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Spy ****

 Run Time: 120mins Cert: 15

Synopsis: A desk-bound CIA analyst Susan Cooper (McCarthy) volunteers to be a field agent in order to find a nuclear bomb.
 

Melissa McCarthy is a great comedienne but the choices she has made for her film career have been questionable at best. For every Bridesmaids there is The Heat. Thankfully if this James Bond style spoof is anything to go by she is back on track.
 

She reunites with the Director of her previous movies Paul Feig who has also wrote the script. Feig understands that she works better when bouncing off other actors. Here he has hired Jude Law as a suave secret agent, Peter Serafinowicz as a sex obsessed Italian agent, Rose Byrne as a mobster’s daughter and Miranda Hart as her goofy best friend and colleague.
 

It pains to say it but Jason Statham’s exaggerating hot head spy steals the show. His comic timing is surprising and the deadpan delivery makes his character the funniest aspect of the film. After years of doing bland lifeless action pieces, the promise he showed in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch returns with this performance. Just goes to show that he is a better comedian.
 

The look & feel of the film is very much inspired by the camp cult classic, Casino Royale. Like that film, the strongest characters are the ladies, while the men are seen as inefficient and idiotic buffoons.
 

As would be expected of Feig, the direction and timing of the comedy are spot on, mix that with thrilling action scenes and the end result is something that is highly entertaining. Not only that but he has made bland actors Law and Statham more impressive and funny.
 

Feig’s next project with McCarthy is the female reboot of Ghostbusters. If this is anything to go by then this new version has suddenly become a lot more anticipated.
 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

 

Tomorrowland ***

Today

Run Time: 130 mins              Cert: PG

Synopsis: After finding a collectors’ pin, a teenage girl finds herself transported to a futuristic place. 

 

The movie begins in 1964 when a young boy named Frank invents a jetpack which he takes to the New York World’s Fair. After being sent packing by David Nix (Hugh Laurie) he is given a pin by a little girl called Athena (Raffi Cassidy) and finds himself in a futuristic place called Tomorrowland. 50 years later, teenager Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) has a similar sequence of events occur and, along with Athena, seeks out the now middle aged Frank (George Clooney) to find answers.

 

The film is very different from what the trailer suggested. The first part of the story is a bit slow and the audience may feel it takes too long to get to the point. That said, once it gets going the movie is entertaining and has a number of interesting twists. Nothing is as it initially appears and the viewers are kept in suspense.

 

Both the lead actors give great performances, with Clooney being both entertaining and believable as a grumpy disenchanted man. Britt Robertson is slightly over the top but very likeable as the smart and optimistic Casey, while Raffi Cassidy is a joy to watch as Athena. Although Hugh Laurie gives a reasonably good performance, he is under utilised and more could have been done with his character during the movie.

 

The movie is nicely shot with effects that look spectacular on the big screen. While “Tomorrowland” is modern and has aspects aimed at younger viewers, the effects also give it a retro feel that will likely appeal to more mature members of the audience.

 

While “Tomorrowland” is a fun movie with a positive vibe, its slow start and the lack of screen time given to Hugh Laurie are the main things that let it down.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2015 lineup announced

  
New Artistic Director Mark Adams announced details of the programme for the 69th edition of Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF). which runs from 17 to 28 June 2015. The Festival will showcase 164 features from 36 countries, including 24 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, 16 European Premieres, 84 UK Premieres and 2 Scottish Premieres.

The Festival boasts 134 new features, with highlights including the UK premiere of Asif Kapadia’s striking documentary AMY, about the life of music legend Amy Winehouse, the latest Disney-Pixar animated sensation INSIDE OUT, screening as the Festival’s Family Gala; Arnold Schwarzenegger as a tormented father tending his zombie daughter in MAGGIEAndrew Mogel & Jarrad Paul’s THE D-TRAIN, starring Jack Black and James Marsden, while John Cusack and Paul Dano play different aged versions of Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson in  music biopic LOVE & MERCY. Classic Screenings will include a rare outing for Noel Marshall’s ROAR, a legendary bizarre cult 1981 big cat movie.

