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.

Joker

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Joker The trailer did its work, flashing images of anomie and fury perfectly pitched for these unstable times of precarious working conditions, grievance and institutional indifference. For these same reasons, Joker , directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the protagonist, has attracted pre-release criticisms like few other recen...
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Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem

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Transgender Dance: Sound Cistem It starts with a heartbeat, the dancer-directors Lizzie and Ayden in slow-motion entry, setting the scene of a nightclub featuring two young transgender bodies who are in fact multiple. Sound Cistem is theatrical dance set to a series of pulsing, dance-floor rhythms and the voices of several trans interviewees projec...
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While transphobes get more hateful, I become more freckly

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While transphobes got more hateful, I became more freckly Written weeks after the conference Transgender: Intersectional/International There's nothing good to say, even the films I enjoyed watching this past week, Midsommar and Apollo 11 , I've lost the Sunday will to write. Perhaps Brexit Britain will become like the village cult in Midsommar , bu...
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Dark Phoenix, John Wick 3, Godzilla: my reflections

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Three fantasy movies within three days: X Men: Dark Phoenix; John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum; Godzilla: King of the Monsters The Lacanian feminist Kaja Silverman says about cinema, we go because we need the affirmation, to see the things we hope to see and fail to see in the real world. In Lacanian-speak, Silverman says we go because 'the desire ...
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Girl

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It's a film I watched weeks ago, uncertain that I wanted to review it, the gruesome, horrific ending overshadowing anything positive I was able to take from it. Girl (2019), a Belgian production directed by Lukas Dhont is apparently inspired by the life of contemporary dancer Nora Monsecour . It's a film I had hopes for, really wanted to like, and ...
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Alita: Battle Angel

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Alita: Battle Angel A week has gone since I watched Alita: Battle Angel . It's a film that left me feeling similar emotions to the cyborg-driven techno-fireworks in Ghost in the Shell (2018), the emotion of 'almost.' Visually, there's a lavish sci-fi splendour to the film, bearing the wonders you desire in a mixture of escapist sci-fi and fantasy: ...
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Vice

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Vice A lukewarm reaction from critic Mark Kermode and a condemnation from political writer Simon Jenkins are a strange way to start this review of the Dick Cheney biopic Vice , given that I really enjoyed it. Jenkins's is peculiar, believing it reduced the U.S. invasion of Iraq to the work of a few shady men in the U.S. administration. But wasn't i...
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The Favourite

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If playwright Harold Pinter does brilliant depictions of the menace and impotence of male experience within patriarchy, then this film, Yorgos Lanthimos's The Favourite , produces a stunning equivalent of female power games in a dog-eat-dog world. This felt like a 'woman' film, where boy-meets-girl romance is simply – and peripherally – a means to ...
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Mortal Engines

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Mortal Engines If the anime films of Studio Ghibli and writer/artist Hayao Miyazaki were to be turned into live action movies, they would look like this. Steam punk machines, whirring aircraft and zeppelins, with utopian valleys and dystopian wastelands sharing screen time, reminding us of how one can turn into the other through the rapacious consu...
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Creed 2

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Creed 2 I remember Rocky IV in the mid-1980s, at the peak of Reagan's (and Donald Trump's) America. It's a film so mesmerizingly patriotic to American exceptionalism, the boxer 'Italian Stallion' Rocky Balboa as the plucky underdog, avenging the brutal death of his friend Apollo Creed by taking on the steroid-abusing giant who killed said friend in...
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Widows

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Widows A taut, stylish heist movie spotlighting destinies of gender and race in the U.S., Widows is the kind of movie I'd forgotten they still make for adults. Contrasted with multiverse fantasies like Crimes of Grindelwald , Widows is proof you can have several characters as vivid, substantial, and delicately drawn, while the action and the tensio...
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The Crimes of Grindelwald

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The Crimes of Grindelwald A curious film, one to categorize under 'part of a series' than self-contained. But you sit down to these 'multiverse' sagas from Marvel and Warner Bros. (et al) expecting the cliff-hanger concept that really belongs to TV shows. With this expectation, I entered the dark cinema an intrepid explorer like Eddie Redmayne's Ne...
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Bohemian Rhapsody

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Bohemian Rhapsody It's received so-so reviews, a biopic imbued with a trashy, karaoke lack of quality. But I quite like Bohemian Rhapsody . The star turn by Rami Malek as the iconic Freddie Mercury is on the nose, projecting talent, swagger and vulnerability. His loneliness as his marriage ends is poignant, with the other band members settling down...
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Venom

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The trailer for this film was not encouraging: Tom Hardy becoming host to a slimy parasitic alien of fangs and giant tongue, with blank membrane eyes. The hero turned into unsettling CGI nightmare: is this really what I wanted for my hero? After the event, I can say that the film is better than the trailer, and progressively has its giant, sli...
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First Man

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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 ...
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A Star Is Born

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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...
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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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