Spectre by James Hanton

Spectre was always going to be an interesting creation. How on earth could Sam Mendes top the thrilling, intelligent and overall gob-smacking service for her majesty that was Skyfall? Surely the comparisons would be a shot in the face – and it is a painful admission that as a stand-alone film Spectre doesn’t quite match its predecessor. However, it is also significantly different, and hugely enjoyable in its own right, as everything people have come to love about Bond over the last 63 years comes to a head.

If Skyfall was about how Daniel Craig’s macho-man was losing his touch, Spectre is about taking Bond back to his roots and cementing him once again as a gentleman of action. Confirming to the audience, and to Bond, exactly who he is. The new release is crammed with references to the Bond films of old – the mountaintop health centre looks suspiciously like the facility in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” once again Bond has to beat up a massive tough guy on a train in the form of a tight-lipped Dave Bautista, and of course there is the iconic Aston Martin DB5. That is just a few.

Spectre delivers some exhilarating action sequences mixed with the slickness of Craig’s humour and wit (a very funny point is when he learns there is a bar which doesn’t serve alcohol. The look on his face is priceless). The pre-credits opening in Mexico city is especially impressive, from the never-ending tracking shots to the visuals and the launch into the stunning octopus-laden title sequence. In fact, the only dip in the first 20 minutes or so is the song – its fine, but a Bond song has to be more than fine. Adele’s was a spine tingling, loud and passionate melancholy. By comparison, Sam Smith’s effort sounds out of place and difficult to really appreciate with the 007 labelling.

But ignore that minor detail. If you love Bond, you will love Spectre. Be in no doubts.

Craig looks more in control than ever, dominating the camera and the dialogue. Ralph Fiennes’ M, Ben Wishaw’s Q and Naomi Harris’ Moneypenny provide stellar support. Fiennes, in particular, has a sub-plot almost worthy of a movie in itself, and gives the film a hint of the genuine debate about the future of surveillance.

This leap into the modern era of Bond is undoubtedly satisfying. It somehow manages to tie all the films after Casino Royale together into one complex but fascinating web – even if there is a distinct lack of reference to Quantum of Solace. Old characters re-emerge, histories are uncovered, memories evoked. Bond has to confront his memories while maintaining his tough exterior.

Spectre is a triumph. To come out of the shadow of the most successful British box-office film of all time is an achievement not to be sneered at. Mendes once again takes a molehill and makes a mountain. As a label for the UK, for British cinema and just exactly what the hell Bond should mean to us all, Spectre has everything you could possibly need. See it.

Bicycle Thieves by Charlotte Whiting

Heralded as one of the greatest films of the twentieth century, Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves has earned a respected place as one of cinematic history’s classics; in his essay on Pure Cinema, the French critic André Bazin even labelled it as a “supreme masterpiece”, claiming that De Sica managed “to escape from the impasse, to reaffirm anew the entire aesthetic of neorealism”[1].

Indeed, it is this “neorealist” aesthetic which is responsible for the lasting effect that the film has upon the viewer, and which is arguably the reason for its constant appearance in various lists of “the 100 greatest movies of all time”. The deliberate absence of a complex narrative, and instead the use of an episodic plot, the casting of totally unknown “non-actors”, Zavattini’s sparse script, and the decision to shoot entirely on location in Rome are all key qualities of the new and radical Italian realist cinema which would later be labelled “neorealism”. De Sica strays from the classical approach in an attempt to imbue his film with a sense of the desperation and solitude that was felt throughout post-war Italy, exemplified by such cutting lines as “I feel like a man in chains”, and to facilitate his exploration of the more difficult and flawed aspects of the human condition- a prominent theme in many of his films. The cinematography serves to reinforce the universal message of the hopelessness of the individual struggle, for the restricted time frame (the film spans only two days) and focus on the protagonist means that it is impossible to escape the misery of Antonio Ricci, and it is this universality that continues to impact on audiences today.

Though often over-looked in favour of the French New-Wave, Italian Neorealism was an important medium through which the filmmakers of the era engaged in a form of contemporary social commentary. The abject poverty of the civilians in Bicycle Thieves, evident everywhere from the scene of the Church service to the home of the thief, is insisted upon by De Sica as an accurate reflection on the struggles of the time- he brings attention to the most dejected and frustrated members of society.

Admittedly, the harsh portrayal of such situations is pessimistic, and stands in stark contrast to the works of other neorealist directors such as Rossellini, who instead opt for a more optimistic depiction of life where social justice is possible.