EIFF will also be presenting a series of In-Person events including local hero Ewan McGregor who will attend with his new film LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT, Jane Seymour and Malcolm McDowell for their  roles in BEREAVE, cult Hong-Kong director Johnnie To, with his accompanying feature EXILED and EIFF Honorary Patron Seamus McGarvey who returns with his cinematography ‘In Conversation’ series with two-time Academy Award® winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler.

A special In-Person talk celebrates the 60th birthday of one of Britain’s eminent animators, Barry Purves, and musician, writer and comedian, Neil Innes will present A Half of Innes, a live In-conversation event with musical accompaniment.

British films in competition for the Michael Powell Award include Andrew Haigh’s beautiful portrait of a fractured relationship 45 YEARS, with performances from Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, relationship comedy BLACK MOUNTAIN POETS from Jamie Adams which was shot in just five days on the Black Mountains of Wales, Joseph Bull and Luke Seomore’s BLOOD CELLS about a farmer’s son and his nomadic lifestyle which he is forced to leave behind, the World Premiere of sci-fi thriller BRAND NEW-U from acclaimed documentary-maker Simon Pummell, Jake Gavin’s HECTOR with Peter Mullan as a homeless man, Martin Radich’s NORFOLK with Denis Ménochet, Steven Nesbit’s Romeo and Juliet style drama NORTH v SOUTH with Greta Scacchi, Steven Berkoff and Bernard Hill, BAFTA-Scotland award-winner Colin Kennedy’s directorial debut feature SWUNG; Jane Linfoot’s  psychological drama THE INCIDENT with Ruta Gedmintas and Tom Hughes,  Ludwig and Paul Shammasian’s THE PYRAMID TEXTS starring James Cosmo, author Helen Walsh’s debut as writer/director THE VIOLATORS, THE LEGEND OF BARNEY THOMSON, EIFF Honorary Patron Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut and the Festival’s Opening Gala, and IONA, Scott Graham’s  family drama and the Closing Night Gala.
 The International Feature Film Competition includes World Premiere LEN AND COMPANY from Tim Godsall, Rick Famuyiwa’s coming of age tale DOPE Oliver Hirschbiegel’s World War II drama 13 MINUTES, I STAY WITH YOU from Artemio Narro, Niki Karimi’s drama NIGHT SHIFT, Marielle Heller’s THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL with Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård, Doze Niu Chen-Zer’s PARADISE IN SERVICE, YOU’RE UGLY TOO, from  director Mark Noonan, Ole Giæver and Marte Vold’s OUT OF NATURE, 600 MILES, a crime thriller with Tim Roth from Mexican director Gabriel Ripstein, THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT from  EIFF Award Winner Kyle Patrick Alvarez, and MANSON FAMILY VACATION.

This year’s Festival hosts the Award for Best Documentary Feature Film, as well as introducing ‘Doc of the Day’, with each featured film supported by an associated event. Documentaries include PROPHET’S PREY from Oscar-nominated director Amy Berg looking at the megalomaniacal leader of a fundamentalist church, Tiller Russell’s  PRECINCT SEVEN FIVE, Marah Strauch’s tribute to founding father of BASE jumping Carl Boenish in SUNSHINE SUPERMAN, Ross Sutherland’s STAND BY FOR TAPE BACK-UP, based on his live Edinburgh Fringe show in 2014, WHEN ELEPHANTS FIGHT, a spotlight on Britain’s ties to the illicit trade in Congolese conflict minerals directed by Michael Ramsdell, Crystal Moselle’s Sundance sensation THE WOLFPACK documenting an extraordinary family of film lovers who rarely leave their Manhattan home, ABOVE AND BELOW a  portrait of existence lived on the fringes of American society directed by Nicolas Steiner, Ilinca Calugareanu’s CHUCK NORRIS vs COMMUNISM which charts a hustler creating a videotheque resistance in the face of 1980s Romanian communism, Damon Gameau’s  look at our everyday inadvertent sugar intake in THAT SUGAR FILM, Douglas Tirola’s DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON, David Nicholas Wilkinson’s  journey into the origins of cinema in THE FIRST FILM, José Luis López-Linares’ SHERRY & THE MYSTERY OF PALO CORTADO, Paul Goodwin’s look at the British sci-fi comic institution FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD; a love song to the rip-off Turkish pop cinema of the 60’s and 70’s REMAKE, REMIX, RIP-OFF directed by Cem Kaya, an insight into the Bedouin traditions of camel pageants and auctions with one woman breaking taboos in NEARBY SKY by Nujoom Alghanem, THE IRON MINISTRY a portrait of China’s railways by JP Sniadecki, Kevin Pollack’s look at what makes comedians tick in MISERY LOVES COMEDY, THE NEWSROOM – OFF THE RECORD directed by Mikala Krogh, Asif Kapadia’s critically acclaimed AMY and Grant McPhee’s BIG GOLD DREAM: SCOTTISH POST-PUNK AND INFILTRATING THE MAINSTREAM.

