New Releases: 28th April

NYMPHOMANIAC 1&2:

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This week I watched the trailers with my mother. Listen to her.

“I wouldn’t know where to start with that one, my dear.”

Quite.

Press kit: NYMPHOMANIAC is the wild and poetic story of a woman’s journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the main character, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg). On a cold winter’s evening the old, charming bachelor, Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), finds Joe beaten up in an alley. He brings her home to his flat where he cares for her wounds while asking her about her life. He listens intently as Joe over the next 8 chapters recounts the lushy branched-out and multifaceted story of her life, rich in associations and interjecting incidents.

So, lushy branched-out Lars von Trier sex film. Start at the beginning!

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AMERICAN HUSTLE:

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Big hit from David O. Russel. Based loosely on the FBI Abscam operation of the late seventies/early eighties. Starring Christian – mother says “I prefer him all skinny, didn’t you? Like in The Machinist” – Bale  and Amy Adams as con artists forced by Bradley Cooper’s FBI agent to conduct an elaborate sting operation on corrupt politicians. Jeremy Renner plays the corrupt mayor of Camden, New Jersey, and Jennifer Lawrence Bale’s wife. I see satisfying shades of Scorsese, but also a bit of period pain (by which I mean a spotty kind of  nervousness about unsuccessfully faking the late seventies).

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ALL IS LOST:

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Robert Redford, surviving. Spare me. This film has done very well and I’m sure many fine patrons of the shop will really enjoy it. But my Mum said “this doesn’t look that brilliant, does it?”, and she’s right.

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MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM:

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Scott Foundas of Variety said Mandela “never opts for a light touch when a sledgehammer will do”, but praised Idris Elba for “a towering performance, a Mandela for the ages”. Dr Vincent Hiribarren, a lecturer in world history at King’s College London said the film presents “Mandela’s understanding of the apartheid years. Or, at least, what he wanted to let us know. As the film is not based on Mandela’s life but on Mandela’s own words, criticism levelled at Mandela’s autobiography can also be directed at the film.” My mother said, “you can’t fuck with Mandela.” Sledgehammer, ego, icon – I endorse Mandela.

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ANCHORMAN 2:

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“Hmmm…”

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CHILD OF GOD:

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❤ Mummy: ” Well that was fun, apart from that one”. Like mother, like son (hate Franco).

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

WRINKLES:

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Posted by William Goodey

Film of the Day: EASTER PARADE (1948)

Easter-Parade-Poster-2FOR OBVIOUS REASONS!

604885_021Q: “MISS BROWN, WHAT IDIOT EVER TOLD YOU WERE A DANCER?”

A: “YOU DID!!”

Easter_Parade_stillFred Astaire plays the big-headed performer who takes on naive Judy Garland as his new dance partner to make his former partner jealous and to prove he can make a star of anyone…

The highest grossing musical of 1948 – and the most financially successful film for both Garland and Astaire, Easter Parade is best remembered for its ‘We’re a Couple of Swells’ dance routine:

Despite Astaire’s part originally being intended for Gene Kelly, The New York Times described Fred as having “no peer”  – a belief I’ve personally always held. Certainly, the dance routines aren’t amongst his most ebullient, but they have all the characteristics of the best of Astaire: that trademark gracefulness (mixed with screwball humour), that extension of body and elongation of movement, all so typical of Astaire and that always make even the simplest of routines a marvel to behold:

Interestingly, unfortunately and unfairly, the same New York Times review described Judy Garland as “a competent trooper, nimble on her feet and professionally sound vocally…” But everybody wanted to work with Judy – both Irving Berlin and Fred Astaire agreed to the picture because it meant the chance of working with her. The former saw her talent as bordering genius, and the latter would later remember her as “the greatest performer who ever liver – or probably ever will live…” Quite a complement for one described by critics as merely “competent’ and “professionally sound, vocally.”

Also, interesting is the deleted scene below, which is not only probably the best song Garland was given in the whole film, but also shows her in a whole other light, perhaps too hot a light; a light the studio weren’t ready to see her – Andy Hardy’s wholesome squeeze – in. Another injustice to add to the pile of Judy-injustices? Well, to be fair, perhaps it was also down to a certain lack of ebullience in Garland’s performance who, at this time, was already having serious alcohol problems together with addictions to sleeping pills and morphine. Her condition was frail and she had attempted suicide at the end of her previous picture, The Pirate, directed by husband, Vincente Minnelli. Apparently, he was originally meant to direct Easter Parade also, but Judy’s shrink didn’t think it would do her nerves any good to work with him again so soon.

