Edinburgh International Film Festival: surprise films and more

Carl's back again with more reviews from this year's Edinburgh festival...

Edinburgh International Film Festival

With more tea at my side, I’m ready to continue wrapping up my time at the film fest with three more films from my excursion.

The Surprise film: The Rocker

Sitting in the cinema, hoping that I don’t have to watch another film like Inland Empire, which is what I was surprised with at last year’s Glasgow Film Festival, unfortunately. I was thinking, an indie film with a big budget? The Dark Knight? Hellboy 2 was even in consideration by many. They surprised us yet again, in the form of The Rocker, a film that includes folks from the Pratt Pack, a term I’m coining for cast members from films like Anchorman and the 40 Year Old Virgin etc.

The film focuses around the aged drummer of a band called Versuvius, played brilliantly by Rainn Wilson, who was kicked out when the band signed to a major label. 20 years after these events and down on his luck, he joins his nephew’s band when their drummer leaves, to help them play the Prom. Needless to say, they get press, and get bigger and bigger and problems arise, including a Versuvius reunion. So, how does this film fare against the aforementioned films? Well, the cast is alright, but not inspired, and the script is definitely of good fare, but it is nowhere near the height of some of the more recent Pratt pack films like Superbad or Knocked Up. A shame for the newer talent in the film, like Josh Gad, most of whose lines are spot on, but doesn’t get a fair shot at the spotlight. It’s a shame, but still a good laugh.

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3 out of 5

Dummy

Dummy is a coming of age drama about two young brothers whose lives are thrown into turmoil when their mother dies suddenly, which leaves them to fend for themselves. The older brother, Danny, uses sex, drugs and DJ-ing as a way to cope, and the younger of the two, Jack, dresses up a dummy like his mother, and pretends that she never died. A social worker and some teachers ask a lot of questions, and it becomes more and more difficult to cope.

The film isn’t brilliant, in some ways the lack of emotion harms the film, even though it is the crux of the plot. There are a lot of dramatic scenes between the brothers that work well, but mainly it is a film about a family falling apart even more that it already has. Usually that tends to need a whole lot of emotion, but it lacks the power that drive would give it. It’s a shame, because the subject matter is one that is an important one, but one that definitely needs handled delicately. A film that could be tonnes better, but still has some good performances hidden within.

2 out of 5

Bananaz

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The Gorrilaz are an interesting band, to say the least. Whatever brought a comic book artist like Jamie Hewlett together with the singer of a hugely popular 90s brit-pop band, Damon Albarn, is left as a mystery, but filmmaker Ceri Levy extensively documented the aftermath. Through the beginnings in 2000 before they dropped their first album to the most recent big tours of America, the film charts their success and the change in styles along the way.

While this would work well as an extra on a live DVD or something, it takes a great pop at being a big screen documentary. While it’s full of all the childish humour you’d expect from a bunch of grown up kids, it also takes a great look at the writing and collaboration that makes the music work as well as it does. Whether it’s Dan the Automator, Danger Mouse or Shaun Ryder, the music is always different and brilliantly fun. It is an interesting documentary but doesn’t feel like this is what it was intended to be the entire time. It’s a good watch, and while it isn’t entirely deserving of the big screen, it does jam together quite well as a story. If you get the chance, see it.

4 out of 5