GFF13: Diary of a Failed Critic 21/02/13

Can you guess what it is yet?
Can you guess what it is yet?

Once again, I spent the first part of my day hurriedly writing my up diary from the day before in a desperate attempt to get it on-line before it became irrelevant. Well, the first part of my day was spent sculpting a Pixar character from a cardboard box, pipe cleaners, and duct  tape. It entertained my two-year-old daughter for approximately 30 seconds, which is pretty good going at the moment.

After that I spent some time getting through my festival screeners. The first was The Day that Lasted 21 Years, a documentary charting the US-funded Brazilian military coup that ousted the popular (and most importantly, democratically elected) socialist President Joao Goulart and led to a military dictatorship that lasted over two decades. This film is clearly the result of hundreds of hours of painstaking research into the subject by director Camilo Tavares, and it’s a very enlightening expose of an often-ignored period in American imperialism. It benefits from interviews with major players at the heart of the scandal, and at times made me hugely angry. My only criticism would be that after spending nearly an hour building up to the events of the coup, the end of the dictatorship is glossed over in a matter of minutes.

Reported Missing is a creepy German psychological thriller, but without the thrills. Lothar has been separated from his wife and daughter for years, but when he receives a call telling him that his daughter has disappeared he is drawn into a strange underworld where hundreds have children have gone missing and no one seems to care. Early scenes are genuinely unsettling, and the music and direction made me think of Hitchcock’s The Birds, but with the disaffected youth instead of psychotic pigeons. Sadly, the film unravels quite quickly, and the hint of a good idea ends up going nowhere. A very frustrating film.

Finally I got out to a cinema, and I am so glad I did. A Hijacking is a Danish film about the hijacking of a Danish freighter by Somalian pirates, and the film charts the increasingly fraught negotiations between the Danish shipping CEO Peter, and Omar, the negotiator and translator for the pirates. Caught in the middle is Mikkel, the ship’s cook who ends up as the pawn between the pirates and the company when the Captain is taken ill, and who acts as the proxy for the audience on the ship as the weeks and months pass. Omar in particular is a fascinating character, constantly reminding both Mikkel and Peter that he isn’t a pirate, and that he wants to get this sorted out as soon as they do. He’s clearly a professional though, he always seems to be one-step ahead in the negotiations. I was really impressed by this film, from the performances to the direction which cranked up the tension to Argo-esque levels.

Pick of the Day for Friday 22nd February – Indie Game: The Movie

This brilliant documentary charts the progress of a pair of independent game companies and their efforts to create a hit in a crowded marketplace full of huge multimillion dollar industrial behemoths. You can draw parallels between the games industry and the hegemony of modern Hollywood, or just sit back and watch geeks gon’ geek. Lovely stuff.

Indie Game: The Movie is showing at the CCA Cinema at 7pm.


The Failed Critics coverage of Glasgow Film Festival is sponsored by Brewdog Bar Glasgow – providing award-winning beers and brilliant food in one of Glasgow’s friendliest bars.

We would have spent most of the festival there regardless, so we’d really like to thank them for their generous hospitality.

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