However, the film remains poignant and moving without being sentimental, and in his simple portrayal of one man’s search for his bicycle, De Sica manages to create a motion picture so compelling and relatable that it will undoubtedly continue to impress for many years to come.

Charlotte Whiting

[1] Bazin, André. ‘Neorealism and Pure Cinema: The Bicycle Thieves.’

What We Do in the Shadows by Eilidh Mackay

A mockumentary about the everyday life of 4 vampire flatmates

That’s one hell of a description and this absurdist dark comedy certainly doesn’t fall short. In fact, at about half the length of most films this year (a neat 86 minutes) this film barely leaves room for breathing between laughs. Combining the perfectly pitched mockumentary form of ‘The Office’ with the, slightly surreal, deadpan wit of ‘Flight of the Conchords’ (unsurprising considering writer Jemaine Clement of Conchords fame) but with a whole lot of vampire thrown in. The film – directed by Clement along with fellow star and long-time collaborator Taika Waititi – follows 4 vampire flatmates living in the wonderfully mundane Wellington, New Zealand as they go through regular vampire life; fighting over who’s turn it is to do the dishes, who got blood all over the clean sofa ‘could you at least put a towel down?’, how to get ready to go out without a reflection or even get into clubs when you have to be invited in.

The plot is very loose, understandable when you find out that it’s basically entirely improvised, most of the time the actors not even being shown the script and over 120 hours of footage filmed, but basically follows the vampires as they navigate the modern world and deal with a new convert causing trouble with his obnoxiousness (and by using ‘I’m twilight’ as a pick up line). The tone is deadpan and dark throughout – not many films would reveal one of their main characters as one of Hitler’s vampire army – but it is done on such a knowing way, there is no shying away from the moral ambiguity of these characters, they’re vampires, they murder people, but for some reason we root for them.

It all works so well because it shows the lives of these vampires without any hint of irony, it stays true to its “documentary” nature, with total belief in everything the characters say and do – it commits to the utter absurdity and silliness of the whole thing. There’s something about a film that doesn’t laugh at its own jokes that makes it so much funnier to watch – at least for me. There are numerous references to classic vampire films and mythology but ’Shadows’ manages to stay completely unique.

All three leads are strong and all get their chance to shine. Waititi is our entry character, the bumblesome, maybe a little naïve Viago, who feels bad for the innocents they have to feed on and always seems to accidently severe the main artery when trying to feed; getting blood all over the carpet. Clement is Vladislav, a literal and metaphorical ‘Lady-killer’, overly sexual but maybe not quite as big as he likes to make out. And then finally we have Jonathan Brugh’s Deacon, an immature, slightly brash younger vampire with a bit of a fragile ego. They work wonderfully as a group; their chemistry is what holds the film together. The supporting cast is also great, the newly changed Nick, his human friend Stu and arguably the most entertaining, the werewolf pack our protagonists clash with – self professed ‘swearwolves not werewolves’.

Overall the film is full of great visual gags along with some amazing one-liners, some may find the mockumentary style a little off-putting and dark humour is definitely not for everyone but if you get The Office and you get The Flight of the Conchords then definitely give this a try.

Eilidh Mackay

What We Do in the Shadows by Alexander Majewski


I think it’s a safe bet to say that What We Do in the Shadows will probably be the funniest New Zealand based vampire comedy mockumentary you’ll see this month. And I’d put my juicy neck on the line for that. Jermaine Clement (of The Flight of the Concords fame) and Taiki Waititi (of now this fame) together act as the masterminds, directors, scriptwriters and stars of this look into immortal vampires adapting to modern life and the shenanigans they get up to in between all that sleeping and blood drinking. For a vampire movie think more along the lines of ‘Dracula: Dead and Loving’ it rather than ‘Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror’.

The film starts with the vampires in their usual routine of arguing over whose turn it is to do the dishes, talking about how much they hate their rivals on the Wellington un-dead scene; the werewolves and heading out to nightclubs (quite literally) on the prowl. However their lifestyle is dramatically changed after a routine blood draining goes wrong leading their prospective victim to be turned into a vampire whom they begrudgingly let join their posse. As anyone would, he starts abusing his vampire roles and massively peeves off the old timers. In turn the film deals with companionship, ageing and having to put up with people who really, really annoy you.

