Film reviews and more

Glasgow 2021: City Hall review

★★★★★ “The concept of resilience is a powerful one.” Channelling the fortitude and resolve with which his beloved city of Boston recovered from the 2013 marathon bombing, Mayor Marty Walsh’s words echo a key tenet of Frederick Wiseman’s City Hall. One of many intangible pillars that provide the sturdy framework of this epic 270-minute documentary, veteran filmmaker Wiseman’s latest […]

Glasgow 2021: Wildland review

★★★☆☆ Ostensibly a remake of David Michôd’s outstanding 2010 film Animal Kingdom, Jeanette Nordahl’s Wildland transposes the action of a Melbourne crime family’s nefarious enterprise to leafy Danish suburbia. Bringing both her experience as assistant director on the popular political series Borgen, as well as the show’s leading lady, Sidse Babett Knudsen, to her debut feature, Nordahl takes sole […]

Glasgow 2021: Sweetheart review

★★★☆☆ Whether you’re completely lost or simply taking the scenic route, coming-of-age stories tend to be just as much about the journey as their destination. Though it may not stray too far off a well-beaten track, Marley Morrison’s feature debut Sweetheart is a sure-fire crowd pleaser that showcases a young filmmaker and cast with real promise. Sweetheart opens with […]

Glasgow 2021: Gagarine review

★★★★☆ In the opening moments of Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh’s Gagarine, news footage from the early 1960s shows Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin opening an Ivry-sur-Seine housing estate, dedicated in his honour. Wide-eyed boys, chasing the stars, excitedly declare that one day they would love to follow in their hero’s floating footsteps. But could a child from a project […]

Glasgow 2021: Shorta review

★★★☆☆ Open a film with a close-up of a young black man screaming “I can’t breathe,” his neck under the knee of a policeman, and you better back it up with a social critique worthy and respectful of as shocking an image and incendiary a subject matter. Anders Ølholm and Frederik Louis Hviid’s Shorta (to be titled Enforcement for […]

Glasgow 2021: My Wonderful Wanda review

★★★☆☆ The glossy veneer of fame, fortune and respectability of a well-to-do family rapidly loses its shine in Bettina Oberli’s My Wonderful Wanda. A sinister-turned-bittersweet human drama told in three acts, chapter one begins as Wanda (Agnieszka Grochowska) arrives in Switzerland by bus and is met by Gregor (Jacob Mateschenz) at the station. Clearly not her first trip to […]

Glasgow 2021: Steelers review

★★★☆☆ A loving ode to a pioneering, life-changing team, Steelers: The World’s First Gay Rugby Club is a courageous, invigorating account of struggles on, but mostly off the field of play. Formed in King’s Cross in the mid 1990s, the organisation spearheaded a movement which now comprises more than sixty gay rugby teams all over the world. Eammon Ashton-Atkinson, […]

Glasgow 2021: Murmur review

★★★★☆ Murmur – a patient, probing, profoundly moving exploration of one woman’s battle against past demons and crippling loneliness – announces first-time writer-director Heather Young as a voice for the future. The Nova Scotian filmmaker’s debut feature demonstrates compassionate, composed storytelling, that is matched by a simple, yet impressive technical and visual style. Donna (Shan MacDonald) is at home […]

Glasgow 2021: The Last Ones review

★★☆☆☆ The savage beauty of Finland’s northernmost reaches provides a stunning backdrop for Estonian director Veiko Õunpuu’s The Last Ones. Never coming close to matching the majesty of its surroundings, this misguided, tonally muddled frontier drama goes nowhere. Trouble above and below ground in a remote Lapland mining community threatens lives and livelihoods from the off. Having reached the […]

Glasgow 2021: Castro’s Spies review

★★★☆☆ With store-bought equipment, a woeful budget, cheap cars and cheaper apartments, the undercover lives of the Cuban Five could not have been further from the gadgetry and jet-setting high life of James Bond. Putting faces to the names of Olivier Assayas’ based-on-a-true-story Wasp Network, Castro’s Spies provides a detailed account of men fighting for the future of their […]

Glasgow 2021: Spring Tide review

★★★☆☆ Three female members of a family struggle with multi-generational secrets, trauma and the hardships of motherhood in Yang Lina’s Spring Tide. The Chinese filmmaker, whose past work lies predominantly in documentary, inspects the past, present and future of a nation by pulling apart the ties, lies and aspirations of a grandmother, her daughter and granddaughter. Living at uncomfortably […]

Glasgow 2021: My Favorite War review

★★★☆☆ Bookended by visits to the same stretch of coastline under very different circumstances, Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen’s My Favorite War makes a perilous journey into her nation’s past through the eyes of an artist – or in her case journalist – as a younger woman. A self-portrait of sorts, the Latvian-Norwegian filmmaker seeks to come to terms with her […]