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18 articles


Film Review: Janis: Little Girl Blue

4 February 2016 10:47 AM, PST

★★★☆☆ "Take another little piece of my heart," Janis Joplin famously wails in Piece of My Heart. In Janis: Little Girl Blue, Amy Berg has lovingly reassembled those pieces, seemingly scattered over the most musically-critical decade in our recent history, and shaped them back into the bright star that was Joplin herself. While it is a documentary in the classic sense (talking heads, reels of historical footage, even a re-enactment of Joplin's letters), there is such a warm nostalgia for the subject that we do not seem to mind the familiar tropes. Berg brings us a softer, more vulnerable side to Joplin without trading on her name. There are some great nuggets: insightful anecdotes from former band members of Big Brother & the Holding Company as well as her family and archive footage help make this a wonderful portrait.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: Spotlight

4 February 2016 3:39 AM, PST

★★★★☆ There's a sense of the years being rolled back in Tom McCarthy's gripping, Oscar-worthy journalism drama Spotlight. On the one hand, there's almost a nostalgia that comes with watching - and participating in - the craft of meticulous, urgent and dedicated long-form journalism. When there's talk of deadlines, it's all about whether the reporters can build a strong enough case in time; the modern medium is blighted by a clamour for clicks and the rush to publish. Fact checks be damned. On the other hand is the impressive feat of crafting such a superb example of fiercely intelligent, mid-budget, mature cinema, the likes of which is all the more rarely seen in this day and age and certainly not this accomplished.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: Vision of Paradise

4 February 2016 1:02 AM, PST

★★☆☆☆ Once in a blue moon, pop culture is delivered a figure cut from such a radical and innovative cloth that it hardly knows how to handle it. This figure achieves such a legendary status that they reach a cult-like standing in the consciousness of others. Such is the status of reggae producer and musician Lee Scratch Perry, who now lives in a rarefied state replete with mysticism, pontificating at length and at will to any willing listener on all he sees and believes and continuing to make some of the most intriguing and trippy music on either side of the Atlantic. Volker Schaner's documentary, Lee Scratch Perry's Vision of Paradise covers more than a decade of Perry's life.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: Trumbo

4 February 2016 1:02 AM, PST

★★☆☆☆ Director Jay Roach turns his attention to legendary screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in the aptly named Trumbo, based on the biography by Bruce Alexander Cook. A noted communist who tirelessly fought for the rights of blacklisted writers in Golden Era Hollywood, Trumbo is a fascinating figure who is so ingrained in the fabric of tinsel town's century-old history, though exactly why his work was so highly regarded - and successful - is lost in the mire of this glossy, ham-fisted biopic that settles for surface-level summations. Seamlessly seguing from one colossal character - Breaking Bad's meth kingpin Walter White - to another, Bryan Cranston gives a typically studied, full-bodied and quite remarkable performance as the titular Trumbo, a man who wears his political beliefs on his sleeve and whose services are called upon to rescue flailing productions - as well as write award-winning scripts of his own.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: Goosebumps

4 February 2016 1:02 AM, PST

★★★★☆ "R.L. Stine. Whatever happened to that guy?" Rob Letterman's mile-a-minute, edge of your seat, raucously funny Goosebumps confirms that the 1990s (pre-He Who Shall Not Be Named) petrifier of children is alive and kicking. Donning dark horn-rimmed glasses, Jack Black is at his maniacal, magnetic best as the enigmatic writer in a wildly entertaining family flick that has enough spills and chills to delight young and old alike. Moving to a new town for a change of scenery after the death of his father, Zack (Dylan Minnette) and his mom (Amy Ryan) move in next door to less than welcoming neighbours. A tyrannical Black makes it clear that Zack is to keep clear of his daughter, Hannah (Odeya Rush), but the butterflies of teenage romance are sent fluttering across the fence.

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- CineVue UK

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Film Review: The American Dreamer

4 February 2016 1:01 AM, PST

★★★☆☆ Lawrence Schiller and L.M. Kit Carson could hardly have better timed their thirty-day intersection with Dennis Hopper that formed the raw materials of the quasi-documentary The American Dreamer. They caught Hopper fresh from Easy Rider when he was a generational icon, high on his success - and just plain high - and boldly attempting to establish a reputation as a serious filmmaker. The film was shot and edited in early 1971, in the eye of the New Hollywood storm, but never received a release beyond as companion piece to Hopper's Easy Rider follow-up The Last Picture.

