Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: Five of the best thrillers
Intruders, The Cat, Billion Dollar Brain, A Most Wanted Man and The Fat and the Angry among highlights
By now we are all aware that if a series is described as ‘Scandinavian crime’, it will inevitably be accompanied by the word ‘gritty’. This is no Midsomer Murders. After a horrible explosion in an industrial estate, Sebbe (unclear at this stage whether he is fat or angry) is taken in for questioning. Over the next three hours it becomes apparent how the bloody explosion is linked to one of the biggest ever credit card scams. Based on true events, this Swedish miniseries sees Breaking Bad director Johan Renck investigate the more troubled side of the snowy welfare state.
Cineworld, Mon 23 & Fri 27 June.
The IMDB genre descriptions of this film hint at the tonal mash-up: Comedy, Mystery, Thriller. It appears to be a Hollywood style cabin in the woods horror mixed with a Korean caper involving intrusive oddball characters. And initial reviews suggest that the pairing of modes kind of works, as terror is undercut with humour and madcap moments punctured by fear. Noh Young-seok’s first film, Daytime Drinking, a comedy about a young man suffering from a break-up and a hangover, was well received so it will be interesting to see how his genre defying next film does.
Cineworld, Sat 21 June; Cameo, Sat 22 June.
Of course, everyone wants Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last movies to be good. For some critics, however, the film is just too slow: the Guardian described the John le Carré adaptation as ‘slightly going through the motions’, Variety countered that, arguing that the thrills come from ‘the way le Carré’s bleak, unyielding worldview seeps into your nervous system’. but critical opinion on Hoffman is pretty much summed up by the LA Times’ ‘brilliant’.
Cineworld, Sat 22 & Sun 28 June.
A bank robbery deliberately goes wrong, turning into a hostage situation. This film leads the celebration of Dominik Graf, a director who has been overlooked outside his home country because of his TV focus. He achieved early big screen success with this film, sometimes called the best ever German crime film. Mixing a love triangle with criminal intrigue, it focuses on a villainous mastermind who is watching the police and can predict their every move.
Filmhouse, Sat 21 June.
The third film in the Harry Palmer spy series left the original audiences rather baffled with its rapid-fire yet illogical plot. Michael Caine’s Harry seems immobilised by the technological world around him and John McGrath’s script has the Russian spies appear as something other than blandly evil. The Cold War era might have frowned on such a viewpoint (in 1967 the outraged New York Times’ reviewer called it ‘grotesque and incredible’) but it is worth revisiting, particularly because the closing scene is a parody of the battle on the ice in Sergei Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky.
Filmhouse, Thu 26 June.