Published: 316 articles

Black Mass ****

Running time 123 mins Cert: 15

Synopsis: In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster and old acquaintance James “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. 

Based on Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s book of the same name, the movie follows the true events of Bulger’s two decades as an Informant for the F.B.I. The man himself is an interesting character, even Scorcese used him as a reference for Jack Nicholson’s mobster in “The Departed”.

Director Scott Cooper who previously made the slow burning ‘Crazy Heart’ and the intriguing ‘Out of the Furnace’ shows Bulger as a sensitive, likeable, human being , but violent delusions of frequent paranoia.  

He also makes a great decision only to focus on the informant years rather being a full on biopic as this is the most interesting period of Bulger’s life. Although the movie does feel like only part of the story is being told, especially with the events took place after the film.  He has also brought one of the greatest actors back from fantastical roles which have been relentless in the past few years. 

Johnny Depp reminds the audience of how good he used to be. From the very first scene he disappears completely into the role with convincing age makeup and  filtered lens giving him a dangerous, murderous sociopathic look. There is not a hint of weird quirkiness in his performance.

It is not just Depp’s movie though as Joel Edgerton, as the story also centres on the agent who let Bulger get away with running things in Boston his way. Edgerton plays John Connolly  as a naive, but identifiable flawed man.

Both  actors is also supported with a cast of great actors. Rory Cochrane  as Bulger’s  second-in-command, Breaking Bad’s  Jesse Plemons as killer Kevin Weeks’. Ant-Man’s Corey Stoll as a by the book prosecutor, Dakota Johnson as Jimmy’s partner, Adam Scott and Kevin Bacon as  FBI agents and Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger’s more upstanding congressman brother.

Like Connolly the film is also flawed. The piece appears to have been in look and editing with previous gangster classics ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘The Departed’ But this is forgivable considering the pacing, performances and the overall storytelling.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

The Walk ***

Running time 123 mins Cert: PG

Synopsis: As a boy, Philippe Petit dreams of performing daring feats for dazzled crowds. As an adult (Gordon-Levitt), his life’s ambition comes true when he becomes a high-wire artist who stares death in the face with every step. Under the guidance of mentor Papa Rudy (Kingsley), the French daredevil devises a plan to walk on a tightrope attached to the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. With help from his team and against all odds, Petit attempts the seemingly impossible stunt on Aug. 7, 1974.

The story is based on the true events as as the memoir ‘To Reach the Clouds’ . This is not the first time Petit’s story has been brought to the big screen as the brilliant documentary “Man on Wire” screened around 8 years ago to overwhelming critical and audience praise.
This live action version follows the same structure as the documentary with a heist picture with biographical flashbacks thrown in. However unlike the documentary this version is not nearly as compelling.
One of the things contributing to this is the unnecessary voice-over provided by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He constantly explains the motivations and his feelings regarding his actions, which anyone can clearly decipher for themselves. This criticism is nothing against the actor’s performance as he mimics Petit’s speech and mannerisms to a tea.
The focus obviously is on Petit, but none of the supporting cast are particularly memorable, which makes little sense considering the cast director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future). 
His mentor Papa Rudy played by Ben Kingsley briefly appears to offer advice and support. James Badge Dale is the French speaking New York local who joins Petit’s crew. While Charlotte Le Bon has almost nothing to do except for playing the girlfriend without much of any real development about their relationship.
These problems make the film drag until the final act which is truly spectacular especially in 3D IMAX, which is not for the faint hearted who have a fear of heights. Once the thrilling spectacular is over there is nothing to explain the interesting developments which were seen in the documentary.
The Walk is a unique cinematic experience, but considering the story and the talent involved the film should have been more than a sideshow act.
Review by Lesley Logan

Newsreel (W/e August 2nd 2015)


Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs to Screen at New York Film Festival.
Tommy Lee Jones joins Matt Damon for the latest sequel to the Bourne franchise.
Toronto International Film Festival will host the World Premieres of Ridley Scott’s The Martian, Jay Roach’s Trumbo and Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation and Michael Moore’s Where To Invade Next.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation accomplishes at the top spot of the U.S. Box-office.

