Technically, the Glasgow Film Festival is not yet over at the time of writing (I still have at least six more films to see, aiming for a total of 30). The overall line-up of films may not have packed as many big-hitters as last year (Stoker, The Place Beyond the Pines, Byzantium and Cloud Atlas all premiered at the 2013 GFF), but by god, they can pick an opening film: Wes Anderson’s wonderful comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel was both an impressive coup for the festival and truly delightful way to kick things off, even if the opening night party dismally failed to include any Mendl’s cakes (the delicacies featured prominently in the film).
Sadly, I won’t be here for the Closing Night gala (I have an Oscar party to get to), but Jonathan Glazer’s haunting and mesmerising Under The Skin looks certain to close the festival in similar style, not least since large parts of it were shot in Glasgow using hidden cameras, meaning potentially that audience members may spot themselves on screen during the street scenes.
I’ve listed my Glasgow Top Five below (with review links where possible), but the unreviewed highlights included charming Indian romance The Lunchbox (in which a man and a woman who have never met communicate via notes left in a delivery service lunchbox, recalling Ernst Lubitsch’s The Shop Around The Corner) and Jason Priestley’s directorial debut Cas & Dylan, an emotionally engaging and laugh-out-loud funny road movie starring Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany, who on the strength of her performances in this and TV’s Orphan Black is destined to be a huge star.
One of the best things about Glasgow is its wonderfully eclectic programming and while there were many talks, discussions and events that I didn’t manage to get to, there are two particular stand-outs. The first was Dark Blood, River Phoenix’s uncompleted final film that had been restored by 81 year-old director George Sluizer, who narrated the missing scenes. The director gamely turned up for a hugely entertaining and jaw-droppingly frank Q&A, which must surely have left leading lady Judy Davis’ ears burning.
The second event was a screening of twenty minute short Black Angel, a mediaeval death fantasy that originally played before The Empire Strikes Back on its original cinema run and hasn’t been seen since. Director Roger Christian was present for a fascinating hour long Q&A session afterwards (“We couldn’t afford a dragon, so we got a bat,”) which included some delightful anecdotes about his time as a set decorator on Star Wars (he is, essentially, the father of the Light Sabre, or as he calls them, the Lazer Sword).
All in all, it’s been a fantastic festival, with my only real complaint being that it hasn’t stopped bloody raining in nine days. It’s almost as if the weather WANTS us to spend the whole time in a cinema …
Special mentions: Blue Ruin, Mood Indigo, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Grand Central and Ilo Ilo
I could also do an alternative Glasgow Film Festival Top Five comprised of films I had already seen at different festivals, which would look like this:
1. Under the Skin
3. Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed
4. The Past
5. Starred Up
By Matthew Turner