Staff A-Z of Film: E is For… (Pt.3)


Empire-of-the-Sun-posterE is for: Empire of the Sun (1987)

Based on the 1984 book of the same title, with inspiration taken from author J. G. Ballard’s own personal experience, this huge war epic, directed by Spielberg, follows the story of Jamie Graham, a young boy living with his parents in Shanghai. The film follows Jamie’s plight as the Japanese forces enter and occupy the lands of Shanghai in 1941.


During the invasion, Jamie is separated from his parents and ends up on the run trying to avoid capture and doing everything he can to survive. However after scavenging through his parent’s house he is eventually captured by the Japanese and held in a civilian holding centre. Whilst captured he makes an unlikely friend in an American sailor, Basie, and it is this moving story of friendship and courage that the films follows.


With a fantastic blend of humour, action, compassion and friendship, its one of Spielberg’s best and with a cast featuring a young Batman (Christian Bale), John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson and even a brief encounter with Ben Stiller this is one epic (and it is an epic at 2 and a half hours long) for the whole family.


end_of_watch_ver3_xlgE is also for: End of Watch (2012):

I won’t go into too much detail on this film, as the skipper (Simon) has already recommended it.

But what I will say is that this is an unexpected dark thriller told in a simple, yet highly effective way. There’s a little bit of bro-mance in there which isn’t always a bad thing (!) but it’s definitely a must see for all those who loved films such as Heat (1995), Collateral (2004) and The Departed (2006).


elite_squad_ver3_xlgE is also for: Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) 1 (2007) & 2 (2010):

Centred in Rio de Janeiro, this films follows the story of Brazil’s police special forces, known as BOPE. Their job is never to question who or why but simply to put down and get rid of criminal targets too dangerous for anyone else to hunt down.

The first of the two films follows a young police officer, Matias, who is assisting on a drugs bust in one of the many sprawling favelas that dominate Rio’s poorer districts. During an operation that goes horribly wrong, Matias and his colleagues are left in a ferocious fire fight which unbeknown to them has involved BOPE teams also on an operation.


As the film progresses we see that Matias is a studious young man trying to better his life but in doing so is caught between the lines of morality and the law. After his close encounter with the BOPE, he is faced with life altering choices about his future which will lead him to not only test his own physical and mental strength but the morals he has stood by for so long…

elite_squad_1239469cThe second instalment of Elite Squad: The Enemy Within follows on 12 years later with the captain of the BOPE from the first film, Captain Nascimento who is now promoted to the rank of Lieutenant colonel, taking centre stage once again. In this instalment, (which in my opinion is the better of the two films but won’t make a lot of sense if you haven’t seen the first) the story follows a prison riot in which the BOPE teams are brought in to assist in the situation. When negotiations start to fall apart and a tense stand-off leads to the death of a well-known prisoner, Nascimento becomes the centre of an investigation as to what happened and in turn becomes the scapegoat of the political corruption that sadly affects much of Brazilian life.

from-elite-squad-to-robocop-20111110032831145Although this film is a work of fiction there is a lot of real life inspiration that is drawn from to create this fantastic thriller and is definitely a film that shouldn’t be missed… especially with the football world cup looming next year in Brazil…!!


easy_rider_xlgE is also for: Easy Rider (1960):

Regarded as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest road movie ever created, it features screen legends Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda.

I won’t go into too much detail here as many of you I’m sure have already seen this classic. But for those who have not, here is a little taste of what lies in store…


The film follows Fonda and Hopper on a drug sale where after their aim is to ride to New Orleans to party and let loose during the famous Mardi Gras festival…. And that’s all I’m saying….

It’s defiantly not a family film, but if you’re old enough (18 rating) and you have never seen this film them what are you waiting for….?!?!


mpaeasternpromisesbE is also for: Eastern Promises (2007):

This dark and unflinching film centres on the Russian Mafia based in London and their control on the sex trafficking trade, as well as other activities, that go on in the underbelly of a modern metropolis.

The story follows a mid-wife who finds a journal and other information upon the personal effects of a 14-year-old girl whom has died during child-birth. Her inquisitiveness and want for truth leads her to meet some unsavoury characters that plague the streets of London and for whom power and control is everything.