Newsreel (w/e 26th July 2015)

Lucasfilm want Benicio Del Toro for Villain role in Star Wars: Episode VIII.
Rosamund Pike to star with Jon Hamm in High Wire Act.
Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman to write the script for the live-action remake of Disney’s The Sword in the Stone.
Johnny Depp’s Whitey Bulger movie, Black Mass to have world premiere at Venice Film Festival.
Brie Larson & Russell Crowe are in talks for Skull Island.
Chloe Grace Moretz joins the cast of Neighbors 2.
Minecraft movie to be directed by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney.
James Horner wrote a Secret Score for the remake of The Magnificent Seven.
Antman makes the competition look small at the top of the U.S. Box-office.

Ted 2 ***


Run Time: 116mins  Cert: 15

Synopsis: When Ted (MacFarlane) decides he wants to have a child with his new wife, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth), he faces the realisation that in the eyes of the law he is not a human, he is just a toy.


The toy with the dirty habits and filthy mouth returns. As can be expected from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, Ted 2 is full of crude humour and some great visual gags.


For the sequel, MacFarlane has tried to take the film in another direction with the theme of legal citizenship and mistreating individuals who are different.


While it is commended that such issues are raised, this key area does not really fit well within the world of a living breathing teddy bear. Somehow it takes the believability of the character and turns it into something that is funny, but ridiculous.


Mark Wahlberg returns as Ted’s childhood friend, John and has excellent comc timing. Amanda Seyfried replaces Mila Kunis due to her being pregnant at the time of shooting as the Ted’s lawyer Samantha. Although Seyfried is good, the chemistry between her and Wahlberg does not work as well as the dynamic with Kunis. However as with the first movie, the bear steals the show.


MacFarlane has also brought a wealth of funny cameos including appearances by Morgan Freeman, Tom Brady, Jay Leno and Liam Neeson.


Not as good as the first film, it is however funnier than most comedy sequels especially in recent years.


Reviewed by Paul Logan

Terminator Genisys **


Run Time: 125mins  Cert: 12A

Synopsis: John Connor (Clarke) sends Kyle Reese (Courtney) back to 1984 to save Sarah Connor (Clarke) and finds himself in a whole new timeline.


After the disastrous Terminator Salvation Arnie is back with a mixed bag of a reboot to the franchise.


Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier (Drive Angry) have come up with an interesting way of reinvigorating the series, by bringing an alternative timeline which mixes things up with the plots of the previous films.


However they also make the story too confusing and convoluted with ever changing characters and a pace that is fast but too hard to follow.


Alan Taylor uses the same kinetic style technique that he used in ‘Thor: The Dark World’. Which is great for pacing, but the action sequences are fairly lifeless.


The casting is also extremely uneven. Jai Courtney once again proves that he is no leading man. The usually reliable Jason Clarke gives a one dimensional performance. Emilia Clarke is impressive in the role made famous by Linda Hamilton. While J K Simmons gives a memorable comedic cameo. While Schwartznegger does what he does best by chewing the scenery.


The main problem is that there too many ideas and not enough answers. Hopefully the Terminator saga will be given another chance as some of the ideas are interesting as long as the final result has been clearly thought out.


Flawed by it is no where near as bad as Terminator Salvation, which funnily enough suffered from the same problems as well as having no Arnie feature in the movie.

 Reviewed by Paul Logan

EIFF announces new Honorary Patrons and the winner of the 2015 Audience Award.


Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has announced two new Honorary Patrons of the Festival. James Cosmo and Karen Gillan will be joining Tilda Swinton, Robert Carlyle, Seamus McGarvey and Mark Cousins as EIFF Honorary Patrons as the Festival heads into its 70th anniversary year.


EIFF Artistic Director Mark Adams said: “We are thrilled to add two Scottish luminaries to our illustrious troop of EIFF Honorary Patrons. James Cosmo is a powerhouse of acting fortitude, acknowledged this year by the Michael Powell Jury, and Karen Gillan is not only a star onscreen – her directorial debut at EIFF has shown her talents also extend behind the camera. Karen is unable to join us this evening as she’s on a long-haul flight, and James has been backwards and forwards to the Festival so many times with his two films and the Awards Ceremony, he needed a night off! But they are both with us in spirit, and we’re delighted to know they’re flying the EIFF flag worldwide for us.”


