Skywalking for all: The Last Jedi soars

The Last Jedi may have been the Star Wars film I really wanted but didn’t know I did until I saw it. Which, on revisiting it on Blu-ray for the Voice, is one of the best compliments I can give it. It remains a complex, tersely written and beautifully performed space opera – which pulls off the achingly sweet feeling …

Fan Edits and The Empire Strikes Back

There are few more rejigged, tweaked, re-released and given a facelift films than Star Wars (1977). Even in the earliest years of its existence, producer/director George Lucas made a habit of altering it – for instance, adding in the Episode IV: A New Hope subtitle to its first 1979 re-release to prepare the ground for a series of sequels and …

George A. Romero – Land of the Dead reconsidered

Fans of American pulp horror cinema mourn the loss of George A Romero, leaving us after 78 years after a mercifully brief battle with lung cancer. In his early years, Romero went to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh and stayed there after he graduated, making shorts and TV documentaries, scraping together the cash to make a breakout film – “Night of …

Reviewing movies

It’s Edinburgh Film Festival time again. Every year, I end up writing loads of reviews all the while wondering how *other people* review movies. I find it difficult, but not impossible to churn out 3 or 4 pieces a day. Here’s how I cope. When watching, I keep scribbling notes, to remind myself of people, places and interesting lines. I …

The Karate Kid (2010)

Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) is a thin, wiry and likeable 12 year old from Detroit. Leaving America with his mother, who is relocating to Beijing for work (his absent father is mentioned only once, in a memory-laden height chart) – he’s got his work cut out. He can’t speak Mandarin well at all, he’s got next-to-no-friends, he’s bullied by particularly …

Toy Story 3

“When I became a man, I put away childish things.” Toy Story 3 is a dazzlingly confident and magical picture that recalls Paul of Tarsus’s quote, but its makers have never forgotten what it feels like to be children. Pixar Animation Studios continue their near unbroken run of animation masterpieces with a colourful and emotional return to the best toy …

Blank City

I’m a sucker for documentary films that show me an outlet for unadulterated and exuberant passion. In and among the poverty of Seventies and Eighties New York, Celene Danhier’s remarkable film Blank City gives us a compelling and well worked out cinematic essay on the politics and artistry of the place and time. Ultimately, it is your basic talking heads …

Evil In The Time Of Heroes

Ancient Greeks and modern life meets zombies in a timeywimey action horror. Sounds like a laugh, right? Wrong. An ancient evil is released (don’t ask how – the movie doesn’t say), and a handful of survivors must hole up against a gargantuan zombie horde. The streets are deserted, other than the pockets of very fast-on-their-feet zombies. It’s like 28 Days …

The Last Rites of Ransom Pride

“We killed every man, we killed every child, we killed every goddamn dog! And we rode all the women, and when they couldn’t ride no more, we killed them!” Set in Glory, Texas and the Mexican border – The Last Rites of Ransom Pride is a rather dull action Western. The story deals with prostitute Juliette Flowers (Lizzie Caplan) and …

Outcast

Outcast is a strange concoction of occult fantasy and social drama – think Ken Loach meets Angel Heart and you’re on the right track. An Irish woman, Mary (Kate Dickie) and her teenage son, Fergal (Niall Bruton) move to a lower-class council estate somewhere in “Bonnie Scotland, Lothian” and try to settle down. They are being chased by a pair …