New Releases: 29th April

LIFE OF PI:
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One of last year’s biggest box-office successes, adapted from the best-selling novel by Yann Martel. An epic tale of discovery about a boy and a tiger who share a lifeboat after surviving a shipwreck. Certainly a visual feast, but beyond the spectacle is there much substance? These, and other questions, can only be answered if you watch the film – which I haven’t, so I have no idea. Nominated for all kinds of awards and winner of 4 Oscars. Directed by Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain). Cert. PG
YOU WILL BE MY SON:
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French drama, set on a vineyard. Prestigious wine-maker, Paul, doesn’t believe that his son, Martin, has the qualities required to take over the family business from him. When Philippe turns up at the vineyard, Paul believes he has found his successor. Family tensions flair and come to a head when an unexpected event occurs that changes everything. Starring Niels Arestrup (The Prophet, Beat that My Heart Skipped). French with English subs. Cert. 15
BEING FLYNN:
The second of this week’s films exploring problematic relations between fathers and sons, this time starring Robert De Niro, Paul Dano and Julianne Moore. A young man re-encounters his father after years of absence and with uncertainties welling up in his own life, both longs to, and fears, reconnecting with him. Directed by Paul Weitz (About a Boy, Little Fockers). Cert. 15
Also Out This Week:
SPARTACUS – WAR OF THE DAMNED:
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Current Top 5 Rentals (and what you could be watching instead):

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

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Hi-light: Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar-winning portrayal of a young widow struggling to get her life together in the face of sexual prejudice.

Lawrence Alternatives: Lawrence’s far more weighty performance as Ree in Winter’s Bone (2010). Also, Lawrence fans should check out The Burning Plain (2008) – good little drama co-starring Charlize Theron as a woman whose mysterious past won’t leave her alone.

Thematic Alternatives: Two Lovers (2010) starring Joaquin Phoenix about a young man with Bipolar Disorder and the two women who simultaneously enter his life. Story of Adele H (1975) and Camille Claudel (1988) – two slightly bleaker portrayals of historical characters who suffered from ‘mental health issues’, both about supremely talented women who, nevertheless, have historically remained in the shadow of the more famous men in their lives. Adele H was the daughter of Victor Hugo. Camille Claudel, the lover of Auguste Rodin. Both films star Isabelle Adjani.

SIGHTSEERS

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Hi-lights: The giant pencil. The killing of the Daily Mail reader. Poppy.

Ben Wheatley Alternatives: Check out the director’s previous films, all with a touch of the macabre about them: the horror, Kill List (2011) about a couple of contract killers, one of whom has a disturbing past that resurfaces sending things spiraling out of control. And Down Terrace (2009) in which a crime family endeavors to unmask the identity of the police informer nestled in their midst.

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS

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Hi-lights: Not sure there are any.

Martin McDonagh Alternatives: Check out the director’s previous (and superior) film, In Bruges, a dark comedy about a couple of hitmen awaiting the consequences of a job gone wrong (also starring Colin Farrell) – and his short film, Six Shooter, which you can find in the Cinema 16 European collection.

THE HUNT

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Hi-Light: Mads Mikkelsen’s performance as the uncompromising accused.

Mikkelsen Alternative: This year’s Oscar-nominated Royal Affair, in which Mads plays the physician who becomes embroiled in a passionate affair with the young Queen of Denmark – an affair which changes the country forever.

Thematic Alternatives (just in case you’re interested – for whatever reason – in this sort of thing): Thomas Vinterberg’s much-celebrated previous film, Festen (1998), deals with a similar theme, this time the issue in question coming to light during a family get-together. And, for its witch-hunt storyline, Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (1996) with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder.

