Things to do in Edinburgh this weekend
Join in a family fun-day at the Queen's official Scottish residence, with games, fancy dress, activities, face-painting and an easter egg hunt.
Films showing this weekend
‘We’re comfortable,’ says Nick Young (Henry Golding, mega-confident in his movie debut). A handsome Oxford-educated college professor, he’s been asked about his background by his girlfriend, Rachel (Constance Wu), in this endlessly entertaining romcom. He’s nonchalant but he can afford to be. When he flies Rachel to Singapore to meet the family, it turns out they pretty much own the place. Cue unfeasible extravagance that somehow manages to feel inclusive: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is a VIP pass to the coolest parties in town. Beneath its glitz and glamour, the film has a familiar set-up: the story of two lovers from different walks of life who are willing to challenge tradition for their own happiness. But this always-engaging tale – the two leads bring real sincerity at the heart of the movie – is infused with a modern sense of money and personal reinvention. The gaudy flow of wealth is one of its many comic facets, never endorsed so much as offered up as passing eye candy. It has an edgier side too. For Rachel, the trip to Nick’s old turf for his best friend’s wedding becomes a psychological nightmare. A hen party brings out the pettiness in an ex. Even worse is a moment of confrontation between our heroine and the Young clan’s matriarch, Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh, formidable), who bluntly tells her she just isn’t good enough for her son. This is the first Hollywood movie with an all-Asian cast since ‘The Joy Luck Club’ 25 years ago, and that feels significant. Based on Kevin Kw
Most of us at some point have wished for a quick solution to life’s banalities. A lottery win, maybe, or a surprise inheritance. In 2004, four unremarkable college students in Lexington, Kentucky wanted a quick fix so badly they came up with a mad idea. They would steal a collection of antique books from the university library, valued at $10 million. What follows is a heist story like no other which, remarkably, is all true. You might remember director Bart Layton from his 2012 doc ‘The Imposter’ – an equally eye-opening tale of a Frenchman who successfully impersonates a missing Texan child. Layton is fascinated by the way that truth and storytelling intermingle. Here he blends drama and documentary. It could have been a mess, but by injecting interviews with the real people into the unfolding drama he pulls it off with panache. The performances are terrific, too. Irish actor Barry Keoghan is remarkable as awkward stoner Spencer. His face, often blank and unreadable, occasionally reveals the growing enormity of the group’s plan. Evan Peters as off-the-rails Warren is equally compelling – his charisma driving the group to their final, ridiculous conclusion. You might roll your eyes at another story of rich kids gone wild. Layton, though, finds unexpected depths here. These kids were bewitched by the idea of fast-tracking themselves to a more exciting life (rather than, you know, working their arses off for it). And from all this comes a subtle comment on privilege that’s s
Calling the new A Star Is Born a “valentine” from its star, Lady Gaga, to her fans sounds a bit coy and delicate, so let’s call it what it really is: a hot French kiss (with full-on tongue), filled with passion, tears and a staggering amount of chutzpah. Generously emotional and all the more fun for it, the movie functions as something like a Marvel-esque origin story, with Gaga’s own mythology vamping it up at drag cabarets subbing in for her character’s background. It's more than smart to have cast her; it's essential to the movie even working. But to watch her character, Ally, become a star—especially onstage during the film’s live moments, which feel frightening, massive and deafening—is an incredible piece of evolution. Gaga is really acting here: shy, somehow smaller, trembling with excitement. Slowly, she blooms in the spotlight, proudly waving around that Streisand schnozz, the big voice completing the transformation. She’s extraordinary, and you root for her to go supernova per the scenario’s time-honored trajectory. Director-co-star Bradley Cooper has something else in mind, though. Just as his own performance—as Jackson Maine, this film’s rocker on the downslide—ends up being one of those grumbly beard chews (if you remember the 1976 version, you might describe it as Kristoffersonian), his steering of the drama is understated: modest and unshowy. He’s trying to make a “real” version of this glitziest of stories (whatever that means), and you love that Cooper seem
What to call this fiercely original movie? A Facebook thriller? A Google noir? Its missing-girl mystery plays out almost entirely on screens, using social media apps and chatrooms like Raymond Chandler used to use dive bars and dark alleys. The footprints being followed here are the digital kind, of course, and they’re all the scarier for that. You’ll walk away with a new awareness of just how exposed we all are to malign forces online. The missing girl is LA high-schooler Margot Kim (Michelle La), a seemingly well-adjusted teen. But in a touching, ‘Up’-like opening montage of family snaps and videos, we discover a sorrow that lingers over the family. When Margot vanishes, her dad David Kim (John Cho, terrific) turns to her search history for clues. Things, he quickly discovers, are not what they’ve seemed. Not even close. Debut director Aneesh Chaganty shifts through the gears from there, maintaining enough visual flair to keep the conceit cinematic. Strip away the tech trappings, though, and you’ll find the same joys that powered ’90s thrillers like ‘Presumed Innocent’ and ‘The Fugitive’: red herrings, a tireless detective (Debra Messing) and whiplash-inducing twists. Not all are subtle – David’s sleazy young brother may as well carry a ‘bad egg’ sign – and the rules of the film are, well, fluid, but with this many ideas flying around, you can forgive a dud or two. See it, then go home and chuck your laptop in the bin.
