Monthly Archives: August 2007

Peter Buckley Hill and some Comedians XI – Review for Three Weeks

Peter Buckley Hill and some Comedians XI
Peter Buckley Hill’s Free Fringe

Before attending this crammed comedy event, i have never before realised the subtle different degrees and tastes of humour. Peter Buckley Hill warms up the audience with randomly chosen noises to welcome every guest comedian and also delivers some silly songs about Scotland’s national dish – the flying Haddock with Chips and Peas.
The first guest comedian from Gateshead pocked fun at the absurdities of his home town when it lost out to Liverpool in the “City of Culture” contest.
The second comedian totally and unexpectedly hit my taste with his wonderfully absurd, spontaneous and intelligent humour. I laughed till I cried.
Finishing off the comedy evening was the slightly deranged Barbara, who got us all praying to an alien god living in some orange sweets.

Canongait, 4 -25 Aug , 9:30 pm (11:35 pm), Free Non-ticketed, eff 82.
Rating 4/5

Festival rush

Have been running around like mad for the last days, but I like it. The Edinburgh Fringe John Lewis shopping window turned out to be great, but as it is only on at main shopping time, I misunderstood a bit the timing, so no, I did not have to stay there for the three hours, but in the end it was so entertaining I stayed there for two. Though everybody was kind of gobbsmacked that I had my foldable chair and picnic with me to make it more comfy on the footpath.

I liked the Breakfast with the filmmakers at EIFF in the Sheraton hotel, they had so much lovely food on offer, but there was hardly any time to chew as there was so much chatting going on.
I probably antagonized the poor Paul from Screenacademy with interrogating him a bit too much about these extraordinary high fees for the film making courses, when it was said at the launch event, that they would want to support asylum seekers and motivate working class kids into film making. Also found out that Screen Scotland only supports documentary films they had been collaborating with from the beginning, as I hoped it might be possible to get some help to distribute some DIY films and videos such as for example the “Salud Y Solidaridad” from the Chiapas group, which is really good, so these videos can be made without their editorial control and interference.
Talking about documentary funding, Scottish Screen also pointed me to the Scottish Documentary Film Institute for funding, but again, I would not want them to have any editorial control into the socio political grassroots videos really, and they don’t collaborate with any political film maker I know here in Scotland but seem to avoid them as much as possible, and these film makers have done amazing stuff. If it would be a nonpolitical video like the hamster one, okay, I would not mind any editorial influence at all as long as I would learn good techniques to be used later in other contexts, but not when these are hard hitting kickarse docs about for example G8 protests or privatisation of council housing or so. When they insist on making it the traditional doc film way, then it is just getting too boring without any action and just talking heads in. So their short film selection: “The State of the World” was in parts particularly awful, and I saw the first film I would have only given one star in evaluation – “Shanghai Dreams” – most boring and worst doc I have ever seen in my life, i think. It consisted mainly of one shot on a tripod of some skyscrapers at night with big luminous billboard adverts, a bit like Piccadilly Circus, and it seemed to go on forever. No explanations, no narrative, nill effort made. If that crap can make it into the EIFF, then I wonder why my hamster movie can’t?

Also went to the talk of John Sweeney about film making business accounting; he apparently invented a scheme to predict commercial success of films interlinked with evaluating content, etc. From a scientific point of view, he made some really bad mistakes, so his thesis can not be substantiated, but would be worth to read and discuss anyways to be able to criticise his evaluation process more in depth and to know where he went wrong and what he probably found out which is at least in parts true.

Also went to the Screen Academy event – for about 10 minutes before leaving again, because it was crap. Typical. Lots of talk without anything practical or pragmatic behind it. Pretty much self-celebratory bullshit. What a pity I missed the talk with Mike Leigh for that. Went to the talk with Paul Laverty, he was cool, but in the end, if you don’t have a delegate or press ticket it’s not worth paying for it, as his insights are not that extraordinarily amazing. A good event with some nice clips of films we have already all seen several times, like “Bread and Roses”, “My Name is Joe” and the excerpt of the 9/11 series about Chile. Nice politics though and interesting to know that they – he and Ken Loach – launch their new film in the next weeks in Venice; apparently it’s called “It’s a free world” and about an economic immigrant in London?

