EIFF: Day 3

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The Great Hip Hop Hoax ****
UK/Director Jeanie Finlay/88 mins

 

Jeanie Finlay’s documentary tells the story of Billy and Gavin, two young rappers from Arbroath who create personas to help secure a record deal. The film follows their journey from their life back home to their success as rappers and their eventual decline.

 

Looking back on the footage from Billy and Gavin’s career, viewers are likely to wonder how they fooled so many people. Neither had their backstories worked out prior to making their decision, resulting in inconsistencies.

 

One to one interviews feature heavily, giving the audience an in depth look at the story from both the participants’ points of view and those of their friends, family and people in the music industry. This makes the documentary both authentic and unbiased.

 

The only minor criticism that could be found is that the film leaves the audience hanging with regards to Billy and Gavin’s friendship. Having followed them through the entire story, it is slightly disappointing not to see the outcome.

 

Overall, a very enjoyable and entertaining movie.

 

We Are The Freaks *
UK/Director Justin Edgar/80 mins

 

Written and directed by Justin Edgar, “We Are The Freaks” follows three teenage friends living in Birmingham in 1990.

 

The first five minutes of the film in which we are introduced to lead character and narrator Jack (Jamie Blackley) appear promising, however it quickly descends into a poorly structured story with one dimensional characters.

 

Despite Edgar’s attempts to create an enjoyable teen comedy, the story is bland and immature. As the events of the characters’ lives unfold, it becomes somewhat like the Inbetweeners gone wrong and the audience will likely cringe rather than laugh.

 

While the idea was good, the actual film is a huge disappointment.

 

Hawking ****
UK/Director Stephen Finnigan/86 mins

 

Written and narrated by Stephen Hawking himself, the documentary follows the scientist from birth to the present day, focusing on his rise to fame and battle with motor neurone disease.

 

Featuring one on one interviews with Hawking’s family, care staff and former students, the film begins with Hawking’s early life in Oxford then progresses to his life as a student in Cambridge and diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease.

 

Despite being given a short time to live in his early 20s, Hawking goes on to live a full and active life in which he completes a PHD and gets married. To this day he continues to work and doesn’t let his declining health define him.

 

Hawking himself is admirable, however his ex wife Jane truly shines as a loyal and supportive figure in his life. Despite knowing about his illness she sticks by him and the eventual breakdown of their marriage is unrelated. Throughout his career, he also has great support from his staff and students.

 

Overall, “Hawking” is a great documentary that gives a “fly on the wall” insight into his life. Hawking’s narration is by far the best thing about the movie and adds a personal touch that no other narrator could.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

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