 

EIFF will also host the World Premiere of the English-language version of UNDER MILK WOOD  Kevin Allen’s adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ iconic classic starring Rhys Ifans and Charlotte Church,  Jon Watts’ thriller COP CAR starring Kevin Bacon, comedy THE OVERNIGHT directed by Patrick Brice starring Jason Schwartzman and Taylor Schilling, DESERT DANCER with Reece Ritchie and Freida Pinto about the story of choreographer Afshin Ghaffarian, actress Talulah Riley’s debut as writer/director SCOTTISH MUSSEL, David Blair’s supernatural thriller THE MESSENGER, Isabel Coixet’s LEARNING TO DRIVE starring Patricia Clarkson and Sir Ben Kingsley. 

The American Dreams strand features Gina Prince-Bythewood’s enthralling musical melodrama BEYOND THE LIGHTS starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Minnie Driver and Danny Glover, FRANNY starring Dakota Fanning, Theo James and Richard Gere as a billionaire philanthropist. WELCOME TO ME starring Kristen Wiig,  Jamie Babbit’s dark comedy about the life of a sex addict in FRESNO, Alex Holdridge and Linnea Saasen’s comedy-romance MEET ME IN MONTENEGRO with Rupert Friend, road trip drama THE ROAD WITHIN starring Robert Sheehan, Dev Patel and Zoe Kravitz and Leslye Headland’s hilarious SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE with Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie and Adam Scott.

Directors’ Showcase includes David Gordon Green’s tale of loneliness and longing, MANGLEHORN with Al Pacino and Holly Hunter, Amy Berg’s  crime story EVERY SECRET THING starring Diane Lane and Elizabeth Banks, Peter Bogdanovich’s sex comedy SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY,  Masaharu Take’s award-winning story of a young Japanese woman who morphs in to a boxer in 100 YEN LOVE and Nobuhiro Yamashita’s romantic comedy LA LA LA AT ROCK BOTTOM.

 

Night Moves films include multi-award winning director Bruce McDonald’s  tale of evil trick-or-treaters HELLIONSCorin Hardy’s debut feature THE HALLOW, Hungarian director Károly Ujj Meszáros’ fantasy film LIZA, THE FOX-FAIRY, director Justin Trefgarne’s NARCOPOLIS starring Elliot Cowan.

 The Young and The Wild strand is includes THE SISTERHOOD OF NIGHT about one girl’s lie leads to a small American town becoming the scene of a modern-day Salem Witch Trial, documentary PIRATES OF SALÉ which follows four young performers in Morocco as they join the country’s first professional circus, plus a selection of Shorts. The FilmFest Junior strand has family film PAPER PLANES about a boy who wants to enter the world of junior paper planes championship and LABYRINTHUS which tells the story of a boy’s friends who are trapped inside a computer game.  

