List Film

Reviews & features: Documentary

Beyond Clueless

19 Jan 20153 stars

Charlie Lyne's entertaining documentary celebrates and dissects the teen movie

Ever since James Dean set light to the establishment in the 50s, teens have been central to cinema, both as audience and subject. Every generation since has films that define adolescence: from the antics of The Beatles and the students of Rydell High in…

La Maison de la Radio

19 Jan 20152 stars

Nicolas Philibert's Radio France documentary proves both fascinating and frustrating

French filmmaker Nicolas Philibert will be best known to international audiences for his excellent 2002 documentary Être et Avoir, a portrait of a single-room school in rural France. His latest work, La Maison de la Radio, takes the same fly-on-the-wall…

Q&A: Charlie Lyne on directing Beyond Clueless

16 Jan 2015

An homage to the glorious teen movies of the 90s

British film critic Charlie Lyne pays tribute to the teen movie, in particular its 1990s incarnation, with Beyond Clueless, an affectionate but determinedly anti-ironic appreciation. With reference to some 200 films, narration by actress and teen movie…

Point and Shoot

12 Jan 20152 stars

Marshall Curry's flawed film documents Matt VanDyke's quest for masculinity

You can tell a lot about a documentary from its closing frames. In Point and Shoot the Oscar-nominated writer-director Marshall Curry asks a summing-up question of his subject Matt VanDyke, an OCD-suffering Baltimore filmmaker turned Arab Spring…

National Gallery

5 Jan 20154 stars

Frederick Wiseman's compelling documentary examines the great museum

Given the current trend for museum themed pictures, the timing is right for venerable documentary maker Frederick Wiseman to place his distinctive, considered mark on London’s National Gallery. Taken from 12 weeks' worth of behind the scenes snooping…

The Last of the Unjust

5 Jan 20155 stars

Claude Lanzmann revisits the subject of the Holocaust in this fine documentary

Claude Lanzmann's Shoah is one of the most important documentaries ever made. His monumental oral history of the Holocaust was constructed over 12 years. In 1975 in Rome, Lanzmann interviewed Benjamin Murmelstein, the last president of the Jewish…

Erebus: Into the Unknown

5 Jan 20153 stars

Chilling yet stirring documentary from Charlotte Purdy and Peter Burger

On 28 November 1979 a flight took off from New Zealand loaded with 257 passengers heading on a sightseeing tour over Antarctica. They would never be seen alive again. This documentary mixes archive footage, interviews and reconstructions to bring to…

The Green Prince

8 Dec 20143 stars

Fascinating but flawed documentary focussing on an Israeli informant

‘The Green Prince’ was the codename used by Israel’s intelligence service for its most highly placed informant, Mosab Hassan Yousef, when he was passing information to them on Hamas’ activities during the Second Intifada. So, at least, runs Yousef’s own…

Manakamana

8 Dec 20144 stars

A mesmeric documentary following pilgrims as they visit the titular temple

Perched atop a mountain in the Nepalese countryside, the temple of Manakamana is a destination for thousands of visitors, devotees and tourists alike, who all make the trip via a panoramic cable car. And it's in this intimate setting that the entirety…

Vertical Cinema and Strange Electricity at Glasgow Short Film Festival

4 Dec 2014

Festival announces two major events for 2015, including Scottish premiere of Vertical Cinema

First movies were black and white and completely silent. Then they were Technicolor and positively chatty. Now we can feast our eyes on 3D and IMAX images. Are there still new possibilities cinema can discover? Vertical Cinema experiments with a new…

Hockney

24 Nov 20144 stars

Warm, insightful documentary from Randall Wright examining the celebrated artist

Britain’s most enduringly popular modern artist, David Hockney, has been the subject of many documentaries, including one made for TV by this film's director Randall Wright in 2003 (David Hockney: Secret Knowledge). None could claim to be as intimate…

We Are The Giant

11 Nov 20144 stars

Frontline tales from the Arab Spring brought together by director Greg Barker

A small girl sings a song of hope and freedom in the street, just as an explosion wreaks havoc around her. A peace activist interrupts a downbeat interview about whether nonviolent protest has been unsuccessful when a shell rocks the street outside. And…

Life Itself

10 Nov 20144 stars

Steve James takes a loving look at the life and legacy of Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert did a lot for film criticism: he promoted small films and reviewed with Midwestern honesty. Life Itself, a warm-hearted and artful documentary by filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams), is a loving look at Ebert’s life as perhaps the most…

