Tag Archives: review

The Weeknd- Starboy


The Weeknd’s Starboy front cover


With its immediate chart success, use of artistic music videos, and a recent single cover already making BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, The Weeknd’s latest album Starboy seems to have made a huge impression on the music industry.

Released on Friday, the R&B singer’s third studio album,  immediately catapulted to the number one spot in charts spanning 80 countries. Continue reading The Weeknd- Starboy

Film review: Allied


Picture credit: IMDb
Picture credit: IMDb

The stars of Allied, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, are preposterously beautiful people. It’s not fair, to be honest.

Place these two actors in any scene, and their presence can be somewhat show-stealing.

Not so in director Robert Zemeckis’ Allied, a film that from the start has a decidedly old-fashioned feel – in the best possible way. Both Pitt and Cotillard are classic movie stars, of a kind that is too rare these days. The movie itself has a somewhat timeless aura to it, often feeling as though Allied could have been filmed at any time over the past 60 years, apart from the odd modern flourish that Zemeckis brings to the screen. Continue reading Film review: Allied

Primal Scream live review – Usher Hall 22/11/2016

by Eoghan Scott

Photo credit: Phil Guest
Photo credit: Phil Guest


In a month that has brought about the election of Apprentice-star Donald J. Trump as President of the United States, and a year that has seen the UK vote to leave the EU, sometimes you just need the comfort of knowing that some things never change.

That’s not to say Bobby Gillespie and Co. have ever been content just to keep things the way they are. Over the course of 11 albums and almost three decades, the Glaswegian band has been defined by a willingness to reach out and experiment with new and exciting sounds. Even so, it’s just nice to think that Primal Scream will always be Primal Scream, regardless of what new or exciting sounds they choose to explore.

Monday night in Usher Hall saw the legendary Scottish band amongst a home crowd, so anticipation was high. Continue reading Primal Scream live review – Usher Hall 22/11/2016

Top Gear on Steroids: The Grand Tour Review

The Grand Tour starring Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.

The Grand Tour opens with a woeful scene as Jeremy Clarkson makes his way to a London Airport. News reports are conveniently edited together with the grey British weather in an attempt to create a sense of misery regarding the BBC’s decision to drop Clarkson and his band of merry men.

As Clarkson finds himself in LA, he switches from the modest black cab to an extravagant Mustang. Much of the episode is spent giving the middle finger to his former employer and this switch from gloom to sunshine, whilst being serenaded by the dulcet tones of Hothouse Flowers, serves as overkill.

This opening sequence alone is said to have cost over three million pounds to produce and while overly lavish, does set a tone for the new series.

A story of three middle class, white, British men freed from the shackles of the BBC and free to be as racist, sexist and politically incoherent as they like. The three men drive off into the sunset and are joined by armies of fans on a variety of vehicles in the open desert.

Continue reading Top Gear on Steroids: The Grand Tour Review

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ already celebrating great success

by Nadine Schwizer

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Source: Warner Brothers

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ premiered worldwide last weekend to the delight of Potter Heads.

The Harry Potter spin-off that is set in 1920s New York has already had huge box office success, taking a total of £15.3m over the weekend. The film has enjoyed the most profitable UK box office opening weekend of the year.

The film, written by JK Rowling, is set 70 years before the tales of Harry Potter and follows another English wizard and ‘Magizoologist’, namely Newt Scamander and his fantastic suitcase as they meander around New York City.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ wonderfully merges two dimensions, bringing together the nostalgia of the 1920s and the world of magic. Both these dimensions and the various beasts and creatures are brought to life through stunning digital effects.

The quirky yet strong cast created memorable scenes. Especially Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne brought his unique and captivating charm onscreen, which perfectly matched the nerdy character of Newt. However, the characters themselves seemed to lack in depth a little bit.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ is the first of a five-part series circling around the dark wizard Grindelwald – a name that is likely to ring bells among Harry Potter fans.