Even when her heart was clearly not in it, which may well have been the case in this deleted routine, she’s still a painful delight to watch:

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posted by Dixie Turner

New Releases: 21st April

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY:

poster-1Romantic adventure comedy-drama extravaganza directed by and starring Ben Stiller. The film is the second adaptation of a short story by the inimitable James Thurber. 1947’s stab starred Danny Kaye as a daydreaming proofreader – “an inconsequential guy from Perth Amboy, New Jersey” – getting lost in pulp mag daydreams. It looks to be an infinitely more charming film than Stiller’s, and it has Boris Karloff in it. That said, this new go seems rather amiable in it’s own way. Stiller plays a negative assets manager at Life magazine, a daydreamer, also kinda inconsequential. The film is about him tracking down a missing negative that’s supposed to provide the cover for the last print issue of Life before it goes online only (and it’ll be interesting to see how it treats that shift). It has Kirsten Wiig and Adam Scott in it – good comic eggs (eggs, happy Easter) – and Stiller is usually more enjoyable when he’s directing himself. Parts of the trailer suggest a bit of heart and maybe something closer to Thurber’s wit, other parts look way sugary and blown out. If those qualities are juggled right, this could be a fun one.

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KILL YOUR DARLINGS:

Kill-Your-Darlings-PosterSometime last year, Rob Munday – Video City’s beloved ex, now in prison – gave Kill Your Darlings what is perhaps the best one line put-down I think I’ve been privy to. It was something like, “it’s not even a film”. Not. Even. A. Film. Amazing. Rob’s sage words in mind, I still really want see this not-film. I love a patchy or failed biopic, usually more so than a successful one. People are patchy, and the world’s a failure after all. Also, I don’t even know if the not-film is a failure (here’s hoping). Anyway, it’s about the early interactions of the Beat generation. Centred on Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), it’s only the second narrative film, as far as I’m aware, to represent his relationship with Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). That’s one of the more exciting and neglected bits of the Beat story, and if you like this film I really recommend seeking out Gary Walkow’s Beat. Anyway, I think Radcliffe looks cute and convinced, and DeHaan “hot and dangerous”, which coincidentally is also what Entertainment Weekly think. Also, Ben Foster – this guy – is playing William Burroughs. The trailer hints at an entire lack of subtlety compounded by unrelenting over-excitement for the subject matter. But whatever, we’re dealing with youth and heady passion, so that might be cool. In short, feeling good about this non-film.

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THE PATROL:

MV5BMTY2ODQ0Mzc5OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjg2MTg0MTE@._V1_SY317_CR9,0,214,317_Well. Honestly, couldn’t be further from what I want to see. But apparently, supposed to be good. Got “British answer to The Hurt Locker” on poster. Just noticed that Soda, usually a cut above, have put it out. Now reading some decent things online. Now, feel bad for dismissing it. Guessed it was tabloid soldier porn, tarted up with a fat film festival credit. Writer and director said some good: “There was initial resistance when I first showed people the script, no one wanted to touch it. I think the reason for that, apart from being a first time writer, is the lack of contemporary British anti-war films and the touchy and heavily political subject. Some readers just didn’t know how to deal with it. Here’s a film that doesn’t portray us in a brave role, it’s not jingoistic and people were very wary of it. I think the Afghan conflict suffers the same problem in the real world: people don’t know how to deal with it, but we know we’ve got to support our troops. Consequently we think we can’t going around asking questions about what they’re doing there because that’s seen as being unsupportive. I found this a lot while making this film.” Well. I don’t support the troops, but I do feel bad about almost writing this off.

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KISS THE WATER:

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Jerry Seinfeld said that watching Kiss the Water is “like dreaming and eating desert at the same time”.  Sold! Director Eric Steel made The Bridge documentary in 2006 – the guy’s got range. Here’s Mark Kermode’s Observer review, pillaged: “lyrical blend of atmospheric Highland footage and expressionist animation … much more than a documentary about the dying art of hand-fashioned fishing hooks … the life of renowned fly-tier Megan Boyd who wound up providing bespoke flies by royal appointment … reflective interviews that unfurl at an unhurried pace … flies fashioned to attract fisherman rather than their prey … Boyd’s hatred of the fact that her creations were used to “kill fish” … Make sure this strange little film isn’t one you let get away.” Okay, Mark, but Jerry had me at “desert”.

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK…

NURSE JACKIE SEASON 5:

NURSE JACKIE (Season 5)

Posted by William Goodey

This Week’s New Releases (14th April)

NEBRASKA:

Nebraska-Poster-QuadAlexander Payne (Sideways) directs Bruce Dern (shouldn’t have to tell you, try Psych-Out), Will Forte (a young go-getter from SNL), June Squibb (Hannah’s grandma in the latest season of Girls) and Stacey Keach (Fat City) in a contemporary black and white Midwest road movie. All signs point to Nebraska.

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CELLULOID MAN:

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A wonderful documentary about archivist, scholar – Celluloid Man – P.K. Nair. Read an enticing little piece about the film here.

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FILL THE VOID:

fillthevoidI like that poster. Set amongst the Haredi Jewish community in Tel Aviv, Hadas Yaron stars as a young woman pressured to marry the husband of an older sister who has died in childbirth. Wouldn’t want to hazard too much of a guess at how this one is, how about you take it out and come let me know yeah?

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VIOLET AND DAISY:

violet-and-daisy-posterTime for another instalment in the blog’s occasional ‘7 YouTube comments about…’ series!

7 Youtube comments about Violet & Daisy

the feet fetish is strong in this one

The fact this has a 21% and Man of Steel has a 56% just proves critics are worthless.

Cutest movie i’ve ever watched 😀

The two girls with the bluest eyes in Hollywood

Waste of time watching this shit movie

relly cute slim and Fragiles body girls useing guns ….

Weird ass movie. But interesting and touching.
Would recommend.

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G.B.F.:

g-b-f-poster01A teen movie in the great tradition of teen movies that celebrate difference by smashing you in the face with magnificent stereotypes as a way of saying, whatever stereotypes are stupid but cool yet dumb also fun! That’s a compliment. I give it two thumbs up. Occasionally it’s little neutered and/or neutering, but I’ll forgive it that. For the last few weeks I’ve regularly been stood in front of a poster for this film on the DLR platform at Canning Town station. Looking out at Canary Wharf and One Canada Square – and I’m flanked by Caprice, Fawcett, Tanner, ‘Shley (above left to right) – I want to rage out and smash it all down.

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK…

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS MOVIE:

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HARRY HILL MOVIE:

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MOSHI MONSTERS MOVIE:

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CALIFORNICATION SEASON 6:

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BIG C SEASON 4:

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posted by William Goodey

 

Fire in the heart: Teenage (2013)

teenageposterReviewed by Rob Munday

It feels like the birth of the teenager has been well covered by film and television and yet generally boils down to: “Elvis arrived, shook his hips, and set fire to youngsters hearts minds and groins”. Teenage takes a different, and altogether more interesting, tack. It charts the rise of the teenager over the first half of the 20th century and Presley doesn’t even get a look in.

Teenage combines archive footage and soundbites with modern re-enactments and narration. Based on the book by British author Jon Savage the narration is based on teenage diary entries and concentrates on four emblematic characters: Brenda, a self-destructive Bright Young Thing; Melita, an idealistic Hitler Youth; Tommie, a rebellious German Swing Kid; and Warren, a black Boy Scout. The focus on Britain, Germany and America works well in contrasting the different youth movements while encompassing the central driving forces of war and music.

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The tale starts with the abolition of child labour that gave kids the chance to stay in school and experience adolescence without the burden of work. When the first world war hit these burgeoning teenagers were sent into battle. But with war comes travel and the arrival of US forces in Europe bought a new musical craze: Swing. It’s fascinating to see the development in youth movements from Scouts to the Hitler Youth, flappers to sub-debs, and how they link in with history and politics.

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The re-enactments are well done with suitable grain and scratch but lack the life of the archive material. You can see the idea of adding continuity to the visuals and filling narrative gaps but as the film progresses they feel increasingly redundant. There is also something mannered in the use of established actors reading the narration that grates against the fizz of teenage existence. In contrast to this the archive footage feels fresh and alive. To see old home-movies reminds us that kids were just the same back then: full of energy and swagger, interest and uncertainty, always willing to arse about. This brings immediacy to these old stories with the realisation that the events back then aren’t so far away.

The various elements in this collage of sound and image are pulled together by the ambient music of Bradford Cox that works to heighten the ebb and flow of the narrative. Director Matt Wolf has succeeded in translating this book to screen without it ever feeling weighed down by the scale of the story or the complexity of history. Teenage manages to be an accessible and enlightening picture of a modern phenomenon and an effective comeback to the rock ‘n’ roll clichés.

