Reviews

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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…

First Aid Kit – Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, Tue 16 Sep 2014

17 Sep 20144 stars

The Swedish alt.country outfit cover Jack White and Paul Simon on their Stay Gold tour

Following the somewhat dramatic onstage collapse of support act Jo Rose (a fair enough solo singer-songwriter who, thankfully, turned out to be alright), you could forgive Swedish alt.country outfit First Aid Kit for being out of sorts for a few moments…

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…

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…

Singles round up – September 2014

16 Sep 2014

Including new releases from Garden of Elks, Rozi Plain and Rachel Dadd, Baio and Night Noise Team

Garden of Elks – Yoop EP (Self-released) ●●●● Something of a Glasgow rock supergroup with members of Bronto Skylift, Paws and the late Dananananaykroyd in their number, Garden of Elks release an EP which is pleasingly not at all what might be expected…

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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…

The Driver

16 Sep 20143 stars

David Morrissey, Ian Hart and Colm Meany star in BBC cab driver crime drama

Even if you’re bored and miserable, 'be happy with your safe lot' seems to be the clarion cry message of this three-parter. David Morrissey plays Vince, a cabbie who is made to feel worthless at home (by a dismissive wife and sullen daughter) and…

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.

Cilla

12 Sep 20142 stars

Sheridan Smith and Aneurin Barnard work with humdrum raw material in insipid biopic

Given that her TV appearances these days seem limited to a news soundbite whenever the latest of her contemporaries gets either Yewtreed or convicted, it’s hard to imagine that Cilla Black was once hot showbusiness property. But here she gets the…

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…

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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…

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…

Hausfrau: Night Tides

16 Sep 20143 stars

An absorbing, pulsing electronica debut from Claudia Nova, occasionally let down by weak vocals

Hausfrau is the alter ego of Glasgow-based artist, Claudia Nova, who brings us an absorbing debut in the form of Night Tides. Released on aptly-named label, Unknown Pleasures (there is at least a thematic connection, if not exactly a direct similarity…

Heather Phillipson – sub-fusc love-feast

16 Sep 20144 stars

Playful and ambitious collection of works that remix and reimagine the natural world

Playing God appears to come natural to Heather Phillipson as the London-born poet, performer, sculptor and video artist gets back to nature by way of a jungle full of photographic cut-out dioramas and big-screen video cut-ups that suggests that the…

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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Claude Closky: 10, 20, 30 & 40%

16 Sep 20143 stars

French avant-savant artist exhibits new series of minatures at Summerhall

They could be pages torn from an art-zine, an architect's portfolio or a sketchpad given to pre-schools on a rainy day, such is the playful but matter-of-fact show-and-don't-tellness of French avant-savant Claude Clocky’s new series of miniatures.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season One

16 Sep 20144 stars

Andy Sandberg finds the perfect vehicle for goofy humour in hilarious series

Saturday Night Live alumnus Andy Sandberg has found the perfect vehicle for his goofy humour in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. He takes the lead as Detective Jake Peralta, the precinct's top cop who butts heads with the uptight new Captain Ray Holt (Andre…

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…

Fall Girl

11 Sep 20143 stars

Pleasant enough if not exactly earth-shattering musical theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

How would you feel if you were being conned at every turn? It’s a question some Fringe audiences must ask themselves constantly. And it certainly seems to be the inexorable fate of Hayley in this spot of pleasant enough if not exactly earth-shattering…

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…

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Eleanor Morton: Lollipop

11 Sep 20142 stars

Comedian at the early learning stage of her comedy development at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Making your audience uncertain as to whether they are in fact witnessing a well-defined comic persona in action is a real trick to pull off. The tension between what’s real and what’s not has stood many a fine comic creation in good stead, and Eleanor…

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…

Kate Mosse - The Taxidermist’s Daughter

11 Sep 20144 stars

The sodden marshes and thunderous skies of the small village of Fishbourne near Chichester – and Kate Mosse’s home – provide a suitably gloomy setting for the Labyrinth author’s new Gothic tale of murder and mystery. Mosse pulls that landscape in…

Joz Norris: Awkward Prophet

11 Sep 20142 stars

Claustrophobic comedy hour lacking everyman appeal at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

When it comes to Joz Norris’ material, it’s unapologetically bright, colourful and not a little garish. Sadly, this particular material is related more to the Hawaiian-style garb on his back than the stuff that comes out of his mouth during the…

Kate Saunders - Five Children On The Western Front

11 Sep 20142 stars

A disappointing sequel to E Nesbitt's wonderful, immersive and humorous Five Children and It series

Five Children and It is the first of a much loved trilogy from writer E Nesbit about five children and the Psammead (sand fairy) who grants wishes. It has since been adapted for TV and film and has inspired various takes on the story including books by…