The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Boys and Big Fan among film festival highlights

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Boys and Big Fan among film festival highlights

Glasgow Film Festival blog

Paul Gallacher

Paul Gallagher. Photo: Dan Mayers

Monday 23 Feb

After the busy opening weekend, Monday felt like a bit of a breather – no big parties, no blockbusting events – so I took it as a chance to watch a few movies, and I thought I would use this space to give a summary of some of the good stuff I’ve seen so far. But first I must mention an entirely bizarre encounter I had on arrival at the GFT early yesterday afternoon: a lady rather advanced in years was standing next to the listings board, and as I walked past to pick up a programme she turned and fixed me with a gaze like a tractor-beam; I could do nothing to escape its pull. "The one about the Tattoo!" She exclaimed, "What time does it say?" I deduced that she meant The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the Swedish novel adaptation that has been one of the most popular festival films so far, so I informed her that it started at 4pm – the time now was 1.30. "What?" she replied, incredulous; "Well if you expect me to wait two and a half hours for it you’re very much mistaken!" I feared that our conversation had gone into a realm beyond logic, but fortunately I had a ticket in hand for a film that was just starting, so at least had a legitimate excuse with which to extricate myself from this confused and confusing patron’s conversational grasp. I hope she managed to find something to fit her schedule.

Unlike my exasperated friend, I was able to fit the one about the tattoo into my viewing programme, and can report that it’s a pretty good thriller, with a gripping central mystery and some fantastically tense moments. It's not for the faint-hearted mind, and at 152 minutes it’s way too long, but I’m reliably informed that fans of the book will be OK with that, as it’s a very faithful adaptation. I’ve also seen a handful of low-key dramas of varying quality, but all featuring excellent central performances: Big Fan has comedian Patton Oswalt playing it a little more straight to great effect; Trucker is an odd little drama with lovely Michelle Monaghan (from Gone Baby Gone and Mission: Impossible 3) fantastic as a foul-mouthed, foul-tempered truck driver; and That Evening Sun features Hal Holbrook - who was Oscar-nominated a couple of years ago in Sean Penn’s Into The Wild - in a subtle and complex performance that’s one of the best I’ve seen this year.

Also worth mentioning are a couple of fine documentaries, including The Boys, which looks at the amazing success of the Sherman brothers, the songwriters responsible for all of Disney’s classic tunes, from Mary Poppins to The Jungle Book. The story behind the songs is one of a broken relationship though – the brothers haven’t spoken to each other outside of a professional context for about 20 years. While the film’s directors don’t quite uncover the reasons behind this profound separation, The Boys is a worthwhile do that reveals more than you would expect from a Disney-backed project. Equally worthy of investigation is Kicking It, a low-budget doc about the Homeless World Cup, focusing on six players from different nations in the 2006 event in Cape Town. It’s considerably less polished than The Boys, but what the directors lack in style they make up for in substance, successfully presenting this growing event as a proven way to help men and women at the lowest parts of society regain some dignity and begin to rebuild their lives.

All good stuff, although nothing that’s totally blown me away so far. There’s plenty more to come though, and today I’m planning to get my kicks with Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, showing as a precursor to the Cary Grant party this evening. Needless to say I’ll be there, and may make it my quest to see if anyone can do a better Grant impersonation than Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot. Fun times ahead.