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.

The Death of Stalin

The-Death-of-Staling-Banner-Poster

The Death of Stalin 21.10.17

My first issue wasn't with the film but the cinema. Two price hikes by Cameo within so many months left me with the cost of £9.20 for a film, on a student membership. It's strange how the little things can unsettle you beforehand, but the Cameo always felt like my cinema. Given that they've given a make-over to the bar, one which now provides fewer seats if you're single, I did sit down for the film in not the best of moods.

The Death of Stalin is a good, fun film regardless. Perhaps because it's playing for laughs, it doesn't evoke the potential for pathos: of once-idealistic men reduced to pall-bearers at the funeral of a monster. What we get is a power struggle between middle-aged administrators of varying degrees of competence. There is little talk of revolution or past ideals – when these politburo members decide to release a host of people, it seems to be as much down to self-interest as a fresh start. These are politicians exhausted by the regime of terror they've helped establish.

Which is also the biggest drawback with this film. Under the spotlight are politicians who remember the October 1917 revolution, when they tried to build a better world. Would it have been so difficult to incorporate just a bit more historical context, to give some added gravity? Because for me, something was ever so slightly missing, a comedy just a bit too lightweight for the subject. All the executions and arrests that go on in the background of this film didn't shake me in the way I think it should have. And the men themselves are the kind of self-interested careerists you'd imagine anywhere – with the possible exception of the brutal Beria.

Speaking of which: Beria, for me the most fascinating and complex member of Stalin's cabinet, is here just a flat-track, scheming bully. But historically, he was also a reformer, keen on allowing East Germany free elections, after Stalin's death, as if realizing the PR disaster the Iron Curtain was creating. Beria was so much more than just a sadistic torturer, even if he was that too. We don't see that side of him here, however. All we get is the scheming and the torture. The most memorable characters in this film are 2-D people whom we never really see behind the plotting.

So to my conclusion: The Death of Stalin isn't a film about ideologies or ideas, or an idealistic experiment gone wrong. It's one more exposé by Armando Ianucci, to go along with The Thick of It and Veep, about the venality and vanity of politicians. Yes there are several funny moments, mainly involving Jeremy Isaac's Marshal Zhukov, Michael Palin's Molotov and the pathetic Malenkov played by Jeffrey Tambor. I laughed, and enjoyed the light, anti-politician comedy. But weirdly for a comedy that should be so black, a curious lack of substance is what I took from this film. 
Thor: Ragnarok
Blade Runner 2049
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Guest
Monday, 15 October 2018

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

First Man
October 14, 2018

First Man

October 14, 2018

First Man

First Man In an age of flag-waving white power, this film could have been a Trumpian Triumph of the Will , a paean to American greatness. But in focusing on Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling), his associates and his family, First Man is a curious thing: a gaze at the tree, rather than the forest, in a way that feels substantial. From the ...
October 08, 2018

A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born Before the film review, my background focus on its star. I love the work of Lady Gaga, up to and including the fluorescent brilliance of her album Artpop (2013). It coincided with an important period in my life, a year of upheaval when I realized I wouldn't live to please the norms of others anymore. Gaga's album was a sci-fi or...
October 06, 2018

The Whiteness of LGBT+ Spaces

The Whiteness of LGBT+ Spaces I'm not writing this in a fit of white self-hate. I've noticed recently that as a transgender white person, I inhabit mainly all-white spaces. I unconsciously select the company of those I'll have things in common with – company that's identifiable to me, company that feels unconsciously familiar. I may not like this p...
September 30, 2018

Heart of the Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain

in Books

Heart of the Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain As someone whose childhood was in the 1980s, I remember the decade with rose-tinted glasses: as a child in Wales, you knew that Thatcher(ism) was evil, and you heard about mass unemployment and factory closures – including in my home town with the closure of the local steel plant and coal mines – bu...
September 23, 2018

Resisting Whiteness

Resisting Whiteness (Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh) Organized by a collective of queer and trans people of colour in Edinburgh and Glasgow, yesterday's Resisting Whiteness combined both conference and safe-space for people of colour to discuss generally (but not only) LGBTQIA+ issues seldom if ever discussed in white-majority spaces. A sell-out thre...
BlacKkKlansman
September 16, 2018

BlacKkKlansman

September 16, 2018

BlacKkKlansman

  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...
The Other Slavery
September 09, 2018

The Other Slavery

in Books

September 09, 2018

The Other Slavery

in Books

The Other Slavery by Andres Resendez My first feelings about the Native or First Nation Americans come in waves of visualizations. The names different tribes gave to the months: Geese Flying Moon; Strawberry Moon. They conjure up colours and movements come alive upon infinite midnight plains. The cruelty of European settlers intervenes. My reading ...
Fragments
September 02, 2018

Fragments

September 02, 2018

Fragments

  Fragments Yesterday evening I completed my move across town from one apartment to another. The experience was, and continues to be, disorientating. I guess everyone needs a place to call home. I start from scratch, again. I woke up from an anxiety nightmare early this morning. Soon after, was lying on the floor doing stre...
August 31, 2018

Forbidden Androgynies

Forbidden Androgynies Growing up in the 1980s, I remember particular cartoons that seemed indispensable and which even today seem impressively cool in their inventiveness. In no particular order, these include the disturbingly Satanic Thundercats with female icon Cheetara , as well as the more gently uplifting Dungeons and Dragons – with the wonder...