Despite their conceited efforts to adapt to modern society the vampires are still very much a product of their long drawn out past, something their attire confesses as a constant mocking from the ever changing youth that at night they interact with. Attempting to modernise themselves whilst still being very much scared and confused by technology gives us a comic reminder of attempting to demonstrate such things to family members of an older generation.

Clement is hilarious as Vladislav, aka “Vlad the poker,” the vampires’ answer to Hugh Hefner. Indeed one of the first things he shows us is ‘his torture chamber’ which looks more 50 shades of grey then anything you’d see in a Medieval dungeon. Also superb is Taika Waititi as the lovestruck and loveable Viago and Jonathan Brugh as the self-aggrandizing and accidentally self deprecating youngest member of the crew (at a mere 183 years old). The Count Orlokesque Petyr who lives in their basement as the classic vampire reflecting his 8000 years and Nick’s friend Stu also receive honourable mentions.

“Leave me to do my dark bidding on the internet!” “What are you bidding on?” “I am bidding on a table.” As well as being the best vampire movie in years it may just possibly shade it as the best un-dead comedy to come out yet.

Alexander Majewski

Week 4

Committee Meeting

Monday 12th October, 7.30pm, Pentland Room, Pleasance

We’ve now started programming for the next semester, so if there’s a film you want to see on there, come on down and suggest it!

Also, we’re starting a FilmSoc Review Writers initiative, which has been met with a lot of support. If this is something that might interest you, please come to our meetings or email us to let us know who you are!


Tuesday 13th October, 7.30pm, Teviot Study

Wonderfully classic Hitchcock, ‘Rope’ is the brilliantly dark tale of murder and deception. Arguably most famous for it’s use of long takes, the 80-minute film is composed of only 10 takes and was hugely influential for its use of long-takes. Come and see a piece of cinematic history as well as a truly great film!

Cult Movie Night: The Station Agent

Thursday 15th October, 7.30pm, Brass Monkey (Drummond Street)

As picked by our lovely committee members for our first cult film of the semester, ‘The Station Agent’ stars the always incredible Peter Dinkage in a quirky, underrated, feel-good classic.


Sunday 18th October, 7.30pm, Teviot Debating Hall

The most recent Best Foreign Picture winner, Ida, is a beautiful and tragic film of Polish nun uncovering family secrets. Shot gorgeously in black and white, Ida is fantastic film that is worth your time no matter your film taste.

Week 3

Committee Meeting

Monday 5th October, 7.30pm, Pentland Room, Pleasance

We’ll be finalising our selection of cult films to show at our ‘Cult Movie Nights’, so come and help pick one from our shortlist. We’re also looking for people to join our new review writing team for the society, so if you think that interests you come along and get involved.

I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll gladly say it again: even if you haven’t come to any of our meetings yet, come along! It’s a fantastic way to meet a mix of people from Freshers to post-graduates. And with such a large influx of new people this year, we’re very welcoming to new committee members.

We’ll also be going to the pub afterwards. To drink. So that’s good as well.

Stand By Me

Tuesday 6th October, 7.30pm, Teviot Study

The definitive coming-of-age film, ‘Stand By Me’, is essential for anyone who was a child at once in their life. Rob Reiner’s classic is now so deeply ingrained in popular culture it’s inspired plenty of childhood films and an episode of the Simpsons. Come see what all the fuss is about.

Pub Social

Thursday 8th October, 7.30pm, Usher’s of Edinburgh (West Nicolson Street)

What’s this? Another opportunity to go to the pub? Say no more!

Okay, I will say a bit more.

Usher’s is a lovely pub that brews some of its own beers as well as having a generally great selection. Oh, and we’ll be there. And loads of other people who like films. So yeah, come along and meet some film-lovers while enjoying a fine pint of ale.


Sunday 11th October, 7.30pm, Teviot Debating Hall

If you’ve ever wanted to come out a film sweating due to the sheer intensity of the previous hour, then this is the film for you! Granted the film is much more than just an intense thrill ride, with mesmerising performances from Miles Teller and JK Simmons, as well as an awesome jazz score. Come along and reminisce about that horrifyingly strict teacher you had (though hopefully not JK Simmons chair throwing level of strictness).

Week 2

Committee Meeting

Monday 28th September, 7.30pm, Pentland Room, Pleasance

It’s our second meeting of the year, and after the immense number of people we’re hoping for another strong turnout. This week, we’ll be picking our favourite cult film suggestions amongst other things, as well as, of course, heading to the pub for a sociable drink afterwards.