The New Perspectives strand offers INDEX ZERO by Italian filmmaker Lorenzo Sportiello, about a couple struggling to stay together in a futuristic Europe, Emily Ting’s IT’S ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG a romance set on the streets of Hong Kong, SAND DOLLARS by Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas; MELBOURNE a drama set within a Tehran apartment by Nima Javidi and Olympic boxing drama KOZA from Ivan Ostrochovský.

Focus on Mexico strand features Gabriela Dominguez Ruvalcaba’s documentary THE DANCE OF THE MEMORY, Ernesto Contreras’ THE OBSCURE SPRING and THE BEGINNING OF TIME by Bernardo Arellano which looks at ageing and survival during economic and social unrest in Mexico. A selection of Classic Mexican films will screen as part of the Focus, including Roberto Gavaldón’s supernatural drama MACARIO the first Mexican film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Carlos Enrique Taboada’s POISON FOR THE FAIRIES, an unusual gothic tale of witchcraft, told from a child’s point of view.   

As well as the usual focus on British shorts, the Animation strand features cult favourite Ralph Bakshi, who will appear via Skype after a screening of FRITZ THE CAT and will also present an exclusive work-in-progress preview of his new short LAST DAYS OF CONEY ISLAND. Now it its 26th Year, The McLaren Award for Best New British Animation continues to charm audiences with two programmes of the best new short animations from the UK. Other highlights include Ralph Bakshi’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS and his post-apocalyptic feature WIZARDS. There will also be an opportunity to explore linternational animation from around the world in INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION: PANORAMA.  

BLACK BOX returns with another round of experimental films, plus the return for a third year of BLACK BOX LIVE which sees James Holcombe’s film, TYBURNIA accompanied by a live performance at the Traverse Theatre by Dead Rat Orchestra. Amongst the highlights are the World Premiere of Telemach’s Wiesinger KALEIDOSCOPE, a selection of shorts screenings in BLACK BOX SHORTS 1/2/3/4 and Félix Dufour-Laperrriè’s TRANSATLANTIC a  documentary  about life on a cargo ship.

 ‘LITTLE BIG SCREEN brings classic titles in the strand include Michael Mann’s THE JERICHO MILE, Steven Spielberg’s DUEL and Tobe Hooper’s SALEM’S LOT. The Festival also celebrates the work of Walter Hill in WALTER HILL: THE EARLY YEARS which will features  screenings of his finest early works including 48 HRS, THE DRIVER, HARD TIMES, THE LONG RIDERS, SOUTHERN COMFORT, STREETS OF FIRE and THE WARRIORS.

 

A chance to revisit a selection of films with their own distinctive cinematic stamp, CLASSICS offers audiences a rare chance to see some of these cult hits on the big screen, including Mark Christopher’s belated director’s cut release of his cult disco film, 54: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT, a remastered version of Carol Reed’s classic film THE THIRD MAN starring Orson Welles, and a screening of Joseph Sargent’s THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO.

CINEMATIC TV presents two new exciting productions offering entertainment on TV. These include a sneak-peek at the second season of DOLL & EM, the comedy series following real-life friends Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells and acclaimed artist Jake Chapman’s THE MARRIAGE OF REASON & SQUALOR starring Rhys Ifans in a satire of the paperback romance.

EIFF Honorary Patron Mark Cousins’ documentary 6 DESIRES: DH LAWRENCE AND SARDINIA he explores a journey through Sardinia where Lawrence travelled with his wife in 1921. Cousins will be taking part in a Q&A session following the screening of the film on Monday 22 June. Suitable for younger audiences, LIVE LIVE CINEMA: THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS sees four talented performers create an entire live soundtrack to Roger Corman’s popular 1960 B-movie (THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS). The Edinburgh Schools Film Competition, now in its seventh year, invites young people from Edinburgh nursery, primary, secondary and special schools to submit their short films to EIFF whose selected films are then screened during the Festival for all to see. Screenings take place at Filmhouse on Saturday 27 June (Primary schools) and on Sunday 28 June (Secondary schools). 

EIFF presents a very special 30th anniversary screening of BACK TO THE FUTURE with live accompaniment from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra on Saturday 27 June.