Get On/Go Out/Get Off/Get Down: Film-related News and Events

BIRDS EYE VIEW FILM FESTIVAL:

LuckyThere’s still time to catch this festival – ending this Sunday – which celebrates and champions the work of female directors from around the world. Ones to watch out for include Night Moves (loving the wonderfully enigmatic trailer), the new feature by Kelly Reichardt, director of the excellent Wendy and Lucy (2008) and Meek’s Cutoff (2010) which is showing on Friday night. Also, there’s a chance to catch a rare screening of Claudia Weill’s  Girlfriends (1978) which is being shown on Sunday. Now considered something of a classic of late 70s independent US cinema, the film was originally championed by Stanley Kubrick but later fell into semi-obscurity. Fortunately, the film has been picked back up by a new generation of film-makers in recent years. Lena Dunham has cited it as an inspiration and its influence on her series Girls is clear; there are also clear parallels with Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s Frances Ha (2012), so fans of these should nip down there and guzzle up the good stuff. The documentary, Lucky (pictured above), by former journalist, Laura Checkoway, about a spirited single mother living on the streets of New York also looks like one to catch. The festival screening has sadly passed, but there’s still a chance to catch it at the Lexi Cinema in Kensal Green on Tuesday the 15th April.

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DRUNKEN BUTTERFLIES:

I3PLzYlbAn independent, Newcastle-based production directed by Garry Sykes, centering around a gang of teenaged girls and featuring production design by our very own Tom Moore, is screening as part of the London Independent Film Festival this Sunday – check the LIFF website for details and head down there (TONIGHT WE ARE GOOD WE ARE FINE)! The festival runs from 10th-21st April.

FRINGE! FILM FESTIVAL:

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The queer film and arts festival is back this weekend with its Spring Fling: a collection of screenings, talks and parties dotted around Hackney.

TATE MODERN: MAGICIENS DE LA TERRE: RECONSIDERED:

markerresnaislesstatuesmeurentaussiMarking the 25th anniversary of the controversial exhibition in Paris, Magiciens de la Terre, which exhibited works of over 100 artists, many of whom were described as non-western, Tate Modern has put together a tasty-looking collection of screenings which “offers reflection on the cinematic history and legacy of colonialism, on developments within ethnographic film and on emerging discourses of globalisation. The diverse programme includes works by David Byrne, Maya Deren, Len Lye, Chris Marker, Claes Oldenburg, Alain Resnais, Jean Rouch and Dziga Vertov, together with significant contributions by filmmakers who are less well-known in the UK. The films are contextualised through discussion with original contributors to Magiciens and contemporary respondents.” – Tate Modern website

CHRIS MARKER RETROSPECTIVE AT THE WHITECHAPEL GALLERY:

la-jetee-orlyA fine chance to get a comprehensive look at one of the 20th Century’s great filmmaker-photographer-writer-artists. Come in and grab Sans Soleil/La Jetee in preparation for the exhibition which runs from 16th April-22nd June.

***

MICKEY ROONEY (1920-2014)

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posted by Dixie Turner

 

New Releases: 7th April

HOBBIT 2 – DESOLATION OF SMAUG:

MV5BMzU0NDY0NDEzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTIxNDU1MDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_It’s The Hobbit. Part two, of three. Peter Jackson made it. Apparently a better film, and an altogether more genial affair, than it’s predecessor An Unexpected Journey. You know whether or not you want to see this.

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SVENGALI:

svengali-posterThis is Jonathan Romney’s Observer review: “In this lo-fi music-biz comedy, which began life as an online series, scriptwriter Jonny Owen plays a naive music fan who dreams of being a rock manager. With sparky prestige support (Martin Freeman, Maxine Peake, Matt Berry) and cameos from Alan McGee and Carl Barât, Svengali ought to be sharper, but this good-natured, clunky labour of love feels about as fresh as a 2002 copy of the NME. It’s curiously timeless, though, and with its Soho locations, could almost have been made in the British pop boom of the late 50s – like Expresso Bongo for Libertines nostalgists.” For an ostensibly bad write-up – it gets one out of five stars – it kind of makes me want to see the film. ‘Good-natured’ and ‘clunky’ are the kind of descriptors that befit what’s an essentially good-natured and clunky thing: modish indie Brit-rock/rot. A kind of music that shouldn’t be taken seriously, unless you’re in Camden (where all trends go to die), but really really is by the likes of Svengali‘s protagonist. And that’s fine, and good, because sincerity, much like good-naturedness and clunkiness, is sorely undervalued in contemporary cinema/the world. I mean it might genuinely be one star awful, but there’s some funny bits in the trailer, kicks to be had in seeing how London’s used, and how many new releases get compared to the fabulous Expresso Bongo?

