It’s festival time again and Artistic Director Mark Adams is back with an array of homegrown and international movies, all making their way to Scotland’s capital for the annual event! Usual strands of the Edinburgh International Film Festival such as Best of British, American Dreams and Night Moves return, and this year brings a special Focus on Finland section. Here are our top 5 selections from this year’s brochure…
From his breakthrough appearance in Nicholas Sparks’ weepie The Notebook to his brutal turn in ultra-violent thriller Only God Forgives, Ryan Gosling has an eclectic back-catalogue that divides audiences and keeps us guessing what he’ll do next. After his foray into directorial work on Lost River, he has turned to comedy in Oscar nominated financial satire The Big Short and detective buddy movie The Nice Guys which hits UK cinemas this month. In the run-up to its release, we count down his five best performances to date.
After scooping his third Golden Globe and his first BAFTA already, Leonardo DiCaprio looks like a shoe-in to pick up his first golden statue at this weekend’s Oscars ceremony. The bookies certainly seem to think so, and have him priced at a ridiculous 1/100 to win! Jokes have been had, memes have been shared but now we should celebrate his greatness by looking back at his best performances that were shockingly overlooked by The Academy…
Yes, he’d already starred in Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, as well as being nominated for an Oscar for his supporting role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, but his performance as Jack Dawson in James Cameron’s disaster epic was arguably his breakthrough. The happy-go-lucky character enjoyed a whirlwind romance with Rose (Kate Winslet) before an icy twist saw his character memorably float to the bottom of the Atlantic.
4. The Departed
In 2002, Leo struck up a fruitful working relationship with auteur director Martin Scorsese when they collaborated on Gangs of New York. Their third project together was Boston gangster flick The Departed which explored a cat-and-mouse game of cops and criminals. The film earned Scorsese his first Best Director Oscar after a career that had spanned over thirty years but poor Leo wasn’t even nominated for his work.
3. Shutter Island
Another Scorsese directed film, Shutter Island is a neo-noir psychological thriller centered around U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels. DiCaprio stars alongside one of this year’s and last year’s nominees Mark Ruffalo, and gives a dark, complex performance that has more layers than Mary Berry’s sherry trifle, but again he went unnoticed awards-wise.
Appearing in an all-star cast that included Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page and Michael Caine, Leo starred as Dom Cobb in Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending heist movie Inception. He played an ‘extractor’ which is someone who has the skill to infiltrate minds to steal information. A complicated plot ensues where Leo delves into a dream within a dream within a dream, but still his dream to win an Oscar was unfulfilled.
1. The Wolf of Wall Street
Bold, brazen and bonkers, Leo’s outrageous turn as drug-fuelled stockbroker Jordan Belfort is perhaps his wildest performance to date, and saw him team up once again with Marty Scorsese. He pulled out all the stops and we saw him as we’d never seen him before, but was The Wolf of Wall Street just too extreme for The Academy? Probably.
It appears his brutal and bloody performance in The Revenant will finally get him his prize. If his name isn’t read out this year, he’ll be forced to grin and bear it.
The blood spilled in Macbeth was as deep and red as the carpet at Edinburgh’s star-studded premiere at The Festival Theatre, where crowds gathered to celebrate the release of the latest adaptation of William Shakespeare’s iconic play. In its introduction, Australian director Justin Kurzel jokingly calls his latest work ‘The Scottish Film’ in reference to the well known theatre superstition of never uttering the play’s name, but jokes are nowhere to be found in his bold and brutal retelling of the story.
The highly acclaimed Michael Fassbender stars in the titular role, with Marion Cotillard by his side as the influential Lady Macbeth. The supporting cast includes Paddy Considine, David Thewlis, Sean Harris and Elizabeth Debicki. Their Skye shoot was marred with horrid wind and rain, beating down to give the perfect weather-beaten backdrop for events to unfold. The premiere was much to the contrary as the sun shone on the stars to greet the fans, Fassbender revelling in signing autographs and taking selfies with his Scottish admirers.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to chat to the director of the piece Kurzel, who had an interesting take on the central character, comparing him to Breaking Bad’s Walter White, who is arguably the greatest television anti-hero of the 21st century. Discussing the odd similarity, he said, “I was watching a lot of Breaking Bad to have some freedom away from the torture of the edit and found that, like Macbeth, it is about a man going mad and descending into an evil that he can’t find a way back from.”
Bringing a Shakespeare classic to the big screen is no mean feat and the filmmaker was quick to discuss his reasons for giving it the cinematic treatment.
“It kind of read like a Western when I read the screenplay, and felt really modern. The Scottish setting made it feel very honest. It didn’t feel contrived or as if it was a prisoner to the words. The writers had a new take on the themes of ambition in the play, making it less about control and more about what you do with grief and trauma, especially being a warrior. We found that to be a really fresh and interesting take on the original material.”
He also spoke freely about the universal appeal of Macbeth, and how the story has the longevity to be told again and again without becoming stale.
“I read something the other day that stated that every four hours across the world a production of Macbeth is taking place, so I think already it is the biggest blockbuster around. I think it is whether people are engaged enough to want to see a new one because it carries a lot of baggage. People think if they’ve seen it, or read it, or studied it at school that they’ve done it so I think it’s always about offering up something fresh and new.
For us it’s about placing it back in the time in which it existed, and finding something very human and real in it. I’ve seen it now three times and it’s amazing to me how much Shakespeare keeps on repeating itself but people always want to go back for a second or third time to watch it. I think it has a lot to do with the verse because you don’t always hear or understand the verse the first time so you want to go back and get something new from it each time.”
Macbeth is available on DVD, Blu Ray and on demand.