Mark Adams, EIFF Artistic Director, said: “We are delighted to be presenting such a thrilling, fun, challenging, provocative, exciting and balanced programme. There really is something for everyone and we hope that filmgoers will get a lot of pleasure out of this year’s Festival.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, said: “The Edinburgh International Film Festival has produced another excellent programme in 2015, showcasing Scottish talent alongside some of the best of world cinema. The film festival attracts visitors to Edinburgh and Scotland, as well as giving local residents the opportunity to see wonderfully diverse and creative films on their doorstep. It also invests in the future of filmmaking though the important delegate programme as well as the Festival Short Film Challenge, and Talent and Animation Labs. By nurturing talent within the industry the EIFF has an important role to play in developing skills to support the future of Scottish filmmaking. The Scottish Government is pleased to support the EIFF with Expo funding of £115,000 in 2015.”

  

 

Scottish Filmmakers set to make an impression at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

    

Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has announced a number of Scottish titles in the 2015 Programme showcasing the works of numerous Scottish filmmakers and acting talent. 

This year’s includes Peter Mullan’s  in HECTOR, about a homeless pensioner Hector McAdam with a tragic past. The film will receive its World Premiere at the Festival. James Cosmo’s in PYRAMID TEXTS, which tells the story of veteran fighter Ray who talks about his life and career in the ring. BAFTA-Scotland award-winner Colin Kennedy’s Glasgow-set directorial debut feature SWUNG, which a drama about the secret underside of a very modern relationship taken to its emotional and sexual limits based on Ewan Morrison’s debut novel of the same name. Former EIFF short award Former EIFF short award winner Martin Radich’s NORFOLK is about a tough-love father (Denis Menochet from Inglourious Basterds) whose strong relationship with his teenage son (Barry Keoghan) is tested when the boy befriends a girl (Goda Lethauskaite).  Talulah Riley’s writer/directorial debut feature SCOTTISH MUSSEL with Martin Compston as a Glaswegian chancer who moonlights as an illegal pearl fisher in the Highland streams, but falls for a beautiful English conservationist (played by Riley herself) who is passionate about saving endangered mussels. The film co-stars Rufus Hound, Joe Thomas, boxer “Amazing” Alex Arthur and Harry Enfield, and talent from the film are expected to attend the Festival.

Fascinating true Scottish stories make a  appearance in this year’s Programme, ANDREW CARNEGIE: RAGS TO RICHES, POWER TO PEACE details the infamous figure from his humble beginnings in his hometown of Dunfermline, to one of the wealthiest men in the world. David Street’s BATTLE MOUNTAIN follows cycling legend Graeme Obree, aka “The Flying Scotsman”, as he prepares for the human-powered vehicle land speed record attempt in Nevada, using a very unusual bike designed by himself, and christened “The Beastie” by his friend Sir Chris Hoy. Obree is confirmed to attend the film’s World Premiere at the Festival on Friday 19 June. The European Premiere of THE CLOSER WE GET is a autobiographical story from Scottish director Karen Guthrie, about  an apparently ordinary family having to stoically deal with broken dreams and hidden secrets. 

Scottish shorts this year include Karen Gillan’s directorial debut COWARD which receives its European Premiere at the Festival. The film tells the story of a young girl and the pressures she gets from her mother to become a famous actress. Additional shorts include Still Game star Greg Hemphill’s irreverent comedy GASPING starring the brilliant Frankie Boyle as Harvey Higgins who tackles his demons, and loses, which receives its European Premiere. The World Premiere of Edinburgh-based director Owen Rixon’s animation TOONOCALYPSE sees two Edinburgh students document the seemingly harmless infiltration of Earth by cute little cartoon characters. 

