Joanne Woodward

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Overshadowed by her more obviously glamorous contemporaries – the Elizabeth Taylors etc – film fans would be wrong to remember Joanne Woodward as merely the actress-wife of Paul Newman, for she was one of the finest screen actresses of her generation. In 1957, Woodward won an Oscar for the Best Actress for her role as a young woman suffering from multiple personality disorder in The Three Faces of Eve:

Also worth watching is the first film with which she co-starred with husband Paul Newman, William Faulkner’s Long, Hot Summer in which she plays the daughter of the wealthy and tyrannical Will Varner, played to burly perfection by a corpulent Orson Welles.

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Long, Hot Summer (1958)

But perhaps her most impressive and incendiary performance comes in The Fugitive Kind, Sidney Lumet’s screen version of Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending. Woodward plays Carole Cutere, the no-good girl from the good family who lusts after Brando and his snake skin jacket and who, with her smeared black eye-liner, torn dress and unapologetic sexuality seems to be a kind of proto-hippy – or proto-punk even – heading for the road and sexual liberation.

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Fugitive Kind (1959) co-starring Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani

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Woodward And Newman with her Oscar in 1957.

posted by Dixie Turner

Looking Ahead: March DVD Hi-Lights

4/3:

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Game of Thrones Season 2

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Argo

11/3:

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The Master

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Breaking Dawn Pt. 2

18/3:

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Amour

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End of Watch

25/3:

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Sightseers

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Spiral Season 4

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Great Expectations

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The Hunt

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Lawrence Anyways

New Releases: 25th February

RUST AND BONE:
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Love and tragedy intersect in this French drama from the acclaimed writer-director Jacques Audiard (Prophet, Beat that My Heart Skips, Read My Lips). Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) is a single father in his mid-20s and unemployed. Whilst living with his sister he meets Stephanie (Marion Cotillard) who works in a marine park as a killer whale trainer. The two become romantically involved and their bond strengthens after Stephanie is involved in a brutal accident. Nominated at Cannes for the coveted Palme d’Or. French with English subs. Cert. 15
HOPE SPRINGS:
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A couple of a certain age, married for a long, long time, attempt to spice up their marriage – yes, one of those films. But at least this has a good cast – the ever-watchable Meryl Streep and the eternally grumpy Tommy Lee Jones are Kay and Arnold who head off for couples therapy with Steve Carrell. Expect lots of gags about bananas etc. Directed by David Frankel (Devil Wears Prada). Cert. 12
CALL ME KUCHU:
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Whilst in Europe we have managed to get (finally) to what some proudly consider the enlightened position of being able to debate the various merits of gay marriage vs. civil partnerships, this documentary shows us the horrendous situation faced by gay people in Uganda, where a new bill threatens homosexuals with the death penalty. David Kato, the Ugandan gay rights activist at the centre of this documentary who speaks out so bravely and eloquently against a state that clearly wishes him dead, was in fact murdered a year into filming. Whilst gay people celebrate relative victories in Europe, the heteronormative world is still clearly a long way from reaching the truly human and humanist position of the simple acceptance of the equality of all, which is surely a position not open to debate. Call Me Kuchu perfectly illustrates how far as a species humanity still has to go, whilst simultaneously being a celebration of those courageous few who speak out in the face of brutal condemnation and when so many others simply hold their tongues.
KILLING THEM SOFTLY:
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Crime drama about a couple of foolish lads who decide to rip-off a card game run by the Mob. Enter Brad Pitt and co whose job it is to set it right. Big ol’ cast, including Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins and the wonderful Sam Shepard. Directed by Andrew Dominik (Assassination of Jesse James, Chopper). Cert.18
ON THE ROAD:
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Adaptation of the book that everyone reads when they’re at that age. Starring an unfortunate cast. Problematic… Cert. 15
FRANKENWEENIE:

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Tim Burton directs this animated classic b-movie horror-inspired tale of a young lad who, wishing his deceased dog were back in the land of the living, decides to do something about it. Featuring the voices of Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Martin Landau and Catherine O’Hara. Cert. PG
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PREMIUM RUSH:
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The mighty bicycle courier, scourge of the roads, despised by many a cab driver, idolised by every fixie-rider from here to New York. An envelope is picked up by a courier who is charged to deliver it with ‘premium rush’ (ultimate B-movie title..), but a dirty cop will go to any lengths to get his hands on whatever it contains… Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Looper) and Michael Shannon (Take Shelter, Boardwalk Empire). Cert. 12
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MCCULLIN:

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Documentary about legendary war photographer Don McCullin in which he reveals the inner battles and torments that one who stands as an observer to atrocity, to man’s inhumanity to man, must endure.