UNTOUCHABLE

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French Comedy Alternatives: “If you enjoyed this, you’ll probably also like:” My Best Friend (2006) directed by Patrice Leconte, in which a business man, challenged by colleagues to produce his ‘best friend’, realises that he doesn’t have any friends, leading to a desperate attempt to find/make some. The Closet (2001) in which a man, in fear of losing his job, claims to be gay thereby falling into the ‘minorities’ category which he feels will offer job protection. And The Concert (2009) – former conductor of the Bolshoi Orchestra, disgraced 30 years ago for employing Jewish and Gypsy musicians and now relegated to the position of Bolshoi janitor, travels to France with his old group of musicians to play in a prestigious concert hall, under the guise of being the Bolshoi Orchestra. Heartwarming.

by Dixie Turner

Michael Moore: Smug, Self-Righteous and Generally a Bit Annoying, But Still…

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…Happy Birthday, anyway.

If you haven’t seen Bowling for Columbine, now’s probably as good a time as any. In light of America’s continued inability to curb its gun laws, Bowling for Columbine – which looks at America’s fascination with bearing arms in light of the Columbine High School tragedy – is a pretty topical watch. Amongst the most memorable moments are the scene in which Moore goes to a bank that gives away a free rifle when you open up an account (am pretty sure Nat West won’t even give you a smile) and the footage of (and subsequent interview with) Charlton Heston, former president of the National Rifle Association, yelling “From my cold dead hands” as he holds aloft a rifle at a rally. Who will ever watch The Ten Commandments and think of Moses in the same way again?

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From: “Thou shalt not kill”…

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…to: “FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS”. Wow.

(In some respects, of course, it’s perhaps not such a leap. I mean, if there has to be a National Rifle Association, there’s a beautifully warped logic to having Moses as President. Who better than Moses to remind you of your right to defend yourself when your adulterous wife steps out with another man? Defend your moral indignation by shooting him down (but, take heed: it’s only righteous if you have two fingers resting on the Bible whilst you pull the trigger). Lockheed Martin’s new logo will feature Gandhi riding a nuclear missile and I’m sure World War III will be brought to us by Disney. Freedom will be delivered with deadly force, and Mickey Mouse ears. God Bless America (P.S. Thou shalt not kill).)

So, thank you Michael Moore for ruining Ben-Hur and El Cid etc. Now, when I think of Touch of Evil, I of course think of it as one of the greatest – and last – of the film noirs; I think of the incredible cinematography and Orson Welles’ incredible bulk – but in the back of my mind is a new and annoying association between the name Charlton Heston and the words ‘touch-of-evil’.

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Charlton ‘Touch of Evil’ Heston and the incredible bulk of Orson Welles.

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Anyway. It’s also worth having a look at the documentary made about Michael Moore (Manufacturing Dissent). Whilst not being a fantastic piece of filmmaking (and obviously having an agenda of its own), some of the aspects of Moore’s allegedly less-than-ethical methods of journalism that it digs up are a bit of an eye-opener. Not sure Noam Chomsky would approve.

By the way, if you’ve seen Farenheit 9/11 and thought that was good, it’s worth checking out Why We Fight, by Eugene Jarecki (director of the more recent, and excellent, House I Live In), all about the arms trade – that’s a real eye-opener. Happy hunting!

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by Dixie Turner

Room 237 – Kubrick Fans Unravel the Secrets of The Shining

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Why you should watch… Room 237 – By Rob Munday
If you haven’t seen The Shining then stop right now and go watch it – it’s the archetypal Kubrick film and arguably his most personal (like Jack Torrance, Kubrick lived cut off from the world in a big manor house with his family).
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Room 237 is a documentary about The Shining but probably not what you’d expect. It’s not about the making of the film, there’s no interviews with cast or crew or some dull man in an armchair telling you why it’s important. This is instead a film driven by The Shining’s obsessional fans and their theories about the hidden messages tucked away in Kubrick’s opus.
Even if you’ve seen The Shining many times some of these theories will shed new light – most however, are completely nutbags.
And why not, because in a way Room 237 is about the power of cinema, about how great films get under your skin, how they take a grip of you and seem to mirror your own fears and desires.
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For some, cinema is a terminal condition – watch Room 237 and you’ll understand.

