Scotland Loves Anime 2014

With any hopes of Disney making a 2D feature animation again looking increasingly unlikely, and even SpongeBob SquarePants venturing into CGI territory for a forthcoming movie sequel, it’s primarily left to the East nowadays for more traditional animation to thrive. Returning to Edinburgh and Glasgow this October for a fifth year, the Scotland Loves Anime festival showcases some of the best of contemporary and classic Japanese animation, mostly of the hand-drawn variety, on the big screen where so much of it belongs but is rarely seen by Western audiences (unless it’s another Miyazaki masterpiece picked up by a big distributor).

The festival features many UK or Scottish premieres, and the most high-profile of these is Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, the first theatrically released spin-off in years for one of anime’s most well-known and commercially successful properties worldwide. Any twenty-something who came of age during the anime on UK TV boom of the early 2000s (thanks, Cartoon Network) will want to get themselves to either GFT or Filmhouse to catch the gloriously daft super-powered fights, slapstick and general shoutiness through cinema speakers…

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Grand Central (Rebecca Zlotowski, 2013)

Nuclear radiation provides the unusual backdrop for a love affair in Grand Central. Tahar Rahim plays Gary, a man with an unclear criminal background who begins work at a nuclear power plant, where several employees take him under their wing and advise how to stay safe and get ahead. One night after work, he meets Karole (Seydoux), the fiancée of co-worker Toni (Denis Ménochet). Following an immediate attraction, the two promptly fail to keep their passions and loyalties in check and begin romping on a regular basis…

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Stations of the Cross (Dietrich Brüggemann, 2014)

Stations of the Cross is made up of 14 segments, each filmed in a single long and often static take, where meticulous compositions and dry performances drive a biting look at fundamentalist Catholicism and domineering parenting, as well as the surrounding secular society that fails to properly intervene when one young girl takes the notion of sacrifice for following God’s will too far…

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Camille Claudel 1915 (Bruno Dumont, 2013)

The contemporary king of grim French cinema, director Bruno Dumont’s latest, the stark Camille Claudel 1915, is based on personal letters and medical records regarding the lengthy institutionalisation of Camille Claudel (Binoche), the former sculptor who developed schizophrenia…

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Godzilla (Gareth Edwards, 2014)

Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla revival is a beautifully directed, perfectly paced blockbuster that effortlessly veers between enormity and quieter, almost transcendental, moments. It inherits more than a trick or two from prime Spielberg and fully earns favourable comparisons to the likes of Jurassic Park and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in its balancing of awe-inspiring spectacle and the accompanying terror induced by its world-altering premise…

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The Raid 2 (Gareth Evans, 2014)

Gareth Evans’ The Raid took place over one day in a single locale; its narrative had an economy akin to old-school John Carpenter. For the sequel, written, edited and directed by Evans, the filmmaker’s vision expands to the infiltration of a criminal network over several years. It is a sprawling, convoluted 150-minute saga built on a story framework that’s simultaneously simple and impenetrable, wherein most of its kinetic choreography is transformed into arduous onslaughts that numb rather than thrill…

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Muppets Most Wanted (James Bobin, 2014)

A musical nod to diminishing returns for sequels opens Muppets Most Wanted, and while this is an overall inferior product compared to its immediate forerunner, as well as other earlier films starring the felt motley crew, there’s enough entertainment here to separate it from nadirs like Muppets from Space and that Wizard of Oz TV movie with Quentin Tarantino.

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Writing by Josh Slater-Williams