Reviews

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The Love Punch

18 Apr 20143 stars

Brosnan and Thompson generate enjoyably sparky chemistry in this breezy middle-aged heist comedy

Emma Thompson re-teams with Last Chance Harvey writer-director Joel Hopkins for The Love Punch, an entertaining middle-aged heist comedy with one eye firmly on the grey pound. A British / French co-production, the film stars Pierce Brosnan as Richard…

Review: Fargo - TV series

18 Apr 20144 stars

Coen brothers classic gets a brand new life on TV with Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton

For the first ten minutes you’ll wonder why the heck they bothered. The fears of anyone who couldn’t get through a day during the mid to late 90s without watching, thinking or breathing the Coen brothers snowy cult classic, Fargo, appeared to be…

We are the Best!

18 Apr 20144 stars

Lukas Moodysson's hymn to adolescent mischievousness is a delight from start to finish

You could be forgiven for thinking Swedish director Lukas Moodysson has spent the last decade under a black cloud, making films like teen prostitution tale Lilya-4-Ever, lurid amateur porn drama A Hole In My Heart and the nihilistic Container. But from…

TV review: Mad Men - Season 7

18 Apr 20144 stars

The 60s ad drama returns with the 70s on the horizon

The world of Mad Men has always been rich with visual metaphors. You only have to look at the opening credits to see a central character who has no identity (faceless and blank, his back to us most of the time) falling through the sky and out of…

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

9 Apr 20144 stars

Marc Webb's superhero sequel delivers a sparky blend of thrills, laughs and heartfelt emotion

Marc Webb's sequel to 2012's franchise reboot finds Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) juggling his daily superhero duties as costumed crime fighter Spider-Man while agonising over whether or not he should honour the promise he made to girlfriend Gwen…

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Rio 2

1 Apr 20143 stars

The sequel to 2010's animated parrot adventure is amiable but forgettable family entertainment

The brief appearance of the acorn-loving Scrat character over the Blue Sky logo at the start of Rio 2 is a reminder that this animation studio has now authored four films in the Ice Age franchise to date. These films had a strong, evolving plotline, but…

The Quiet Ones

9 Apr 20142 stars

Hammer's latest horror gets too bogged down in cod-scientific mumbo jumbo

The return of Hammer films has so far been a mixed bag; The Resident was barely released, their Let The Right One In remake flopped, and only period ghost story The Woman in Black hit the mark. The Quiet Ones is another uncertain entry, with journeyman…

Divergent

31 Mar 20142 stars

Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet star in this derivative adaptation of Veronica Roth’s YA series

It’s always disappointing when a film that places so much emphasis on the need to be free-thinking and different from the masses conforms so rigidly to other movies. Yet Divergent, the latest adaptation of a young adult book series hoping to become the…

Noah

1 Apr 20143 stars

Darren Aronofsky's blockbuster bible-story is compellingly weird & occasionally wonderful to behold

2014 box-office hit Son of God was a straight-faced version of the Jesus story that Christian audiences lapped up, but letting a maverick like Darren Aronofsky loose on the story of Noah was always likely to create a controversy of biblical proportions.

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…

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The Last Days on Mars

9 Apr 20143 stars

An intelligent and engaging sci-fi thriller with strong performances and, oh yes, space zombies

Based on a 1975 short story ('The Animators') by pulp sci-fi author Sydney J Bounds, The Last Days on Mars is directed by Ruairi Robinson and stars Liev Schreiber, Romola Garai, Johnny Harris and Olivia Williams as members of a team of astronaut…

A Story of Children and Film

4 Apr 20143 stars

Mark Cousins’ film essay/poem is an impassioned look at childhood in cinema

A fervent supporter of world cinema, Mark Cousins’ new documentary provides some examples of the way childhood has been captured by filmmakers around the globe in the hundred years since cinema’s birth. Focusing on filmmakers from Francois Truffaut to…

The Space Lady, Ai Aso & Ela Orleans with Maja Borg - Garnethill Centre, Glasgow, Fri 4 April 2014

9 Apr 20144 stars

A characteristically diverse line-up as part of the experimental Counterflows Festival

The feast of contemporary music that was Counterflows 2014, a weekend festival in Glasgow, kicked off in characteristically diverse fashion with an early-evening showcase of experimental music from around the globe. That includes a cult San Francisco…

