Film, Reviews

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The House of Magic

27 Jun 20143 stars

Exceptional 3D effects fail to disguise a humourless script in this family adventure

Co-directed by Ben Stassen and Jeremy Degruson, The House of Magic is the latest animated adventure from nWave Pictures, the Belgian animation studio behind the likes of Fly Me To The Moon and A Turtle's Tale (both directed by Stassen). Like these…

How to Train Your Dragon 2

10 Jul 20144 stars

The animated vikings 'n' dragons sequel arrives full of its predecessor’s invention, wit and flair

Cast your mind back to 2010, and Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders’ animated adventure How To Train Your Dragon. Inspired by the series of YA books by Cressida Cowell, this tale of a young Viking named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and his impossibly…

Adult World

15 Jul 20143 stars

John Cusack, Emma Roberts and Evan Peters star in this appealing porn industry dramedy

Ignore the tacky cover art that suggests John Cusack is Emma Roberts' favourite customer at a pole dancing club, the film contained within is a far more appealing comedy drama set on the fringes of the porn industry. In a bid for independence aspiring…

The Nut Job

8 Jul 20142 stars

Bluntly animated and over-complicated Ice Age spin-off offering low entertainment

Like last year’s Free Birds, in which enterprising turkeys build a time machine and attempt to stop the first Thanksgiving, The Nut Job feels like an archly contrived excuse to justify the groaning pun of the title. The story of an eccentric squirrel…

Transformers: Age of Extinction

1 Jul 20142 stars

A gratuitously lengthy addition to Michael Bay's sci-fi action franchise, starring Mark Wahlberg

The fourth film in the Transformers franchise may mark a freshening up of sorts but it still suffers from the same problem as both previous sequels: the presence of Michael Bay. Never one to shy away from excess, Bay here outdoes his own ridiculous…

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

14 Jul 20144 stars

The simian sci-fi sequel proves you can marry visual spectacle with heart and intelligence

Complexity is something that’s all too rare in modern blockbusters but Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – like Rupert Wyatt’s Rise – proves you can marry visual spectacle with something to engage the heart and the head too. Thought-provoking…

We’ll Never Have Paris

8 Jul 20142 stars

The Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg co-writes, co-directs and stars in an undemanding, messy romcom

It’s easy to see why an undemanding romantic comedy with a bit of star wattage makes sense on paper as a festival closer, and this effort from one of the stars of the TV hit The Big Bang Theory will doubtless win some laughs from an Edinburgh Film…

Honeymoon

26 Jun 20143 stars

Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway deliver solid performances in this cabin-in-the-woods horror

If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise, etc. Director-slash-co-writer Leigh Janiak's nicely atmospheric horror is both creepy and disturbing, though it tips its hand slightly too early and has the usual genre-associated…

Life After Beth

25 Jun 20144 stars

Superlative zombie dramedy starring Dane DeHaan, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick and John C Reilly

‘Imagine The Graduate, but with zombies.’ That seems to have been Jeff Baena’s brief for Life After Beth, a ‘zomromcom’ that couldn’t be further from the Shaun of the Dead vibe that label suggests. Dane DeHaan is expertly cast as Zach, a gothier version…

Who is Dayani Cristal?

22 Jul 20142 stars

Well-intentioned documentary hampered by the presence of movie star producer Gael Garcia Bernal

'The dehumanisation of migrants is something which has allowed this to happen' comments a co-ordinator of the Missing Migrant Project as we watch the cremation of an unidentified individual in Marc Silver’s debut feature Who is Dayani…

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I Am Divine

16 Jul 20144 stars

Affectionate documentary offers a fresh perspective on the outrageous drag star

Divine – who died in 1988 aged just 42 – was a whole lot of woman onscreen and a whole lot of man off it. He might not have lived long but he burned with a fierce, hypnotising flame. Jeffrey Schwarz's affectionate documentary presents the man they…

Amy Pascale - Joss Whedon: Geek King of the Universe – A Biography

15 Jul 20144 stars

A refreshingly candid look at the man behind Buffy and Marvel's Avengers

With his genre-changing series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon shaped the face of television in the 1990s. Nearly 20 years on, having written and directed 2012’s The Avengers, which became the third highest grossing film worldwide, he now plays a…

Luke Fowler: The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott

15 Jul 20144 stars

The film artist turns his attention to Marxist historian and CND activist EP Thompson