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- CineVue UK

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Rotterdam 2016: Préjudice review

4 February 2016 12:58 AM, PST

★★★☆☆ Notions of marginalisation, responsibility and the ambiguities of nature versus nurture all collide in Antoine Cuypers' handsome and austere feature debut, Préjudice. The film is built around enormously compelling performances from Thomas Blanchard and Nathalie Baye, as an antagonistic son and mother. They take the leads in a taut chamber piece that pulls at the loose threads of a family with a precision for excruciating social tension and a refusal to offer easy answers to thematic waters which in turn beget labyrinthine ethical tributaries. Both compassion and frustration are easy to justify throughout the drama - but precisely who is deserving of which remains a far murkier question.

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- CineVue UK

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Rotterdam 2016: Garbage Helicopter review

4 February 2016 12:58 AM, PST

★★★☆☆ What keeps running but never gets anywhere? This riddle is posed on a number of occasions during writer-director Jonas Selber Augustsén's head-scratcher of a debut feature. Gym-goers may answer slogging away on a treadmill but the principle could just as easily be applied to a film which is wickedly odd from start to finish. The overarching sense of stasis created by an immobile camera should not suggest that we remain in the same place, but the movement here is more cerebral than literal. Sure to distinguish festival circuit audiences for and against as clearly as the black and white of its monochrome images, The Garbage Helicopter is a beguiling, bemusing Nordic offering.

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- CineVue UK

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Film of the Week: Rams

4 February 2016 12:54 AM, PST

★★★★☆ Grímur Hákonarson's award-winning tragicomedy Rams is an affecting feature about sheep which also speaks reams about the human condition. Hákonarson focuses on two estranged brothers who share a passion for sheep farming. Set in a remote part of Iceland, Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) own adjacent land but have not spoken to each other in decades. They keep to themselves and avoid any form of verbal contact with one another. Wandering ewes are wordlessly returned if they stray onto each other's land. When forced to communicate, Gummi's sheepdog is employed to convey their hastily scribbled messages.

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- CineVue UK

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Sundance 2016: Love & Friendship review

3 February 2016 3:31 AM, PST

★★★★☆Whit Stillman's films are often concerned with the absurdities of human interactions. His latest, Love & Friendship, is no different - except that it's based on a Jane Austen novella. Yet Stillman, whose previous work like 2009's Damsels in Distress focuses in a skew-eyed perspective of modern America, is the perfect fit. Based on the Austen's epistolary Lady Susan, written in 1794 but not published until fifty years after her death, Stillman's period comedy centres on Kate Beckinsale's Lady Susan Vernon, a recently widowed socialite whose gallivanting around London since her husband's death has caused her reputation to plummet. She's a Machiavellian schemer who succeeds through arrogance and flirtation, wanting nothing more than a comfortable life but with the chance for some seduction on the side.

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- CineVue UK

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Sundance 2016: Kate Plays Christine review

3 February 2016 2:48 AM, PST

★★★★☆ 'Nobody sees anyone as she is, let alone an actress playing a troubled young woman forty years after her death. They see a whole - they see all sorts of things - they see themselves.' This is a flagrant bastardisation of a quote from Virginia Woolf's Jacob's Room, but it perfectly encapsulates the needling interrogation that is central to Robert Greene's conflicted and engrossing docudrama, Kate Plays Christine. Its very definition as a documentary at Sundance is cause for scrutiny, playing perfectly into the hands of a director intent on a dialogue about the veracity of non-fiction filmmaking and the porous boundaries between apparently distinguishable mediums.

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- CineVue UK

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Sundance 2016: Dream Is Destiny review

2 February 2016 6:02 AM, PST

★★★☆☆ In the two and a half decades since his first feature film, Slackers, debuted at New Directors/New Films in New York, Richard Linklater has built an unlikely career out of humility and driven artistic ambition. Choosing to remain in Austin, Texas rather than racing blindly for the big lights of Tinseltown he's cultivated an enviable reputation as an indie auteur and the epitome of the mission at Sundance. In Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny, a new film screening at this year's festival, Louis Black (the editor of the Austin Chronicle) and Karen Bernstein pay warm tribute to the filmmaker in what is a fitting ode to independent spirit more than a penetrating portrait.

