Film, Hannah McGill

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Guys and Dolls

15 Dec 20145 stars

Joseph L Mankiewicz’s musical starring Brando and Sinatra returns to the big screen

The gritty, gutsy, funny short stories of Damon Runyon form the basis for this most rousing and delightful of big studio musicals, which boasts Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, a smart script and some of the best screen songs ever. The setting is a…

The Green Prince

8 Dec 20143 stars

Fascinating but flawed documentary focussing on an Israeli informant

‘The Green Prince’ was the codename used by Israel’s intelligence service for its most highly placed informant, Mosab Hassan Yousef, when he was passing information to them on Hamas’ activities during the Second Intifada. So, at least, runs Yousef’s own…

Eastern Boys

1 Dec 20144 stars

Morally complex, skilfully performed French thriller from Robin Campillo

A transgressive sexual connection gives way to a deeper, far more risky bond in this elegantly made and morally complex French thriller. Daniel (Olivier Rabourdin) initially solicits young Latvian immigrant Marek (Kirill Emelyanov) solely for sex...

Opinion: gender depiction in sci fi ahead of Teknowomen film season

11 Nov 2014

'Sex and sexual politics have often played a significant part in its mainstream manifestations'

Those of us who grew up in the 80s or 90s might reasonably have expected social friction about gender roles to be a matter for the history books by the unimaginably futuristic 21st century. Surely all that was going to be sorted out, along with world…

Leviathan

4 Nov 20145 stars

Exceptional, award-winning drama from Russian writer-director Andrey Zvyagintsev

First feted for his striking 2003 debut The Return, and celebrated since for The Banishment and Elena, Andrey Zvyagintsev is a director of heavyweight gifts, whose films are distinguished by both their visual beauty and their narrative ambition. This…

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The Case Against 8

3 Nov 20143 stars

Elegant but unbalanced account of the fight against a controversial amendment

The eight of the title refers to Proposition 8, which would have added to California's Declaration of Rights the specification that marriage be permitted only between a man and a woman, and was ruled as unconstitutional in 2010. Ben Cotner and Ryan…

Ghostbusters

27 Oct 20145 stars

This 30th anniversary reissue of Ivan Reitman's 1984 classic is most welcome

For many of us, the fact that Ghostbusters is in a position to have a 30th anniversary re-release is one of those chilling little reminders of how shockingly old we seem to have inadvertently become. For others, it may be a chance to experience in…

You and the Night

29 Sep 20143 stars

Eric Cantona and Béatrice Dalle star in an oddly lovable orgy dramedy

Looking for the orgy? You’ll find it up Fassbinder Street, left at Almodóvar Corner, on the corner of Pierre et Gilles. Be sure to wear your eye-patch or maid’s uniform, and to bring a poignant story detailing what made you so depraved… Set among the…

Violette

29 Sep 20144 stars

Martin Provost's sophisticated biopic stars Emmanuelle Devos as Violette Leduc

This elegant but deeply felt biopic charts the messy rise to counter-culture fame of French post-war novelist Violette Leduc, played by the always compelling Emmanuelle Devos. Whilst emerging from a wartime career as a black marketeer into writing…

Still the Enemy Within

29 Sep 20144 stars

Documentary on the miners' strike from Owen Gower illuminates a passionately fought conflict

An interesting companion piece to the acclaimed comedy Pride, providing pertinent social history in the context of current debates about privilege, representation and poverty in modern Britain, Still the Enemy Within is a thorough account of the 1984-5…

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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…

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…

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…

The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

26 Aug 20144 stars

A gripping and revealing documentary that tells the heartbreaking story of an internet legend

As digital culture matures, stories about its innovators and pioneers proliferate, preparing to become its myths. What adds nuance is the fact that these entrepreneurs were not the thrusting alpha males who went into space, invented modern advertising…

Interview: Hannah Murray discusses her new film God Help The Girl

19 Aug 2014

Games of Thrones actress on her co-stars, Belle and Sebastian and why she loves Glasgow

You wouldn’t necessarily expect auditioning for a modestly budgeted British indie film to be an intimidating prospect for an actress who has chalked up roles in huge British and American drama series, as well as performing on the West End stage. But God…

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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…

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…

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…

Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?

23 Jun 20144 stars

Michel Gondry and Noam Chomsky examine the complexities of self-expression and conversation

Two men with unusual skillsets – a filmmaker whose work incorporates both mathematical precision and handknitted whimsy, and a scientific thinker who is also an impassioned social and political activist – discuss childhood, language, meaning and love in…

The Skeleton Twins

20 Jun 20143 stars

Nicely-balanced comedy drama starring SNL alumni Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig

This nicely-balanced comedy drama probes the fraught but loving bond between twin siblings Milo and Maggie, played by Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig. He’s a lost soul whose dreams of stardom have staled into waiting tables; she’s a smalltown dental…

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A Most Wanted Man

20 Jun 20144 stars

Anton Corbijn directs cleverly tangled, high-tension John Le Carre tale

A Chechen refugee, Issa (Grigoriy Dobrygin) seeks asylum in Hamburg with the help of human rights lawyer Annabal (Rachel McAdams), but his situation is complicated by more than brutalisation at home: he has a claim on a fat bank account left for him by…

Hyena

18 Jun 20143 stars

Gerard Johnson's grisly thriller is a strong enough film, but an odd choice for EIFF opening night

EIFF opens this year with a grisly standoff between ultra-violent Albanian gangsters and racist, homophobic, bribe-taking, coke-hoovering London cops, among whom only Michael Logan (Peter Ferdinando) retains a guttering wisp of moral awareness. The…

Of Horses and Men

17 Jun 20143 stars

A series of Icelandic vignettes successfully portraying the interweaving lives of horses and humans

In a succession of vignettes, this Icelandic feature depicts various interactions between horses and humans that highlight both the symbiosis and the separation between human and animal lives. The Icelandic title translates literally as ‘The Horse in…

Profile: John Turturro, director and star of Fading Gigolo

13 May 2014

The Coen Brothers/Spike Lee regular talks sex, religion, comedy and working with Woody Allen

Name John Turturro Background An Italian American born in Brooklyn, Turturro is a veteran of scores of film roles, including multiple collaborations with the Coen brothers and Spike Lee, and an action-figure-worthy turn in the Transformers…

Concussion

13 May 20144 stars

A well-observed indie drama with unusual things to say about gay marriage and female sexuality

If you have a resistance to stories about privileged individuals suffering mild dissatisfaction with their too-smooth lives, this likely won’t be for you. These characters are rich. They are successful. They are, in the grand scheme of things, only very…