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East End 2015: 'Welcome to Leith' review

13 hours ago

★★★★☆ A terrifying portrait of a community under siege from white supremacists, Welcome to Leith (2014) arrives as America is waking up to the realization its biggest terrorist threat could be the enemy within. A tiny hamlet in North Dakota, the former railroad town of Leith only recorded a meager population of 16 adults and children in the 2010 census. The town's so small that their mayor also moonlights as the school bus driver. Therefore its understandable that the arrival of a reclusive man called Craig Cobb was met with intrigue and a fair bit of excitement by the local community. However this sleepy town made headlines in 2012 when the truth about Cobb was learned.

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East End 2015: 'Astraea' review

14 hours ago

★★★☆☆ In a world where post-apocalyptic dramas are a dime a dozen, its refreshing when you finally find a film entry into the canon that chooses to focus on the character-driven drama in a quieter fashion. In doing so, films take on a more accessible feeling; disaster rooted in some sort of mysterious reality pulls viewers in but watching people attempt to rebuild in a new world is often the reason to stay. It's a finely wrought balance, rarely done in major blockbusters (summer tent-poles regularly fail to tick that box), but Astraea (2015) is a seriously intriguing piece of independent filmmaking that succeeds on this alchemy of catastrophe and renewal.

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Film Review: 'Magician'

15 hours ago

★★★☆☆ At the age of 25, Orson Welles produced, wrote, directed and starred in Citizen Kane (1941), a film widely considered to be one of the greatest ever made. In many ways, this proved to be the peak of his career. To celebrate Welles' centenary, Chuck Workman's Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (2015) gives us a cradle-to-grave biopic of the filmmaker and raconteur. It starts with his precocious childhood in Woodstock, Illinois. Welles adored his mother, whose view was that "a child had to do something extraordinary… or you were exiled to the nursery." She died when he was nine, but he kept her lessons and never failed to entertain.

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Karlovy Vary 2015: 'Time Out of Mind' review

18 hours ago

★★★★☆When Bob Dylan released his thirtieth studio album in 1997, critics claimed that the ominous atmosphere created by producer Daniel Lanois was palpable, but also almost drowned the singer's vocals. It's interesting then that New York-based director Oren Moverman - who co-wrote Todd Haynes' Dylan pseudo-biopic I'm Not There (2007), as well as helming dramas The Messenger and Rampart - chooses to use the same title for his film concerning a homeless man adrift and voiceless in New York. Time Out of Mind (2014) is the director's third feature and the latest in an ongoing exploration of institutional failure - this time, in supporting those members of society who can't support themselves.

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DVD Review: 'Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell'

21 hours ago

★★★★☆ These days there is such a rich offering of TV dramas that it can be hard to know what to watch and what not to. It can be difficult for new dramas to grab our attention, especially in world where shows like True Detective and Game Of Thrones dominate our viewing time. The BBC, once a home to the best television drama on offer has waned in the enormous shadow of HBO in recent years. However, their latest show, a seven-part series based on Susanna Clarke's best-selling 2004 novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, is truly unmissable TV. Clarke produced a behemoth of a novel, richly weaving the complex history of English magic set during the Napoleonic Wars.

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Karlovy Vary 2015: The festival celebrates its 50th anniversary in style

2 July 2015 9:16 AM, PDT

Karlovy Vary is the festival scene's best kept secret. The Czech festival may not enjoy the same cachet as Berlin, Locarno or even non-competitive festivals like London, but the consistently adventurous programming it's celebrated for in addition to its rich retrospectives and extensive industry forums have cemented its position as Eastern Europe's biggest cinematic event. For its Golden Jubilee, running from 3-11 July, it has assembled a solid lineup combining the best of recent world cinema along with premieres from some of the most exciting new filmmakers from across the globe. Contrary to the norm, this year's competition is dominated by fresh young talents, many of whom are delivering their debut features.

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East End 2015: 'The Diary of a Teenage Girl' review

2 July 2015 12:41 AM, PDT

★★★★☆Acquired by Sony Pictures Classics after its glitzy Sundance premiere earlier this year, The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) - based on Phoebe Gloeckner's comic novel of which was loosely inspired by her own life - is a provocative, candid and funny account of one self-aware teens awkward but liberating transition from childhood to womanhood and all the many bumps along the way. Minnie (Bel Powley) has recently lost her virginity - that day, in fact. The lucky suitor happens to be her mother's long-term boyfriend Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). Their affair alights something deep down inside of Minnie, sending her on an exhilarating and devastating pursuit of herself without any limitations.

