City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

EIFF Blog, Day 1: Will Sir Sean Parachute In?


By Dylan Matthew - Posted on 18 June 2008

EIFF 2008: Edge of Love Still Rhys & Keira

It’s Day 1 of the EIFF and it’s 6.38 a.m. and I cant sleep so I might as well get up and write this while I have a chance before the onslaught of press screenings, public talks, parties and general mayhem that is a film festival begins.

When I woke up this morning all I could think about were how the two films I’d already seen couldn’t be more polar opposites. The first was John Maybury’s The Edge of Love which holds its World Premiere tonight at Cineworld and will have the likes of Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley and apparently Sean Connery in attendance.

I was speculating with friends yesterday whether or not Sir Sean might be parachuting into the film's press conference today at Edinburgh Castle from the old World War II plane which has been circling the city centre for the last two days.
It looks like a troop carrier (I think), possibly a DC-3 or a Dakota C-47 and I’m pretty sure it’s the same model of aircraft that features briefly in The Edge of Love.

So it occurred to me that perhaps its appearance over the city lately isn’t a coincidence as the Film Festival, in moving from August to June, will want to promote the hell out of itself this year to make sure it’s a rip snorting success. I wouldn’t be surprised quite frankly if later today an ageing yet dapperly attired Mr Connery were to jump from the plane as it did a flyover the castle and casually drop onto the ramparts while the photo call is taking place.

Or perhaps he might be parachuting in through a glass ceiling at the party later? It is astoundingly improbable, but it would make a spectacular publicity stunt and a great photo opportunity as guests scream and scatter out the way, bits of glass flying. ‘Shhorry for dropping in a little late chapsh, pash me a martini”

I imagine could be his opening line. Obviously a professional with a wig would be doing the actual stunt, Connery would just run in at the last minute and take his place while a few flashbulbs temporarily blinded a few of the revellers.

The Edge of Love of course is not a James Bond film so everything I just said there you can ignore. It is however a beautifully made period drama, set as mentioned before during World War II.

An ensemble piece it follows the internecine relationships, life and loves of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. Matthew Rhys delivers a confident, witty and engaging impression of the man with his infamous drinking, womanising and lyrical musings as the rekindled love for his childhood sweetheart Vera wreaks playful mischief and painful havoc on those around him.

The entire cast deliver great performances but it’s Cillian Murphy as the broodingly intense and traumatised war veteran Sergeant Killick who steals the film and lingers in the mind.

Comparisons will be made with Atonement, not least because Keira Knightley is once again seen in period costume walking through the London Underground and seeing her lover go off to war, but The Edge of Love stands as its own work. The photography and art direction alone scream for Baftas and Oscars. The Edge of Love screens tonight at 9.30pm and 9.45pm at Cineworld.

A Complete History of My Sexual Failures could not be more different. This ‘documentary’ or perhaps mockumentary is genius simply because you cannot work out how much of it is for real and how much of it is carefully planned and choreographed.

It follows what appears to be the somewhat epic odyssey of a man traipsing around the country to interview his many ex girlfriends to find out why they all dumped him and why he has difficulty in keeping relationships. I spent several hours arguing with colleagues afterwards as we nit picked and dissected each sequence we thought was fake or real and then I realised that that in itself was the hallmark of a buzz film so I’m pretty sure director Chris Waitt has a hit on his hands although it definitely wont be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s hysterically funny, cringeworthy in places, unwatchable at times and quite moving as well but most of the time its just jaw droppingly silly and embarrassing, but in a highly endearing way.

Think of a character who’s a slight cross between the tactless and insensitive Borat and the bumbling intrusive persona of Michael Moore combined in this shaggy haired, slightly demented but very charismatic man and you have some idea of what he’s like.

The bollocks crushing and viagra scenes will be the topic of many a pub conversation in days to come. Waitt who’s already established his credentials with rude puppets on MTV and a habit of streaking in public is already known as a bit of a shameless exhibitionist but he’s obviously fulfilling his early promise of getting his parts out as often as he can get away with.

But he’s also a smart and calculating man and has choreographed his personality and what he’s best at to maximum effect. If you’re easily offended I wouldn’t go but there are some priceless moments of comedy to alleviate what might be downright dubious, but you can just never tell if it's set up or not so he gets away with it.

It screens this Thursday at 8.30pm and on June 21st at 8.15pm at the Cameo.

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A Complete History of My Sexual Failures is like a polished YouTube video diary on the big screen - complete with genital whipping in an S&M dungeon - and so people will come out for it. It's too mockumentaryish to be taken seriously, really more of a comedy. Chris Braites comes across as a total opportunist - the answer to his initial question "why I got dumped" isn't answered any better by the end of the film than it is in the first 10 minutes and the rest of the film was just an excuse for a series of weird encounters (actually many non-encounters with exes). Has its moments though and borrows techniques from other docu makers such as Nick Broomfield and Morgan Spurlock to good effect.

I can see why the Edge of Love is the EIFF opener. It's a good-looking period drama, worthy of the BBC, and although I'm not a big fan of Keira, it's a strong cast. I found the storyline underwhelming, partly because there were several storylines (Thomas disappears for much of the second part of the film) and the storytelling seemed unnecessarily complicated. The image of the romantic poet and lover is definitely darker here with its pronounced female pov - maybe that's also what I found hard to take? Oh, and talk about smoke-filled rooms. My lungs hurt just watching this. The cast deserved to earn a fortune in danger money for their chain-smoking performances.