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Sweet Mambo

2 Sep 20144 stars

Production by Pina Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal at the Edinburgh International Festival

The difficulty in writing about a Pina Bausch work is that it sometimes seems impossible to find words to convey exactly what is being expressed; which is probably why the late dance theatre choreographer and director chose a mixture of words and dance…

Gnosis

2 Sep 20145 stars

Akram Khan's tale from the Mahabharata masterfully performed at the Edinburgh International Festival

Two thirds of the way into the first half of Akram Khan’s programme he stops to talk to the audience. Softly and carefully he explains that the rhythms of the Kathak dance he has been performing so virtuosically are based around mathematics. He…

Sex Tape

1 Sep 20142 stars

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel head up a slapstick heavy sex comedy that's light on laughs

Few sub-genres are as moribund as the sex comedy; since the 70s, audiences rarely seek laughs and voyeurism at the same time, and certainly not at the cinema, with dedicated internet sites allowing them to indulge both humour and libido in…

The Hundred-Foot Journey

1 Sep 20143 stars

Helen Mirren is on fine form in a sentimental culinary culture clash drama

Swapping cocoa for curry powder, Lasse Hallström’s latest is a culinary tale based on the book by Richard C Morais with a screenplay by Steven Knight (Locke, Eastern Promises). Recalling his Juliette Binoche-starrer Chocolat, Hallström again wants us to…

The Guest

1 Sep 20145 stars

Dan Stevens ditches his Downton image in Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett's superlative psychothriller

Taking gasoline and a match to his drippy Downton Abbey image, Dan Stevens reinvents himself in genuinely gobsmacking style. He's the titular houseguest: a soldier with a mysterious past, Terminator-like fighting skills and a knowing smirk. Directed and…

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Before I Go to Sleep

1 Sep 20143 stars

Superficial but stylish thriller based on the bestseller starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth

A psychological thriller boasting a top drawer cast and more twists than a bag of fusilli pasta Before I Go to Sleep is based on SJ Watson's bestseller. It stars Nicole Kidman as vulnerable amnesiac Christine Lucas, torn between two suspicious but…

They Came Together

1 Sep 20142 stars

Gifted comics Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler are poorly served by a so-so rom-com parody

If ever there was a genre that was ripe for parody, that genre is the Nora Ephron-style romantic comedy. That's the conclusion drawn by writer-director David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) and co-writer Michael Showalter, whose new comedy sets about…

Finding Fela

1 Sep 20142 stars

Alex Gibney's inconsistent documentary melds the life and music of Nigerian star Fela Kuti

Comparatively speaking, Fela Kuti did for African music what Djibril Diop Mambéty did for African cinema. Using his art as a means not only to battle against the harsh realities of neo-colonialism but to connect with other cultures, he created a…

Life of Crime

1 Sep 20143 stars

Jennifer Aniston impresses against type in this crime comedy based on Elmore Leonard's The Switch

A prequel of sorts to Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, in that it features three of the same characters (albeit played by different actors), Life of Crime is writer-director Daniel Schechter's low-key adaptation of Elmore Leonard's The Switch. Set…

Dan Clark: Me, My Selfie and I

1 Sep 20143 stars

Enjoyably bitter observations about love and shame at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Richard Herring once did a show about how anxious he was feeling at having just entered his fifth decade. You can really sense that something similar is on the horizon from Dan Clark who can’t quite believe how he has managed to get this elderly (he’s…

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Ubu and the Truth Commission

1 Sep 20143 stars

Handspring Puppet Company tackle abuses of power at the Edinburgh International Festival

A revival of the 1997 production that mashed up Alfred Jarry's anarchic satire Ubu Roi and episodes from the Truth and Reconciliation process in the aftermath of the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, Ubu and the Truth Commission is an…

FAILE & Båst: Deluxx Fluxx Arcade

1 Sep 20144 stars

Brooklyn based artists create luminous video games arcade for the Edinburgh Art Festival

Hidden deep in the bowels of Summerhall, the building’s clinically austere atmosphere gives way to a riot of colour and sound as Faile and Bast’s Deluxx Fluxx Arcade explodes against the senses. Those of a certain generation might remember the ambience…

Al Donegan: The Five Worst Things I Ever Did

1 Sep 20143 stars

Technical comedic skills and stories to burn at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

