Saturday, August 19, 2006

edinburgh film festival 8/19

Paul Andrew Williams / UK / 2006 / 90 min
Lorraine Stanley, Georgia Groome, Johnny Harris, Sam Spruell, Nathan Constance, Alexander Morton, David Keeling, Jamie Kenna, Chloe Bale, Jack Deam


One of the discoveries of the year.
24 hours in the life of a prostitute and a young runaway, fleeing to Brighton in a desperate attempt to save their own lives. This bare-bones synopsis, however, does little to communicate the scale of Paul Andrew Williams' feature debut: its assurance, its cinematic élan, the steely conviction of its performances. And above all, its gritty verisimilitude. Avoiding most of the clichés of the dirty-realist Brit flick, refining instead an ensemble of credible, often contradictory characters, it's reminiscent of Mike Leigh's Naked in its vision of a debased demi-monde, its two heroines clinging to each other as they move through a world of violence, petty crime and revenge. For Williams, it's the first feature in what looks likely to be a notable career. Catch it here first.

Yukinari Hanawa / Japan / 2006 / 115 min
Keisuke Koide, Aoi Miyazaki, Masaru Miyazaki, Rena Komine, Yu Emoto, Tadahiro Aoki, Yuya Matsuura


Retro romance meets gangland thriller in this stunning Japanese drama.
1960s Japan, and Misuzu, a high school student with a chaotic home life, finds a sanctuary with her brother Ryo and his friends - a group of nihilistic teenagers who spend their days hanging around bars and indulging in drugs and casual sex. But one of the youths - the ambitious, charismatic Kishi - wants more, and devises a plan to rob a bank van, and the group begin rehearsing the heist. Based on an allegedly autobiographical novel by Japanese writer Misuzu Nakahara (in which she claimed, almost four decades later, to have been involved in the legendary '300 Million Yen Affair', the never-solved December 1968 robbery that remains the largest criminal haul in Japanese history), this powerful widescreen saga is the finest Japanese drama of the year: a stunningly visualised elegy of life, and love, on the edge.

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