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Archive for February, 2013

Following Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez’s neo-noir 2005 Sin City a sequel based on another of the Sin City graphic novel series “A Dame to Kill For”. Originally mooted for release in 2007 it has been constantly pushed back until around 2010 when it looked like it would never happen. In accordance with the new Hollywood bylaw stating that Josh Brolin must be cast in all new movies he has taken the part of Dwight McCarthy replacing the departing Clive Owen. Other changes Devon Aoki (who is pregnant) Michael Madsen (who dropped out), Brittany Murphy and Michael Clarke Duncan have sadly passed away. Josh Brolin Clive Owen A Dame to Kill For Dwight McCarthy

Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) is called by femme fatale and former lover Ava Lord (Eva Green) asking for his help to get away from her abusive husband. It soon becomes clear there is far more going on than Dwight bargained for. For the film to work the casting of Ava Lord is crucial. The first name mentioned back in 2006 was the seemingly perfect Angelina Jolie. It was even suggested that the original delay was caused by her pregnancy. After she dropped out Rachel Weisz was reported as a replacement but the film never got off the ground. Over time Salma Hayek, Rose McGowan (who was dating Robert Rodríguez at the time), Michelle Williams, Helena Bonham Carter, Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence have all been linked or rumoured for the part but Eva Green has finally been confirmed in the role.Eva Green Ava Lord Sin City

As with the first film, it is split into sections, it appears they are based on A Dame to Kill For, Just Another Saturday Night and two new stories, The Long Bad Night and one as yet untitled. Other returning cast includes: Mickey Rourke as Marv, Jessica Alba as Nancy Callahan, Powers Boothe as Senator Roark, Rosario Dawson as Gail, Jaime King as Goldie and Wendy, Bruce Willis as John Hartigan with new cast including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny, Ray Liotta as Joey and Juno Temple as Sally. North American release is set for October, European dates are yet to be announced but are sure to be soon after.Sin City A Dame to Kill For new and retuning cast

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A few years ago I intended to buy a DVD of The Great Dictator but actually found it cheaper to buy a Charlie Chaplin Box Set. To my shame I still haven’t watched all the movies but have finally got around to seeing one of them Modern Times. Although I probably won’t feature it in the Blind Spot Series, I still have Limelight to watch.Modern_Times_poster

Charlie Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” suffers a nervous breakdown while working on a production line. Following his release from hospital he struggles to hold down a job in the modern world. He meets a young homeless girl (Chaplin’s third wife, Paulette Goddard) whose farther has been killed in a labour battle and her sisters have been taken into the custody of the state. Wow, I am making it sound really depressing, it is actually a joyous comedy with an uplifting and message of defiance and hope reminiscent of The Grapes of Wrath.modern_times

At its most basic level the movie is a collection of set pieces designed to show off the physical comedy of Chaplin, in particular his “little tramp” character. Taken at this level the film is a great showcase for the comedy genius of Chaplin. At forty-five years old and playing the Little Tramp for the last time he is as inventive and most importantly funny as ever in his scenarios. However the film is so much more than that. Made at a time at the end of the depression when the world was becoming mechanised at its greatest rate since the industrial revolution and three years after Chaplin’s series of articles about his world view. At its heart the film echoes Chaplin’s idea that machinery should benefit mankind not replace it in the workplace. The scenario and message of the film seem so fresh and relevant today. Where Chaplin was concerned with the effects of modern industry on society we are in a period where the greatest concern of many is the disappearance of industry in society.modern times Paulette Goddard

Depending on your point of view, it is either Chaplin’s first “talkie” or his last silent movie. It had been intended as a talkie, but Chaplin changed his mind and made what was effectively the last silent movie of the era (talkies had been around for a decade by this time). In a nice touch (other than a song in mock Italian nonsense) all the voices we hear are through mechanical devices (a phonograph, a loudspeaker and a radio) this has been suggested as a symbol of the films themes. It could also be a reminder of Chaplin’s dislike and distrust of sound in movies.modern-times fianl shot

A fitting swansong for the most recognisable character in silent cinema, The Little Tramp and for silent cinema itself and one I should have seen long ago. With a running time of less than 90 minutes it is an easy watch even for those not versed in silent cinema, making it an ideal starting point for people interested in silent movies after seeing The Artist despite being the last silent movie of the era.

