex Holdridge last night at the party for Control, the Ian Curtis movie. Apparently, Alex financed the film on his credit card, with a $3,000 limit, which makes this a terrific example of inventive, guerilla film making.

Of course, not everything I've seen was a good as Midnight Kiss. I sat through a teeth-grindingly dull doc on Kurt Cobain, called About A Son. It uses all the interview tapes with Cobain that Michael Azzerad recorded for his Come As You Are biography. Like Julien Temple's Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten, you get the slightly eerie experience of the subject telling their own life story from beyond the grave. And it's a pretty arduous catalogue of woes, as Cobain miserably details his life.

Ramdom words Cobain spoke that I jotted down include "deformed", "pain", "self-loathing", plus the phrase: "I was most likely to succeed in bringing an AK47 to school and blowing everyone away." I mean, you know, some great songs and all that, but the self-indulgent whining is pretty tiresome after, ooh, all of 5 minutes. This is played over footage of his hometown, Aberdeen in Washington State. Shot in Winter, there's equally grim footage of lumber yards, run down bars, gormless looking local yoots and ramshackle trailer parks. Enough, indeed, to drive anyone to develop a healthy smack habit.

I was more impressed with Chan Park-Wook's latest, I'm A Cyborg But That's OK, which starts off in a rather whimsical tone, as a young girl, Young-goon (Lim Soo-jung), convinced she's an android, is institutionalised with an equally whacky bunch of inmates. It's kind of like Amelie coupled with One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, I guess. But Young-goon thinks eating food will damage her delicate circuitry, and the film becomes a little darker as she begins to starve to death. Maybe her rather touching friendship with another inmate, Il-sun (Jung Ji-hoon), can save her.

Anyway, as you'd expect from Park-Wook, it looks fantastic -- rich, bold, vibrant colours -- and the flights of fantasy work well. It's a lot more gentle and playful that the Vengeance Trilogy, though there's one fantasy sequence where Young-goon imagines she's killing the entire medical staff of the institution that's as bloody as anything in Oldboy.

I was hoping to see Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park later, but I've just heard the print didn't ship in time, which is a shame. Instead, Time Out's Dave Calhoun, a good friend of UNCUT, is doing a Q+A with director Andrew Kotting later, so I think I'll catch that.

It'll keep me out of the pub, at any rate.


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