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  • Desperado's Duel 2014

    Watched 16 Jul, 2014 3

    Letterboxd member George McCann and Lucille Celic’s Desperado’s Duel is a stark yet atmospheric short film about a confrontation between an outlaw and a drifter in a barren snow-covered woodland. It takes a minimalist approach both to its story and characters (only the brief gravel-voiced narration alludes to something in one of their pasts) but it proves reasonably effective.

    Due to its approach it is hard to judge the plot or performances but Lucille Celic’s cinematography is impressive with its…

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 21 Jul, 2014 27

    When Rise of the Planet of the Apes made its debut it did so with little expectation. After Tim Burton had destroyed almost all potential in the franchise it looked unlikely audiences would ever be interested in a world overrun by apes again. Yet via the stewardship of the relatively unknown Rupert Wyatt, Rise surprised everybody. This was not simply a mindless effects-driven blockbuster but a surprisingly touching character study about a chimpanzee and a scientist who would unknowingly change…

  • Duet 2014

    ★★★ Watched 03 Jul, 2014

    Directed by animation legend, Glen Keane - best known for his work during Disney’s renaissance of the ‘90s - Duet is a charming animated short capturing the romance between two people from children to adults. It marks the third animated film from Google’s Spotlight Stories series, the first two produced by Jan Pinkava and Mark Oftedal respectively.

    Duet’s story could be accused of being rather cheesy and hackneyed but at three-minutes it is perfectly serviceable. What makes the short standout…

  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 02 Jul, 2014 21

    The original How to Train Your Dragon was Dreamworks only truly great animated film meaning any sequel would be approached with equal parts excitement and trepidation. First time around I was utterly captivated by the relationship between a gawky viking boy and his adorable dragon companion but how could a second film possibly replicate the same intimate relationship and sparkling chemistry? Wisely it doesn’t. Although the friendship between Hiccup and Toothless remains a crucial element, the film is bigger, bolder…

  • Pupa 2014

    ★★★ Watched 10 Jun, 2014 2

    Pupa is an animated short film from director John Lee about the fear of puberty for a young boy. The film turns the universal transformation of the body into a horror story as the scared child is not yet ready to become a man. With excellent character design, particularly the adults that are transformed into grotesque monsters, and a striking colour palette the film looks brilliant.

    Unfortunately, although some of the body horror flourishes are successful at just four-minutes the…

  • As He Lay Falling 2014

    Watched 04 Jun, 2014

    goNORTH Festival

    Ian Waugh’s accomplished and atmospheric rural drama follows a desperate man far from home. Georgios, forced to migrate for work, moves from Greece to the unforgiving Scottish Highlands. Adrift from his home, family and culture he ekes out a meaningless existence at an isolated croft. Stunningly shot with handheld camerawork that provides the film with an intense intimacy, As He Lay Falling is arguably one of the standout films of the festival. This is an assured and expressive work backed by pitch perfect performances and excellent direction.

  • Whistle My Lad 2014

    Watched 04 Jun, 2014

    goNORTH Festival

    Set in 1911, Whistle My Lad is a haunting coming-of-age romance between Agnes, the young daughter of a successful fishermen, and Fraser, the son of a rival skipper. Reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet with its young star-crossed lovers, Tripswitch Production’s evocative short is a mini-triumph. With a beautifully realised world set in a God-fearing coastal community the short excels thanks to its keenly observed period detailing and strong performances across the board. Whistle My Lad is a thoughtful and tragic story of warring families and doomed romance.

  • Greenfingers 2014

    Watched 04 Jun, 2014

    goNORTH Festival

    Greenfingers, from filmmaker Gary Marshall, is the perfect demonstration of the power of the short form documentary. In the film, Marshall follows Aku Zada, an engineer and human rights activist, now living in Glasgow in the weeks after gaining refugee status. Exploring the difficulties of living as a refugee and the innate human need to establish roots, Greenfingers is an affecting and illuminating documentary. Whilst immigration and asylum-seekers remain hot topics in the media Marshall reveals the human side of the headline-grabbing story with Aku proving an engaging and open subject.

  • Stop at Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story 2014

    ★★★ Watched 08 Jul, 2014 4

    With the Tour de France officially underway again the TV is full of cycling themed documentaries. Unsurprisingly, the Lance Armstrong controversy has received top billing with the terrestrial channels airing two separate docs about the subject. First up is Alex Holmes’ portrait of the lying shit on wheels as he explores one of the biggest frauds in sporting history.

    Holmes has form with sporting documentaries having made One Night in Turin but this is a far juicier and revealing film.…

  • Edge of Tomorrow 2014

    ★★★★ Watched 25 Jun, 2014 27

    Unless you possessed the ability of preternatural foresight few would have predicted that the blandly titled, Edge of Tomorrow, would emerge as frontrunner for film of the summer. There was a time, not too long ago, that any film starring Tom Cruise would have been a sure-fire success. However, with a number of disappointments behind him this latest high-concept action movie seemed little more than scheduling fodder to bulk out the blockbuster season between heavyweight sequels and the newest comic…

  • The Normal Heart 2014

    ★★★½ Watched 21 Jun, 2014 13

    Based on the semi-autobiographical Broadway play by Larry Kramer (who also wrote the screenplay), The Normal Heart is a passionate and angry film about the HIV/AIDS crisis in early ‘80s New York. I can’t say I was expecting too much from this latest HBO television movie, particularly as it was being helmed by Eat Pray Love director, Ryan Murphy. However, I was wrong to so quickly dismiss it as this is a powerful and heartbreaking story documenting the struggle of…

  • No Escape 2014

    Watched 21 May, 2014 10

    I’m not going to give a star-rating as it seems unfair to do so for a high school project.

    Directed by Grant Jones and Letterboxd’s Austin Gorski for a film analysis class, No Escape is a derivative but surprisingly competent short film given the limited timescale and experience of those involved. The plot is simple - a man finds himself on the run from a hitman after selling out a drug lord - but it serves its purpose well enough…