During one of A Patch of Fog‘s increasingly sinister exchanges between unhinged cat and desperate mouse, Stephen Graham’s devilishly dubious security guard, Robert, threatens his quarry with disconcerting rhetoric: “Am I a sad little man?” Though voiced by a veritable oddball, the sentiment could equally be applied to his prey, Sandy Duffy, a renowned novelist played by Conleth Hill – who will be familiar to many as Lord Varys in Game of Thrones. Through the titular blanket of low-hanging precipitation, secrets, lies and long-buried anxieties blur in and out of focus in an assuredly composed psychological thriller.
Writer-director Rachel Tunnard and leading lady-executive producer Jodie Whittaker are a bubbly pair. Sparky personalities and the closeness of their long-term friendship imbues kooky British indie Adult Life Skills with a warmth, familiarity and humour. The film – now playing in cinemas UK-wide – made its European premiere at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. They sat down for a chat with CineVue’s Matthew Anderson in the Scottish capital.
European middleweights Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl and Michael Nygvist form a strong foundation on which to build a semi-political historical thriller. Though Florian Gallenberger’s The Colony aims for the likes of Munich and Argo, it falls some distance short, an early warning sign coming in the form of an ‘Inspired by real events’ fast and loose disclaimer. Set in early 1970s Chile, and prefaced with archival footage of the final days of Salvador Allende’s presidency, The Colony paddles indecisively in the unspeakable ills of the Pinochet era without ever really taking the plunge.
Aside from a brief spell of rationing-enforced drought, torrents of the much fabled ‘water of life’ flow through Gillies MacKinnon’s Whisky Galore! Such a shame that the Glaswegian director’s latest feature – a remake of the 1949 Ealing Studios classic that will close this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival – has none of the life-giving fervour of Scotland’s national drink. A dry and surprisingly dull film, it is a comedy which doesn’t induce a single laugh and a drama that doesn’t engage emotionally or pull on the heartstrings at all.
It’s hard to fathom how an Irish left-back could bring the international career of a footballing great to an end but Robbie Brady’s last-gasp winner rang the death knell for Sweden’s talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimović. With a forthcoming domestic move to Manchester United reportedly on the cards, the timely release of Fredrik and Magnus Gertten’s tremendous biodoc Becoming Zlatan explores the early days of a global superstar from humble beginnings in Malmo, through a big money move to Ajax and on to Juventus where the true rise to fame and fortune took flight.
Don’t shoot the messenger. But the word on the wire at the Edinburgh Film Festival, where Meg Ryan’s Ithaca is making its UK premiere, doesn’t bode well for the actor’s directorial debut. Set in the titular city post-Pearl Harbour, it’s the story of a teenage boy who delivers telegrams to the townspeople during America’s involvement in the Second World War.
Grief is not uncommon thematic ground for the cinema. Making sense of loss, the void to be filled and one’s individual reaction to bereavement is a tale as old as time. From a wealth of experience in the editing room, writer-director Rachel Tunnard steps behind the camera with debut feature Adult Life Skills. It is a kooky, touching, continually droll comedy drama that treads simultaneously familiar and unusual ground in its exploration of grieving for a sibling, more specifically a twin.
“My aim is to stay alive, I don’t want to die.” A plainly spoken objective from one subject of Juan Reina’s equally forthright, compelling and utterly breath-taking documentary Diving Into the Unknown, a stellar entry in Edinburgh’s Focus on Finland strand. Being buried alive often tops lists of most feared ways to die but perishing in the glacial water of caves a hundred metres below ground must be a close rival. It is a risk run by a team of daring Finnish divers navigating previously unexplored depths in northern Norway.
Featuring in the World Perspectives strand at Edinburgh, Trivisa is a Hong Kong production that takes place in the borderlands between the island and mainland China during the 1997 British handover. There is the kernel of a very good film here that is stamped into unfathomable nothingness by a trio of directors who all appear to have been singing from different hymn sheets.
A highly contrived script, weak performances across the board and aimless direction make The White King a remarkably dull, at times laughable Orwellian tale. Set in a dystopian nation very originally named The Homeland, located somewhere in the past, present or future, the lack of clarity regarding where and when it occurs by no means detracts from its intentions. However, it is symptomatic of a film whose depth and development is sub-par in all areas and whose intentions, whatever they may be, are never realised.