In his latest project, Mark Cousins treats us to a broad and sweeping analysis of the ways in which children are captured in film. His starting point is a candid home video of his young niece and nephew, Laura and Ben, playing in his Edinburgh flat, which enables him to identify some of the archetypal representations of children in film. It takes the form of a personal cine-essay, using spontaneous connections and free association to build affinities between the most disparate of films and work towards a kind of conclusion. Drawing on extracts from 53 films from around the world, Cousins proves once again to be a knowledgeable and insightful commentator, a true cinephile of extraordinary scope.
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Simon Ennis’s Lunarcy! is an affectionate, knowing documentary that looks at a diverse group of individuals who share an obsession with the moon. The star of the piece is Christopher Carson, whose enterprise, The Luna Project, is aimed at kick-starting the process of moon colonisation. Armed with the slogan, Luna City or Bust!, he travels to science fiction conventions, high schools – anywhere he might find a disproportionate number of geeks – spreading the word and raising money to get his project off the ground. If this was a dramatic film, he would have to be played by a young Jeffrey Combs – he has that combination of weird wit and obscure intelligence – but is a lot more self-aware than he initially appears.
Set in an elite boarding school, Korean director Shin Su-won’s debut feature is an impressive study of the violent consequences of social stratification. Students are ranked according to their results and placed under immense pressure to reach the top; only those with the very best grades are able to compete for a place at the prestigious Seoul National University. When the top student, Yujin (Sung June), is found murdered near the school, his roommate, June (David Lee), is the prime suspect, but police do not have enough evidence to convict him. After his release, he takes four of Yujin’s circle hostage in a secret area of the school, which formerly served as torture chambers for political prisoners during South Korea’s military dictatorship.
Best known in the English-speaking world for his Hollywood thriller, Contraband, starring Mark Wahlberg, Baltasar Kormákur returns to his native Iceland to direct the tale of one of its modern legends. In 1984, a fishing boat sunk off the coast of Westman Islands, killing its entire crew with the sole exception of the unassuming Gulli (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson). Incredibly, despite being overweight and a heavy drinker, he survived by swimming for up to six hours through the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, becoming a national hero and scientific phenomenon in the process.
Virginia Gilbert’s A Long Way from Home, an adaptation of her own short story, explores issues of complacency and desire in old age. Having met at 23, couple Joseph and Brenda (James Fox and Brenda Fricker) have been married for 50 years, living out their retirement in France’s Nimes region. As former British citizens, the locale choice was meant to make things like a never-ending holiday, but the unchanging routine of their life – including eating at the same restaurant every night and repetitive mornings based around crosswords, letter-posting and the lingering listening choice of BBC Radio 4 from back home – now feels mundane and oppressive to Joseph.
Drake Doremus’s latest film, Breathe In, is a taut, emotional drama, starring Guy Pearce as a middle-aged high school music teacher who has never abandoned his dream of becoming a full-time musician. His character, Keith, is living in a state of continual but indifferent regret; despite having a loving wife (Amy Ryan), highly-achieving daughter (Mackenzie Davis) and beautiful house in upstate New York, he yearns for the exciting bohemian lifestyle of his youth, of which only his passion for music remains. The domestic inertia is broken when the family accept an English exchange student into their home, the 18-year-old piano prodigy, Sophie (Felicity Jones), who rekindles Keith’s romantic nostalgia and forces him to revaluate his responsibilities to his family and himself.
Berberian Sound Studio Written and directed by Peter Strickland UK, …