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 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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The Square

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The Square The trailer made this film fascinating; the two and a half hour cinema experience was a different, restless kettle of fish. The Square is an interesting if overly-long exploration of the managed edginess of a Copenhagen museum exhibition, and how its control – specifically the curator's control – pales to the weird fucked-upnes...
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Lady Bird

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Lady Bird It covers the ground many trans women can't talk about, myself included, and I was reluctant to watch this film, and confront a past narrative that I'll sadly never share. Lady Bird is a coming-of-age movie in which Saoirse Ronan's Christine – aka self-styled Lady Bird – experiences the travails of her senior high school year, with boys a...
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Black Panther

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Black Panther If Superman were black, would the narrative be different? Like President Obama trying to get things done against a hostile senate, would Superman face resistance and conspiracy theories from Donald Trump, if he were from an inner-city African-American community? Would he still be seen as protector of the people, or threat? These were ...
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The Shape of Water

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The Shape of Water The protagonist doesn't speak, and neither does the one she loves. Her confidante is a single man in late middle age, struggling in vain for work. These are not the heroes you expect, the violence that punctuates the film isn't there to make you swoon in awe. The Shape of Water isn't a movie whose like you will have seen before, ...
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Walk With Me

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Walk With Me It was during this film that I came up with the term chomper to describe the way such entertainments make me feel. Some forty minutes into this documentary (or was it thirty minutes, or twenty, or ten?), I felt myself become drowsy. Silently, and yet in a feverish desperation, I sought out the chewing gum in my bag that would help...
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Bad Education by Pedro Almodovar

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Bad Education by Pedro Almodovar Mention director Pedro Almodovar and it's hard not to think of depictions of women and the LGBT community that are sensitive, sympathetic, and ultimately uplifting. All these virtues are captured in Almodovar's most famous work, All About My Mother (1999), with its representation of two trans female prostitutes. Agr...
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The Post

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The Post A shady US President trying to undermine the media, is all you need to know about this film to see it hits the zeitgeist. Like the Oscar-winning Spotlight (2016), it's a tale of newsrooms and investigative reporting serving as a crucial pillar of democracy. Like Spotlight too, it's a heavyweight ensemble, Spielberg behind the len...
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