Thursday, September 17, 2009

Edinburgh film notes

I'm in Edinburgh, Scotland for a few days. It's a real change of pace from when I was in London. Less people, slower, easier to walk the city without looking at a map every five minutes, less to do, better accents. 

I've fallen in love with two art house theatres in Edinburgh--Cameo and Filmhouse. These two theatres are close to one another and specialize in indie, documentary, foreign and rep cinema--in other words, my kind of place. The Cameo originally opened as a Vaudeville house in 1914 and I love the ex-Vaudeville theatres. There's something so ghostly about those rooms to me. Filmhouse is a converted church! How cool is that? It sits on a bustling street with a pair of strip joints with lurid neon of women on poles in the window of one of them. There's nothing better than coming out of a theatre in an urban setting and having strip bar neon lighting up the sidewalks. 

I saw four films at the Cameo and Filmhouse on my visit and one thing I realized is they show a lot of commercials before the features over here. You think we have it bad in America with the pre-show commercials? Move to Scotland, it's much worse. One film started at 6.15 with the first commercial but between that and the trailers that followed the film began at 6.35. Twenty minutes of commercials! They seem endless and cover everything from Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream to Scottish travel to bank ads. If you see a bunch of movies this would drive you absolutely batty. I was fed up in just the couple of days I've been here. 

What have I seen here? I caught the new Pedro Almodovar Broken Embraces and liked it a lot. He's been on a creative roll lately. Penelope Cruz is a pretty good actress in her Spanish films. When she's in one with English she seems terrible but I love to see her in something from Spain and her and Almodovar are kindred spirits (this is film #4 for her and Pedro). I was pretty disappointed in the documentary The September Issue that is about Vogue magazine, fashion and its editor Anna Wintour. I thought it was kind of dull and uninteresting. I saw a Jean Renoir film I'd never seen with his 1951 set in India drama The River. It was a beautiful Technicolor film print that had the Filmhouse so packed I had to sit in the front row (right next to a guy who yelled at some people in the back for being noisy during the Citizen Kane trailer--my kind of guy!). I also fed my Danish fix by watching the over the top romantic thriller melodrama Just Another Love Story. Not great but it's set in Denmark, which is enough for me. 

I'm heading back to London for a few more days and have two or three things I'm wanting to see--a Polish film called Tricks and the French crime two parter Mesrine. A lot of other stuff I need to do there so not sure I'll get to them. I'll give it my best shot of course. 

No comments: