CINEMA CATCH-UP: Man of Steel and Before Midnight

297058-binoculars_superFor all those of you intending to venture into the glorious outside, that wonderous world of Beyond (beyond the computer; beyond the desk; beyond the living room, the news reports and the school runs; beyond that pile of unread books – and, yes, beyond your binoculars); for those of you preparing to pierce the threshold of the Everyday and peer, as though new-born, at the blinking, milky expanse they refer to as the ‘sky’, REMEMBER: have your sunglasses and umbrellas at hand, your parasols and wellies on person and the snow plough fully tanked, because – lets face it – you just never know.

If, on the other hand, you’re intending to venture into the glorious outside in order to step into that alternate inside known as the Wonderous World of Beyond Your Television AKA The Cinema, preparations of another sort may well be in order.

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If you’re thinking of heading out to watch Zack (Watchmen/300) Snyder’s Man of Steel, then you may want to catch up on the Caped-One’s previous escapades. Most recently, in Superman Returns:

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The 2006 film, directed by Bryan (Usual Suspects) Singer and starring Brandon Routh (Scott Pilgrim) as the man in the red pants and Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther, sees Superman returning to planet Earth after a long sojourn visiting the ruins of Krypton.

Of course, the films you should probably be catching up on, however, are the ones with Christopher Reeve who will forever be burned in our minds in the brightest of bright costumes (with the bluest of blue eyes):

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… and still we swoon.

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If, on the other hand, boys in tights just aren’t your bag and you prefer a bit of sweaty chin fuzz (how does Ethan Hawke manage to maintain that pubescent look, even now at.. 65?), then you’re probably after the existential ruminations of that ‘will-they/won’t they’ would-be couple, Jesse and Celine. The couple are nearly 20 years on from their first star-crossed meeting. Check out how it all began in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and the sequel, made 10 years later, Before Sunset:

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by Dixie Turner

New Releases: 24th June

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS
hanselgretelAction/horror/fantasy – the classic fairy tale gets an Underworld-style makeover, producing this slick action-packed gore-fest. Witch-hunting siblings prepare for the Blood Moon… Fun and trashy? Yep yep yep. Perfect hangover cure in that peanut butter-nutella-banana-malt-milkshake kinda way, but not a gingerbread house in sight (sad). Far cry from:
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Big box office hit with a sequel on the way. Starring Jeremy Renner (Bourne Legacy) and Gemma Aterton (Quantum of Solace). Cert. 15
THIS IS 40:
This-is-40-posterIf this is 40, I think I’d like to go straight from 39 to 41, thanks. Another Judd Apatow film which makes you think relationships are just a giant pain in the arse, unless they’re the ones that last just 3 minutes when you’re 15. Not sure how he’s managed to maintain a marriage, let alone get his wife (and his 2 daughters) to act in this film, given that his outlook seems to be that all men are just hoping for their wives to drop dead so they can pick up a cheap hooker without any guilt… Based on the married couple you see having such an atrocious time together in Knocked-Up.
Starring Paul Rudd (Clueless) and Leslie Mann (AKA the seemingly unfortunate Mrs Apatow). Cert. 15
BROKEN CITY:
Broken-City-PosterCrime-drama/thriller with one of those suspiciously glitzy over-Oscar nominated casts… Mark Wahlberg plays ex-cop Billy Taggart, hired as a private detective by Russell Crowe’s powerful Mayor Nicholas Hostetler to investigate his wife’s suspected infidelity. However, the Mayor is not what he seems and Taggart finds himself framed and looking for revenge. Directed by Allen Hughes – one half of the Hughes Brothers who directed Menace II Society and From Hell. Cert. 15
MOVIE 43:
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A film that prides itself on being the MOST outrageous comedy with the BIGGEST cast – in case you didn’t get that from the poster. Apparently about nothing at all, just about being twisted, outrageous, a comedy of “epic proportions”, “not for the easily offended” and having a “ridiculously brilliant” cast. How bad can it be..? Rent it and find out. Cert. 15
MEA MAXIMA CULPA:
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Documentary expose of the corruption and abuse apparently rife in the Catholic church.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

SONG FOR MARION:

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THE FOURTH STATE:

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THE PARADE:
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FILM OF THE DAY: FACES (1968) – dir. JOHN CASSAVETES

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Faces

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GENA ROWLANDS: it’s such a pleasure watching you just scrape off a plate…

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by Dixie Turner

SIMON SAYS… ‘LORE’ (2012)

For when you just can’t make it into the store to hear it from the man himself, here you will find his weekly recommendations as transcribed by a mere pleb…

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Outstanding film from Australian director Cate Shortland (Somersault, 2004) showing the immediate after-effects of the war but from the lesser-seen angle of the losing side.

The Nazi parents of five children return to the family home to pack up their valuables and go into hiding following the death of Hitler. The children are left alone to fend for themselves and ultimately, under the leadership of the eldest, Lore, to attempt to find sanctuary in a Germany now under allied occupation where Nazi’s were being hunted out.

On the road they meet a young Jewish man who helps them to survive, leading Lore to explore and ultimately question her prejudices and face the horrors of what her parents had done.

Also by Cate Shortland:

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by Dixie Turner

New Releases: 17th June

NO:

NO-posterMuch anticipated Oscar-nominated new feature from Pablo Larrain, the Chilean director of Post Mortem and Tony Manero starring Gael Garcia Bernal as an ad-man who comes up with a campaign to defeat Pinochet’s 1988 referendum. The success of the famous ‘No’ campaign was driven by Chile’s artistic community whose creative style and elan was new to Chilean politics and totally bewildered opponents. Spanish with English subs. Cert. 15

Interview w/ Gael Garcia Bernal Re No

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HITCHCOCK:

New-Hitchcock-Poster-DetailThe second of this year’s films about the stout chap with the cigar, not to be confused with Winston Churchill (but did anyone ever see them in the same room at the same time…?) focusing on his relationship with his wife during the filming of Psycho. Directed by Sacha Gervasi (director of music documentary, Anvil) and starring Anthony Hopkins as the big guy and Helen Mirren as his wife. Also starring Scarlet Johansson as Janet Leigh, Jessica Biel and Toni Collette. Cert. 12

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TO THE WONDER:

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Terrence Malick’s latest. After ‘Tree of Life’ (which won at Cannes, but was largely derided in the UK) will anyone care to watch it? I will. Despite Ben Affleck. I mean, it has Javier Bardem so how bad can it be (trying really hard not to remember Skyfall..)? ‘To The Wonder’ is a really naff title, though… Way too ‘Malick’ and a bit Fried Green Tomatoes, too. He may just as well call it ‘Touching God’, which seems to be what he’s attempting in that way that artists had during the Romanticism when the Sublime was all the rage. And what’s so wrong with that? Somehow, the romantic sublime became self-indulgent (well, it always was) and pretentious (the 20th Century grounded the sublime in the dirt and earth of human endeavour for obvious reasons. But, surely, there’s still something valid in the desire to shoot your heart (and your questions and doubts) out into space…? Not aiming at God, just aiming at.. space.

May work. May not.

Cert. 15

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THE FALL:

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Well-received British TV psychological thriller series, starring Gillian Anderson (X-Files, Bleak House), focusing on the lives of two hunters – one a serial killer, the other the detective charged with searching him out… Cert. 15

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WARM BODIES:

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Really enjoying itself with all the ‘he’s dead hot’ and ‘he loved her for her brains’ jokes, this teen-horror-romance is the first of this week’s films to style itself on the Twilight saga’s unearthly-romeo+juliet-style love story. Cert. 12

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*ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:*

MAMA:

mama-movie-posterHorror starring Jessica Chastain (Take Shelter, Tree of Life). 2 young girls were left alone for 5 years in the woods…. or were they???????????????????? Yes they were. Or were they?????????????????? Freaky. Cert. 15

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BEAUTIFUL CREATURES:

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Teen romance with a Twilight (?) twist. Or more likely, just a teen romance with a fantasy twist that has therefore got caught up in inevitable comparisons.. Anyway. Witchcraft is the name of this game, so cast aside those doubts (get it? ‘Cast’ aside.. eh eh) and get stuck in for some swoonsome, ethereal post-pubescent affections. Cert. 12

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PARKS AND RECREATION SEASON 2:

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Season 2 of the super funny US show.

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by Dixie Turner

MASSIVE Blockbuster Week for New Releases: 10th June

LINCOLN:

Lincoln_PosterDaniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar winning portrayal of American president, Abraham Lincoln, as directed by blockbuster king, Steven Spielberg. Set during the civil war whilst the president struggled with public opinion over the continuing battles and his decision to emancipate the slaves of the land. Co-starring Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader and John Hawkes. Cert. 12

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ZERO DARK THIRTY:

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Review by Ben.

Zero Dark Thirty – or the military term for half past midnight – was the go time for Seal Team Six to execute the operation to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. After over ten years of investigation and intelligence gathering, the film follows the work under taken by the CIA to locate one of the most wanted men in history. Written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Hurt Locker) it has many of the same Oscar-winning attributes that Hurt Locker (2008) had during its wide critical acclaim in 2008.

With a solid script, it’s well acted (if occasionally a little flat in places) and at a decent, but not too over-loading, 2 hours 30 minutes it feels like a cross between a first series episode of Homeland and the West Wing. It should be noted that if you’re expecting an out ‘n’ out action thriller this is NOT it. Its 90% drama with the final few minutes being action. If younger audiences are expecting a gun shooting thriller about American special forces then they may be / probably will be disappointed. All in all, I’d say it’s definitely worth a watch if only for the understanding of how the most wanted and hated man in the world eventually met his demise.***

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GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD:

8S4X_a_good_day_to_die_hard_movie_posterYipee Ki Yay Mother Russia. Yes indeed. Forget the recent resurrections of California’s muscled mascot, the Governator, and Sly Stallone’s stoney face, for here is everyone’s favourite action hero reprising his most famous role: that guy. And this time he has a son and together they bond over bombs and heavy artillery… Heartwarming. Cert. 15

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BEYOND THE HILLS:

beyond-hills-poster-2Romanian true story following the emotional reunion of two best friends who, having grown up in an orphanage together, find themselves staying in a nunnery where the tensions caused by their relationship and sexuality resulted in an act that sent shock waves through the church. From Cristian Mungiu, director of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days – winner of the Palme d’Or – Beyond the Hills won Best Actress and Best Screenplay at last years Cannes festival. Romanian with English subs. Cert. 12

THE BOSS:

Boss+s1+Wallpaper+002US TV show starring Kelsey Grammer as the Mayor of Chicago, Tom Kane, who has recently been diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disorder…. Cert. 15

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CHASING ICE:

chasing-ice-posterDocumentary utilising extra-super time-lapse photography that captures the changing face of the world’s glaciers… Beautiful, important and terrifying.

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HOUSE OF CARDS SEASON 1:

house-of-cards-poster1topPolitical drama exploring the dark side of politics. American re-make of the classic British series – also well worth watching. Apparently starring Kevin Spacey… Cert. 18

***RE Zero Dark Thirty – there is considerable dispute over the accuracy of the depiction of this operation so a healthy amount of scepticism is recommended.

by Dixie Turner

Video City Staff A-Z: D is for… (Pt.2)

ROB SAYS:

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D is for… Don’t Look Now (1973)

 “Nothing is what it seems”, says Donald Sutherland early on, warning us to keep our guard up in Nicolas Roeg’s masterpiece of creeping horror.

Based on the short story by Daphne Du Maurier, Don’t Look Now understands that real fear comes from knowing that your fate awaits around the next corner.

This is the story of a married couple haunted by the death of their daughter. Venice is a lead character: a city submerged, a maze of alleyways and dead-ends.

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Roeg brilliantly weaves together the past and the present, the seen and the imagined, into a tapestry of grief and hope.

There is a casual realism here that makes Sutherland and Julie Christie an utterly believable couple and sets the film closer in tone to the Exorcist than any Hammer Horror schlock fest.

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What else? – the famous sex scene (copied by Soderbergh in Out of Sight), the iconic red coat (ripped off by Spielberg in Schindler’s List), and not forgetting Donald Sutherland’s magnificent moustache (replicated by Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers). Accept no imitations and ignore the plea of that title – do look, it doesn’t have to be now but soon would be good.

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“See also: Genova – Michael Winterbottom’s modern horror clearly doffs it’s cap to Don’t Look Now and features an excellent performance by Colin Firth (before he became royalty)”

BEN SAYS:

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“D” is for…. hmmm well, I have 4 main choices that spring to mind.

Firstly, and one of my personal favourites, I would say Donnie Brasco from 1997 starring Johnny Depp, Al Pacino and Michael Madsen. Based on the best-selling book, the film depicts the unbelievable true story of a FBI undercover agent, Joseph Pistone, who was sent to infiltrate the New York Mafia throughout the 1970’s. What originally started out as an experiment to see if it could be done with a ‘shelf life’ of only a few weeks, ended up lasting several years and in turn becoming one of the most intense and high-profile investigations ever undertaken into the Mafia. To this day and because of his actions, Joseph Pistone now lives with a new undisclosed identity and a several million dollar bounty on his head… Great tense drama and thriller rolled into one, highly recommend it!

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My next option would be Tarantino’s Django Unchained (2012) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx and Christopher Waltz. I won’t bore you with the details of the story as I’m sure most of you have seen this film whether at the cinema or from coming in to the store. For those of you who have not seen it…Watch it! With slick lines, great action sequences and every Hollywood star on great form, its one not to be missed…

dmsquadAnother one not to miss is Shane Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) starring Paddy Considine. The film follows Considine’s character Richard who lives in a rural part of Britain where there is little to do but get drunk, get high and torment the locals. Whilst away on military deployment, Richards younger mentally handicapped brother Anthony, played by Toby Kebbell, is left to the torment and bullying of the local low lives. Upon Richards return, he learns of the horrible acts done to his younger brother and vows to exact revenge on those who hurt Anthony. Filled with dark torment, violence and the rare moments of black humour this film is not for the everyday viewer. But with fantastic performances and simple but effective dialogue, this revenge style film is one to watch.

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Lastly and purely for stupidity to counter act the darker films I’ve suggested, Dumb and Dumber (1994) starring Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels. It’s simply Jim Carey at his  “best” playing the moronic idiot alongside his partner in stupidity Jeff Daniels. With no money, no jobs and owning only a dog van and a briefcase (which isn’t there’s) they decide to embark on a journey to re unite the briefcase and it’s owner. With a great 90’s sound track its a fun road movie meets ridiculous love story. It’ll make you laugh and cry for all the wrong reasons, but for those reasons exactly is why it should be watched! Enjoy!

WILL SAYS:

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D is for Down by Law

 New Orleans. A pimp (John Lurie), a disc jockey (Tom Waits) and a tourist (Roberto Benigni) are arrested in separate incidents. They are imprisoned together; they jailbreak.
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Down by Law, a film about John Lurie’s pout. See how his sunken cheeks suck laconically at hipster skull. Down by Law, about Tom Waits’s shoes and Ellen Barkin’s fury at a DJ’s malaise – “not the shoes NOT THE SHOES not the shoes”. Also about Benigni’s mother tongue ‘Bob’ Frost recital, and Robby Müller’s smoooth, spacious, black and white cinematography.
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Such cool. Here Jarmusch gets the fundamental reciprocity between being cool and admiring cool. He pretty much hinges the film on it. “I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream”. Really really cool film.

Video City Staff A-Z: D is For… (Pt.1)

ALY SAYS:

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D is for Despicable Me (2010)

Despicable Me is a fun-filled family tale by Pixar (Up, Wall-e, Toy Story) about a super-villain, Gru (Steve Carell) who is finding life tough when a new villain comes on the scene! Gru decides to hatch a new plan involving adopting three orphans who he will use to pinch his rivals new gadgets. But then, inevitably, he finds himself becoming attached to his little kids, and wonders whether fatherhood is more his style after all.

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This film made me laugh non-stop especially Gru’s army of minions – tiny, goggled yellow marshmallow creatures who are loyal but not too bright. It’s lots of fun for kids of all ages and all the parents that have watched have said it made them laugh too.
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Word of advice – make sure you watch the extra features especially the Minions Short Films, lots more laughter guaranteed there!

JESS SAYS:
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D is for Death in Gaza (2004):
A heartbreakingly sad watch, particularly if you know the outcome. It certainly puts our somewhat insignificant worries to rest when you see the lives of some of these children.
A good documentary is unbeatable, and this is one you should invest two hours of your life on.

LALLY SAYS:
1986-down-by-law-poster1D is for DOWN BY LAW (1986) – dir. Jim Jarmusch

“Iscreamayoucreamaweallscreamforicecream.”

A prison comedy that walks at its own pace,  ‘Down by Law’ which stars Tom waits, John Lurie and Roberto Benigni is Jim Jarmusch’s break through film.
The plot is relatively simple as films go, but DBL is not so much about what happens to some characters but about who these people are and what is learnt about them through their enforced interaction with each other. The simplicity of the story allows room for the characters’ development and Robby Müller’s beautiful cinematography, which together, create a powerful comic beat-noir atmosphere.
A fairly consistent theme of Down By Law is the dispelling of preconceptions, from the type casting of the three stars to the projection of their characters’ relationships with each other. Before Waits and Lurie starred in this film both were, for American audiences at least, already cult names predominantly in the music world. Their contribution to the film would have initially been a pull for these audiences, but through the film we understand a little more of the people themselves over the stage characters already projected.

6310_2Waits and Lurie’s characters, have a “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us” type situation, partly symbolised by their rhyming names, Jack + Zack. It is the optimistic sincerity of Benigni that allows them to look beyond their initial personality clash.
The collaborative nature of this film heavily contributes to its charm. The soundtrack was provided by both Lurie and Waits, while certain lines and monologues were improvised both accidentally and intentionally by Benigni. The line ‘It is a sad and beautiful world,’ was the happy result of a misunderstanding due to language difficulties (DBL was the Italian actors’ first visit to the USA),  whilst the rabbit monologue was taken straight out of Benigni’s childhood memories of his mother.
down-by-law-1986-02-gIn comparison to Jarmusch’s first two films ‘Permanent Vacation’ and ‘Stranger Than Paradise’, which both carry a more thoroughly ‘Beat’ pace, the almost classic slapstick nature of Down By Law’s comedy makes this film an easy heart warming ride.”I am a good egg…we are a good egg, my friends.”

New Releases: 3rd June

FOR ELLEN:

For-Ellen-PosterReviewed 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.

2546211_origThis 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.

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FLIGHT:

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From Robert Zemeckis, director of such joyous cinematic treats as the Back to the Future Trilogy and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, as well as Forrest Gump. The ever-watchable Denzel Washington (could actually watch him play a statue in an otherwise empty museum) plays a commercial airline pilot who, after successfully saving his passengers from a malfunctioning plane, is lauded as a hero. But an investigation into the incident turns up some unexpected and troubling details… Co-starring John Goodman (Emperor’s New Groove). Cert. 15

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WRECK IT RALPH:

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Disney’s latest epic, featuring characters taken from iconic computer games including Sonic the Hedgehog etc and set within an arcade game world. Featuring the voices of John C. Reilly (Carnage) and Sarah Silverman (Take this Waltz). Cert. PG

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I GIVE IT A YEAR:

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British comedy marketed as the GB Bridesmaids.. (?!) Perfectly happy newly weds encounter their first obstacle in the form of mutual temptations. Starring Rose Byrne (Damages, Bridesmaids) and Ralph Spall (Anonymous). Cert. 15

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BULLET TO THE HEAD:

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First Arnie, now Sly – the muscles are back. Looks like atrocious fun. And directed by Walter Hill, who made both the Long Riders and 48hrs… Hmmm. Cert. 18

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SMASHED:

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A young couple who have always bonded over their love of alcohol try to clean themselves up. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at Sundance. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim) and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad). Cert.15

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Also out this week:

SWEET VENGEANCE:

VengeanceDVD-727x1024“Inventively violent”

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GOOD DOCTOR:

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BREAKING BAD SEASON 5:

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VEEP SEASON 1:

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DEXTER SEASON 7:

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by Dixie Turner

To Credit Or Not To Credit… The Video City Money-Saving ‘Loyalty System’:

It has come to our attention – after about 35 years – that some of our dearly beloved customers find our ‘credit system’ baffling. When trying to explain, we are often met with a look as though we were trying to explain fractals, nuclear physics or the moral principles behind bankers bonuses:

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Sometimes we are met with a look reminiscent of one given by a person whose brain is about to be sucked out of their nose by a little green man:

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So, let us explain with the help of the following simple diagram:

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This is not to be confused with:

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… although it has been noted that some of the findings are surprisingly similar.

However, for those less academically inclined, here is a more straight forward explanation:

Instead of paying £3 for every DVD as you take them out, if you give us a set amount upfront we give you a bit more in credit that sits on your account and comes off as you rent films.

For instance:

If you give us £10 up front, we’ll put £12 on your account.

£20 gets you £25.

£50 gets you £65 etc…

surprised-ladyYES, THAT’S RIGHT!!

THIS BASICALLY GIVES YOU FREE DVDS!!!!!

IT IS NOT A TRICK; IT LASTS FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES FOR YOU TO USE IT UP AND IT IS NOT, I REPEAT, NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

As one of our recent studies show, the benefits of keeping yourself in credit extends further than the mere financial benefits, and is considered to be good for your health:

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Fall-2007-UWM-Visions-pg-4-Gauthier-picCREDIT: AS RECOMMENDED BY NURSE JACKIE

PLEASE NOTE: IT’S NOT AS PAINFUL AS IT LOOKS

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AND DOES NOT LEAD TO:

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IN FACT 9 OUT OF 10 HOUSEWIVES RECOMMEND IT – THINK OF ALL THE EXTRA WASHING-UP LIQUID YOU COULD BUY

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*VIDEO CITY: HERE TO HELP*

by Dixie Turner