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THE SUMMIT:

summit_xlgYet another documentary about Mountain(eering). Won something at Sundance. At the risk of repeating myself, you know whether or not you want to see this.

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BORDERLANDS:

Borderlands_Poster_LR-700x1033This is the kind of useless poster that would stop me from even considering watching what actually seems like a decent little film. Found-footage horror meets Peep Show say the papers. A dour Vatican investigator (Gordon Kennedy) and his hired tech assistant (Robin Bean, star of Down Terrace and frequent Ben Wheatley collaborator) probe into alleged supernatural events at a reconsecrated medieval Catholic church in the West Country. Scary, comic and smart, say the papers.

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OLDBOY:

oldboy_ver2_xlgSpike Lee says and does stupid stuff. Back in the day he occasionally made complex, angry and stylish films which belied the rubbish he’d say about them (Do the Right ThingBamboozled, etc.)  None of the above and devoid of even the attendant rubbish, this is a seemingly humourless and by all accounts ineffectual remake of Park Chan-Wook’s Old Boy. Why bother? Chin up though because the next Spike Lee joint is called Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, and that’s a title. There may still be hope for Spike Lee.

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Posted by William Goodey.

BATTLESHIPS AND FIREWORKS

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Stills from Battleship Potempkin (1925, Sergei Eisenstein) and Fireworks (1947, Kenneth Anger)

posted by Tom Moore

New Releases: 31st March

TEENAGE:

Teenage_PosterThe best film out this week and  one of the best films I saw last year, Teenage is an adaptation of Jon Savage’s book Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945. Director Matt Wolf made the exceptional Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell and I Remember: A Film About Joe Brainard.

“Teenagers didn’t always exist. They had to be invented. As the cultural landscape around the world was thrown into turmoil during the industrial revolution, and with a chasm erupting between adults and youth, the concept of a new generation took shape. Whether in America, England, or Germany, whether party-crazed Flappers or hip Swing Kids, zealous Nazi Youth or frenzied Sub-Debs, it didn’t matter – this was a new idea of how people come of age. They were all “Teenagers.”

A hypnotic rumination on the genesis of youth culture from the end of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th, TEENAGE is a living collage of rare archival material, filmed portraits, and diary entries read by Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, and others. Set to a a shimmering contemporary score by Bradford Cox (Deerhunter / Atlas Sound), TEENAGE is a mesmerizing trip into the past and a riveting look at the very idea of “coming-of-age.””

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CARRIE (2013):

carrie-2013-posterHer name is Carrie, if you didn’t know. Judging by the trailer, this looks to be a cut above similar (and usually awful) contemporary horror remake/horse-flogging exercises. Director Kimberley Pierce also made Boys Don’t Cry, so one might hope that the film has an interesting bit of weight, right? Julianne Moore should be something of a match for Piper Laurie’s terrifying turn as Carrie’s mother in the De Palma original, but will it do anything or even capture something of that film’s intensity and panache? Worth a watch to see hey? Oh and this is what Lally has to say about the original.

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BEAUTIFUL DARLING:

beautiful-darling-posterI’m really glad this film has gotten a DVD release and that we’ve gotten it in. In lieu of my own thoughts – the post is late this week, I apologise – here’s a great review by Amy Taubin at Artforum. I love Candy Darling and it’s important that films like this get made.

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THE FAMILY:

familyA more enthusiastic review than I’m capable of can be found here. Needless to say, I will probably watch this because it’s Robert De Niro in Normandy.

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DOM HEMINGWAY:

DomHemingwayPosterI don’t get it.

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HOMEFRONT:

Homefront_PosterStatham plays a DEA agent whose quiet family life is rocked by yucky James Franco (meth kingpin) and his merry band of drug traffickers. The backwater vigilante film vibe – if obviously compromised by Stathan’s gov’t job – is kind of attractive, as is the sight of him stabbing someone with a gas pump. Winona Ryder is never ever a bad thing and Franco looks more than plausible, a rarity for that polymath of pose. Most importantly though, STALLONE adapted the screenplay oh yes!

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

FROZEN:

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PARKLAND:

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KLOWN:

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LONG WAY FROM HOME:

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MOONE BOY SEASON 2:

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posted by William Goodey