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Also Out This Week:

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4:
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JUSTIFIED SEASON 3:
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NURSE JACKIE SEASON 4:
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Birthday Bells: Poitier, Leigh, Blethyn and Altman

So many Happy Returns of the Day in order:

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Sidney Poitier – catch him in The Defiant Ones (1958) co-starring Tony Curtis, In the Heat of the Night (1967), To Sir, with Love (1967) and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) co-starring Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy as the surprised in-laws to be – Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor in 1963 for Lilies in the Field.

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Robert Altman – check out his beautiful, bittersweet western,  McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971) starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie with an all Leonard Cohen soundtrack and the LA set ensemble piece Short Cuts (1993).

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Mike Leigh – as he shares a birthday with one of his leading ladies from one of his greatest films, check out Secrets and Lies, with an incredible performance by Brenda Blethyn as the surprised mother of Hortense Cumberbatch:

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Secrets and Lies (1996)

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Brenda Blethyn – besides Secrets and Lies, watch Brenda as down-on-her-luck widow-turned marijuana cultivator in Saving Grace (2000).

Brenda winning the Golden Globe for Best Actress 1997:

Big Screen Review: FOR ELLEN

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Reviewed by Rob Munday

For Ellen follows Joby Taylor an itinerant rock star lost in a snowbound small town America. He’s there to sign divorce papers with his estranged wife but signing will also mean forfeiting all custody of his six-year-old daughter Ellen – and there’s the rub.

In the role of Joby is Paul Dano and this film belongs to him. With his skinny jeans and leather jacket he is ill-suited to these frosty conditions. We see him slip around like a puppy learning to walk. Joby tries to find his feet and get his head around a situation that he has long ignored. He’s palpably scared of the responsibility of fatherhood but also drawn to it.

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This is a character study clearly influenced by 1970s cinema and in particular Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces. There we observed Jack Nicholson’s Robert Dupea – another talented man adrift, forced to confront a family he feels isolated from but determined to remain unknowable. Writer/director SoYong Kim hones in on Joby using a shallow depth of field to isolate him and letting shots linger as if to allow us a chance to work him out.

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In sharp contrast to Joby is his solicitor Fred Butler. We witness the suffocating comfort of Fred’s domestic life with his mum and he seems to be the polar opposite of Joby: all thick jumper and sensible hair. But Jon Heder’s subtle performance conveys a man equally at sea. You feel there is more to explore here but the film (like Joby) shies away from relationships.

There is a refreshing honesty in the way SoYong Kim embraces awkward reality but at times you yearn for stronger interactions to lift Joby from his stupor. Despite this For Ellen has a real feel for atmosphere and while Joby may slip from our grasp there is no doubt that Dano and Kim are worth keeping track of.

New Releases: 18th February

SKYFALL:

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The latest Bond offering, this time directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty). Bond must hunt down a killer who has received access to the names of MI6’s undercover agents. With action sequences that trump Jason Bourne, a worthy villain played by Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), and decent characterisations that counterpoint the gun battles and dizzying chases, this is one of the more balanced Bond films – worthy of a night in with your cocktail shaker. Cert. 12

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ALL GOOD THINGS:

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Ryan Gosling plays the heir-apparent to a real estate empire in this crime drama based on a true story. David Marks (Gosling) marries a beautiful girl (Kirsten Dunst) who increasingly struggles to come to terms with her husbands mood swings. Eventually she goes missing and in the aftermath dark family secrets spill out. ‘The perfect love story. Until it became the perfect crime’ – something a bit 90s about this one.. Cert.15

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AFRICA:

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The wonderful David Attenborough presents another stunning series. See the world with fresh eyes; fall in love with it over and over.