Half of a Yellow Sun

9 Apr 20142 stars

The adaptation Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel is beautiful and well-acted but lacks depth

This adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s prize-winning novel comes unstuck in the same way as many literary adaptations before it, feeling too often like a story that is just skimming the surfaces of its characters and plot-lines, never digging…

Peter Buwalda - Bonita Avenue

4 Apr 20144 stars

A compelling tale that grips from its innocuous start to its pitch-black conclusion

University Rector, judo champion and famed mathematician Siem Sigerius is slowly being driven mad with suspicions that his step-daughter's boyfriend may be pimping her out on an internet porn site. The boyfriend, meanwhile, is barely managing to control…

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The Raid 2

9 Apr 20143 stars

Some astonishing set-pieces underwhelmed by this sequel's over-complicated narrative

The first film in writer / director Gareth Evans’ proposed trilogy of martial arts thrillers was a kick-in-the-pants to the genre: a simple, fluid action film that showcased the art of pencak silat via the story of Jakarta policemen fighting their way…

Franz Ferdinand - Barrowland, Glasgow, Tue 25 Mar 2014

4 Apr 20144 stars

A triumphant hometown show for Glasgow's indie kingpins

‘Alright Glasgow? It’s good to see you!’ Frontman Alex Kapranos beams at a rapturous reception from a sold-out Barrowlands. Dressed impeccably – in matching black, white and grey suits and looking no older than they did 10 years ago – Franz Ferdinand…

Teju Cole - Every Day is For the Thief

4 Apr 20144 stars

A powerful blend of fiction, memoir and travelogue set in modern Nigeria

Returning home for the first time in 15 years, the unnamed narrator of Teju Cole's novel Every Day is for the Thief plunges into the chaos and exhausting inefficiency of a Nigeria plagued by corruption. Bribes are disguised as tips while extortion and…

New Worlds

31 Mar 20144 stars

Follow-up to The Devil’s Whore ramps up the carnage and injustice

‘It’s a world where you’d be going to one of the new Restoration plays or a lecture at the Royal Society, walking past bodies in gibbets and heads on poles.’ New Worlds co-creator Peter Flannery discusses the inherent tensions of 1680s England ahead of…

Daniela Sacerdoti - Take Me Home

28 Mar 20143 stars

A predictable chick-lit romance develops into a moving study in grief

Take Me Home begins like a predictable romantic comedy: the ditzy heroine Inary, the token sensible flatmate and the best-friend love interest. Then there’s a dramatic shift: bland London is left behind for the atmospheric hills of Glen Avich and…

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Keir Alexander - The Ruby Slippers

28 Mar 20143 stars

A simple message and some good characterisation survive Alexander's soap opera plotting

The seemingly unconnected cast of characters living in Manhattan in Keir Alexander's multi-narrative novel are gradually drawn together by a pair of ruby slippers. Originally worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, they are discovered in old Rosa’s…

Cilla & Rolf Börjlind - Spring Tide

28 Mar 20144 stars

An impressive thriller with sinister villains, surprising twists and likeable protagonists

When police college student Olivia Rönning is offered an old unsolved murder case as a class assignment, she can't resist it, and any plans she had for the summer break are soon put on hold as she is drawn into a complex mystery involving a pregnant…

Damon Galgut - Arctic Summer

28 Mar 20144 stars

An absorbing fictional biography of EM Forster, set around the time of A Passage to India

It's been 90 years since EM Forster – the author of classics A Room with a View and Howards End – published his final novel. Yet he remains one of the most influential and best-loved writers in the English language. Damon Galgut's new novel looks at the…

Wild Beasts - The Arches, Glasgow, Thu 27 Mar 2014

31 Mar 20145 stars

Hayden Thorpe and co play a special set of celestial songs from new album Present Tense

Present Tense, Wild Beast's fourth album, has been showered with acclaim since its release earlier this month. Rightfully so too, it's an exquisite record which cements the Kendal group's gradual evolution from carnal, loquacious, indie upstarts, into…

Avey Tare - Enter the Slasher House

27 Mar 20143 stars

The Animal Collectivist's latest solo effort fits well with the group's established psych vibe

Animal Collective, as we now well know, offer a kind of phantasmagorical trip down the rabbit hole, a lysergic musical microdot that can leave the listener feeling both exhilarated and exhausted, but it’s a sensory overload that more often than not…