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- CineVue UK

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Rotterdam 2016: The Bride review

2 February 2016 5:26 AM, PST

★★★☆☆ The bold and deeply felt symbolism of Federico García Lorca's famous matrimonial drama, Blood Wedding, makes it ripe for cinematic treatment. There are rich thematic veins to be opened in the writer's text and his beguiling visual motifs are screaming from the page to be fully realised on screen. Carlos Saura's flamenco effort Blood Wedding in 1981 is the most notably previous attempt to adapt the material and Paula Ortiz now has another crack of the whip in the form of the ravishingly beautiful and appealing, if somewhat unremarkable, La Novia - or The Bride.

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- CineVue UK

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Rotterdam 2016: Our top picks

2 February 2016 2:36 AM, PST

The International Film Festival Rotterdam kicks off its 45th edition this evening with the world premiere of Dutch survival drama Beyond Sleep. Directed by Boudewijn Koole, it follows an ambitious geologist on a search for meteorites in Norwegian swampland. It will be followed by twelve days of eclectic cinema from all around the world ranging from myriad festival favourites from 2015 to lesser appreciated European fare. The festival runs through to a screening of Brady Corbet's stunning directorial debut The Childhood of a Leader on the evening of Saturday 6 February.

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- CineVue UK

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Rotterdam 2016: As I Open My Eyes review

1 February 2016 1:31 PM, PST

★★★★☆How do you solve a problem like Farah? Principled, articulate but pig-headed, she is the whirlwind around whom Tunisian director Leyla Bouzid builds her remarkable debut feature. As I Open My Eyes is set in a very specific time and place: Tunis, summer 2010. It advocates the noble idealism, determination and exuberance of youth but equally acts as a warning cry against stubborn naivete at a point when the first waves of the Arab Spring were beginning to swell. By using the tropes of the coming-of-ager - a rebellious teen and the strained relationship with her mother - as the central touchstone, Bouzid subtly, yet efficiently paints the nascent days of Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution as a force to be reckoned with.

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- CineVue UK

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Special Feature: The bare necessities of CGI

1 February 2016 4:39 AM, PST

One of the more unexpected by-products of the galaxy-wide discourse orbiting the new Star Wars film was widespread nostalgia for traditional effects. Cult film fans may say that they've spent years clamouring for the days of yore, but The Force Awakens brought the recognition hurtling into the mainstream that bigger CGI is not always better. Right from the off, Disney's marketing machine which was quick to place practical effects and rubber creature costumes front and centre of photos, footage and commentary. There remain a lot of computer graphics, but instead of being paraded around to draw the attention of the audience - a few computer-generated characters aside - they were employed to augment actual footage, aiding in the storytelling as well as igniting those iconic lightsabers. For many, this usage case is the nirvana of effects in cinema and several recent films have gone some way to repairing damage being »

- CineVue UK

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DVD: Five Dolls for an August Moon

1 February 2016 4:11 AM, PST

★★★☆☆ Gratuity is the watchword for Italian giallo cinema; blood, nudity and violence are all hallmarks of the genre. It is more than a little surprising, then, that Mario Bava's Five Dolls for an August Moon is a rather tame entry in Arrow Video's latest slew of high definition giallo releases. 'Tame', of course, is a relative term, and while Bava's film can't quite boast the sheer volume of sex and gore of What Have You Done to Solange? or Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Five Dolls for an August Moon still retains an impressive body count, impossibly buxom cast and an Italian aesthetic of opulent excess.

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- CineVue UK

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DVD Review: Godard: The Essential Collection

1 February 2016 3:52 AM, PST

★★★★☆ Jean-Luc Godard's first feature, Breathless starts as the director meant to go on. With an effortless Gallic cool, Jean-Paul Belmondo, a Gauloises dangling from his lip, hot-wires an American car and accelerates off at high speed. He breaks rules and dances to his own tune all over town, and that is precisely was in turn to prove the director's own intention. For the last five decades, Godard has explored the ever more esoteric modes of celluloid expression, but with 1960's eye-catching debut - Breathless was the film that arguably defined La Nouvelle Vague - he kicked off a run of his most celebrated, accessible work. Those early years form the basis of StudioCanal's new Essential Blu-ray Collection.

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- CineVue UK

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18 articles



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