Film, Hannah McGill

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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…

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Heli

13 May 20143 stars

A mixed-bag Mexican drama that leavens its undeniable bleakness with moments of love and humour

Films about the hardscrabble side of life often make a point of denying their audiences hope. They invite us to care, only to hammer home that there was absolutely no point in our doing so; the authorial attitude taken is one of nihilism rather than…

The Cine Files: Seth Rogen

28 Apr 2014

All you need to know about the Canadian funnyman, whose next film, Bad Neighbours, is out in May

Rogen is from Vancouver, the offspring of ‘radical Jewish socialists’ who met on an Israeli kibbutz. He began doing stand-up comedy in his early teens, when, he says, ‘there were a lot of jokes about my bar mitzvah and my grandparents, then when I got…

Tom at the Farm

9 Apr 20144 stars

Xavier Dolan's fourth feature is insightful, intriguing & darkly lovely, if a little self-important

Filmmaker Xavier Dolan errs a little on the self-important side here, but so might you if you were only in your early twenties, on your fourth feature film as a writer / director (adapting, in this case, from a stage play by Dolan's fellow…

McLaren 2014 festival shines a light on underappreciated experimental filmmaker Norman McLaren

27 Mar 2014

Filmmaker Iain Gardner: 'Were he still alive today he’d be at the forefront of digital technology'

When it comes to Scottish icons, we hear a lot about bards and Bonds, hip musicians and blockbusting painters – but some trailblazers still slip under the radar, even when their work has transformed an industry or an art form. The Stirling-born…

Cinefiles: All you need to know about … Darren Aronofsky

18 Mar 2014

Some key facts about the director of Noah, Pi, Black Swan and The Wrestler

Aronofsky studied at Harvard and the American Film Institute. He was inspired to make low-budget films by Spike Lee’s debut She’s Gotta Have It, and Lee’s description of his own work as ‘guerrilla filmmaking’. His first short, Protozoa, was made in…

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The Robber

18 Mar 20144 stars

Benjamin Heisenberg's minimalist crime thriller is a thought-provoking piece of work

Filmhouse’s distribution arm continues to snap up what the UK’s mainstream film companies have left on the shelf, with a long overdue release for this Austrian thriller. Is thriller the right word? Certainly the material – based on a true story, via a…

The Unknown Known

13 Mar 20142 stars

Errol Morriss' examination of Donald Rumsfeld lacks nuance and depth

The veteran documentarian Errol Morris here turns his penetrating gaze upon Donald Rumsfeld, Defence Secretary under Gerald Ford and George W Bush. Comparisons are inevitable with Morris’ 2003 Oscar-winner The Fog of War, for which he interviewed…

Suzanne

10 Mar 20143 stars

Katell Quillevere's French drama lacks the intimacy its title suggests

We first meet Suzanne as a bubbly child, living with her father and younger sister in a motherless but loving blue-collar household. A rebellious adolescence brings problems, however, and Suzanne's life quickly spins off the rails, to the perpetual…

Back to the Garden

10 Mar 20142 stars

Dull improvised ensemble piece

Anyone with a glancing knowledge of the film industry is aware that in any given year, scores of fine films fail to make it into cinemas, because it's judged that they don't have commercial potential. This happens, particularly in time of recession, not…

Wake in Fright

14 Feb 20144 stars

A fearsome treatment of Australian cultural identity, masculinity and violence

A fearsome treatment of Australian cultural identity, masculinity and violence, long unseen even in its native land due to the unavailability of a usable print, Wake in Fright has met with renewed praise since being restored from rediscovered negatives…