The Case Against 8

3 Nov 20143 stars

Elegant but unbalanced account of the fight against a controversial amendment

The eight of the title refers to Proposition 8, which would have added to California's Declaration of Rights the specification that marriage be permitted only between a man and a woman, and was ruled as unconstitutional in 2010. Ben Cotner and Ryan…

The Possibilities Are Endless

3 Nov 20144 stars

Striking documentary charting the trauma and triumph of singer Edwyn Collins

In 2005 the Scottish singer-songwriter Edwyn Collins suffered a massive cerebral haemorrhage that left him with very limited speech and movement. Devastating doesn’t even begin to describe it. And yet, as this impressionistic and moving documentary from…

The Overnighters

27 Oct 20144 stars

Jesse Moss's oil fracking documentary exposes the myth of the American dream

In the small town of Williston, North Dakota oil fracking has brought big changes, not just to the environment (the once desolate prairies are now dotted with heavy machinery), but also to the local community. The lure of opportunity sees thousands of…

Citizenfour

16 Oct 20143 stars

Laura Poitras' documentary on Edward Snowden captures history in the making

Citizenfour is a documentary that makes a loyalty card seem completely ironic. Thanks to people like whistleblower Edward Snowden, news headlines have been rife with the stories about big government tracking us. In this real life political thriller…

Interview: Biophilia filmmakers Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton

13 Oct 2014

The men responsible for filming Bjork's final concert talk about working with the superstar

In 2008, Björk embarked upon her eighth album, Biophilia, which turned into a massive multi-disciplinary multimedia project including an otherworldly live show. The final concert of her 70-date world tour took place at Alexandra Palace on 7 September…

Björk: Biophilia Live

13 Oct 20144 stars

A beautiful presentation of Björk's strange, beguiling vision from cinematographer Brett Turnbull

In 2008 Björk embarked upon her eighth album, Biophilia, which over the course of a few years turned into a massively ambitious multimedia project, including an otherworldly live show. The final concert took place in September 2013 after a 70-date world…

Interview: Edwyn Collins discusses new documentary The Possibilities Are Endless

9 Oct 2014

Orange Juice frontman on letting filmakers into his life and how social media changed his life

In 2009, Edwyn Collins sat down opposite me in the BBC Scotland’s green room at the Glasgow leg of the Children in Need appeal. The singer and producer was slowly returning to public life after a life-threatening stroke and we spoke for ten minutes; but…

Andoni Aduriz and Icíar Bollaín amongst highlights of first Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival

3 Oct 2014

Series of film screenings, talks, Q&A sessions and workshops to take place from 8–12 Oct

‘With 20,000 Hispanic speakers craving for Hispanic culture, the launch of the first Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival was a no-brainer,’ says festival director Marian A. Aréchaga, ahead of its launch at the Filmhouse next week. In collaboration with the…

Soul Boys of the Western World

29 Sep 20143 stars

Documentary charting the fluctuating fortunes of Spandau Ballet from George Hencken

Spandau Ballet might not seem the hippest subjects for a documentary. Formed in the late Seventies, they hit the charts in the early Eighties as the New Romantic scene blossomed, but this five-piece all-male band from Islington were hardly musical…

Still the Enemy Within

29 Sep 20144 stars

Documentary on the miners' strike from Owen Gower illuminates a passionately fought conflict

An interesting companion piece to the acclaimed comedy Pride, providing pertinent social history in the context of current debates about privilege, representation and poverty in modern Britain, Still the Enemy Within is a thorough account of the 1984-5…

The Last Impresario

22 Sep 20144 stars

This celebratory look at the life of Michael White brings together lots of famous faces

Glasgow-born Michael White is frequently dubbed the most famous man you have never heard of. A showbusiness mover and shaker, he has rubbed shoulders with everyone from Bowie to the Beatles and Mick Jagger to the Monty Python team. He has supped with…

Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival 2014: Film highlights

19 Sep 2014

The annual arts fest features screenings of Ana Ana, The Crash Reel and Silver Linings Playbook

How’s your mental health? There is every chance you might have a lengthy answer to that question; and no less chance that you’d like to keep it to yourself. Mental health issues are vastly prevalent, but carry a stigma that can make them a good deal…