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« » October 2018

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* BBC Films

* The Guardian (Film)

  • post Science Fair review ? riveting lessons from the smartest kids in school - 17 October
  • This sharp, refreshing documentary charts the fortunes of high-school students in the unashamed pursuit of excellenceThis National Geographic documentary is a really watchable, distinctly enjoyable account of America?s annual International Science and Engineering Fair, a gigantic competition open to high-school science students from all over the globe. At the annual final in Los Angeles, 1,700 young people must present their projects in trade-fair-type booths and be prepared to answer questions from judges who tour around, taking notes. Translators are provided. This film follows a handful of these competitors individually: outspoken, smart, idealistic, unburdened by false modesty, and with a sublime kind of innocence. It is refreshing to watch something unashamedly concerned with excellence and objectivity, a contest that cannot be won by the person who shouts loudest about it being rigged or culturally biased, and it is also refreshing to see that scientists are not being belittled as ?nerds?, or encouraged to humblebrag themselves by this term. Continue reading...
  • post Margaret Hinxman obituary - 17 October
  • One of the leading British film critics of the postwar years who went on to write crime novelsiThe writer Margaret Hinxman, who has died aged 94, was one of the influential band of female critics who did much to encourage film in postwar Britain. She enjoyed a long and productive career on numerous magazines, including the influential Picturegoer, two national newspapers, the Sunday Telegraph and Daily Mail, and as a writer of fiction.Following the doyennes of the profession Dilys Powell and CA Lejeune, who came from a slightly earlier generation, Hinxman?s contemporaries included the Sight and Sound editor Penelope Houston, Nina Hibben of the Morning Star, the magazine contributors Isabel Quigley, Virginia Graham, Maryvonne Butcher and Freda Bruce Lockhart, and the essayist Penelope Gilliatt. However, in later years their influence was blunted by a rise in testosterone-fuelled violence and numbing special effects in popular cinema. Continue reading...
  • post Fahrenheit 11/9 review: Michael Moore v Donald Trump = stalemate - 17 October
  • In his latest documentary, Moore?s bewildered fury at the president is powerfully evident, but he fails to deliver a knockout blowMichael Moore is still reeling at the news of Donald Trump?s presidential victory. Who can blame him? There is integrity, even heroism, in this outright refusal to come to terms with it, to normalise it in his mind. That custard pie in America?s face landed on 9 November 2016 ? 11/9. The date gives Moore a cute numerical reversal of his great movie from 2004, Fahrenheit 9/11, and that?s still a documentary that must be respected for calling it right on the war on terror, long before disbelieving in WMD became a bland article of faith among precisely those critics who disparaged Moore?s film at the time.Moore?s understandable rage and bewilderment perhaps account for the flaws in this vehement but incoherent film. It restates bits and pieces of all the great polemic he?s given us over the last 20 years ? guns, corporate mendacity, community betrayal, beltway culpability ? and actually repeats his opening line from Fahrenheit 9/11. ?Did we dream it?? he moans, to nightmarishly vivid TV footage of Hillary Clinton preparing for her coronation in 2016, like Al Gore in 2000. But Moore never quite settles on a single, compelling riposte to Trump, never really hones his arguments to one, piercing arrowhead of counterattack. Instead, he rambles over almost everything ? entertainingly, but confusingly, ending on an image of Parkland School shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez. Continue reading...
  • post 'No goodbye at the end of phone calls': readers on things only done in movies - 17 October
  • Following on from our examples of things people only do in the movies, we?ve put together a selection of your suggestions
    They don?t say goodbye at the end of phone calls in films or even wrap them up in any kind of way which I actually like. They just hang up after the main part of the conversation is done. I started doing this but people just called me back to ask if my signal had cut out. GhostWiper Continue reading...
  • post Ray & Liz review ? brutal study of a family coming to pieces - 17 October
  • Richard Billingham?s bleak feature-directing debut captures the claustrophobic loneliness of a couple cut off from everyone, including each otherPhotographer and artist Richard Billingham makes his feature-directing debut with the bleak Ray & Liz. It was developed from earlier video works and his 1996 collection of photographic studies, entitled Ray?s a Laugh, after the old Ted Ray radio comedy. They were stark, uncompromisingly painful shots of his hard-drinking dad, Ray, and hard-smoking mum, Liz, and originally formed part of Charles Saatchi?s YBA exhibition Sensation with Damien Hirst et al.

    Ray and Liz were, of course, depressed ? not a diagnosis we were encouraged to make back in the ironic Cool Britannia 90s. This film version makes it clearer and expands the images? implications into grim and sometimes funny vignettes, fragments of a fragmented family life. The whole film is like an incomplete fragment, intriguing if frustrating.

    Patrick Romer plays Ray as an old man, living in one room of a council flat that we will later realise was home to his family. He is all alone, like a BS Johnson or Samuel Beckett character, listening to Radio 4, and the echo of Terence Davies? Distant Voices, Still Lives is surely deliberate. Poor Ray subsists on a liquid diet, the dodgy home brew brought round by his mate Sid, and on his memories. Continue reading...
  • post They Shall Not Grow Old review ? Peter Jackson's electrifying journey into the first world war trenches - 16 October
  • Jackson has restored, colourised and added voices to footage of the western front, bringing the soldiers unforgettably back to lifeTo mark the centenary of the first world war?s end, Peter Jackson has created a visually staggering thought experiment; an immersive deep-dive into what it was like for ordinary British soldiers on the western front. This he has done using state-of-the-art digital technology to restore flickery old black-and-white archive footage of the servicemen?s life in training and in the trenches. He has colourised it, sharpened it, put it in 3D and, as well as using diaries and letters for narrative voiceover, he has used lip-readers to help dub in what the men are actually saying.

