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Film

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Baz Lurhmann’s latest offering, The Great Gatsby, is his first since the atrocious 2008 “Australia”. It’s appears to be a tricky proposition bringing Fitzgerald’s cautionary tale of the American Dream off the page and onto the silver screen. Previous efforts, including the 1974 version with Robert Redford, have failed to do the source material justice. With Baz at the helm, we were never going to get a subtle version of this Great American novel. What we do get is everything dialed up…

When should a documentary film maker campaign for justice, rather than simply documenting it?  And where does it leave our verdict as a viewer? In 1993 three young boys are found in a ditch, bound and mutilated.  The local police, desperate for a conviction, make a connection between the marks on the dead children’s bodies and Satanic rituals.  Before long suspicion falls on three local teenagers, and in particular, Damien Echols, who with his died black hair, stands out from the rest of the community.  At the 1993 trial,…

The documentary genre has come into it’s own in the last ten years or so, with some releases (Superzize Me, Bowling for Columbine) breaking though into the mainstream. Some of the subjects, crossing the void between the New York Twin Towers on a tightrope (Man on Wire), fire coming out of faucets (Gasland), and a complete stranger posing as a long dead son (The Imposter) are all stranger than fiction, and make fascinating viewing.  These are 15 of my favourites.  For more on…

Behind the Candelabra, directed by Steven Soderbergh, was aired in the US some time back, but European interest in it has been piqued by it’s positive recent screening at Cannes (though it failed to pick up any major prize in the end), and praise for Michael Douglas’s performance as Liberace, the rhinestone encrusted camp performer. It’s Douglas’s performance that pulls the film above it’s otherwise light weight  TV bio pic feel.  He puts in a bravado performance as late era Liberace, desperate to hang onto…

A multi generational story, covering several well worn cinematic themes, but has at  its heart the relationship  between fathers and sons.   While flawed, and like many Hollywood films, suffers from being overly long (almost two and a half hours) The Place Beyond the Pines is a fine piece of film making. Split into three acts, the first concerns motorbike rebel Luke, played by Ryan Gosling, who creates a truly cinematic anti hero, with echoes of previous bad boys from cinema history  -…

Don McCullin, is one of the world’s most celebrated war photographers, whose unflinching photographs brought the reality of war into the homes of the Britain throughout the 60’s and 70’s. Now well into his 70’s and living a quieter life in Somerset, a new documentary looks back on McCullin’s emergence as the most gifted observer of life, war and death, from his beginnings growing up in a poor district of Finsbury Park, North London, to his eventual focus on covering international conflicts.…

; Is there a nicer man in rock than Dave Grohl? Charismatic, charming and for a guy with some serious hard rocking credentials, he seems amazingly together. He is perhaps the only person who could helm this documentary, charting the rise and fall of LA’s Sound City recording studio. He manages to pull together many of America’s finest musicians, to reminisce on the recording of some of the most seminal albums and music of the last three decades. Split into three distinct eras,…

Already famous as the film where Nicole Kidman urinates on a jelly fish stung Zac Efron, The Paperboy is all Southern trash melodrama with little substance. The plot, involving an investigation into a possible mis-carriage of justice, is very much a side show to the main protagonists delinquent behaviour and obsessions, of which the pissing scene is just one out of many. The film is stylistically accomplished, with the heat, steaminess and dirtiness of the Southern swamps seeping out of the…

The Hunt is a harrowing but compelling watch.  The story of a forty year old teacher, Lucas is re-building his life after an acrimonious divorce. Popular at school, seemingly a natural with his young charges, and in the first flush of a romance with a pretty fellow worker, his world is turned upside down by an almost casual accusation by Klara, a young girl at the school, and the daughter of his best friend. The film documents Lucas’s gradual descent into a…

This dark psychological thriller scores highly on IMDB (7.9 at the time of writing), but I found it a perplexing and frustrating watch. Directed by Korean director Chan-wook Park (previously best known in the West for the well-received Oldboy) the story, such as it is, revolves largely around India, a young girl, recently bereaved by the loss of her father. When her long lost Uncle returns, events in the family household take a sinister and mysterious turn (with more than a nod to Hitchcock’s…