You have to admire the brave act who makes that their show title. It’s practically an open-goal invite to any cynical hack looking for an easy ‘in’ to give that show a kicking. Thankfully (or annoyingly), Al Donegan has technical skills (he’s a…

The Devil Without

1 Sep 20143 stars

Faustus myth given fresh take at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Ian Harvey Brown is a mentalist. Unlike those who use their power for evil – persuading old ladies that their husbands are happy – or to celebrate their own brilliance like Derren Brown, Brown applies his tricks of the mind to reconsider the myth of…

Hayley Ellis: We Need to Talk About Kevin

1 Sep 20142 stars

Amiable hour too timid for impact at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

As amiable as they come, Hayley Ellis has a show which occasionally bears some rather sharp claws, but is ultimately a little too timid to hit home fully. Initially stunted early on in the run by not being in possession of a licence to have a dog on…

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Charlie O'Connor: Dandyisms

1 Sep 20141 star

Limp musical comedy and flat jokes at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Charlie O’Connor is a guy who looks like a girl and is often mistaken as such. This leads to awkward moments with bigoted cabbies and confused women in supermarkets, and we seem to be off to a decent start. Even if he hadn’t told us, it becomes patently…

FRONT

1 Sep 20144 stars

Thalia Theater revive the spirits of Remarque and Barbusse at the Edinburgh International Festival

Thalia Theater's production, set in Belgium 1914-18 and based on classic anti-war literature by Erich Maria Remarque and Henri Barbusse, initially seems like a radio broadcast, until individual testimonies unfurl like battered flags. There are, among…

Claustrophobia

1 Sep 20143 stars

Evocative theatre production let down by disappointing climax at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Claustrophia, created by To The Moon theatre company in association with Theatre Bench, explores exactly what it means to be in control when two unnamed strangers become stuck in a lift together. Jessica Macdonald plays a neurotic woman on her way home…

Les Troyens

1 Sep 20143 stars

Mariinsky Opera delivers stylised Berlioz production at the Edinburgh International Festival

Anticipated as one of the must-sees of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, Mariinsky Opera’s visit with Berlioz’s epic Les Troyens (The Trojans) was a mixed bag. Running for five and a half hours, admittedly with two extended intervals, the…

Oscar Guardiola-Rivera discusses Story of a Death Foretold at 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival

29 Aug 20144 stars

Colombian historian delivers thrilling talk on Salvador Allende's last stand

In Story of a Death Foretold, Columbian historian Oscar Guardolia-Rivera chronicles the rise of Chile's socialist president Salvador Allende and the brutal CIA-supported coup which ousted him. In this electrifying hour, Guardolia-Rivera describes…

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Various artists - Bourgeois Kerb Stomp

28 Aug 20144 stars

Industrial dub power trio Ex-Servicemen split 3 ways for this experimental/noise cassette release

Self-described ‘industrial dub power trio’ Ex-Servicemen breaks down into its component parts for this three-way split. Cognisant of both the usefulness of technological ghosts and the fetishistic potential of physical objects, Herhalen (a Glasgow-based…

FrightFest 2014: All Cheerleaders Die

28 Aug 20142 stars

Hypocritical horror remake from Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson

Gender politics has always been at the beating heart of horror. While it could be argued that cinema as a whole is preoccupied with the white male experience, no other genre gouges such an indelible gender divide. Scary movies usually embrace the tired…

Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World

28 Aug 20143 stars

Canadian dance-punk duo release second album with mixed results

It’s hard to work out Death from Above 1979’s reasons for putting out The Physical World: they’ve talked in interviews about the constant nagging from fans and the press, but denied they’re doing it for them; they’ve said it’ll allow them to play live…

Singles and downloads - August 2014

28 Aug 2014

Featuring Nozinja, Franz Ferdinand, Rustie and Mark Lanegan

Nozinja – 'Tsekeleke' (Warp) ●●●● South African beat maker Nozinja (aka Richard Mthetwa) makes his debut on Warp Records, coming out the blocks like a demented circus theme tune before morphing into hyper-speed afrobeat. This amalgam of traditional…

FrightFest 2014: The Babadook

28 Aug 20144 stars

An emotionally impactful, sad and scary horror from debut director Jennifer Kent

Overwhelming grief and depression takes the form of a top hat wearing, slithering monster with knives for hands in debut director Jennifer Kent’s genuinely upsetting and at times terrifying modern day fable. It's been six years since Amelia (Essie…