10_eastern_promises_blu-rayThe combination of director David Cronenberg (Crash, The Fly, Videodrome, A History of Violence) with a fantastic cast featuring Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassell, whom are all on great form, has meant that this unrelenting, violent and brutal drama is something that maybe not be for everyone. Having said that, if you have the stomach for it and want something a little different then you’re in for a dark treat.

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When first hearing of the ‘subterranean void’ that has been discovered by engineers working to fix Thames Water pipes in Notting Hill, the cynic in me immediately thought: only in Britain could engineers, after weeks of digging, be surprised to find a hole. Or rather, only in Britain and in the city of Springfield where the entire town, at the end of an especially memorable Simpsons episode, find themselves at the bottom of a hole having dug in search of buried treasure. When one towns person enquires how they’re going to get out, a genius – Chief Wiggum maybe? – makes the delightful suggestion that they must “dig up”. It’s been about 5 years and I still haven’t stopped laughing.


After I got over my initial cynicism, my mind jumped to the next logical conclusion: that the engineers had found a wonderous underground cavern filled with stalactites, bats and a giant pile of pirate gold that shimmered in the eerie green light falling from a single shaft, oh so magically, onto the deck of a Spanish galleon that had been swept up centuries before as it crept down the Thames.

I mean, clearly:


Indiana Jones, The Goonies and Jurassic Park are all being enacted under the bourgeois treadmill of Notting Hill. Right under one of the 11 oh-so-essential Starbuck’s, a pterodactyl’s wing is slowly unfolding.

Right under your extra-hot, extra-wet skinny mochachino, the ghost of Blue Beard and a drawing of Red Rackham are about to do battle over a piece of eight…



Somewhere behind you, someone with a small keyboard is playing that eerie/magical music you only get in Steven Spielberg films when the Ark of the Covenant has just been discovered. Listen..

Ok, so that sounds totally rubbish, but you know the music I mean. Oh, and your lifelong dream is about to come true: any second now, someone is going to call you ‘Dr. Jones’. Unless you’re a GP called Fred Jones, in which case, someone is going to call you ‘Indy’…. As you raise that ‘coffee’ to your lips you can feel the power of the Grail coursing through your veins…


Anyway. To cut a long story short, there are a bunch of road works going on in Notting Hill, and despite outward appearances, WE’RE STILL OPEN.







by Dixie Turner



So many frocks for such a little fella…

In case you missed the news, the cream of Hollywood have announced their nominations for the 2013 Academy Awards. Whilst we wait with bated breath to see what everyone will be wearing, you can divert yourselves by ruminating upon the following (click on links for the trailers, folks):


Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life Of Pi
Zero Dark Thirty
Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook


Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln has the most nominations with 12 in total, including for Daniel Day-Lewis, who seems to be the favourite for best Actor. Check out Daniel in his previous Oscar-winning roles in There Will Be Blood (2007) and My Left Foot (1989).


Despite being Mr. Hollywood, Schindler’s List has been the only film to win Best Picture that Spielberg has ever made. So far.


Life Of Pi – Ang Lee
Lincoln – Steven Spielberg
Amour – Michael Haneke
Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell
Beasts Of The Southern Wild – Benh Zeitlin


Denzel Washington – Flight
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln
Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix – The Master


Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts Of The Southern Wild
Naomi Watts – The Impossible


Alan Arkin – Argo
Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master (Check him out in Jack Goes Boating)
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln


Amy Adams – The Master (Check her out in The Fighter and Julie and Julia)
Anne Hathaway – Les Misérables
Helen Hunt – The Sessions
Sally Field – Lincoln
Jacky Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook


Amour – Austria
A Royal AffairDenmark
War WitchCanada


Amour, nominated in both the Best Picture and Best Foreign Pic categories, is directed by Michael Haneke. If you know him not, then get on it now. Recommended essential viewing to get up to speed: The Piano Teacher, Hidden, White Ribbon, Funny Games and Code Unknown. That should keep you busy until Amour comes out on DVD (18th March, so stop asking).


5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How To Survive A Plague
The Invisible War
Searching For Sugar Man



Michael Haneke – Amour
Quentin Tarantino – Django Unchained
Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola – Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal – Zero Dark Thirty
John Gatins – Flight