While there was only a minor focus on Grindelwald in this film, the ambiguous ending suggests the audience will be seeing more of him in the next four films.

In true Potter style, audiences have been left craving more.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is out in cinemas now.

Stu’s Spotify Specials

Stuart shares his Spotify picks

Music buff Stuart Mackenzie shares his top musical picks with edinburghnapiernews.com


  1. Bruno Mars- Chunky

With the new album’s release on Friday, the Hawaiian harmoniser is out with yet another funky single that is sure to get you grooving. Following suit from the previous jams such as, ‘24K Magic’ and ‘Versace on the Floor’, the new song indulges us into a romanticised old-skool aura with classic R&B sounds. The only thing that mattered back then was the size of your girls’ backside. Opening with a short synth-solo, we are instantly greeted by the classic Mars voice and a nostalgic, Rapper’s Delight-esque bassline. As the tune increases in party-rhythm, we are led into a chorus melody not dissimilar from past-hit Treasure. The song may not make it to party-anthem territory, but it is definitely one to tap your toes and cruise with your crew to.

  1. John Mayer- Love on the Weekend

Mayer the Player has been toying with his social media followers all week with the repeated announcement of this song dropping. This single is the first we’ve heard of the mega-guitarist since his acclaimed stab at Country in 2013 (not counting his cover of Beyonce’s ‘XO). The ‘Your Body is a Wonderland’ singer is back to his usual ways with his new single, well almost. The drum-tempo and guitar-strumming sounds like classic Mayer, however his vocal melody and production have remnants of his Country-exploration. Mixing the two genres is far from a bad thing as the romance song is a tranquil piece that reminds you that after 15 years of making music, Mayer has still got it. His seventh album is definitely one to look out for.

Continue reading Stu’s Spotify Specials

Waltz With Bashir.

WWB Poster intl.inddby Liam Wilson

What only can be described as a provocative and visually stunning picture, director Ari Folman has created a genre of innovative and often devastating scenes in the recently released, ‘Waltz With Bashir’.

Taking four years to complete, Waltz begins in 2006 with Ari meeting with a friend from the armed service period, who tells him of his recurring nightmare connected with his experiences from the 1982 Lebanon War. Folman is somewhat surprised that he cannot remember anything from this time. The conversation invokes a hallucinogenic flashback where Ari sees himself on the night of the massacre, a 19-year-old soldier emerging from the sea walking ashore underneath a flare-lit night sky. The reality of which, he is unable to explain.

The film follows Ari in his conversations with friends, a psychologist and the famous reporter Ron Ben-Yishai who was in Beirut at the same time, intrigued by his riddle, in a search of self-discovery, trying to piece together the complex puzzle scattered in his mind. What was he involved in, or not involved in.

He needs to discover the truth about that time and about himself. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to creep up in surreal images.

Folman’s new film belongs to a rare yet exceptional style of film known as the “animated documentary”. The first recognized example of this is Windsor McKay’s 1918 12-minute-long, ‘The Sinking of the Lusitania’. which uses animation to describe and show the sinking of the Lusitania after it was struck by German U-Boat torpedoes in 1915.

To many, ‘Waltz With Bashir’ is how the recently released ‘Max Payne’ should have been shot, often delving into the surreal plains of film-noir, a style so relevant, it helps portray the confusion, flashback and uncertainty of the entire conflict so flawlessly. The animation style of the movie is a perfect tool to convey the tricks and survival mechanisms of the mind and memory, scening somewhat lurid, distorted and chemically enhanced colour schemes, adding to the already sombre tone of the conflict.

One such scene, described by a character in the film as place “tripped out on LSD”, is so vivid and tangible, one can almost smell the decay and feel the anguish and confusion felt by the soldiers. The sky lit up in deep yellow, pulsating with the trees amidst the ruin.

The film’s art director and illustrator, David Polonsky, has done a remarkable job. He lulls the viewer into a landscape where reality is wonky and woozy. From the interviews, the film frequently goes off into wonderful flights of fantasy and surrealism.

The film takes its title from a definitive scene from the movie in which one of the interviewees, the commander of Folman’s infantry unit at the time of the film’s events, grabs a heavy machine gun and “dances an insane waltz” amid heavy enemy fire, between walls hung with posters of Bashir Geyamel.

The 1982 massacres at Sabra and Shatila are a heavy imprint of horror and the destructive compulsions of the human nature, the horrors of war and the atrocities of which humans are capable. Waltz ends with a short segment of news archive footage of the grieving survivors, mothers and daughters mostly, shuffling through the streets, riddled with the bodies of loved ones.

What we are left with is a harrowing, vivid and unique portrait of war, leaving the audience in a daze of awe.

Lesbian Vampire Killers

by Kirstyn Smith

The first thing to look out for is the number of lone, shifty-looking men in the auditorium. I don’t know what this anticipative audience expects from a film called Lesbian Vampire Killers, but I’ve a feeling they left feeling a bit disappointed.

Unfortunately, they weren’t the only ones. To give the film the benefit of the doubt, I looked upon it from two different perspectives.

At worst – and if you are a girl – the derogation and disparagement was astounding. Although I’m sure this will be explained away as ‘post-modern’ chauvinism, I noticed my feminist side rearing its head on a number of occasions, as I felt vaguely insulted throughout.

At best, I can simply describe it as an unoriginal, laddish film. I imagine that even those solitary, hopeful men might grow weary of so many gratuitous close-ups of hot lesbians stroking each other.

A strange, stacatto way of shooting is employed, and while at first this is interesting and different, it is not consistent, so when it returns intermittently throughout the film, this does begin to grate – something else we don’t need to distract us from an already weak plot. Whether this technique – along with some woefully bad acting from the lesbians – is supposed to be a spoof remains unclear. I hope, for the sake of everyone involved, that I’m missing something.

Horne and Corden seem to have fallen foul of ‘Mitchell and Webb’ syndrome: while resplendent on TV, (Gavin and Stacey is a very good show) this does not translate to film. However, they are still relative newcomers, but I do feel that – for just now at least – they should stick to the small screen.

Scene at the Cinema

by Kirstyn Smith

American Teen

They say (whoever ‘they’ are) that school days are the best days of your life. It’s been a long seven years since I last set foot in a school, so I’ve forgotten what it was really like, everything having faded into a rose-tinted haze. However, if the experience was in any way similar to some of the school days of these American teenagers, I’m glad I’ve supressed the memories. It’s all awkwardness and angst, with the occasional private naked photo being sent to everyone in the school, much to the chagrin of one poor girl.

courtesy of slashfilm
courtesy of slashfilm

It’s this episode that sticks with me, highlighting as it does the ‘reality’ (read: lack thereof) in this supposed documentary. No filmmaker would sit back and allow their subject to actively ruin a young girl’s reputation. Would they?

This naked-photo-spreading was the doing of Megan – the popular princess of the school. We also follow Colin – a jock attempting to obtain a basketball scholarship with the support of his alarmingly pushy father and Jake – helplessly geeky and determined to find a girlfriend (to cut a long story short – he doesn’t.) My personal star of the show was Hannah, described as ‘alternative’ and obviously there to appeal to the Juno generation. But it was hard not to feel for her multiple heartbreaks and to be sucked into her honest effervescence while faced with a fairly difficult life.

It’s hard to put a finger on why I enjoyed the film as much as I did. While very contrived and exceedingly stereotypically American, it provided a sense of nostalgia. For my generation, who grew up on a diet of Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, Bug Juice and the Breakfast Club, it taps into that lingering sense that everything is cooler and more exciting in America.

Yet, this does prove not to be the case, as the film culminates with an uneventful prom, followed by an uneventful graduation and a postscript which informs us that the teenagers have gone on to lead uneventful lives. At least they stayed away from the presumed moral message that everyone can get on, even geeks and jocks (everyone knows that this is not true.)