Presenting a number of music documentaries, EIFF will host the World Premiere of Grant McPhee’s BIG GOLD DREAM, a contender for The Audience Award, which tells the previously untold story of a post-punk/indie music scene that reverberated from Edinburgh, throughout the UK and beyond. The film takes a look at Bob Last and Hilary Morrison’s independent record label Fast Product in the late 1970s, which quickly became the hub for an eclectic group of musicians. There will be an exclusive gig following the film’s Premiere on Friday 19 June at the Traverse Theatre featuring some of the musical talents from the film including singer-songwriter Vic Godard. Stefan Schwietert’s fascinating glimpse into the mind of a musical maverick, IMAGINE WAKING UP TOMORROW AND ALL MUSIC HAS DISAPPEARED documents Scottish artist, musician and writer, Bill Drummond’s idiosyncratic approach to the music industry. Here he provides exclusive commentary on his work, past and present, whilst working on one of his current passions, his choral project The17. Drummond will attend the UK Premiere of the film and take part in a special performance after the screening. Artur Guza’s access-all-areas documentary POLSKA delves in to the world of Scottish singer, songwriter and actor Derek Dick, better known as “Fish”, who was the lead singer of British rock band Marillion. A deeply moving and honest portrayal, Fish will be in attendance at the Festival where the film receives its World Premiere.

Mark Adams, EIFF Artistic Director, said: “We are delighted to be presenting so many films with Scottish links at this year’s festival. Not only are we opening and closing with brilliant new local films, but the festival is punctuated with terrific Scottish documentaries, shorts, animation and features.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, said: “This year the Edinburgh International Film Festival is bursting with Scottish talent. From the opening scenes of The Legend of Barney Thomson to when the credits roll on Iona, the festival will celebrate a wide variety of talented Scottish actors and filmmakers. This extraordinary level of Scottish creativity on show at the EIFF is also apparent to those attending Cannes this week. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the hard work of Scottish filmmakers at festivals in Scotland, the UK and overseas.”

Natalie Usher, Director of Film & Media at Creative Scotland, said: “We are delighted to see such a large number and variety of projects with a Scottish connection screening throughout the Festival, demonstrating the talent and skills of filmmakers and crew working in Scotland. To have the premieres of films from Scottish directors as the Opening and Closing films in this prestigious programme is tremendous. EIFF is a key event in Scotland’s cultural calendar, delivering inspirational, world-class cinema experiences to audiences and providing an excellent platform for emerging and established filmmakers to build their national and international profile. We look forward to an engaging and exciting EIFF 2015.”

Edinburgh International Film Festival runs l from 17-28 June.

   

Mad Max: Fury Road *****

  

Run Time: 120mins           Cert: 15
 
Synopsis: 
In a nuclear-devastated future, the road warrior Max (Hardy) reluctantly helps Furiosa (Theron) escape from Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne) and his band of War Boys, along with Joe’s quintet of brides.

After 13 years in production, George Miller at last presents his long awaited sequel to a classic
 
Along the way the film lost the original Max (Mel Gibson), however he has been replaced. Tom Hardy has taken his place and is evident from the first scenes of the performance that he is trying to emulate Gibson with a gruff American cross Australian accent. Even although he is given very few lines, the performance is driven by the expression in his eyes.
 
Charlize Theron’s Furiosa has the most screen time and feels like the film is about her struggle and survival. She is the soul and the humanity of the piece 
 
Joe’s five Wives played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Courtney Eaton and Riley Keough not as well developed with each character being labelled as the fighter, the loner, the weirdo, the quiet one and the carer. While Nicholas Hoult’s Warboy Nux is given the most depth going from a wannabe killer to a saviour.
 
Miller may have lost his original star, but he has brought back the villain from the original. Hugh Keays-Byrne who played Toecutter, now plays Immortan Joe the most terrifying bad guy seen in a quite awhile.
 
There is not much plot to the film, which is basically a two hour chase movie which is relentless, as it never stops from the moment it starts to the minute it ends. Over the top car sequences are masterfully expedited by Miller with such choreographed precision. He has come up with a vast array of looks for the many characters which would not look out of place in Terry Gilliam or David Lynch movie. There is no timeline to the previous entries, however it could easy be placed after the events of Mad Max 2 (The Road Warrior).
 