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East End 2015: 'One Crazy Thing' review

1 July 2015 11:00 AM, PDT

★★★☆☆ Without even realizing there is a need for it, the cinematic palate needs to be cleansed of the loud, brash Hollywood blockbusters, thought-provoking dramas or even tawdry comedies. Sometimes, we need an honest-to-goodness bit of cinema that hearkens back to the classics; where all you need is a simple romance, a few good laughs and one or two amusing bumps in the road to keep the entertainment factor high. Amit Gupta's third feature length film, One Crazy Thing (2014), does precisely this. It's a nice slice of boilerplate rom-com that delivers on a simple plot and strong performances from its lead actors.

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Film Review: 'Comet'

1 July 2015 8:58 AM, PDT

★★☆☆☆ "A dream of memories; conversations that we've had...they weaved in and out of each other like those M.C. Escher drawings." This is how insufferable protagonist Dell (Justin Long) describes a recent dream in Comet (2014) which, in keeping with the film's ardent reflexivity, also describes the film itself. He's speaking to his romantic foil, Kimberly (Emmy Rossum), who moments later - or years earlier thanks to the time-jumping nature of the narrative chronology - tells him that she's too tired for another of his "meta-arguments." She's not the only one. It's an ambitious debut from Sam Esmail but its exploration of a flawed relationship buckles beneath the weight of its own wry self-awareness.

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Film Review: 'Terminator Genisys'

1 July 2015 8:58 AM, PDT

★★☆☆☆ It has been a problem that has plagued more than one studio in the past 24 years - how to continue The Terminator (1984) franchise after James Cameron's brace of sci-fi landmarks. So far, every attempt has, to some degree, been a failure - two films, Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines (2003) and Terminator Salvation (2009) were rejected by critics and public alike, while TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles' cult status could not save it from cancellation after two seasons. Memories of the past still linger, however, and original star Arnold Schwarzenegger is back in the first of an intended new trilogy, Terminator Genisys (2015).

Jai Courtney takes on the role of Kyle Reese, loyal soldier of John Connor (Jason Clarke) sent back to 1984 to save Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) from the Terminator (Schwarzenegger). What he finds on arrival is a very different situation- a tougher Sarah Connor, raised by »

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East End 2015: Read our guide to this year's festival

1 July 2015 8:39 AM, PDT

The 2015 East End Film Festival opens this week with Amit Gupta'scharming One Crazy Thing before going on to inspire and impress London audiences from 1 - 12 July. Billing itself as a festival of discovery, Eeff prides itself on giving exposure to new voices in    film and will continue in that vein with this year's programme as well as providing opportunities to see exciting work due to be released in UK cinemas later in the 2015. The festival will draw to a close the latest feature from Eeff alum, Marc Silver, who follows 2013's Who is Dayani Cristal? with the deeply affecting 31⁄2 Minutes, Ten Bullets. Elsewhere, gala screenings such as Asif Kapadia's Amy will provide a highlight in what promises to be another impressive selection.

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Film Review: 'Still the Water'

30 June 2015 5:47 AM, PDT

★★★★☆A contender for last year's Palme d'Or - if not the most deserving, according to its modest director - Naomi Kawase's Still the Water (2014) is a fluid, dreamlike tone poem of mothers and fathers, death and continuance. Violent waves crash on the shore of the film's Japanese island, sweeping to land the tattooed corpse of an unknown man. This event will subtly impact on the lives of two young teenagers who live nearby. Kyoko (Jun Yoshinaga) is a courageous young girl with a penchant for going swimming in her school uniform, even though the beaches are closed because of the discovery of the body. She, meanwhile, is gradually falling in love with the bashful, elusive Kaito (Nijiro Murakami).

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Film Review: 'The First Film'

30 June 2015 5:38 AM, PDT

★★★★☆ Gilbert Adair began the first chapter of Flickers (1995), his deeply personal and often eccentric odyssey into the history of the movies - written to mark the centenary of the Lumière brothers' public exhibition of short films shot and projected on their Cinematographe device in Paris's Grand Café Boulevard des Capucines in 1895 - with a grandiose "Let there be light!". It is a mark of cinema's uniqueness as an art form, that it can be so fittingly compared to such a momentous and mystical occasion as the Big Bang. Adair's wonderful book, mixing selected film stills (one for each year) and textual analysis, kicks off with a Lumière short, known as Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory.

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Film Review: 'Amy'

30 June 2015 12:52 AM, PDT

★★★★☆ Bafta-winning British director Asif Kapadia made his name with his brilliant 2012 biographic documentary Senna, which told the story of the young Brazilian race driver whose early death in a crash in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix made him into a tragic icon. With Amy (2015) - which premieried at Cannes and is released int he UK this week - we have a similarly tragic chronicle of a death foretold, but whereas Senna had that one moment of horrible impact, this latest tale is the story of one long car crash. Amy Winehouse grew up in London, a Jewish girl with the voice of an old fashioned jazz singer and an emerging style that bespoke a love of a former era.

