EIFF 2016 – Best of the Fest

Jul 5, 2016 | Posted by in 2016, EIFF
EIFF 2016

Now that I’ve finally finished all of my Edinburgh International Film Festival reviews I thought I would cap it all off by sharing my 5 personal favourites from my time at the festival. I saw a lot of films and had so many great experiences but there are 5 that stand out.

There is a caveat to this because who doesn’t love a caveat? It’s a great film but I’ve decided not to include Finding Dory in the running simply because it’s a massive Pixar movie and doesn’t need any more recognition. This list is reserved for smaller films that I came to appreciate. The reviews will all be hyperlinked so without further ado here’s the list:

5) Mr. Right

mr-rightI didn’t review this one but I will say that it was an awful lot of fun. Who else could play a dancing assassin outside of Sam Rockwell? He absolutely nails the part and most of the comedy completely lands. Anna Kendrick is equally charming as the woman caught up in this and her character even manages to subvert the damsel in distress trope that tends to fill these films.

There are lots of laughs, great action and fun characters all over the place. It’s really goofy and off the wall in a way that’s hugely infectious. I had a great time with this and would definitely recommend checking this out should you have the opportunity. This is something I can’t wait to see it again.

4) The Carer

The CarerThe funniest thing about this is that I almost didn’t see this one and I would definitely have missed out had I skipped it. This film contains the best performance from Brian Cox in years playing a character that seems like it was written specifically for him. He really throws himself into the performance and fully commits to the aspects that would make him seem undignified. One of the central themes is the loss of dignity and his performance helps bring that across.

Coco König is a new face in films and she does an admirable job despite an obvious language barrier and manages to build up great onscreen chemistry with Cox. The film is very light on plot but it doesn’t matter because watching the characters interact is so fascinating. The film just sucks you in by keeping everything very character driven and never fails to provoke different emotional responses.

3) Hunt for the Wilderpeople

huntThis film is nothing short of hilarious. It throws laughs at the audience at a rapid pace and never lets up. Julian Dennison and Sam Neill are so watchable together as two characters that are very much the opposite of one another. You might be forgiven for thinking that it gets more ridiculous as it goes on because it absolutely does but that doesn’t really matter when the results are as unpredictably hilarious as they are here. It kept me guessing throughout and an even funnier joke was always just around the corner.

It seems that this tops a lot of the Best of the Fest lists and rightly so. The director is going to bring the next Thor outing with Thor: Ragnarok and after watching this I am very excited to see what his unique style can bring to that franchise. It’s funny, the New Zealand forest setting looks amazing and the characters are really well developed to the point that they feel like so much more than joke delivery systems. This is definitely one to keep an eye out for.

2) Slash

SlashThe reason I responded so well to this film is because it takes a subject that many people are embarrassed to even talk about and puts it at the root of everything this film is trying to achieve. There are plenty of films and TV shows about “geeks” following their interests while being outcasts in society but this one takes a fairly fresh spin on it. In this film, the outsiders are presented as the normal people with the “cool” kids being presented as misguided and abnormal. This could easily have been a by the numbers story about a young man trying to find himself and questioning his sexuality in the process but it goes a lot deeper than that and explores a subculture that doesn’t get a lot of mainstream attention other than being ridiculed.

I liked the characters as well. Neil is a really compelling character played excellently by Michael Johnston who captures the awkwardness and naivety perfectly. Julia is the complete opposite and Hannah Marks projects the abrasive confidence that defines her wonderfully. Together they make for a fascinating pair who both have no clue what their place in the world is but express it in very different ways. Mileage may vary on this one but there are plenty of laughs throughout as well as a serious message about acceptance. I absolutely loved this and would strongly recommend checking it out

1) Yoga Hosers

Yoga HosersThis wasn’t the “best” film I saw at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in terms of film-making genius but it was the one I had the most fun with. Are my perceptions coloured by an excellent introduction by Kevin Smith followed by a Q&A after the film? Or am I just gushing because I got to spend some time with the guy as part of a round table? Possibly but it doesn’t alter the fact that I look back on this film fondly.

Harley Quinn Smith and Lily Rose Depp are the definite highlights here and have the makings of being huge actresses in the future. Their comic timing is excellent and they bounce off each other so naturally. Being good friends I imagine that was easy but they carry this film well and are a positive example for female representation in movies.

The story is absolutely ludicrous and it does take a while to get going but Kevin Smith manages to combine dated and modern pop culture references and provoke a lot of laughs as this lunacy plays out. The visual effects are really ropey but they help create a distinct B-Movie appeal and it’s just very difficult to not have a good time with this.

This getting made in the first achievement in itself because it comes across as so insanely self indulgent but there’s a real sense that this is exactly the film that Kevin Smith wanted to make and it’s a rare example of something this self indulgent paying off into something that’s really enjoyable to watch. It’s not for everyone but it was for me and it’s my favourite film of the festival.

Final Thoughts

I had a great time at the 70th Edinburgh International Film Festival this year. This was my third year as press and it’s definitely the best time I had. I saw a lot of worthwhile films that you should definitely keep an eye out for. My entire coverage can be found here. This wasn’t an easy list to make so there are plenty of other gems on there that are worth your time.

The Festival allowed me to have so many great experiences and afforded me lots of opportunities such as the aforementioned Round Table with Kevin Smith and his daughter Harley Quinn Smith as well as being able to participate in a round table with Clancy Brown who was attending to promote the 4K restoration of Highlander.

Kevin Smith was a definite highlight for almost everyone who managed to cross paths with him. Any involvement he had with any event went on far longer than he was supposed to. His In Person event doubled the time from 90 minutes to 3 hours with Kevin not even breaking a sweat. One thing is for sure, the man can talk and people seem more than willing to listen.

It was a great festival and I’d like to thank the Press Team as well as everyone who made it all possible. Also my fellow bloggers for helping me keep up my energy levels for the endurance test that is all of the film watching. With any luck I’ll be able to attend as press again next year and be part of the great atmosphere once again.