New Releases: 22nd April

JACK REACHER:

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Tom Cruise plays Jack Reacher, a retired army officer who was in the military police, whom now lives a drifter… no phone, no email, no home…

After a seemingly random killing spree which leaves 5 people dead, a crime scene too good to be true for the detectives on the case and a man in custody it seems like this investigation is an open and shut case. However the man in custody, now left in intensive care, only responds to police questioning with three words on a sheet of paper “Find Jack Reacher”…

The scene is set for a surprisingly well paced crime thriller with an interesting, and to some degree, intelligent twisting and turning plot. The action sequences are of Bourne trilogy-style with the usual Hollywood slick special effects and good looks. At about 2 hours in running time it could be seen as being a little long for the usual Hollywood action thriller, but the story keep the interest going enough so it doesn’t slide into being too over-stretched or create the feeling that it may never end…!

Worth a watch if you’re either after the usual Saturday night Hollywood thriller or something a little more interesting than the typical  conveyor belt churned-out big budget films.

My rating : 7 / 10

Reviewed by Ben

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LOVE CRIME:

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Friendship, rivalry, betrayal and murder. Fairly traditional, French ’90s-style psychological-thriller, in the vein of Fatal Attraction/Single White Female etc etc. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long) and Ludivine Sagnier (Moliere) and directed by Alain Corneau (Tous les matins du monde). Senior executive, Isabelle, exacts revenge on her ruthless colleague, Catherine, who through fear of being overshadow is threatening Isabelle’s private and professional world. The performance from Scott Thomas is as good as always, but Sagnier ends up seeming to be guilty of over-acting which, actually, is more a matter of poor direction with some overly indulgent long scenes (for instance when Isabelle breaks down in the lift etc), than any obvious inability on her part. Cert. 15 French with English subs.

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LOUIE SEASON 1:

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‘Seinfeld’ meets ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, says Rob.

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New Releases: 15th April

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS:

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From Martin McDonagh, director of In Bruges. A bunch of inepts run a dog-napping business. Not in the sense of sending dogs to sleep, but as in stealing them for ransom. One day they steal the wrong dog – the beloved pooch of a violent criminal (Woody Harrelson) who vows to kill all those related to the robbery… Starring everyone. Cert. 15

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PITCH PERFECT:

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The latest High-School Musical/Glee-type extravaganza. Judging by the trailer, it looks a little edgier and the humour a little darker than the afore-mentioned productions, largely as it focuses on ‘oddball’ and ‘misfits’ (cue token misfits: the gay guy, the overweight girl and presumably a maths geek or two). Fun. Starring Anna Kendrick (Scott Pilgrim). Cert. 12

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A modern british film noir, set in London. Following a brutal murder, the lives of a beautiful divorcee and the detective in charge of the investigation intersect. Starring Charlotte Rampling and Gabriel Byrne. Cert. 15

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Irish drama about a young man with a promising future who commits a devastating act which shatters the lives all those around him. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Adam & Paul). Cert.15

 

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SIDE BY SIDE:

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A documentary with Keanu Reeves, in which he interviews numerous big-hitters in the film industry asking them about their transition from film to digital, and exploring the question of whether or not film has a future. Shame they don’t interview independent/experimental filmmakers who would no doubt come at the issue from a different angle…

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

SHE MONKEYS:

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SUITS SEASON 2:

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30 ROCK SEASON 6:

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STUDENT SERVICES:

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PURGE:

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Film of the Day: No, I’m Not Going To Write About Maggie Thatcher…

… or mention the film The Iron Lady. Phew. Finally, a Thatcher-free haven. And I’m not talking about Britain, now that she’s gone. In fact, I’m not talking about her at all. MaggieMaggieMaggie. I’m not talking about her because everyone else in the country is and you can’t look at a paper without a thousand words on her legacy, her funeral, the fact that she wore hats (and, apparently, sometimes even gloves) and occasionally smiled (despite cracks clearly appearing around her heart as she did so) being thrust into your face. This is a Maggie-free zone. So…

 

FILM OF THE DAY:

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“I’m a professional businessman not a professional Pakistani. And there is no question of race in the new enterprise culture.”