See who else took part in the Blind Spot Series this month HERE.

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Having now seen all but one of the best picture nominations I thought it was time to take a look back at the contenders and a few of the movies that missed out.

Amour: The only nominated movie I haven’t seen yet, I hope to see it on Monday when my local cinema is showing it for one night only.
Will it win? probably not but it will most likely win the best foreign language Oscar.  Amour
Argo: A political drama/thriller story based on real events that is tense and funny in equal measure and at the right times. Set in 1979/80 it often feels like a 70’s movie and is all the better for it, it’s a film that will age well making it a contender as a future classic.
Will it win? It certainly has momentum after its BAFTA and AFI wins. Actors form a large voting contingent and the they like to vote for their own so Ben Affleck’s presence as director could help but he has been snubbed in the Best Director category.

Ben Affleck in Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild: The surprise indie hit of last year by first time director Benh Zeitlin. Stunningly shot fantasy that at its best may be metaphor for the environment and the way we treat it. It is however an esoteric mess of a film that while good, I fail to recognise the greatness others see in it.
Will it win? As a low budget indie movie with a tiny budget and a small gross it has the feeling of the “just glad to be nominated” film of the year.Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained: Where do I start with Quentin Tarantino’s Blaxploitation Spaghetti Western. Set against the backdrop of slavery it makes an interesting companion peace for Lincoln. Its too long and self indulgent to be a great film the violence is poetic and the dialogue sumptuous.
Will it win? The academy seems to want to keep Tarantino at arms length. The movie is more likely to pick up Oscars in acting and writing categories.Django Unchained
Les Misérables: I’m not a fan of musicals but largely enjoyed this one. Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne and Anne Hathaway are great, Russell Crowe is terrible. The pacing and the editing all feels off making a collection of disjointed moments rather than a coherent movie.
Will it win? When it first came out I thought it would win but it doesn’t seem to have any momentum.Les Misérables
Life of Pi: An amazing achievement in film making. Its based on a reportedly un-filmable novel. Large sections of the movie feature a single charter played by an unknown actor. Impossible to film without a reliance on digital effects. On top o all this Ang Lee also makes 3D work to a certain extent. On a negative, how well will it work on the small screen and how many academy voters will have seen it of DVD screeners?
Will it win? I think it’s a bit of a long shot but it is directed by an Oscar winning director.

life-of-pi Lincoln: I have heard mixed reviews of this movie. A lot of people have described it as long and slow, accusing it of been an average film with great performances. I found it engrossing and mesmerising. It isn’t just about Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones who are both sensational, the whole cast is fantastic with a recognisable actor in many of the supporting roles.
Will it win? A historical epic with a near certain best actor, it stands a good chance.Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook: A romantic comedy about mental illness isn’t what you expect for a pest picture nomination. Its possibly a little lightweight given the comparison to the other movies on the list but is elevated by some great performances.
Will it win? It stands a good chance, with nominations in all for acting categories, it has the support of the largest voting block.Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty: The dramatisation of the hunt for Osama bin Laden centred around one woman’s relentless. To make a gripping and story where the audience know the outcome is no easy task but Kathryn Bigelow has done it
Will it win? I think it stands a good chance. Kathryn Bigelow not receiving a best director nomination and controversy over its portrayal of torture will both work against it though.Zero Dark Thirty

The change in rules a couple of years ago allow for up to ten movies to be nominated in the category. Only nine were nominated, who could have taken the tenth place? Here are my top three:

Skyfall: Skyfall is my favourite movie of the year so far, I’m not sure it’s the best movie of the year, but what is best? If you enjoy something more than everything else, who is to argue its that it isn’t the best! To make a great movie within the confines of a franchise is impressive, but Sam Mendes managed to do it within THE franchise. Consisting of twenty-two movies made by ten previous directors, Bond is not a franchise or a movie series, it is an icon of cinema. But to add to the problem, it had become a joke, a pastiche of itself. To make a film within these confines and still following the conventions of the series to satisfy the fans. The great success of Skyfall is that it is rises above all the limitations that were placed on it.skyfall

The Dark Knight Rises: As much as I like Slumdog Millionaire, like every other movie from 2008, it isn’t anywhere near as good as The Dark Knight. The fact that The Dark Knight didn’t win the best picture Oscar is a travesty, it not being nominated wasn’t even a surprise. