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Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival 2014: Film highlights

19 Sep 2014

The annual arts fest features screenings of Ana Ana, The Crash Reel and Silver Linings Playbook

How’s your mental health? There is every chance you might have a lengthy answer to that question; and no less chance that you’d like to keep it to yourself. Mental health issues are vastly prevalent, but carry a stigma that can make them a good deal…

What We Did on Our Holiday

22 Sep 20144 stars

David Tennant, Billy Connolly and Rosamund Pike head up a charming comedy

From the creators of TV's Outnumbered comes this enjoyable British comedy that takes the show's winning formula (talented and adorable children, a script that allows those children to improvise much of their dialogue) and successfully translates it to…

Maps to the Stars

22 Sep 20142 stars

David Cronenberg's satirical misfire stars a nevertheless impressive Julianne Moore

David Cronenberg arrives about 20 years too late to the party with Maps to the Stars, a strained satire of Tinseltown neuroses that feels surprisingly old hat. Screenwriter Bruce Wagner's slice of Hollywood gothic takes lazy pot shots at easy targets…

The Equalizer

22 Sep 20143 stars

Brutal thriller reuniting Denzel Washington with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua

The Equalizer is a nominal product of the gritty 1980s TV series - starring Edward Woodward as a vigilante private eye prowling the Big Apple’s mean streets - which lifts the title, character and concept but nothing else. Not even Stewart Copeland’s…

Interview: Jeff Baena discusses new film Life After Beth

19 Sep 2014

Director talks suburbia, working with his girlfriend and the psychology of smooth jazz

Life After Beth stars Dane DeHaan as Zach, an affluent suburbanite moper whose girlfriend, Beth (Aubrey Plaza), has recently died. Luckily for Zach, it turns out she’s not gone for good. We had a sit-down with director Jeff Baena (and, briefly, his star…

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The Last Impresario

22 Sep 20144 stars

This celebratory look at the life of Michael White brings together lots of famous faces

Glasgow-born Michael White is frequently dubbed the most famous man you have never heard of. A showbusiness mover and shaker, he has rubbed shoulders with everyone from Bowie to the Beatles and Mick Jagger to the Monty Python team. He has supped with…

Student Guide 2014: The best places to watch movies in Edinburgh and Glasgow

10 Sep 2014

A guide to the cities' cinema scenes, with info on money-off deals at all your local picturehouses

First, some bad news: even with student discounts, it still costs between £6–£9 to see a movie in your average multiplex. So it’s worth paying attention to the money-off offers available at the big chains: Vue’s Super Tuesday deal knocks a third off…

A Walk Among the Tombstones

17 Sep 20142 stars

Misjudged thriller starring Liam Neeson that's unintentionally amusing

Liam Neeson treads by now very well worn ground as another ageing badass in this adaptation of Lawrence Block’s crime thriller from writer-director Scott Frank. Neeson is back on the phone negotiating with kidnappers, this time as unlicensed private…

The Giver

15 Sep 20142 stars

Disappointing adaptation of Lois Lowry's YA novel with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges

The pile of unwanted, underwhelming young-adult adaptations is rising. From The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones to The Host via Ender’s Game, the search for another Twilight or The Hunger Games has ransacked the bookshelves of many literate teens.

I Origins

23 Sep 20144 stars

Brit Marling and Michael Pitt feature in Mike Cahill's ambitious sci-fi thriller

Actress Brit Marling made a name for herself in the low budget, conceptually ambitious sci-fi thrillers Sound of My Voice, from Zal Batmanglij, and Another Earth, which she co-wrote with director Mike Cahill. Both films were characterised by thoughtful…

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Wish I Was Here

15 Sep 20142 stars

Zach Braff's disappointing, Kickstarter-funded second film features Kate Hudson

Like the struggling protagonist of Wish I Was Here, unemployed actor and father Aidan Bloom, writer-director Zach Braff’s follow-up to Garden State has considerable baggage. The easy charm and comedic melancholy of Braff’s 2004 debut created a cult…

Things to look forward to at the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival

19 Sep 2014

Highlights include Augusto Baol film screenings and Drew Taylor's re-imagining of Ginsberg's 'Howl'

Now in its eighth year, the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, has always had a commitment to theatre that goes beyond simple issue-based drama into personal reflections on mental health. This year it includes the work of Augusto Boal – a…

TIFF 2014: The Imitation Game

15 Sep 20144 stars

Stirring drama featuring a brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch as tortured code-breaker Alan Turing