A LAUNDERETTE AS BIG AS THE RITZ. OH YES.

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Johnny: “Ain’t nothing I can say to make it up to you. There’s only things I can do to show you… That I am with you.”

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**THIS IS ENGLAND ’85**

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STEPHEN FREARS’ AND HANIF  KUREISHI’S 1985 FILM IS AN IRONIC SALUTE TO THE THATCHER-CHAMPIONED SPIRIT OF PRIVATE CAPITALISTIC ENTERPRISE. IT ALSO THROWS CLASS, RACE AND INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS INTO THE MAGGIE-MELTING POT AND JABS HOLES IN THE IRON-CLAD TORY TENET OF ‘FAMILY VALUES’ BY FEATURING A SUCCESSFUL GAY RELATIONSHIP AS ONE OF THE CENTRAL STORYLINES.

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DID I SAY THIS WAS A MAGGIE-FREE ZONE? MY MISTAKE.

X

posted by Dixie Turner

New Releases: 8th April

THE HOBBIT:

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First of three films adapted from the great novel by Tolkien, The Hobbit is the pre-quel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy and tells the story of Bilbo Baggins. The young  and home-loving Hobbit is sent on an unexpected journey to wrestle a mountain back from a dragon and restore home to a group of lively Dwarves. Critics and audiences are split on this one – often those who loved Peter Jackson’s first Tolkien trilogy are pretty negative about this latest offering, and those who disliked Lord of the Rings generally seem to prefer it… I guess you’ll just have to see for yourselves. Starring Martin Freeman (The Office) and Ian McKellen (Beginners). Cert. 12

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EXPATRIATE:

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Aaron Eckhart (Thank You For Smoking) stars in this conspiracy-laden thriller. An ex-CIA agent and his daughter go on the run when his employers attempt to erase all traces of their existence. Directed by Philipp Stolzl (North Face). Cert. 15

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MISSION TO LARS:

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Documentary about Tom, who has Fragile X Syndrome – a common learning disability. All his life he has been an avid Metallica fan and dreams of meeting Metallica’s drummer, Lars Ulrich. Tom’s brother and sister decide to make his dream come true. However, the biggest challenge they encounter is Tom himself, who isn’t quite sure he’s ready. Cert. E

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

TINKER BELL AND THE SOMETHING OR OTHER:

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Film of the Day: Gimme Shelter (1970)

“WHO’S FIGHTING AND WHAT FOR?!!”

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DOCUMENTARY BY THE MAYSLES BROTHERS (GREY GARDENS) ON THE STONES’ 1969 US TOUR – MOST OF THE DRAMA FOCUSES ON THEIR DECISION TO GIVE A FREE GIG IN NORTH CALIFORNIA AND HOW THE HELL’S ANGELS CAME TO BE THE EVENT’S SECURITY GUARDS – AND HOW IT ALL WENT HORRIBLY WRONG… HYDE PARK, ANYONE?

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Mick Jagger: [watching Tina Turner performing the opening of the concert] It’s nice to have a chick occasionally.

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The Ike and Tina segment in the film is – if you know anything about their relationship – the most powerful, and hair-raising part. Tina sings ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’ in a call-and-response with Ike, where he feeds her the words (“I can make you say anything I want you to say, make you do anything I want you to do..” etc) and she repeats them back to him – pop-history dynamite. Of course, there’s that other band, too – the Stones, is it?

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Hells Angel: They told me, if I could sit on the stage so nobody climbed over me, I could drink beer till the show was over.

ROCK ON!!

posted by Dixie Turner