James Cosmo said: “It’s a real honour, and a genuine privilege to serve as Honorary Patron for the Edinburgh International Film Festival. As a Scots born actor, EIFF has always held a place in my heart and I look forward to working with the other honorary patrons and all the staff there as the Festival moves into its 70th edition in June 2016.”


Karen Gillan said “I am so thrilled to become a Patron of Edinburgh International Film Festival. I moved to Edinburgh, from Inverness, when I was sixteen to study acting. I developed such a creative connection with the city. So to come back and celebrate Scottish and international filmmaking is an honour.”


The recipient of the 2015 Audience Award went to BIG GOLD DREAM: SCOTTISH POST-PUNK AND INFILTRATING THE MAINSTREAM, directed by Grant McPhee.


Winners unveiled at 69th Edinburgh  International Film Festival 

The 69th Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) Awards were announced today.


The Michael Powell Award for Best British Feature Film was awarded to Andrew Haigh’s 45 YEARS.


Special Mentions were given to Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT and J. Davis’ MANSON FAMILY VACATION.


The Michael Powell Jury said: “We’re delighted to present the Michael Powell Award for best British feature. This year it goes to a quietly explosive film which represents classic filmmaking at its best. This is a measured yet provocative film, a masterclass in understated acting that was the unanimous choice of the jury.”


Director Andrew Haigh said: “This is a real honour and made even more special when you consider the list of British films that have won before. All you can hope for when you make a film is that it resonates with people and that is why receiving an award such as this feels so fantastic.”


The Award for Best Performance in a British Feature Film was shared between James Cosmo for his performance in THE PYRAMID TEXTS and Charlotte Rampling for her performance in 45 YEARS.


Jury member Ian Hart said: “There’s an old actor’s joke when someone’s rehearsing a scene and they come across a certain piece of text and they say I don’t need that line, I can do that with a look. But most people can’t so the line goes back in. But certain people can, they can do more with a gesture, they can do more with a look than most people can do with ten words, and this is why this award goes to Charlotte Rampling.”


Jury member Karen Gillan said: “I think I speak to all up and coming Scottish actors when I say James Cosmo is a huge inspiration, his acting is a lesson to us all, you show us how it’s done.”


Charlotte Rampling said: “It is an extraordinary moment when you are singled out when the craft that you have been perfecting throughout your life is appreciated and rewarded. It is thrilling and humbling and I thank you so much for giving me the chance to feel so proud. I thank Andrew Haigh for seeing what he sees, Tom Courtenay for moving me to tears, and Tristan Golligher for believing that this could be made.”


The Award for Best International Feature Film was awarded to Marielle Heller’s THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL.


The International Competition Jury said: “The Diary of a Teenage Girl is imaginative both visually and narratively, emotionally gripping and completely unapologetic in tone. We had a tough decision to make as we had some very strong contenders.”


Marielle Heller said: “Although this is an American film, it was made by a very international group, including our North Star, the British Bel Powley, whose brave performance is the heart of this film. I am so pleased to have such a prestigious UK premiere for the film at Edinburgh, and I am especially thrilled for Bel’s performance to be brought to her home turf for the first time. And I am so honoured by this award, which was a wonderful shock!”


The Award for Best Documentary Feature Film was awarded to Crystal Moselle’s THE WOLFPACK.


The Best Documentary Feature Film Jury said: “Out of a very strong field, the Jury has selected THE WOLFPACK as the best documentary in competition at the 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival. Shot over five years, the director Crystal Moselle turned a chance encounter with six brothers into an intriguing, intimate portrait that shines a light on the warmth, humour and underlying tension of an extraordinary situation.”


SCRAPBOOK directed by Mike Hoolboom won the award for Best Short Film.


Special Mentions went to Juliana Bao’s performance in Maruani Landa’s CIPRIANA and Ahmet Simsek’s performance in Jannis Lenz’s SHADOWBOXER.


