Edinburgh Cinema

Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.

BlacKkKlansman

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  BlacKkKlansman In an age of the absence of subtlety, BlacKkKlansman is arguably the perfect movie to tackle the issue of racism in America. It presents a black-and-white world of good versus evil, of racism and its opposite, in a clear-cut binary relationship. The cops – with one clear exception – are reasonable, anti-racist people, while th...
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My Week in Netflix: Denial and The Stanford Prison Experiment

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  My Week In Netflix: Denial and The Stanford Prison Experiment Denial (2016) is a film I was frustrated to miss at the cinema. Starring the ever-brilliant Rachel Weisz and Timothy Spall, it covers the real-life events of Holocaust-denier David Irving and his lawsuit against academic Deborah Lipstadt, who had accused Irving of wilful distortio...
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The First Purge

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  The First Purge A dystopian near-future with America under the control of white supremacists, The First Purge is the prequel to a crossover trilogy of horror and social commentary of disturbing prescience. Given political developments in the US since 2016 in particular, I'd place this film up there with Get Out! (2017) as the kind of twisted...
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Sicario 2: Soldado

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  Sicario 2: Soldado Islamist terror meets drug cartels and Mexican immigration: thus, does Sicario 2 begin, in literally explosive fashion. What emerges after the opening set pieces, however, is strangely un-dramatic, despite the best attempts of Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro to re-create the amoral desert of the original Sicario (2015). W...
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I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

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  I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore (Netflix) My flatmate's been out of town for a few days, which has encouraged me to use the sofa in our living room a bit more often. This has never been an issue between us, she likes to stretch out on the sofa while I take the kitchen table. But these past few evenings alone in the flat have ...
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Miss Maria, Skirting the Mountain

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Miss Maria, Skirting the Mountain (Edinburgh Film Fesitval) As a snapshot of what it is to be a transgender female in a rural, religious setting, without medical aid or sympathy, I'd recommend this documentary. Miss Maria, Skirting the Mountain (2017), follows forty-something Maria in the foothills and pastures of Andean Colombia. The scenery ...
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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Darker and more disturbing than any Jurassic Park film before, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an epic, popcorn movie that channels our pessimistic current zeitgeist, leaving me to leave the cinema with a feeling of unease. I watched this film and thought of the way the real world is going, with a feeling of dread. ...
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The Breadwinner

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  The Breadwinner Afghanistan. The Taliban. A youthful female protagonist, gender-bending for the sake of her family's survival. The Breadwinner is a hypnotic, enchanting animation that has, at its core, the tensest of dynamics, sometimes re-calibrated with kaleidoscopic colours and emotions. Mixing brutal realities with recurring fa...
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Solo: A Star Wars Story

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  Solo: A Star Wars Story Growing up as a Star Wars fanatic, my favourite character was Han, the reluctant Star Wars hero who grounded the original trilogy with a cynical humanity. Luke and Leia were just too perpetually honourable to have arcs: only Han, you felt, might genuinely have contemplated a descent into the Dark Side. Such darkness i...
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Lean On Pete

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Lean On Pete (on at Edinburgh Filmhouse) Patriarchy and capitalism both take a beating in Lean On Pete . It's a film about a youthful 15-year-old boy, Charlie (an award-winning performance by Charley Plummer) who rescues a condemned horse and takes it with him on a personal quest across wastelands and highways to find his surrogate mother, fol...
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Beast

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Beast I spent most of yesterday alone, after an exhausting week of ambivalent conclusions, and this made the dark and brooding Beast weirdly appropriate. The movie focuses on two outsiders, psychologically traumatised Moll and poacher Pascal Renouf, both inhabiting an island world of rugged coastlines, crashing waves, and an anally-retentive middle...
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Avengers: Infinity War

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Avengers: Infinity War It's set in Edinburgh! goes the cry, and I only wish it had been, or at least, much more than the five minutes that we get to see Edinburgh. Like the ten-second use of Northern Ireland in Hell Boy II , I was left wondering, what was the point? Locations-wise, the big winner in Avengers: Infinity War was outer space, with its ...
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A Quiet Place

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A Quiet Place A location of silence, where the slightest sound prompts monsters to leap out at you – and that's just the PhD room where I'm studying (that one's for all you PhDers out there). But seriously, the premise of this suspenseful, affectionate, horror film is one many readers will already be familiar with by now. Directed by and starring t...
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Howl's Moving Castle

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Howl's Moving Castle Imagine a fairy tale Europe where the world wars never happened, a steampunk Europe of pre-war Dresden, Krakow, Paris, Budapest, et al, merged into one of narrow cobbled streets and wooden-beamed buildings and courtyards of different colours; imagine Hanseatic harbours of tall gables and market stalls with azure seas. Imagine f...
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Ready Player One

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Ready Player One As a strapline summary of this Spielberg-directed film, it's difficult to top the 'coruscating explosion of pop-culture eye candy' as used by Variety magazine. Ready Player One , about people's virtual escape from slum-like conditions into a fantastic online world, is a visual feast and sums up so much of Spielberg's film-making: g...
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Princess Mononoke

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Princess Mononoke They're doing a Hayao Miyazaki season at the Cameo , which means lots of gentle, Japanese animé of otherworlds and ethereal environments. Yesterday I went to watch Princess Mononoke  (1997), which to my mind is the darkest and most brutal of the Miyazaki offerings. Immediate questions occur in reflection, as they did before I...
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Unsane

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Unsane A look of distress crossed a friend's face when I talked about the concept of this movie. I understand why even better now. Unsane 's premise hints at a film that could go badly wrong, if exploited: of a girl locked up in a psychiatric hospital, who believes her former stalker has followed her there, in fact has found work there, to be with ...
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Mary Magdalene

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Mary Magdalene With mainstream films about Jesus, there's usually a fault line to contend with, between faith and secular interpretations: do you treat Jesus as a secular, historical figure, or the Son of God? Do you show the miracles as real? Or go for ambiguity, showing just enough for an open interpretation to satisfy different audiences? These ...
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Red Sparrow

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Red Sparrow This was not the film I was expecting, but the one I deserved. I had entered the screening room guessing at a female equivalent of James Bond, with its lead Jennifer Lawrence mixing fantasy and stupid violence. Instead, what I got for my assumptions was the channelling of John le Carre's brutalist Cold War vibe, of torture, double-cross...
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A Fantastic Woman

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It's the most talked about trans movie since the problematic The Danish Girl  (2016), but A Fantastic Woman already has superior foundations through its casting and plot. Unlike Eddie Redmayne's depiction of Lili Elbe, the predicament of trans actress Daniela Vega's three-dimensional Marina does not involve a reason or fateful spark to ex...
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