‘Was it all just a dream?’ Michael Moore wonders at the start of ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’, his Trump-era update of his 2004 state of the union. Thankfully, he gets a lot more unsentimental from there. Even though that question comes under footage of Hillary Clinton swanning around at pre-election rallies to Rachel Platten’s ‘Fight Song’, don’t confuse the director’s latest for a two-hour wound-licking. By the time we hit the documentary’s final seconds – when Moore cuts to an emergency-broadcast squeal and we see Hawaiians running for cover in a near-apocalyptic 2018 missile mistake – the dream has morphed into a nightmare, expanding into more than just a loss by one overconfident candidate or party, but democracy itself. Like much of Moore’s work, ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ (so titled for the date in 2016 when the Associated Press called the election for Trump) feels like an overflowing rage volcano, not that such an approach is unmerited. There are tangents galore, including early cheap shots about the president’s handsy relationship with his daughter, Ivanka, and a montage of gropes; meanwhile, if you’re heading into the film for a making-of-a-monster exposé, you’ll feel shortchanged. It’s not about New York City real-estate history or Russian collusion, and Moore even includes moments from a 1998 TV talk show on which he appeared with Trump and played nice. ‘I hope he never does one with me,’ Trump jokes of Moore’s movies, almost charmingly. But what makes Moore’s latest so ferocious –
Superheroes may save the world, but parenthood requires skills far more advanced than extendable limbs. Brad Bird’s 'Incredibles 2' – Pixar’s most spirited sequel since 'Toy Story 3' – lovingly expresses this certainty through a bighearted familial portrait wrapped in ’60s-inspired design. But the film’s disarming appeal lies in its simpler moments of domesticity, in which the members of the all-superhero Parr family lift each other up and fight for relevance in a world of indifference. Still underground with criminalised superpowers and a destroyed home, Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), and their children, Violet, Dash and the explosive baby Jack-Jack, quietly live in a dingy motel. Their luck turns when a pair of wealthy siblings – the naive Winston and brainy inventor Evelyn (Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener) – offer them a chance to restore the Supers’ reputation. While the sensible Elastigirl serves as the fearless face of the mission, Mr. Incredible hilariously Mr. Moms his way through the kids’ homework, boy troubles and newly emerging superpowers. When the state-of-the-art villain Screenslaver disturbs the picture, the entire crew, including the previous film’s charismatic ice maker Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson), joins the good fight. 'Incredibles 2' comes supercharged with timely, sophisticated themes around societal apathy and gender parity. While slightly overplotted in its finale, the sleek sequel still glows with grown-up wit, with cr
A stellar injustice: Hollywood has made a movie about a faked Mars landing—1977’s deliriously silly ‘Capricorn One’—but has never given the historic first moon landing its due. That’s not so hard to explain. While inspiring on a global scale, the 1969 accomplishment was pretty straightforward, dramatically speaking. Cool competence ruled the day and made it happen. The real thing was better than any film could be. Thrilling when it escapes the gravity of drab living rooms and offices, ‘First Man’ does an admirable job of complexifying a well-told tale. It presents Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling, suitably square) as a guy who, in 1961, was both puncturing the barriers of human knowledge by flying experimental planes 140,000 feet over the Mojave Desert, as well as someone who was banging his head against the finite limits of a medical science that couldn’t save his daughter from a malignant brain tumor. Faced with that pain, Armstrong (if we’re to believe Josh Singer’s script, sourced from James R. Hansen’s authorised 2005 biography) did what many military men of the ’50s and ’60s did: shut off emotionally and turn inward. ‘First Man’ makes Gosling colder than he was in ‘Blade Runner 2049’ as a replicant, itself a NASA-level achievement. Claire Foy, already stranded in one of those underwritten astronaut-wife roles, has so little to work with from Gosling, her big meltdown scene takes on a desperate grandeur. But you come to appreciate Gosling’s reserve, his shirt-and-tie star