    The effect is electrifying. The soldiers are returned to an eerie, hyperreal kind of life in front of our eyes, like ghosts or figures summoned up in a seance. The faces are unforgettable.

    Watching this, I understood how the world wars of the 20th century are said to have inspired surrealism. Thirty or so years ago, there was a debate in film circles about the sacrilege of colourising classic black-and-white movies. This is different. The colourisation effect is artificial, as is 3D (as is monochrome, too, of course), and the painterly approximation of reality presents a challenge to what you consider ?real? on film. After a few minutes, I realised that force of cultural habit was causing me to doubt what I was seeing, because colour means modern. The colourisation, and everything else, is a kind of alienation shock tactic as well as a means of enfolding you in the experience. It is an indirect way of reminding you that this really did happen to people like you and me.

    They Shall Not Grow Old is arguably limited in scope: it is just about the western front and there is nothing about the German point of view, or about the war elsewhere: say, the Dardanelles. Yet this is because Jackson was working from specific archives ? the BBC and Imperial War Museum ? and spreading the net more widely might have meant a loss of focus and intensity. As it is, the focus and intensity are overwhelming.
    This is a film to fill you with an intensified version of all the old feelings: mostly rage at the incompetence and cruelty of a governing class that put these soldiers through hell in their mechanisation and normalisation of war. In Russia, the grotesque slaughter was a very important cause of the revolutions of 1917. Not in Britain.

    The title is taken from Laurence Binyon?s pious and patriotic poem For the Fallen, although The Old Lie, from Wilfred Owen, might have been better. Certainly a better approximation of the tough, savvy spirit of Owen?s presentation comes over the closing credits, when the song Mademoiselle from Armentičres is performed in its brutally cynical entirety.

    The details are harrowing, as is the political incorrectness of what the soldiers recall: some express their candid enjoyment of the war, others their utter desensitisation to what they experienced. When the end came, many felt only disappointment and anticlimax: ?It was like being made redundant.? And in the war itself, there is nauseous acceptance of horror. You could die simply by stumbling off the duckboards and sinking into the mud. There were the fat rats (?and you knew how they got fat?), the trench foot, the lice. This film also shows you something no Hollywood production ever would: the latrines ? a trench over which men would have to squat, sitting precariously on a pole, some inevitably falling in.

    It is possible that, if and when the technology used in it becomes commonplace, They Shall Not Grow Old may not be considered to have contributed much to what we already understand about the first world war. Maybe. Trench warfare and its horrors have arguably become a subject for reflex piety, while soldiers? experiences in the second world war, or other wars, are somehow not considered poignant in the same way. But as an act of popular history, They Shall Not Grow Old is outstanding. Continue reading...
  • post Detective allegedly urged Weinstein accuser to delete material from phone - 17 October
  • Nicholas DiGaudio told accuser to remove information she didn?t want seen before handing cellphone over, prosecutors saidA police detective already facing allegations that he coached a witness in Harvey Weinstein?s criminal sexual assault case was accused Wednesday of urging one of the movie mogul?s accusers to delete material from her cellphones before she handed them over to prosecutors. The Manhattan district attorney?s office detailed the alleged misconduct in a letter to Weinstein?s lawyer that was made public. Continue reading...
  • post A Star Is Born outshines Venom and Johnny English at UK box office - 16 October
  • The acclaimed romance starring Lady Gaga takes a late leap to the top spot as Neil Armstrong biopic First Man steps in at No 4For its opening weekend at the UK box office, Bradley Cooper?s A Star Is Born found itself in third place, beaten by Venom and Johnny English Strikes Again. But for the second session it?s a totally different story: A Star Is Born rises to the top, knocking Venom into second position. Continue reading...
  • post Bryan Singer rebuts as-yet-unpublished Esquire article - 15 October
  • Director of The Usual Suspects and Bohemian Rhapsody accuses magazine of ?rehashing false accusations?Director Bryan Singer has rebutted an as-yet-unpublished article in Esquire magazine, accusing it of being a ?rehash [of] false accusations?.In a post on Instagram, Singer ? director of The Usual Suspects, X-Men, and Superman Returns ? wrote: ?I have known for some time that Esquire magazine may publish a negative article about me ? what Esquire is attempting to do is a reckless disregard for the truth, making assumptions that are fictional and irresponsible.? Continue reading...
  • post Eco-pioneers in the 1970s: how aerospace workers tried to save their jobs ? and the planet - 14 October
  • A new documentary recalls the extraordinary but largely forgotten Lucas Plan, which saw British workers attempt to make wind turbines instead of weaponsIt was 1974. A new Labour government had come to power on the promise of defence cuts. Swingeing job losses were soon to follow. Desperate workers at one Birmingham factory ? Lucas Aerospace ? fought to save their livelihoods, not by downing tools but by transforming from weapons-makers into one of Britain?s first eco-manufacturers, with early designs for wind turbines and hybrid cars.The extraordinary story of what became known as the ?Lucas Plan? is now being told in a documentary, The Plan that Came from the Bottom Up, that screens for the first time this week at the BFI London film festival. Continue reading...

* CinemaBlend

* Guardian - Film

* Recent Posts

Richard Armitage talks Working on the Snowman Audiobook by Nath
[Today at 11:32:12 AM]

Re: This is some cool sh.... stuff. by Luce
[Today at 08:13:39 AM]

This is some cool sh.... stuff. by genie
[October 16, 2018, 05:22:55 PM]

Re: Lesser Know things about the UK. by genie
[October 13, 2018, 04:51:04 PM]

Re: Lesser Know things about the UK. by Luce
[October 13, 2018, 09:54:15 AM]

Re: Lesser Know things about the UK. by Oso
[October 13, 2018, 09:40:02 AM]

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