Reviews & features: Edinburgh Festivals

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Performers of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014: Send us your bribes!

9 Jul 2014

Send us free stuff and get valuable exposure for your show

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, and as a result, individual shows or performers can sometimes struggle to make themselves heard. In an ideal world, it'd be great if every show could achieve a decent level of…

The House of Magic

27 Jun 20143 stars

Exceptional 3D effects fail to disguise a humourless script in this family adventure

Co-directed by Ben Stassen and Jeremy Degruson, The House of Magic is the latest animated adventure from nWave Pictures, the Belgian animation studio behind the likes of Fly Me To The Moon and A Turtle's Tale (both directed by Stassen). Like these…

Honeymoon

26 Jun 20143 stars

Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway deliver solid performances in this cabin-in-the-woods horror

If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise, etc. Director-slash-co-writer Leigh Janiak's nicely atmospheric horror is both creepy and disturbing, though it tips its hand slightly too early and has the usual genre-associated…

Children's show Musical Mornings with Mil’s Trills set for 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

New York songwriter Amelia Robinson on her show that introduces music and instruments to all ages

If helping your little one discover the joy of music and language is high on your list of priorities, but one more rendition of ‘Wheels on the Bus’ might tip you over the edge, then a refreshing wind is blowing in from New York. Singer and songwriter…

Documentary highlights from the 2014 Edinburgh Just festival

15 Jul 2014

The event formerly known as the Festival of Spirituality and Peace

The event formerly known as the Festival of Spirituality and Peace goes from strength to strength and with talks, exhibitions, music and workshops around various venues, Just will be equally as prominent and hectic as any of the other festivals around…

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Interview: artist Michelle Hannah, one half of the band Picana Electrica

15 Jul 2014

The performance artist curates Nightflights & pitches herself as 'the Lidl version of Tilda Swinton'

Michelle Hannah is a Glasgow-based performance artist and one half of the band Picana Electrica. She was recently commissioned to produce the new work ‘Statue’ by the Talbot Rice Gallery as part of Counterpoint at the Edinburgh Art Festival. What’s…

Glenn Wool bring's greatest hits set to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

Wool's Gold features material from comedy troubadour's 20-year career

Of no fixed abode, Glenn Wool is one of a select band of stand-ups who ply a global comedy circuit, travelling continent to continent, acquiring cautionary tales of exotic misadventures and invasive customs officials as he goes. Just back from Japan…

Interview: Robert Newman brings his Theory of Evolution to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

The writer and comedian on why taking down Richard Dawkins is just funny

Rob Newman has a theory. Contrary to popular scientific scripture, it’s not the fittest who will survive this harsh thing we call life, it’s the misfits. This is the idea that powers his formal-forenamed touring show, Robert Newman’s New Theory of…

A test run of Alice Finbow's An Attempt at Exhausting a Place at 2014 Edinburgh Art Festival

15 Jul 2014

Our columnist Alice White tries her hand at contemplating life in a cafe

In 1974, Georges Perec wrote the book An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, an observation collection of nothing much in particular. Filmmaker and photographer Alice Finbow is going to spend a week doing a ‘contemporary reconfiguring’ during the…

Lucie Pohl bring debut show Hi Hitler to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

German-American draws from her unconventional childhood for comedy show

Let’s get one thing out of the way: the title of Lucie Pohl’s Fringe debut, Hi Hitler, is not there purely for shock value. ‘It’s a joke, of course, because when I was young I thought it was a greeting,’ she explains over the phone from Istanbul. ‘I…

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Interview: Christian Scott on his signature blend of styles ahead of 2014 Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

15 Jul 2014

Grammy-nominated musician on customising his own instruments to get the perfect sound

‘I don’t know what it’s not like to be from here,’ Christian Scott says in response to a query about what it means to be a musician from New Orleans. ‘I will say that being born and raised here, I benefitted from the wisdom of a lot of really great…

Tamsyn Challenger to bring new show Monoculture to the 2014 Edinburgh Art Festival

15 Jul 2014

British artist explains the influence of the selfie on her latest work

Since it was named the Oxford Dictionaries word of 2013, we’ve been witnessing the death of the selfie. Or, more accurately, that kind of cultural limbo where an idea flashes brightly in the collective consciousness for a while before its ubiquity makes…

The New Zealand shows at the 2014 Edinburgh Festivals

15 Jul 2014

Including Generation of Z, Mau: I am, Witi Ihimaera, Black Grace anf The Troubles