Glenn Close is the power behind the throne in this absorbing study of a complex marriage. She’s Joan, the wife of a feted novelist, Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce), who’s soon to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Together with their sulky son David (Max Irons), the American couple fly to Stockholm for a whirlwind of press, functions and rehearsals – but the most telling moments happen when they're alone together in their hotel room. While Meg Wolitzer’s source novel is written in Joan’s voice, ‘The Wife’ resists narration and allows Joan to internalise her feelings, ranging from affection, concern and duty to bitterness and rage. It’s a smart move: Close’s piercing eyes dart around with telling expressions while Joe blusters on obliviously, enjoying the attention of sycophants. Not much, though, gets past Nathaniel (Christian Slater), a writer planning a biography on Joe. He shadows the couple and waits for his moment to pounce. Slater gives what could have been a stereotypical role plenty of spark, and his scenes with Close are riveting. ‘The Wife’ is also very funny, not least when the Castlemans are woken by a group of traditional singers belting out ‘Santa Lucia’ around their bed. Less successful are the flashbacks to the couple’s past in the late 50s. The younger Joe (Harry Lloyd) doesn’t seem nearly charismatic enough to sweep Joan (Annie Starke) off her feet. That said, these scenes play an important part in a story with a satisfying sting in its tail, one th
‘Irrevérsible’ director Gaspar Noé has never been afraid of controversy, and ‘Climax’ is no different. Cranking up the decibels, and with nausea-inducing camera work, it’s a sensual overload that will have your heart pounding. Opening with the final credits – as you do – it launches into a series of video interviews with a French dance troupe (including French-Algerian actress and dancer Sofia Boutella) who are trying out for a US tour. Flanking the retro TV screen that frames the interviews are books and films (look out for a copy of Dario Argento’s ‘Suspiria’) that hint at the chaos to come. We’re next catapulted into a dance rehearsal at a remote residency on the outskirts of Paris. The action is captured in one long, mesmerising take, shifting hypnotically from one dancer to the next. Then comes the after-party. Sangria is served, but there is a strange atmosphere in the room. It quickly dawns on the dancers that the punch has been spiked with LSD. Inventive and seductive, this infernal chamber piece will be sure to divide opinion. The camera plunges into the chaos, melding physical theatre with a palette of fiendish reds and impish greens, all accompanied by throbbing techno. Part musical, part political treatise, and with more than a wink to Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, Noé is at his most decadent and devilish.
It would seem a prerequisite, but the people rebooting today’s ‘Halloween’ – journeyman director David Gordon Green and his frequent collaborator, actor Danny McBride, a co-screenwriter – really love ‘Halloween’. (When Rob Zombie tried doing his remake in 2007, you weren’t sure if he was enjoying himself or hating life.) Submitting to the new version is like driving a cushy Jaguar along familiar curves: So much of John Carpenter’s immaculate grammar is impossible to improve upon, so it’s simply been redeployed, sometimes with a small twist, sometimes not. Implacable killer Michael Myers still has a fondness for stiffly sitting up like a sprung jack-in-the-box; he still lurks in slatted closets and pins boyfriends to the wall with butcher knives. What elevates ‘Halloween’ beyond mere fan service is the presence of Jamie Lee Curtis, whose willowy Laurie Strode has been converted, Sarah Connor-style, into a shotgun-toting shut-in with more than a hint of crazy about her. That’s a great reason to remake ‘Halloween’: Everyone’s waving around a gun these days, and the idea that the survivor of the so-called ‘Babysitter Murders’ would, 40 years later, become a militia-worthy nut with murderous instincts of her own has a sad symmetry to it. Laurie tells us she’s prayed for the day that Michael would escape from the loony bin, so she can have her vengeance. ‘Well, that was a dumb thing to pray for,’ a cop replies. But we’ve prayed for it, too. It’s hard to care much about a pair of