Day 1 - The Imitation Game, Guidelines & Electric Boogaloo

Well, the pile of tickets is still large and proper work is now a distant memory (awesome), we are officially Festival. Three movies from yesterday's viewing then, the European premiere of The Imitation Game and press screeners of Guidelines and Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films. If nothing else, the latter must get some sort of award for the title....

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The Imitation Game revolves around the true story of Alan Turing, world famous cryptographer, mathematician and war hero. Also of course known for being a high profile victim of the UK's horrible lawmaking past. Here, Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) brings us a fictionalised take on Turing's early years, war effort and subsequent ruination at the hands of the justice system.

Benedict Cumberbatch excels as the loner and socially awkward (an understatement, certainly for this fictional version of him) Turing, systematically alienating his colleagues and failing to make any friends in his role at Bltchley Park. Kiera Knightly is well cast as Turing's only friend, a similarly awkward Joan Clarke, relegated to the typing pool entirely due to her gender and overbearing parents.

Tyldum does a great job of concentrating the plot, putting Turing at the centre of everything and turning what is essentially a story about a maths prodigy building a computer into a pretty impressive thriller. The Imitation Game is determinedly old fashioned in its approach and the script relies pretty heavily in places on some very cheesy dialogue, but overall it's a thoroughly enjoyable experience and throws some always welcome light on an individual who played a key role in shortening World War 2 by years.  

Guidelines (La marche a suivre) is a documentary from Jean-François Caissy. Caissy drops his cameras in to a quiet Quebec town high school and simply sits and watches whilst a variety of pupils chat with teachers and school counsellors. The director's approach is very much a hands off one, indeed, his camera moves only once during the entire movie. Otherwise we sit as silent observer as his young subjects attend sports classes, merrily wheel spin their car and spend time attempting to define and justify their behaviour to rarely glimpsed on screen adults.

Guidelines is a documentary that either rewards patience or just spends a lot of its 70 odd minute running time staring at static shots of kids leaving school, attempting to drive a car through mud etc. I'd be inclined to go for the former as the detached style leads to some pretty affecting moments between staff and pupils. Hearing a pupil's definition of 'argument' in contrast to your own is fascinating and Caissy presents us with a decent variety of disaffected young minds. The director's static camera also gives us some wonderful vistas to marvel at in the ever changing Quebec landscape.

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Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Canon Films is, we discover during the end credits, one of two documentaries now available telling the crazy story of Cannon Films. The second, The Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon Films was announced suspiciously near to the time that the chief protagonists at Cannon Films were approached to contribute to this entry.

Both chronicle the rise and fall of Israeli cousins Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, Israelis abroad in the US. The boys follow a pretty traditional pattern for movie producing pairs, one is a financial obsessive, the other is a creative lunatic (Bruckheimer / SImpson, Bob / Harvey style). That is the only thing you can put down to being traditional about these guys though. Unless you count stacking them high, selling them cheap.

Director Mark Hartley (something of an expert on the trashier end of the movie making business) does a great job of bringing together talking heads from all side of the cousins' dealing with the industry and combines that with archive footage of the cousins themselves (obviously unavailable due to their documentary making commitments) and a deluge of brilliant imagery from their film back catalogue. The sheer variety of people on show makes Electric Boogaloo an endlessly fascinating, wonderfully funny and ultimately very affectionate look at a brilliantly guerrilla style of movie producing. Ultimately of course, the cousins got caught up in their own myth and it all went to pot but before that, at least we got fuckin' Chuck Norris. And Deathwish 4. Oh....

Si