Sunday, June 20, 2010

Reviews & Photos: "Donkeys" Premieres at Edinburgh Film Festival

At long last, I am thrilled to report that the the world premiere of Morag Mckinnon's "Donkeys," took place today at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. A photocall for the second installment in the original Advance Party trilogy from Sigma Films took place before the screening at the film festival tonight in Scotland featuring appearance from stars Kate Dickie and Martin Compston (who reprise their roles from Red Road of sorts); more photos are online here via official Edinburgh Film Fest Flickr.

Reviews of the film are also now online with excerpts as follows:

TVbomb: 4 out of 5 The script is strong and with the direction of Morag McKinnon, it’s ability to change mood and pace in a heartbeat is impressive. Seamlessly weaving light comedy with the most challenging moral scenes of death and dying. The characterisations are boldly defined, with a truly gritty performance from Kate Dickie and bang on the money comic timing from James Cosmo with some real killer lines delivered perfectly amongst these strained family relationships.

Flickfeast: "Donkeys deftly mixes the comedy and the drama into a perfect blend of small-scale movie magic. The comedy may be pitch black at times (e.g. a suicide attempt not going right that brings to mind Lone Scherfig’s Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself) but it’s still pretty bloody funny. The dialogue exchanges between Alfie and his mate are almost all priceless and the acting throughout is flawless. Director Morag McKinnon does a fine job, working from Colin McLaren’s script based on the characters created by Scherfig, and while the movie is little more than a character piece you have to give credit where credit is due; it’s such a great character piece, allowing the actors to have so much fun and do their job so brilliantly, that you never mind how ultimately inconsequential everything is."

Eye for Film : Advance Party is an experimental tool, not a formula in itself for success. Donkeys is an interesting experiment. But its script is patchy, and at times strands the excellent performances in a wasteland of poorly defined relevance. Its drift from comedy to edginess achieves only limited success. Its look at death is less poignant and much less entertaining, for instance, than writer Scherfig’s (Dogme) masterpiece, Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself. It has none of the seat-gripping qualities of Red Road, and counters the minimalism of its Dogme ancestry with unwanted music telling us how to feel, or an overload of dramatic devices (such as terrible illness and accidents) to propel the story forward. Yet seen as part of a determined effort to break new ground, it is a treasurable, if flawed, film. Artists must to be free to experiment if movies are to break free of hollow but bankable formulae, and that means there have to be a few eggs broken along the way.

Reel Scotland, who gave two well written and FIVE STAR reviews, please read them. Of note from John "Humour may be integral to the story, but it never dilutes the drama. Instead, as Alfred attempts to infiltrate his daughter’s world, uncovering secrets along the way, the darker moments are played with a lightness of touch that don’t feel forced and recalls John Byrne at his best: these are real people, with real emotions. The biggest tragedy of Donkeys, away from the script which has its own fair share, is that the film doesn’t yet have a distribution deal, meaning there’s little chance you’ll see it on the big screen any time soon. Sitting on a shelf for the last two years gathering dust, it seems that one of the most engaging pieces of cinema to have been made in Scotland in the last decade could be destined to remain in the vaults for a while to come. FROM ROSS: Performances are uniformly excellent from the grizzled Cosmo to Compston and to the almost sage-like 12 year old girl (which recalls Gregory’s Girl). The script absolutely shines with just enough barbed dialogue amongst the gentler moments. The pacing is perfect for the tale and the cinematography fantastically captures the spirit of the areas it depicts, with just enough arthouse edge to bring to mind that of Red Road.There’s still a week to go, but this has a real chance of being the film of the Festival. Emotional. Funny. Touching. Sad. Crude. Sensitive. This really does have it all

From THR, who automatically hate all things coming out of Scotland it seems bleh bleh "The idea is to feature actors playing the same characters but not necessarily with the same settings or back-stories. Whether anyone beyond keen film buffs will recall the first one except for Kate Dickie's outstanding performance as a CCTV operator is open to question...The players do their best but it's an uphill struggle to make anything lasting out of dull and forgettable characters."

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