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LOVE:

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Sci-fi psychological drama set in space – an astronaut loses contact with the earth and struggles with loneliness and isolation and ultimately tries to keep a hold on his sanity. Cert. 15

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FOR ALL YOU LOVERS OUT THERE…

Harold_and_Maude-543541058-largeHarold and Maude (1971) – directed by Hal Ashby (Being There, Shampoo) – beautiful, funny and poignant cult comedy classic, complete with Cat Stevens soundtrack.

Bittersweet Love.

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buffalo-66-6Buffalo 66 (1998) – directed by, written by and starring the charming/charmless Vincent Gallo.  Billy Brown is just out of jail and wants to visit his folks – to impress them he decides he needs a girl and so naturally kidnaps one (Christina Ricci).

Awkward and Neurotic Love

Punch_Drunk_Love_retro_poster_by_JoelPoischenPunch-Drunk Love (2002) – directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Offbeat, sweet but not syrupy romance with Adam Sandler – great for those who don’t usually like Adam Sandler. Also starring Emily Watson.

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the-african-queenAfrican Queen (1951) – directed by John Huston. Missionary spinster, Katherine Hepburn, hitches a ride on grouchy bachelor Bogart’s river boat to flee from re-invading armies.

Stubborn-To-Tender, Swampy Love.

2011-12-21-Weekendfinalquadposter72dpiWeekend (2011) – directed by Andrew Haigh. Two young men meet in a club, hook up and spend the weekend together discussing their various attitudes to life and love. As they begin to fall for each other, they realise their lives are moving in different directions…

Bad-Timing Love

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And for those of you who are feeling a little more jaded….:

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In Praise of Pasolini

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Review by Rob Munday.

To coincide with their forthcoming Pier Paolo Pasolini season the BFI are releasing a new restoration of The Gospel According to Matthew. Previously known in the west as The Gospel According to Saint Matthew the correction is in keeping with the Italian title and gives a better reflection of the film itself. For this is a rare beast among Biblical adaptations rejecting the customary pomp and circumstance in its search for an unadorned truth.

The story is that of Christ from birth to the cross, but what is startling is the straightforward approach and refusal to bend to the conventions of traditional drama. This results in a picture of a divine life communicated through pure cinema rather than the babblings of one bearded bloke in an overblown panto. No cinemascope, no Technicolor, no film stars, no pretence – Pasolini was a poet first and shows how simplicity can resonate.

 

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Shot with non-actors on location it may be said that the approach is that of documentary yet the framing is vigorous. The faces are brilliant – worn, alive, soulful and celebrated through the frequent front-on close-ups and 1.66:1 aspect ratio. There is also a bold and striking use of music ranging from the classical ‘St Matthew’s Passion’ by JS Bach (later used by Scorsese in Casino) to the modern ‘Gloria’ by Missa Luba and the soulful guitar of Blind Willie Johnson. What unites these disparate tunes is pure emotion. The same pieces recur and become important refrains giving us a sense of the journey taken by Christ and the exultation he inspires.

 

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In Pasolini’s eyes Christ is less a purely religious leader and more a radical imploring those around him to fight the good fight. He does preach and there are long tracts of sermonising yet Pasolini avoids any sense of being lectured. In one sequence Christ speaks in close-up directly to us and between his declarations Pasolini brilliantly jump-cuts. From day to night and from sun to wind to rain Christ remains steadfast, the climatic forces adding power to each successive
statement. The way miracles are dealt with is also fresh and invigorating. Who needs CGI when you have the power of the cut?

Pasolini was a non-believer but he saw the poetry in the Gospels and in translating them he chose not to add exposition or compress but to simply present them on-screen with clarity and grace. The Gospel According to Matthew may not make you believe in the power of God but it will make you believe in the power of Cinema.

 

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New Releases: 11th February

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD:

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Hugely original and magical tale of six year-old Hushpuppy, who is forced to survive on her own after an environmental disaster causes a flood which sweeps away her home town. Facing a considerably uncertain future, Hushpuppy must navigate the flood waters as well as the prehistoric beasts who have been awakened from their glacial slumbers. Nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actress. Cert. 12

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TO ROME WITH LOVE:

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As Woody Allen makes his way round Europe, the world follows – including every screen actor and actress alive today. Here are half of them in his latest romp, this time set in Italy where we follow the lives of various inhabitants of and visitors to one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Hope fully with fewer wince-inducing cultural cliché’s than Vicky Christina Barcelona… Also starring Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina), Ellen Page (Juno) and Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful). Cert. 12