Director George Miller makes a fantastic to form with the most exciting and stunning blockbuster in years. It may be tiring and completely crazy, but it never feels drawn out or dull. This is what the Fast & Furious franchise should have been.
Reviewed by Paul Logan


Big Game ***

  

Run Time: 90mins           Cert: 12A
 
Synopsis: While hunting Oskari, a 13-year-old Finnish boy saves the President of the United States from terrorists.

A few years back, Jalmari Helander made his feature debut with the festive horror, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. He has now been given a bigger budget with a a big Hollywood story
 
Rare Exports’ Onni Tommila also returns buddying up with Sam Jackson who work incredibly well together, interacting with sly, snarky, humorous wisecracks. The duo are joined by an all cast with over the top performances from Jim Broadbent, Felicity Huffman and Victor Garber as the Pentagon officials trying to bring the president back home.
 
The action pieces are not only spectacular, but completely insane with helicopter chasing  a chest freezer down a mountain side being a particular highlight. The saturated colourful snow filled mountainous landscapes are spectacularly shot. 
 
While the film is completely entertaining, it is letdown with a weak predictable script.
 
An old school action flick disappoints with an obvious twist filled plot, but the fun performances, exciting set pieces and short runtime make this worth a watch.
 
Reviewed by Paul Logan


EIFF Announces the World Premiere of Iona as 2015 Closing Night Gala

  

Edinburgh International Film Festival announces that Scott Graham’s second feature Iona will have it’s  world premiere on Sunday 28 June 2015 at Festival Theatre Edinburgh.

This follows Graham’s award-winning Shell (2012), the feature version of his debut short film of the same title, which had its world premiere at EIFF 2007. His second short, Native Son, also screened at the Festival in 2010.

Part coming-of-age story and part returning-home drama. The film is set on the Hebridean island of Iona. Named after her birthplace, Iona (Ruth Negga) returns to the island with her teenage son to seek refuge from a violent crime in Glasgow. Iona’s return exposes her tormented son, Bull, to a way of life she rejected when she left the island as a teenager and sends a shockwave through the family she left behind.

Shot entirely on location in Scotland, Iona stars Ruth Negga (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Douglas Henshall (Shetland), Tom Brooke (The Boat That Rocked) and Michelle Duncan (Atonement).

Director Scott Graham said: “I discovered many films and filmmakers at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Edinburgh was my home all through my twenties, and it was in venues like Filmhouse and the Cameo where I learned the value of the stories we tell and the emotions we share. I’m thrilled Iona will have its premiere here and doubly thrilled it will close the Festival. What an honour.”

Mark Adams, Artistic Director of EIFF said: “We are thrilled to be closing this year’s Festival with Scott Graham’s lovely, moving and enthralling Iona. He is a striking cinematic talent and the film will wrap this year’s Festival in the perfect way.”

Iona is set for release in the UK later this year. 

  

Robert Carlyle’s The Legend of Barney Thomson to open the Edinburgh International Film Festival

 

Edinburgh International Film Festival have announced that the opening gala for this year will be the world premiere of The Legend of Barney Thomson. The film directed by Honourary Patron Robert Carlyle will receive its world premiere on Wednesday 17 June 2015 at Festival Theatre Edinburgh with stars and filmmakers in attendance.

The Legend of Barney Thomson is a darkly-humourous, Glasgow-set thriller that tells the story of awkward barber Barney, who inadvertently stumbles into serial murder. Complicating matters, Barney’s mother has a secret of her own, setting off a bloody chain of events. While Barney tries to cover their tracks, local police inspector Holdall fights his own battles within his inept homicide department as he tries to solve the crime of the century. A black comedy of errors unfolds as the police try to capture the murderer at large.

The film stars director Carlyle as Barney Thomson, alongside a remarkably transformed Emma Thompson as his mother, Cemolina, and Ray Winstone as Inspector Holdall. The film’s extraordinary cast also includes Tom Courtenay, Ashley Jensen, Martin Compston, Brian Pettifer, Kevin Guthrie, James Cosmo, Stephen McCole and Samuel Robertson. The film’s screenplay is by Colin McLaren and Richard Cowan.