If you didn’t or couldn’t come to the meeting last week, fear not! We always welcome new members to our committee, we would love to have you along. With there being so many new faces, the atmosphere is very friendly and everyone is very glad to get to know one another. So come along!

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Tuesday 29th September, 7.30pm, Pleasance Theatre

Wes Anderson’s suitably quirky adaptation of the famous Roald Dahl is as beautiful as it is symmetrical (it’s very symmetrical). Join us at the Pleasance Theatre for one of the best stop-motion films of recent years!

Film Quiz

Thursday 1st October, 7.30pm, Teviot Study

Our film quiz is back! After the unbelievable turnout during our Freshers quiz, we’re hoping to see you all back (although if we do actually get over 100 again, I think I might die). The always fun quiz is a great way to test out your film knowledge, or just write ridiculous answers and win DVDs! Come along with a team of up to 6, or just bring yourself and we’ll help you find a team.

Inherent Vice

Sunday 4th October, 7.30pm, Teviot Debating Hall

Inherent Vice is our Lord and Saviour (Paul Thomas Anderson’s) most recent film. It’s quite the film too, with an atmosphere so strong you will think you’ve travelled to 1970s Los Angeles. I wish I could explain it in a nutshell, as the conventions of these paragraphs requires, but I cannot find the words. It’s a film about Stoners, Hippies, Detectives, Dentists, Neo-Nazis, a Chinese Heroin Ring, and Chocolate Covered Frozen Bananas. Make sense? Well, come see the film and it all will. Or not. Probably not. But isn’t that kind of great?

Week 1

Committee Meeting

Monday 21st September, 7.30pm, Pentland Room, Pleasance

Tonight we have our first official meeting of the year. As I’m sure you’ve been heavily pitched already, this is a fantastic way to get involved in the society and meet some great, film-loving people. We’ll also be deciding what films we show at our ‘Cult Movie Nights’, so come along and make a suggestion. The meeting starts at 7:30pm and we’ll head to the pub afterwards!


Tuesday 22nd September, 7.30pm, Teviot Study

Pretty much the definition of the word ‘classic’, Casablanca is essential viewing for any film fan. I actually only saw it for the first time recently, and it holds up amazingly well. The humour, in particular, is incredibly sharp, but the story, visuals, music, and characters (to name a few things) are all fantastic.

Pub Crawl

Thursday 24th September, 8pm, Outside Teviot

Our first pub crawl of the year’s bound to be a busy one, and a great opportunity to meet people with some social lubricant. We’ll show you some of the best pubs in Edinburgh as we discuss/argue about films.

We’ll be waiting outside the main entrance of Teviot at 8pm, so look out for us!

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Sunday 27th September, 7.30pm, Teviot Debating Hall

The most recent Best Picture Oscar winner, and it is in the humble opinion of this email writer that this is one of the best films ever made. Birdman: (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Showered in Oscars and Oscar nominations, this masterpiece from Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu features a 100-minute continuous shot, as well as beautiful visuals, amazing performances and a poignant story.

Freshers Week 2015!

Welcome all, new and old, to FilmSoc! We have another exciting programme of films, and we’re kicking it off strong with the our Freshers week line-up.

Cinema Crawl

Monday 14th September, 3.30pm, Meeting Point C

Join us on our tour of Edinburgh’s most iconic cinemas – the Cameo and the Filmhouse. Learn about their history, see the inner workings of the cinemas, and find out where to go to watch some of the best films that come to Edinburgh. Important places for any film fan!

Back to the Future

Tuesday 15th September, 7.30pm, Teviot Study

Film Quiz

Thursday 17th September, 7.30pm, Teviot Study

Our first film quiz of the year promises to be a good one. With new hosts and new questions, come along and test your film knowledge!

22 Jump Street

Friday 18th September, 7.30pm, Teviot Study


Freshers Week Poster



Sunday 20th September, 7.30pm, Teviot Dining Room


Week 11 – Last Week!

Committee Meeting

Monday 23rd March, 7.30pm, Munro Room, Pleasance

We will be having our weekly committee meeting where we will be continuing to finalise our programme for next year. It’s not too late to get involved so come along to make sure our programme is as good as you’d like and also join us in the pub afterwards.

Roman Holiday

Tuesday 24th March, 7.30pm, Pleasance Theatre (Not Teviot)

Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

Sunday 29th March, 7.30pm, Teviot Study (Not Pleasance)

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