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PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER:

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Coming of age tale based on the book of the same name. Starring Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame. Cert. 12

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GINGER AND ROSA:

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Latest from British director Sally Potter set in post-war Britain and starring more American actors and actresses than are working in Hollywood at the moment – because they’re all working here, whilst British actors eat dust and buttons for dinner or else hop over to the States to play Americans. ANYWAY, two young friends find themselves growing apart when one of them becomes increasingly drawn into the world of her political-activist father. Starring Timothy Spall (Secrets and Lies), Elle Fanning (Super 8), Cristina Hendricks (Mad Men), Annette Bening (The Kids Are Alright), Alessandro Nivola (Laurel Canyon) and Oliver Platt (Love and Other Drugs). Cert. 12

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THIS IS NOT A FILM:

Persian film-maker and pro-democracy activist, Jafar Panahi (The Circle, White Balloon), was sentenced in 2010 to 6 years house arrest and a 20 year ban on film-making. Apparently his activities were seen by the Iranian government as a threat to national security. As well as a ban on film-making he was instructed not to contact the press or leave the country. However, in early May 2011, This is Not a Film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, showing a day in his life whilst under house arrest, was made by Panahi on his DV camera and iPhone and was smuggled out of the country hidden in a cake.

If this doesn’t spark your curiosity, then surely nothing will…

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2012/mar/29/this-is-not-a-film-review

RUBY SPARKS:

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A writer falls in love with the heroine of his new novel, only to find that somehow, miraculously, she has come to life. The two begin a relationship whilst the writer (Paul Dano) wonders whether he should continue to write his novel or just let love write itself…. Urgh. Cert. 15

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HOUSE I LIVE IN:

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Documentary on America’s War on Drugs, the lives that are effected by it and the politics behind it.

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SUBSTANCE:

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“If you remember the ’60s, then you weren’t there”, and this is why. Documentary about LSD.

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ROOM 237:

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Documentary on Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining and all the various theories surrounding it’s supposedly numerous hidden meanings.

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

 

ANGEL AND TONY:

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ELENA:

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GOSSIP GIRL SEASON 6:

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SINISTER:

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MADAGASCAR 3:

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THREE STOOGES:

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New Additions (Films We Should Have Had Before But Didn’t)

THE HEIRESS:

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If you’re thinking of heading to the BFI to catch the Montgomery Clift season, have a saunter into our gaff first – The Heiress (1949) has just been added to our collection, co-starring Olivia de Havilland as the daughter of a wealthy socialite whose suitor (Clift) is suspected of being a gold-digger.

PLAY MISTY FOR ME:

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Psycho-thriller from 1971, starring Clint Eastwood as a radio DJ with an obsessive female fan. Check out the FANTASTIC trailer with a voice over that sounds exactly like Orson Welles, which makes sense as it is actually Paul Frees who played the Orson Welles role in George Pal’s 1953 film of War of the Worlds… fascinating…

POSSESSION:

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A drama/horror starring Isabelle Adjani (La Reine Margot) and Sam Neill (Piano). A man returns from a trip to find his wife wants a divorce – he suspects she is having an affair with another man, but in fact her obsessive love life is far more bizarre and disturbing than that.

What You’re All Watching – Top 10 Rentals: 1st Feb. 2013

Enjoy a spot of curtain-twitching? Are you keeping up with the Jones’? Well, in case you’re getting eye-strain from peering down your telescope to find out what other people are watching on their screens, here’s something to peruse in-between twitches of the curtain (though chances are you’ve been watching the same – voyeurism isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be…):

1. SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN:

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Tale of failure that was actually success.

2. LOOPER:

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Tale of future Bruce vs. past Bruce.

3. DETACHMENT:

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Tale of teaching.

4. BARBARA:

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Tale of surveillance, love and distrust.

5. 360:

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Tales of infidelity.

6. WHERE DO WE GO NOW?:

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Tale of girl power in the face of war and religious hatred.

7. QUEEN OF VERSAILLES:

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Tale of having it all and then having a bit less.

8. THE IMPOSTER:

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Tale of not being who you’re supposed to be.

9. ABOUT ELLY:

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Tale of mystery.

10. TAKE THIS WALTZ:

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Tale of how love gets boring.