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Top 20 Films of 2014: Part One (20-11)

13 hours ago

It’s that time of year where we brace ourselves for what’s to come. Yet before we say au revoir to 2014 the CineVue team has taken the time to cogitate on the cinematic delights of the past twelve months. This year we’ve decided to split the list in two; partly to help promote indie films we’re passionate about, but also to celebrate just how great a year it’s been. Even though CineVue is a UK-based film blog, we pride ourselves on our festival coverage and as such have decided to allow any film that has received a world or UK premiere during this year's festival circuit to be nominated. Yes some of these films haven’t received a UK theatrical release, but in a world where on-demand services are pulling apart the theatrical model we believe it’s important to champion some of cinema’s braver, »

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Interview: Johannes Holzhausen, 'The Great Museum'

19 December 2014 6:13 AM, PST

For a filmmaker responsible for an insightful opening of the curtain of an arts institution like he does on Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum (Khm) in The Great Museum (2014) it was grounding when CineVue chatted to Johannes Holzhausen on Skype, sitting in what looked like a store room in his offices. He began by explaining how his path had reached the Khm and what makes this formidable place such a beacon. There does seem a certainty with making a documentary about the Khm when you've studied Art History at University. Johannes pauses and smiles. "Who knows why someone becomes something. There came a point when I realised all the students around me were so much cleverer than I was, and I would never reach the level in that field I would want to."

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: 'Guys and Dolls'

19 December 2014 4:11 AM, PST

★★★★☆ Damon Runyon is often imitated but never bettered - we won't even hold it against him that he’s partly responsible (via proxy) for the gangster films of Guy Ritchie and his ilk. Runyon's portrayal of the New York underworld and it's denizens with their peculiar argot seems to sound familiar and strange at the the same time to modern ears, but when it arrived in his tales published in the late 1930s it shone a light on an epoch that previously had only been know via arch genre films. Now, of course, this world is mostly known from Joseph L. Mankiewicz's film version of Guys and Dolls (1955) that has been beautifully restored and re-released.

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- CineVue UK

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DVD Review: 'Still the Enemy Within'

19 December 2014 2:11 AM, PST

★★★★★The miners' strike of 1984-5 was a pivotal moment in the social and political history of the UK, and one which, 30 years on, we are just beginning to properly put into any sort of context. The landscape of the country, both cultural and literal, has changed to such a degree that the Britain we see in Owen Gower's Still the Enemy Within (2014) is barely recognisable, somehow further removed than either of the world wars. It's a representation of a path not taken – one of state ownership, care and intervention – as much as it is a historical record. Knitted together from extensively researched archive footage, contemporary interviews and luminous black and white photography, it unfolds with unhurried ease and vitality.

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- CineVue UK

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Weekly Round-up: 'Hobbit', 'Manakamana'

19 December 2014 12:57 AM, PST

Welcome to our regular weekly round-up of the best DVD, Blu-ray and cinema releases over the past seven days in the UK. We'll also strive to keep you updated on upcoming festivals, events and the latest trailers from across the web. Come back each Friday to see what our talented team of writers are recommending and catch up on all the week's new releases. As an independent film site, our aim is to reach out to the largest audience possible, whilst also highlighting and championing some of the more diverse and less known new releases from the world of cinema. We can only do this with your help and support, so please feel free to add your comments and let us know what films and events you'd like to hear more about. For regular updates or to continue the conversation, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

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- CineVue UK

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Special Feature: 'Batman vs. Superman' rumour mill

19 December 2014 12:51 AM, PST

If you're a fan of superhero films (or comics for that matter), you're probably familiar with the basic details of the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. It's entitled Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2015) and appears to be every bit a prequel to an eventual Justice League film. Here are the basics: Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer will direct and write, respectively; Henry Cavill (Clark Kent/Superman), Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), and Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman) will comprise the bulk of the cast from a superhero perspective; Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), Jeremy Irons (Alfred) and Amy Adams (Lois Lane) will also be a part of the project, and you can find the full cast and crew listings at IMDb.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: 'Kon-Tiki'

18 December 2014 5:00 AM, PST

★★★☆☆The ocean is vast and filled with peril, but it is the foolhardy resilience of men that proves the crux of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s cinematic voyage, Kon-Tiki (2012). Norway’s most expensive production to date, it was nominated for last year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and now receives a UK release with both Norwegian and English-language versions available (they were shot concurrently). Charting an explorer’s journey from South America to the South Sea Islands on a tiny raft, it is an admirable and handsome picture that peaks in moments of intricately crafted tension, but which never quite captures the adventurous essence of its subject matter.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: 'Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb'

18 December 2014 4:56 AM, PST

★★☆☆☆There was an effortless charm to the original Night at the Museum (2006) that made it more than passable family fare, albeit of the silliest order. Two films later and the franchise has well and truly passed its sell-by date. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014) exists and contains one or two brief moments of verve, but it's mostly predictable swill delivered by actors merely seeing out their contracts. Larry (Ben Stiller) is now in charge of dazzling audiences at the Museum of Natural History in New York City who believe that the exhibits coming to life are a result of special effects rather than the powers of an ancient tablet.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: 'Annie'