So, is it a real insight into American teen life? No. Will it stir the hidden part of you that secretly wishes your school years were a blur of homecoming kings and queens, Abercrombie and Fitch with a Starbucks on every corner? Yes. Will it re-enhance your belief that school days truly were the best days of your life? Well, as you witness one teen moaning ‘My life sucks now, but what if it sucks more after highschool,’ and you fight the urge to reach into the screen and shake some sense into them, most definitely.

Marley and Me

Look up the definition of “family movie” and you’ll find Marley and Me.  By the end, the film has it all – a wholesome Mum and Dad, three well-behaved children, and a dog.

But I’m ahead of myself.

To begin with, Jenny (Jennifer Aniston) and John (Owen Wilson) are following her Plan:  marriage, check.  Baby substitute (the dog), check.  This is where it gets complicated.  Their all-too-boisterous Labrador chews on everything, runs too fast, humps without prejudice and generally fails to obey in one heart-warming scene.  Then another.  And another.  You get the picture – the dog is a bit of a pain, something of which we are reminded ad nauseaum.

However, the couple’s journey as they adjust to him, grow to love him and fail to train him forms the backbone of their journey through life.  We are treated to typical troubles, predictable problems and simple solutions.  Despite these attempts at conflict and resolution, it doesn’t ring true.  I won’t say it was boring, but it was a bit flat.

Perhaps this is because the film is based on a book, which is -in turn- based on a series of newspaper columns written by John Grogan.  I can see how using your dog’s life to track your own could be interesting in weekly installments of 1000 words, but after dragging the idea through so many different media, it seems too tired to translate to the big screen.  In order to cover this, the director throws in too many ‘annoying dog’ scenes, before resorting to tugging hard on the old heart-strings towards the end.

MArley and Me courtesy of LA Times
Marley and Me courtesy of LA Times

Of course, one has to remember that this film is primarily based at children and it does tick all the requisite boxes:  an amusing pet with plenty of ‘awww’ moments to conjure that warm, fuzzy glow.   However, if you’re neither a pet person nor a child person, this will soon wear thin and I was left with the resounding conclusion that pets, rather like children, are definitely cuter when they are your own.

Practically Perfect in Every Way

When I was asked if I wanted to go to see Mary Poppins at the Edinburgh Playhouse I wasn’t entirely sure. Yes I used to love the Walt Disney film but that was when I was six years old and I was not convinced I would harbour the same feelings towards it now. All the same I went along with an open mind.

Any doubts I had disappeared with the opening scene. The cast were impressive, with Caroline Sheen playing the aloof yet kindly Mary Poppins to perfection alongside Daniel Crossley as chimney sweep Bert. Niamh Coombes and Edward Cooke gave worthy performances as the spoilt but lovable children Jane and Michael Banks.

All the well loved characters from the film feature along with the addition of George Banks’ old nanny Miss Andrew who provides the requisite baddie necessary in all children’s musicals and attracts an appropriate response from the audience.

I was unsure how the magic of the film would transfer onto the stage but the special effects were spectacular, with Mary Poppins flying away as she does in the film, and Bert walking up one side of the stage, along the roof and down the other side. This, along with the never ending contents of Mary’s bag and dancing statues, is sure to keep younger members of the audience intrigued.

Cameron Mackintosh’s production comes to Edinburgh for the first time after a successful three year run on London’s West End. It is a combination of the famous 1964 Walt Disney film starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, and the original stories by P. L. Travers.

Classic well-known songs such as ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’, ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’, ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ and ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ take me back to my childhood but there is also the addition of new songs and a slightly adapted storyline which prevent the plot from getting dull for those who have seen the film numerous times. Accompanied by well thought out, impressively performed choreography the musical numbers are every bit as good as you would expect.

Overall Mary Poppins provides great entertainment for the whole family and any fans of musical theatre. Catchy songs, astounding special effects and a spectacular finale all combine to give a ‘Practically Perfect’ performance which will leave you singing all the way home.