The Generation of Z hurls you head first into a world ravaged by the undead. Fight for your future as you journey through a battle against extinction. Set within a maze-like security containment depot swarming with terrifying zombies, you're in the…

Highlights of the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival 2014

15 Jul 2014

Featuring Abdullah Ibrahim, Van Morrison Christian Scott and BadBadNotGood

Mandela Day Concert. Abdullah Ibrahim, the pianist formerly known as Dollar Brand, leads this special show in tribute to the late Nelson Mandela. Approaching his 80th birthday, South African Ibrahim enjoyed a special link to the former ANC president…

The Neutrinos bring live music installation KlangHaus to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

Show at Summerhall challenges traditional notions of how a gig should be

Despite its name, the new show by dark-hearted art-rock ensemble the Neutrinos is about much, much more than mere music. By keeping the audience in the dark at Summerhall’s already atmospheric Small Animal Hospital and utilising an array of slide…

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Highlights from the 2014 Fringe by the Sea festival

15 Jul 2014

North Berwick-based festival programme includes Rachel Sermanni, Julie Fowlis and Eric Bibb

The population of Edinburgh swells to more than 1 million during August, over double the number that usually reside in the Scottish capital. So, even when you are in full festival mode, you might want to get far from the madding crowd and take the…

Abdullah Ibrahim and the Mahotella Queens among highlights of Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival 2014

14 Jul 2014

The festival also features performances from Freshlyground, the Bad Plus and Zoe Rahman

Jazz is a living artform, but Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival's programming can be a little too reliant on tribute shows and revivalists. There are always some gems, however, and this year's Mandela Day Concert is a must-see, featuring the great South…

We’ll Never Have Paris

8 Jul 20142 stars

The Big Bang Theory's Simon Helberg co-writes, co-directs and stars in an undemanding, messy romcom

It’s easy to see why an undemanding romantic comedy with a bit of star wattage makes sense on paper as a festival closer, and this effort from one of the stars of the TV hit The Big Bang Theory will doubtless win some laughs from an Edinburgh Film…

The Invisible Life

8 Jul 20142 stars

A sluggish effort from Portuguese director Goncalves, returning to filmmaking after almost 30 years

Portuguese director Vitor Gonçalves was much-celebrated for his 1986 debut A Girl in Summer, but has taken until now to follow it up – with a piece that’s sadly unlikely to put him back on the map. With awkwardly theatrical acting, zero expositional…

The Colour Ham: the sketch group bringing together magic, mind-reading and comedy

8 Jul 2014

Gav Oattes tells us what audiences can expect at the trio's Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 show

A comedian, a mentalist and a magician walk into a club. What happens next? ‘The lines are all blurred now. It’s not so much about the comedian, the mind reader and the mentalist any more – it’s about The Colour Ham. We’re all doing comedy; we’re all…

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‘Til Madness do us Part

3 Jul 20143 stars

Challenging documentary from Wang Bing about life in a Chinese psychiatric hospital

Filmed in a psychiatric institution in southwest China, which homes 200 male and female inmates who have committed anything from murder to nothing more offensive than being seen as a social misfit, Wang Bing’s arduous four hour documentary makes for…

Journey to the West

3 Jul 20145 stars

An impressive, meditative work by Taiwanese filmmaker Tsai Ming-liang

Tsai Ming-liang’s Journey to the West focuses on a monk (Lee Kang-sheng) who in a vivid red robe moves across, towards, or away from the frame with the smallest of movements. The film is stunningly shot in a series of long, static takes often…

Tony Benn: Will and Testament

1 Jul 20143 stars

A one-sided doc that nontheless presents a neat, warm summary of Benn's long and eventful career

A documentary expressly timed to mark the death of a figure revered by the filmmakers is hardly likely to achieve impartiality – not that this film aims for it. If it relies too much on its subject’s own modest assessments of his own legacy to be called…

Let Us Prey

27 Jun 20143 stars

Liam Cunningham and Pollyanna McIntosh star in Brian O'Malley's intriguing horror debut

Game of Thrones seems to employ nearly every available actor in the UK so it’s hard to avoid cast members when it comes to British films. This Scottish production features Liam Cunningham as a mysterious stranger who insinuates himself into a local…

Doc of the Dead

26 Jun 20143 stars

Lightweight zombie doc featuring interviews with George A Romero, Simon Pegg and Bruce Campbell

Zombies are definitely in vogue – they are the monster of the moment, chomping their way through movies, books, comics and TV. The Walking Dead is currently the highest rated show on cable in the US while 2013’s World War Z was the biggest budget horror…