17 December 2014 2:38 PM, PST

★★☆☆☆Not even the promise of sunshine can save the one-note exercise in musical adaptations that is Annie (2014). Helmed by Will Gluck (of Easy A (2010) notoriety), this adaptation of the 1977 Broadway musical delivers on sights and sounds, but sadly, there is little meat on these bones. Screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna and Gluck have updated not only to a modern New York City, but they have also tweaked the plot to near fallibility. Most noticeable is a more racially diverse cast, a musical score that has been sufficiently urbanized and a more whip-smart yet oh-so-doe-eyed Annie (Quvenzhané Wallis). Annie lives in foster care rather than a bustling orphanage and with only a few girls to keep her company.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: 'Dumb & Dumber To'

17 December 2014 1:50 AM, PST

★★☆☆☆Twenty years after the release of Dumb & Dumber (1994) Harry (Jeff Daniels) and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) return with another dose of malodorous humour in Dumb & Dumber To (2014). Lloyd has been in a coma for 20 years but now he’s back and itching to go on another road trip with Harry whose just discovered he has a long-lost daughter with the one time love of his life, Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner). The pair sets off to find Penny (Rachel Melvin) just as she heads off to a big science symposium to give an important speech on behalf of her adoptive father Dr Pinchelow (Steve Tom). Two ineffectual and methane-loving knights in shining armour, the pair follow Penny to the symposium.

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- CineVue UK

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Special Feature: Mark Cousins' 'Life May Be'

16 December 2014 12:57 PM, PST

As an object, a letter is a lesson in immortality; it exists in a form of forgotten meanings that only change when the recipient allows them space to breathe. Its language is pure and uncorrupted by the corporeal, a beautiful (or horrible) surprise that will move to express what cannot be spoken; a link to our unconscious thoughts and desires. Once sent on its way to a potential explosion that may never arrive it seems to beckon a residual calm that allows cathartic contemplation and a sense of serene somnambulism that is broke only when the answer arrives. Epistolary novels reached their apogee in the 18th century with Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, Pierre Choderlos de LaclosLes Liaisons Dangereuses and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers.

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- CineVue UK

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DVD Review: 'Nas: Time Is Illmatic'

15 December 2014 1:48 PM, PST

★★★☆☆In the attempt to present a life on film, there will always be parts that are left out. The camera cannot capture every minute detail of a person’s life, and that’s an understanding audiences will usually approach with. Where biopics may attempt to cram in all the information necessary, documentaries rarely try; they aim to capture real life without truncating events to fit a neat runtime, but rather honing in a moment and building a story out from there. The documentary as celebration of a milestone means that the viewer can reminisce and engage with the subject in a contemplative and intrigued manner. This is exactly where we are put with director One9’s Nas: Time Is Illmatic (2014).

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- CineVue UK

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DVD Review: 'Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For'

15 December 2014 12:42 PM, PST

★★☆☆☆After an almost decade-long gap since Sin City (2005), you’d think that collaborators Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez would have made time to craft a watertight narrative and ensure that expectations were not only met but exceeded in belated sequel, Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For (2014). Sadly, that isn’t the case. Once again pulling from those tropes of classic Noir and imbuing them with a graphic, hyper-violent gleam the follow-up also sticks to the same circular story structure as the previous film, but it simply isn’t compelling enough this time around, nor does it feature that same colourful collection of frazzled lowlifes and crazed antagonists.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: 'The Circle'

15 December 2014 12:29 PM, PST

★★★☆☆The notion that documentary and drama should not be mixed is overturned by The Circle (2014), an ingenious and touching slice of little known gay history beautifully made by Stefan Haupt and the Swiss entry to the 2014 Best Foreign Language Oscar race. As the Second World War rages around it, Switzerland beamed like a beacon of a potential utopia for gay men oppressed in their neighbouring environs, German especially. There were no laws denying them sexual or social activity for instance, and gay clubs flourished unhindered. The pivotal organisation was the eponymous Circle, a 'self-help organization' for gay intellectual and bohemian denizens.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: 'The Great Museum'

15 December 2014 12:28 PM, PST

★★★★☆There's something inherently cinematic and therefore mysterious about institutions, and with the release of Johannes Holzhausen’s The Great Museum (2014) we have Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery (2014) arriving on screens in January. It’s worth mentioning both films in the same breath as they act as both point and counterpoint to one another. After premiering to critical adoration at the Berlinale in February The Great Museum now is unveiled for British eyes, and what a gem it is. Focusing on the majestical central beating heart of Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum (literally translated as 'Museum of Art History'), which sits astride the city like a cultural colossus opposite the Naturhistorisches Museum.

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- CineVue UK

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