Carlyle said: “After a career-long association with EIFF, it gives me enormous pleasure to have The Legend of Barney Thomson chosen as Opening Night Film. It really is such an honour for me to have my first feature as director premiered here in Edinburgh at the Festival that has played such a huge part in my life.”

Mark Adams, the new Artistic Director of EIFF said: “We are thrilled to be opening this year’s Festival with Robert Carlyle’s wonderful black comedy. It is a marvellously macabre and playful film, impressively directed and with a terrific cast. It is the perfect film to kick off what promises to be an exciting festival.”

The Legend of Barney Thomson will be released in cinemas later this Summer.

  

 

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron ****

  

Run Time: 142mins           Cert: 12A
 
Synopsis: During a mission, the Avengers find technology which interests Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to create an artificial intelligence entity which he feels is the only way to keep the world safe. However, Ultron (James Spader), is more hellbent on wiping out the Avengers than saving humanity.

 
Marvel and Joss Whedon return with an action packed, but darker sequel to their previous hit. 
 
It was hard to believe that the first instalment worked so well. A comic book movie with more than three lead characters never works as a rule, but somehow The Avengers was a thrilling roller coaster ride but sadly lacking in story. By making the plot and the look of the film darker, Whedon has tried to do a different take for the sequel as Burton did with Batman Returns.
 
What he has actually done is repeat that exact same formula but with more characters. This time Scarlet Witch (Olsen) and Quicksilver have been added to the lineup along with familiar faces from other Marvel franchises. But the film seems to overload with characters each with their own subplot that never really becomes fully developed. Even Ultron is forgotten about have way through the film. The dialogue in the film is well written and at times incredibly funny.
 
In regards to Ultron, the effects are fantastic with the robot encapsulating Spader’a facial mannerisms. While the actor brings menace to his overall performance. But Ultron never comes across as a terrifying foe.
 
There are endless spectacular action sequences, from the Hulkbuster sequence to the climax. The film is never boring or dull. As usual with Marvel movies recently the final action set piece is far too long and could be cut down a bit.
 
The cast appear to be having a ball, with the same chemistry audiences witnessed in the previous film. This makes us care about the characters .
 
If the script had been more developed with fewer characters, this could have been significantly better than the first. What Joss Whedon has given us is more of the same but on a much grander scale.

Reviewed by Paul Logan
 

Fast & Furious 7 ***

 


Run Time: 137mins           Cert: 12A

 
Synopsis: Deckard Shaw (Statham) seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his family for his comatose brother.

 

Vin Diesel and the gang return with the long anticipated next instalment of this popular franchise with mixed results. 

Anyone who witnessed and enjoyed the silly finale from last sequel will be happy that this one has even more ridiculous with situations ramped up to the max. Even after the first scene with Statham’s character visiting his brother in hospital has to be seen to be believed how stupid it really is. 
 
The action scenes have clearly been influenced by The A-Team as characters walk away either unhurt or with minor injuries that no human could ever undertake. 
 
The plot is completely all over the place and makes absolutely no sense. While Jason Statham’s villian is weak and very underwritten.
 
The Conjuring’s James Wan takes over as Director from Justin Lin and it would expected that the franchise is in good hands. Unfortunately  it is the editing that lets him down with headache enduring quick cuts, it is hard to focus what is going on.
 
Sadly Paul Walker died during the filming of the movie. The additional scenes shot after his death, are well done and it is quite hard to tell when Walker was actually there on set. Usually the filmmakers have some respectful tribute, but what the Furious 7 team has come up with something that just comes across as cheesy and quite sickening.
 
It is not all doom and gloom though. Kurt Russell is a welcome addition, the only downside is that he is not in it enough. The action is thrilling and exciting. The humour in the movie is really funny.
 
Ultimately though the franchise has turned into a spoof of itself. The film comes across like Hudson Hawk, but without the ingenuity or the cleverness that movie brought. Enjoyable, but also dissatisfying at the same time.
 
Reviewed by Paul Logan