The selection of genre films in Edinburgh International Film Festival’s 2015 programme is pretty mouthwatering – there’s Maggie, One & Two, Parasyte: Part 1 and Redeemer to name but a few – so, just like the docs and the retro picks, this was a tricky selection. Anyway, you’ll be delighted to hear I managed to get it down to a relatively arbitrary in length but utterly bulletproof (give or take a Swung) top five. Here’s my picks of EIFF’s feature-length fictional films, presented here in order of their first screening:
1. Koza (dir Ivan Ostrochovský, 2015)
18/06, 18:15 at Odeon | 21/06, 13:55 at Filmhouse 3
This drama fronted by retired Romany boxer, Peter Baláž, nicknamed “Koza” (“Goat”), mixes real life with fiction. Baláž for-real represented Slovakia at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games and has since fallen on harder times. Ostrochovský, a documentarian grew up in the same town as Baláž, got to know him while making a short doc about him, then conceived Koza in part to help him out financially. By all accounts, it’s a beautifully shot, semi-autobio-tragicomic tale, described variously as bruising, melancholy and bleakly humorous (read: not coming to Cineworld anytime soon).
2. Cop Car (dir Jon Watts, 2014)
19/06, 20:35 at Cineworld | 24/06, 18:20 at Cineworld
This is director Jon Watts’ second feature after last year’s Clown (2014), which you might have caught as part of FrightFest at Glasgow Film Festival earlier this year. Without wishing to damn it with faint praise, Clown was a respectable rendering of a why-has-no-one-done-this-before idea. The genius of it, though, was in how Watts and cohort Christopher D Ford got it made off the back of a fake trailer, which they cheekily attributed to Eli Roth. Cop Car has an equally appealing premise – two 10-year-old kids stumble upon an abandoned cop car and take off with it – and reportedly delivers in ways that Clown didn’t quite. It also boasts a moustachioed Kevin Bacon, who has apparently resolved whatever visa issue left him trapped in London doing ads for EE. Bacon seems to be having much more fun here, as the corrupt sheriff who left something seemingly grim in the trunk, and Cop Car’s superior b-movie execution has drawn nothing but praise so far.
3. Swung (dir Colin Kennedy, 2015)
19/06, 20:45 at Cineworld | 21.06, 13:00 at Cineworld
This is the world premiere of Colin Kennedy’s adaptation of Ewan Morrison’s Glasgow-set novel about a middle class couple, struggling in the way that those do, who turn to swinging to turn their doomed lives around. Irvine Welsh described the novel as a “beautifully crafted, completely realised and often inspirational book,” one which announced Morrison “as one of the most interesting and exciting voices to emerge in Scottish fiction in recent years.” Is it perhaps the kind of “Scottish Woody Allen” film the director of Not Another Happy Ending (EIFF 2013) was attempting to evoke (“Young, I guess you would call them middle-class people, having complications in love and life in an urban environment”), but didn’t quite live up to? Optimistically, Swung could make prove that idea to be a good thing, though the filmmakers seem to be keeping such proclamations to themselves so far. There’s no trailer yet, but EIFF have a short clip, featuring the two leads and Elizabeth McGovern, on their site here.
4. Turbo Kid (dir Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell, 2015)
21/06 23:00 at Filmhouse 1 | 23/06 20:40 at Cineworld
It’s difficult to find fault in Turbo Kid‘s premise. The trio of Quebec directors, known collectively as RKSS (Road Kill Super Stars), are paying tribute not to your mainstream post-apocalypse films (Mad Max, etc), but all their B-movie knock-offs, VHS favourites and a very particular strand of kid/teen flicks that reached their apotheosis in the 1980s – e.g. BMX Bandits, Prayer of the Rollerboys, Gleaming The Cube, even The Wizard. /Film set it up pretty well: “Imagine what a movie might look like if it came from the mind of a ten-year old kid from the ’80s who is obsessed with Mega Man, and who just saw the Mad Max movies for the first time.” If none of that means anything to you, congratulations, the future belongs to you. But, in the meantime, this film is mine, all mine.
5. Liza, The Fox Fairy (Liza, a Rókatündér, dir Károly Ujj Mészáros)
25/06, 18:00 at Odeon | 26/06, 20:45 at Cineworld
A big hit in its native Hungary, this supernatural comedy drama feature seems to splice Amélie, Wes Anderson and the lighter-hearted, more fantastical end of Takashi Miike’s oeuvre. By all accounts, it’s charming, funny and lives up to it’s odd synopsis – a 30-year-old nurse (Mónika Balsai) living in Csudapest, the capital of a fictionalised version of 1970s Hungary, becomes convinced she’s a demon from Japanese mythology who spells death to all suitors. She’s aided and abetted in this possible delusion by her only friend, the ghost of Tomy Tani, a Japanese singer from the 1950s. When her live-in patient dies and the body-count begins to escalate, she’s investigated by the police, one of whom becomes her flatmate and begins to fall ominously in love with her. If it manages to stay on the right side of knowing – which, again, by all accounts it does – Liza, The Fox Fairy looks like a wee gem.
Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015 runs from 17th-28th June. This is the third of three EIFF preview blogs. Read my picks of the documentaries here and my picks of the old films screening again at EIFF 2015 here. Check out EIFF’s 2015 brochure here.