Reviews



Peterloo Massacred

Graham Ogilvy is disappointed by Mike Leigh’s newly released epic Peterloo.

Published 16 November 2018

Revolting Prostitutes

Writing for our sister publication Irish Legal News, Dublin solicitor Wendy Lyon examines the new book by sex workers and activists Juno Mac and Edinburgh-based Molly Smith.

Published 9 November 2018

Review: BlackBerry KEY2 smartphone

Published 5 October 2018

The secret’s out

The Secret Barrister: Stories of the Law and How It's Broken

Published 7 September 2018

Review: Microsoft Surface Pro LTE

Published 31 July 2018

Film Review — In the Fade

Following the conclusion earlier this week of the five-year-long National Socialist Underground (NSU) trial in Munich, In the Fade (Aus dem Nichts) from German-Turkish director Fatih Akin makes particularly timely viewing.Based very loosely on the string of racist murders committed by the NSU between 2000 and 2007, the film follows widow Katja’s (Diane Kruger) defiant struggle for justice after her Kurdish husband (Numan Acar) and son are killed in a terrorist bombing in Hamburg. Its intimate focus on one family’s story delivers an emotional gut-punch that was always absent from Germany's dehumanising tabloid headlines which infamously branded the NSU crimes as Döner-Morde (Kebab Murders).The first of In the Fade’s three, deliberately-cleaved acts is a devastating portrait of a broken family, bringing stark exposition to the human cost of right-wing extremism. Its second is an intense courtroom drama which affords a useful and critical insight into the criminal process under Germany’s inquisitorial system. The third turns its sights on the too scarcely-discussed international networks of neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists that stretch from Germany to Greece.Along the way, unfortunately, much is introduced and then left unaddressed. Katja’s conflict with family, lawyers and her relationship with recreational drug use is seemingly introduced to flesh out her character, then discarded without further reference. Perhaps this was deliberate – denying meaningful closure to the audience in the same way it was denied to Katja by the death of her family. The frequent denial of catharsis does strengthen the film’s staying power.It’s important that neither Katja nor her late husband, a rehabilitated drug dealer, are perfect, unflawed people. Too often in today’s political climate, the transgressions that make us human are used to justify stripping thousands of their humanity. Germany’s police, whose conduct came under scrutiny during the real-life NSU trial, are implicitly criticised when they are shown stubbornly standing by their instincts that the film’s murders are linked to gangsters or Islamists.It should surprise readers none that In the Fade makes tough viewing. This is cinema as imperfect polemic, not escapism. But as Europe continues to stumble from one political crisis to another, we need powerful reminders like this of what awaits down the road of nationalistic hatred that still tempts too many. Brace yourself, but see it.Connor BeatonIn the Fade (2017), dir. Fatih Akin, distributed in the UK and Ireland by Curzon Artificial Eye. Now in cinemas, DVD release 20 August 2018

Published 13 July 2018

Book review – The Scottish Parliament: Law and Practice

Often mis-attributed to Bismark, the poet John Godfey Saxe is reputed to have said that “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made”. The authors of this book are both lawyers with a wealth of political experience, and this combination makes them well placed to consider both the internal working of the Scottish Parliament and the constitutional context within which it operates.

Published 26 March 2018

Film Review — Detroit

Fifty years on from the riots that rocked Detroit in 1967, director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) brings alive one of its most infamous and disputed incidents in an intense and powerful cinematic polemic against racial injustice.

Published 8 September 2017

Tartan is back in

The Tartan Turban: In Search of Alexander Gardner by John Keay

Published 1 September 2017

Lindell's List

The title of this book refers to an incident in April 1945. In response to the denial by SS Guards that there were any Anglo-American prisoners being held at Ravensbrück concentration camp, Mary Lindell, the subject of what might be loosely termed a biography, bravely stepped forward and produced a list of names for the visiting Red Cross officials. She and her fellow prisoners were then evacuated by White Buses to Sweden, preventing them from being used as hostages, being shot or even quite simply dying from disease in the final days of the war.

Published 21 April 2017

Classic text blighted by Chinese whispers

The Ruler's Guide by Chinghua Tang

Published 7 April 2017

Europe's last frontier

Border by Kapka Kassabova

Published 17 February 2017

Second-Hand Time

Anyone who wants to understand modern Russia and the collective sense of humiliation felt by the Russian people should read this powerful collection of interviews, mainly with Sovoks, those Russians brought up in the Soviet era and who lived through the transition of the crumbling one-party state into an autocratic kleptocracy.

Published 3 February 2017

Agricultural Tenancies (Fourth Edition)

There is irony in the fact that whilst surveys show that the number of agricultural tenancies in Scotland has been falling, the amount (and complexity) of legislation and regulation of agricultural tenancies continues to increase. As a consequence, the need for an updated version of Lord Gill's seminal textbook on agricultural tenancies has never been greater. Indeed, ever since the passing of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003, the most frequently asked question in this subject has been "When is the next edition coming out?". Apart from the author's heavy workload, it seems as though the main cause for delay has been the frequent changes to the legislation since then. However, these oft repeated requests have now been answered, and answered in full.

Published 27 January 2017

Ike's Irish Lover

Barrister Kieron Wood has turned what might have been a footnote of history into a highly readable account of the long-running affair between the Allied commander General Dwight D Eisenhower and his West Cork-born chauffeuse Kay Summersby (née MacCarthy-Morrogh).

Published 13 January 2017