Mike Hoolboom said: “I feel touched this afternoon by a hand that has reached all the way across the Atlantic to find me in my Toronto home: who knew that hands could reach that far, and with such kindness. It reminds me that the cinema is able, sometimes, at least occasionally, to bring far away people so close, close enough that they can feel like part of our lives, and help us with this fundamental task: how can we get along with each other?”
The McLaren Award for Best New British Animation, supported by the British Council, went to STEMS by director Ainslie Henderson.


The Student Critics Jury Award, went to BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS directed by Jamie Adams.


The Student Critics Jury citation read: “We’ve seen such a variety of films, and all of us have our favourites, and our guilty pleasures – and what’s more, they’ve all been very different! It was genuinely challenging to pick just one – but in the end, our vote was unanimous.”


Jamie Adams, director of BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS said: “The idea that a dozen or so students have concluded that our movie Black Mountain Poets is the one that has excited their collective imaginations the most out of the brilliant movies they considered is a beautiful thing – it reminds me why we set out to create our modern romance trilogy in the first place.”



The Wolfpack ****


U.S./ Director Crystal Moselle/ 2015 / 90 mins

Synopsis: A couple raise and homeschooled their seven children in the confinement of their apartment in the Lower East Side of New York City.
Shot over five years, the film captures the lives and experiences of the Angulos family. The children comprise of six teenager brothers and a sister who are trapped in a cramped apartment by an overprotective  father. But they yearn for their own independence and to have some sort of normal existence. They learn everything about the outside world from the thousands of Hollywood movie DVDs.

The film is almost like a warped  version of Michael Apted’s Up documentary series mixed with Be Kind Rewind as it opens with the kids reenacting scenes from Reservoir Dogs then shows them going onto do scenes from The Dark Knight and Pulp Fiction. 
Throughout the course of the documentary we learn more about how the kids have been treated in the past and how the family is slowly breaking up.
The kids were given Sanskrit names including Bhagavan, Govinda, Narayana, Mukunda, Krsna and Jagadisa, and the sister Visnu. Their father is an alcoholic with beliefs rooted in Hare Krishna who can show signs of untolerable cruelty.

Things start to change when one of the boys escapes is briefly arrested and then institutionalized. At that stage the family’s secret no longer involved just them.

The unusual thing is that although they are mostly confined to social isolation and homeschooled by their hippie mother, they appear to behave and react to things any geeky teenagers would be like. They will joke and revert to movie quotes in order to convey their feelings in awkward moments.
The kids are very forthcoming regarding their story even when their father is in the apartment. Which is also amazing in itself when compared to other stories where individuals are kept away from society. 

Unusual, compelling and disturbing all at the same time. Hopefully Director Crystal Moselle will make another instalment so we can all see what happens next in the lives of the Angulos family.
Reviewed by Paul Logan


Bereave *


U.S./ Directors Evangelos Giovanis and George Giovanis / 2015 / 99 mins
Synopsis: Fatally ill, Garvey (McDowall) is dying and thinks he has figured out how to die alone. But when his beloved wife Evelyn (Seymour) goes missing on their anniversary, he must live to save her.


A low budget drama from brothers Evangelos and George Giovanis who raised the funds to make the film through Kickstarter.


Sitting on the edge of his bed on the morning of his 40th wedding anniversary, Garvey (Malcolm McDowall) contemplates his life with a revolver in his hand. He is struggling with his dark secret which is frustrating his wife Evelyn (Jane Seymour) who does not understand what is going on with her husband. Struggling with pressure of the secret and with the arguments between the two increasing, he runs away from home for a strange day of misadventures.


There may be be a good film somewhere, but this script hides any potential it may have. The problem is the multiple storylines involving Garvey’s family which do not connect with the central premise.


This is especially the case with the strand involving his brother (Keith Carridine), a character that appears to be some kind of gangster. But there is no character development and aspects about their lives are never fully explained. Not only that, but some of the dialogue is absolutely terrible.


With the actors involved in this film, it would at least be expected that the performances would be good. Unfortunately everyone overacts and give over the top amateurish performances. Only Garvey’s granddaughter (Rachel Egglestone) shows any promise and outshines the professionals.


Bereave may have some great actors in the cast, but the characters that are hard to emphasise with. This muddled mess is extremely challenging to watch.


Reviewed by Paul Logan