So yesterday I saw “Extraordinary Rendition”, “What would Jesus buy?” and “Manufacturing Dissent” about Michael Moore, hey, the discussion at the end really rocked. Unexpectedly I really liked the “What would Jesus Buy?”, first it appears to be religious, but then it seems occasionally a bit more like a piss take, especially when the whole choir sings on the escalators in some huge shopping mall, with half of them descending and the other half rising to the next level, and with some dozens of policemen standing behind them trying to either arrest the Reverend or to hunt them out of the building. It’s a brilliant film, made with the support of Morgan Spurlock, so hopefully will be big here.

“Extraordinary Rendition” might be broadcast by Channel4/More4 as the director revealed in the Q&A that they would be in Sales talks with each other; hopefully it will be screened as it is quite good, the torture scenes are a bit brutal though, I think I have seen enough torture scenes this week in the film festival that it will last at least for a year.

Today I am off to the Current event. I am so excited. Pity though about my dissertation, I have legged so much behind that I might not be able to put it in this year.


Saints and Sinners sightseeing tour – Review for Three Weeks

Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns Walking Tour
Saints and Sinners Walking Tour

This sightseeing tour leads up the Royal Mile, down the Mound and via the New Town and St. Andrews Square finishes up on the Bridges about two hours later. Four different guides offer this entertaining walk under the Saints and Sinners Banner; however, here the topic is more generalised into explaining also the negative side of Edinburgh; and not just the bright side. We are treated to a whole lot of facts and figures, historical dates and some illustrations, amusing tales and unusual stories. I liked the various changes of narrative; from factual – informative to the subjective first person tale to how the the tour participants would have coped with fashion in the Middle Ages.
Very enjoyable and informative.

Scottish Storytelling Centre, 4 -26 Aug, times vary, £7.50 (£.6.00) (£4.00 C), eff 119.

rating 4/5

Run Granny Run

Run Granny Run

Marlo Poras / USA / 2007 / 77 min

We all love underdogs (well at least here in Scotland), who fight the good fight. So Granny D. is straight up our road, with her 94 years and who is running in the election for senate against the hardcore conservative. At the same time, she is campaigning against funding from special interest groups,too, and walking through the US and her state in protest. The film is a light-hearted, for all audiences enjoyable documentary about people power.

The film has a good pace, is never boring and is nicely cut and edited. However, I feel the story is kind of superficially presented, when there could be so much more to say and tell. Granny D’s husband had Alzheimer’s, now her daughter has got it, but these circumstances are brushed over. Also we never really meet the grandchildren of Granny D. or get to know the original aims of her decision to stand for election against the unbeatable famous Republican.

rating 4/5

Garbage Warrior

Garbage Warrior

Oliver Hodge / UK (England) / 2007 / 86 min

The film is about Michael Reynolds, an architect in New Mexico. Well, almost! Whilst the film starts like a typical character study of this environmental rebel, it later on broadens out to include a little bit more about the “earthship”, his invention of self-sustainable housing. Amazingly, the visionary takes on planning authorities, lawyers, senate, extreme climates, the architects association, funding crisises, and emergency housing tasks after earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis. Impressing with his hard physical and clever intellectual work, his passion, enthusiasm and humanity, he founded not only several earthship communes in the desert and mountains of New Mexico, but also builds prototypes all over the world, such as in Honduras, Bolivia, France and even Brighton, where he met the film maker Oliver Hodge on a UK test site.
And whilst the documentary is beautifully filmed, it seems to focus at the start too much on one man; whereas his whole collective is digging, stamping and building away with and in the recycled rubbish material. The film is inspiring the audience to not just go and see an earthship, but to practically do; to build one and live in it as well. So it’s quite a powerful piece then.

rating 4/5

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