The story of how Alan Turing and the Bletchley boffins defeated the Enigma machine is one of the most stirring of the Second World War; the British David conquering the Nazi Goliath by virtue of superior mathematics and intellectual daring. The…

TIFF 2014: The Drop

15 Sep 20144 stars

James Gandolfini's swansong is a satisfying thriller co-starring Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy is steadily proving to be one of the most versatile actors of his generation, constantly extending a range that stretches from Batman baddie and Bronson swagger to the gentle tour-de-force of Locke and now, in this tough Brooklyn thriller, he…

Magic in the Moonlight

15 Sep 20143 stars

Sparks fail to fly between Colin Firth and Emma Stone in Woody Allen's latest

Woody Allen waves his wand for the 44th time (a figure worthy of a sharp intake of breath) and the result is rather less bewitching than its twinkly title suggests. The promising premise involves one professional swindler attempting to unmask another…

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TIFF 2014: Men, Women & Children

12 Sep 20143 stars

Jason Reitman's conservative comedy drama features a nicely understated Adam Sandler

Jason Reitman's cautionary, state-of-the-nation mosaic starts off with the promise of something Altman-esque like Nashville or Short Cuts, but winds up closer in tone to something written by Richard Curtis. Perhaps it is the fault of the extensive…

TIFF 2014: My Old Lady

10 Sep 20143 stars

Maggie Smith and Kevin Kline excel in a witty, sophisticated drama from Israel Horovitz

Israel Horovitz should be considered a source of encouragement for anyone in the autumn of their lives. A vastly prolific playwright, occasional screenwriter (Author! Author!) and father of Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, he has now made his directorial…

The Riot Club

15 Sep 20144 stars

Lone Scherfig's appropriately nasty drama features a star turn from Sam Claflin

Adapted by Laura Wade from her own play Posh, The Riot Club violently disabuses us of the notion that those who rule us might do so from a good place. Wade and director Lone Scherfig knock the uber-privileged off their pedestal by turning puffed-up…

Night Will Fall

15 Sep 20143 stars

Andre Singer's documentary acts as a sobering reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust

That the Holocaust is so frequently invoked in justification of a raft of contradictory positions (not least, as ‘Godwin's Law’ reminds us, as a self-righteous point-scorer in online debates) is all the more reason for frequent reminders of its…

20,000 Days on Earth

15 Sep 20144 stars

This eclectic pseudo-doc paints a fittingly askew portrait of the musician Nick Cave

20,000 Days on Earth spins the seductive, semi-truthful story of Nick Cave. It's an existentialist pseudo-documentary, taking in love, death and memories as well as the art of song-writing, storytelling and performance. With its theme of self…

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At Berkeley

8 Sep 20144 stars

An epic but enlightening documentary from Frederick Wiseman looking at the revered institution

The veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman applies a methodical but delicate touch to his examinations of American institutions, depicting the lives of workers and participants in aspects of public life in long observational takes without voiceover or…

Turner Prize-nominated artist Duncan Campbell returns to home soil as part of GENERATION

16 Sep 2014

Campbell's Venice Biennale film is ambitious mediation on objects, meaning, economic value and art

Following the Common Guild-curated Scottish show at last year’s Venice Biennale, all three artists have solo shows back home in Glasgow as part of Generation. Duncan Campbell is the last to show to his home crowd, and this work is the most demanding…

Think Like a Man Too

15 Sep 20142 stars

Comedy sequel starring Kevin Hart is watchable but lacking in big laughs

As its awkward-looking title suggests, ensemble rom-com Think Like a Man Too is a sequel to director Tim Story's 2012 hit. Based on a self-help book by Steve Harvey, the original film featured a group of women (Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Taraji P Henson…

Grand Piano

15 Sep 20144 stars

Fun, Hitchcockian thriller starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack

Grand Piano finds pianist Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) nervously preparing for a comeback concert, several years after he choked during a performance. His stage fright pales into insignificance, however, when he sits down to play and discovers a message…

Ten days of music, film, comedy and spoken word at The Pleasance Sessions 2014

19 Sep 2014

Confirmed performers include The Twilight Trio, Vic Galloway, Roddy Hart, Neu! Reekie! and Paul Foot

It’s one of Edinburgh’s grandest venues, yet the Pleasance is often overlooked outside the month of August when it’s transformed into a bustling Fringe venue. Thankfully, after a successful first year – including a nomination for Best Small Festival at…