Good Eggs

Blog by Ray Philp | 10 Apr 2009

It’s clear from the majority of this week’s releases that the Easter holidays are the firmly entrenched preserve of a rather pubescent audience, with concerns perhaps not far beyond perfecting the feral squeals that accompany the arrival of a Zac Efron film (17 Again, if you’re really that interested), or agreeably grunting at the American auto industry’s garish suicide note (Fast & Furious). However, there’s every reason to be optimistic for ‘youf’ films this Friday, as the highly-regarded Let The Right One In enjoys a nationwide release. Based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel, the film centres on the tentative relationship between vulnerable 12 year old boy Oskar and the mysterious Eli, a girl of a seemingly similar age whom Oskar only meets at night. Tomas Alfredson’s skilful blend of violent horror and tender romance marks this out to be a deeply impressive feature.

Childhood angst is of course not a condition unique to any particular location or historical period, and the Edinburgh Filmhouse illustrates this point succinctly with the exclusive re-release of The 400 Blows from this Friday. Having debuted at the Cannes Film Festival half a century ago, Francois Truffaut’s portrayal of a young Parisian boy’s ominous trajectory towards delinquency in the face of a series of authoritarian figures still exudes a provocative air. A similarly antagonistic spirit is evoked from a very different source, in the form of Fifty Dead Men Walking. Loosely adapted from IRA informant Martin McGartland’s autobiography, the film’s title alludes to the number of lives McGartland’s covert activities apparently preserved from otherwise certain execution. Fifty Dead Men Walking charts McGartland’s forced participation in the British police’s attempts to defeat the IRA through subversive means, and the devastating fallout from McGartland’s outing as a spy. Given that memories of The Troubles have not dissipated entirely, the film is a timely reminder of the era’s brutality.

The oppressive threat of terror is a theme also present in Tony Manero; a combination of jet black comedy, a stark account of Augusto Pinochet’s brutal regime in 1970’s Chile, and a missive on John Travolta’s legacy to disco. A film that binds chilling historical context to the protagonists’ obsessive attitude towards self-image, Tony Manero, director Pablo Larrain’s second film, is screening at the Edinburgh Filmhouse from 10th April.

Elsewhere, the Belmont in Aberdeen welcomes the screening of Bottle Shock, a Randall Miller film that tells the tale of expat sommelier Steven Spurrier (portrayed with gusto by a reassuringly smug Alan Rickman) and his instigation of the Judgement of Paris, which is essentially a highbrow interpretation of the Pepsi Challenge. The trailer espouses the romance and poetry of wine, and there is a hint of sentimentality afoot, but a textbook rendition of a stiff-upper-lip caricature from Rickman should ensure that Bottle Shock remains sufficiently entertaining.

Finally, the Glasgow Film Festival kick off the Italian Film Festival next week from the 17th April; there’s no doubt that following the critical successes of Gommorah, Valentino: The Last Emperor and Il Divo, the profile of Italian cinema continues to be strong. An early highlight of the festival is sure to be Wild Blood, which screens on the 19th April. Operating as something of a parallel to the excellent The Lives Of Others, the film explores how the complicit embrace of Mussolini-era fascism by much of the film industry led to the inevitable demise of its leading lights, actors Luisa Ferida and Osvaldo Valenti. Helmed by Marco Tullio Giordana, the film boasts expert turns from Monica Bellucci and Luca Zingaretti as the ill-fated couple, and should prove to be as gripping as it is full of zealous gesticulation.