Category Archives: Features

Now’s the time to get on the John Cho train

It’s unusual enough that a decent portion of the American Pie cast of ‘teenagers’ can still be found in high-profile fare nearly 20 years on from the film’s release – Natasha Lyonne and Jason Biggs have had career renaissances via Orange Is the New Black, while Seann William Scott has, at the time of writing, just been cast as the new co-lead of the Lethal Weapon TV series. But what’s been most interesting in the last few years, now that Scott’s big screen leading man days are largely over, is how John Cho has become the biggest name from the cast, and he wasn’t even part of the main group of horny fuckwits. Billed 24th back in the 1999 film’s credits as ‘MILF Guy #2’, his subsequent success with the Harold & Kumar series and JJ Abrams’ Star Trek reboot saw him get bumped up to ninth-billed for his appearance in 2012’s American Pie: Reunion. He was still credited as ‘MILF Guy #2’, though, and that may be the lone funny gag in that belated sequel…

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Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018: 10 to see

Now in its 72nd instalment, the Edinburgh International Film Festival is the world’s longest continuously-running film festival. This year’s edition opens with the UK premiere of Marc Turtletaub’s jigsaw drama Puzzle, starring Kelly Macdonald and Irrfan Khan. The festival later closes with the UK premiere of Swimming with Men, a British comedy from director Oliver Parker, starring Rob Brydon, Jim Carter, Daniel Mays and Adeel Akhtar.

Beyond the galas, there are many premieres, discoveries and retrospectives of note. Here are 10 highlights from the big programme, with the festival running from 20 June to 1 July…

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A new cult film festival is spotlighting forgotten cinematic gems

Cult film screenings at independent cinemas are fairly common, be it in the form of late night presentations of infamous gorefests or regular showings of established anti-classics like The Room with encouraged audience participation. Less common, and a far more enticing prospect, is a festival devoted to showcasing a diverse range of film that have slipped through the cracks of movie history – no pretending commercially successful John Hughes fare counts as ‘cult’ here…

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‘Grease’ at 40: A first-time look at a pop culture classic

We all have our blind spots when it comes to cinema – and that’s a good thing. Being passionate about film is being open to discovery and constantly looking to fill in gaps in one’s knowledge. But when you get to a certain age and also happen to work in film journalism, not having seen certain pop culture touchstones starts to stick out. Until very recently, my biggest blind spot – at least in terms of a film it seemed everyone had seen at least once – was Grease.

And yet, through cultural osmosis, I’ve always felt like I have seen Grease. Not only did I know most of the songs, I knew most of the words to most of the songs. What I didn’t know was what a peculiar musical it is. Take the title track, for instance, which plays over the opening credits and is one of the few songs I hadn’t heard before. One of four original songs written for the film (this one by Barry Gibb), the disco number feels surprisingly at odds with the late-’50s/early ‘60s style of the rest of the soundtrack. It’s a catchy tune, but seems as though it’s been included merely to forge a connection between the film and star John Travolta’s earlier Bee Gees-scored hit, Saturday Night Fever. It’s a curious identity crisis moment, but then perhaps it’s appropriate given the narrative arcs of the film’s leading pair…

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Best from the West: three new Scottish features at Glasgow Film Festival 2018

This year’s Glasgow Film Festival was hit by an unprecedented series of setbacks, largely thanks to the combined efforts of Storm Emma and the cold wave dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’. Across three days in its second week, dozens of screenings and events were cancelled due to snow-related safety risks, while much of the talent scheduled to appear, as well as attendees not staying in Glasgow, were unable to reach the city…

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Glasgow Film Festival 2018: 10 films to look out for

Running between 21 February and 4 March, the 14th annual Glasgow Film Festival opens with the UK premiere of Wes Anderson’s animation Isle of Dogs. It later closes with the world premiere of Nae Pasaran, Felipe Bustos Sierra’s documentary about Scottish factory workers’ act of solidarity with the oppressed people of Chile under the Pinochet dictatorship. In between, there are hundreds of events and screenings to choose from.

It can all be a bit overwhelming, so here are some highlights from the programme that still have tickets left…

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Eight films to watch before you see ‘The Shape of Water’

Combining fantastical romance with Cold War intrigue, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is both a loving tribute to all manner of movies and a swipe at societal woes – more so bigotry and the tyranny of toxic white male heteronormativity than disapproval of romancing an amphibian.

Here’s our guide to some films worth seeking out before – or after – seeing The Shape of Water: ones del Toro has cited as influences, a few explicitly referenced in the film, and the odd one that shares something of the same spirit…

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