Luke Fowler’s ongoing fascination with icons of radical thought has extended from film works on punk band The Homosexuals and composer Cornelius Cardew to his Turner-nominated dissection of anti-psychiatrist RD Laing. Each of these has cut-and-pasted…

Haunter

15 Jul 20142 stars

Grey, dreary, reptitive ghost story starring Little Miss Sunshine's Abigail Breslin

There have been so many variations on the ghost story of late. Usually that the main character is already dead is the final twist a la The Sixth Sense but we learn early doors that Lisa (Abigail Breslin aka Little Miss Sunshine herself) and her family…

Boyhood

8 Jul 20144 stars

Triumphant experimental film offering a unique cinematic one-off, despite lengthy running time

Patience is the name of the game for writer and director Richard Linklater. Fresh from charting the romantic ups and down of Celine and Jessie over two decades in his Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight trilogy, he unveils another long…

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Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon

8 Jul 20143 stars

Affectionate and engaging Mike Myers-directed tribute to talent manager falls short

Actor Mike Myers makes his directorial debut with this engaging documentary about talent manager Shep Gordon, whose eclectic list of clients included the likes of Alice Cooper, Blondie, Luther Vandross and Groucho Marx. The obvious affection Myers feels…

The Invisible Life

8 Jul 20142 stars

A sluggish effort from Portuguese director Goncalves, returning to filmmaking after almost 30 years

Portuguese director Vitor Gonçalves was much-celebrated for his 1986 debut A Girl in Summer, but has taken until now to follow it up – with a piece that’s sadly unlikely to put him back on the map. With awkwardly theatrical acting, zero expositional…

Begin Again

8 Jul 20144 stars

Equally sweet and endearing quasi-sequel to Once starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo

How do you follow an Oscar-winning charmer like Once? It hasn't been easy for director John Carney. Did anyone see the comedy Zonad? He is back on form with Begin Again (originally entitled Can A Song Save Your Life?), a quasi-sequel to Once. Twice…

‘Til Madness do us Part

3 Jul 20143 stars

Challenging documentary from Wang Bing about life in a Chinese psychiatric hospital

Filmed in a psychiatric institution in southwest China, which homes 200 male and female inmates who have committed anything from murder to nothing more offensive than being seen as a social misfit, Wang Bing’s arduous four hour documentary makes for…

Journey to the West

3 Jul 20145 stars

An impressive, meditative work by Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang

Tsai Ming-liang’s Journey to the West focuses on a monk (Lee Kang-sheng) who in a vivid red robe moves across, towards, or away from the frame with the smallest of movements. The film is stunningly shot in a series of long, static takes often…

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God's Pocket

3 Jul 20144 stars

Mad Men star John Slattery directs this bleak black comedy starring Philip Seymour Hoffman

Mad Men star John Slattery makes his directorial feature debut with this bleak black comedy based on the novel by Pete Dexter, author of The Paperboy. Set in the fictional, blue-collar South Philadelphia neighbourhood of God's Pocket, the film stars…

Tammy

1 Jul 20142 stars

Melissa McCarthy is in danger of becoming typecast after her latest bawdy, unfunny comedy

Melissa McCarthy may now be one of the biggest female comedy stars of the moment in terms of box office but she’s in serious danger of becoming typecast. Tammy, her latest, repeats the same formula for ‘success’ that has served her ever since breaking…

Tony Benn: Will and Testament

1 Jul 20143 stars

A one-sided doc that nontheless presents a neat, warm summary of Benn's long and eventful career

A documentary expressly timed to mark the death of a figure revered by the filmmakers is hardly likely to achieve impartiality – not that this film aims for it. If it relies too much on its subject’s own modest assessments of his own legacy to be called…

Let Us Prey

27 Jun 20143 stars

Liam Cunningham and Pollyanna McIntosh star in Brian O'Malley's intriguing horror debut

Game of Thrones seems to employ nearly every available actor in the UK so it’s hard to avoid cast members when it comes to British films. This Scottish production features Liam Cunningham as a mysterious stranger who insinuates himself into a local…

Doc of the Dead

26 Jun 20143 stars

Lightweight zombie doc featuring interviews with George A Romero, Simon Pegg and Bruce Campbell

Zombies are definitely in vogue – they are the monster of the moment, chomping their way through movies, books, comics and TV. The Walking Dead is currently the highest rated show on cable in the US while 2013’s World War Z was the biggest budget horror…