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Edinburgh 2015: 'Iona' review

30 June 2015 12:47 AM, PDT

★★★☆☆

This year's Edinburgh International Film Festival drew to a close with Iona (2015), Scott Graham's follow-up to his much praised debut feature Shell (2012). Set against the beautiful, isolated terrain of the titular Scottish island, Iona retains much of the previous film's affinity for avocative cinematography and the hidden, often unarticulated troubles lurking within, even if its narrative doesn't prove to be quite as interesting. After a brutal crime, Iona (Ruth Negga) escapes Glasgow with her teenage son Bull (Ben Gallagher) and seeks refuge on her namesake island, where she finds safety with Daniel (Douglas Henshaw).

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Edinburgh 2015: 'The Messenger' review

29 June 2015 1:27 PM, PDT

★★☆☆☆ Bogged down by a directionless narrative and pedestrian execution, David Blair's The Messenger (2015) benefits slightly from a committed performance from rising British actor Robert Sheehan. But even that isn't enough to hold the audiences attention, meaning scope for this film is limited. Jack (Sheehan) is a troubled soul. Ever since he was a child, he's been haunted by voices of the dead. Unable to escape, no matter how much alcohol he drinks or pills he pops, Jack is stuck in a vicious cycle, targeted by those who died with unfinished business. The latest of which is Mark (Jack Fox), a murdered reporter who never got the chance to say goodbye to his wife (Tamzin Merchant).

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Interview: Desiree Akhaven's 'Appropriate Behaviour'

29 June 2015 1:23 PM, PDT

"I love Curb Your Enthusiasm. I want to feel just as entitled as any rich, middle aged white man; that's how entitled I want my protagonist to be." Desiree Akhaven does not consider herself to be a political filmmaker. In her debut feature Appropriate Behaviour (2014), which she wrote and directed, she stars as Shirin, a bisexual Iranian-American, going through a break-up with her long- term girlfriend, Maxine. The film premiered at Sundance in 2014, followed by a successful festival run and a critical reception that signals a cult film in the making. Shirin is a typical hip twenty-something, roaming the gaping chasm between adolescence and maturity in Brooklyn's creative bubble, equally insecure, self-assured, self-absorbed, and dealing with heartbreak.

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Interview: Ruben Östlund talks 'Force Majeure'

29 June 2015 1:19 PM, PDT

"Have you cried as an adult?" My question to Ruben Östlund, the director of ice-cold Swedish black comedy Force Majeure (2014), is not as impertinent as it might appear. It's a reference to a scene of his film in which patriarch Tomas (Johannes Kuhnke), on holiday with his family at a luxury French ski resort, implodes when he comes to terms with cowardly fleeing from an avalanche without his wife and kids. "Yeah, of course" he replies, "but not in that horrible 'man-cry' way like in the film. If you don't cry in the right way, you get no sympathy at all. If it suddenly bursts out, tears, snot, it comes out in something that is not sympathetic at all." Those kind of caustic judgements are the catalyst for Force Majeure's glacial look into human relationships.

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DVD Review: 'Force Majeure'

29 June 2015 1:14 PM, PDT

★★★☆☆ What could have easily been a glib provocation turns out to be rigorous examination of masculinity in crisis in the hands of Swedish director Ruben Östlund. Force Majeure (2014) tests the limits (or troughs) of masculinity in the post-liberal age, charting the effects of decades of progression and asks: what is left of the hunter-gatherer in 2015? It's a fascinating inverse of the traditional narrative of the unreconstructed male ego that is so common in cinema - pictures like John Cassavetes' Husbands (1970) or Ted Kotcheff's Wake in Fright (1971) - but what ultimately fascinates is that both strands end up in the same place - cowardice.

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DVD Review: 'Story of My Death'

29 June 2015 8:00 AM, PDT

★★★★☆ The libertine rationalism of pre-revolutionary France is fed to the lions in Albert Serra's strange and transfixing Story of My Death (2013). A low-lit union of bloody thighs and throats, it plucks two infamous seducers from the annals of history and literature and uses them to metaphorically wander through a social dusk, taking one last look at the sun before it is consumed by the night. Typical of the Catalan filmmaker, this is dense and cryptic stuff, in which the air of a musty baroque mansion is a thick with ideas as it is dust. Winner of the top prize at Locarno, it now receives a DVD release in the UK through the tireless purveyors of under-appreciated world cinema, Second Run.

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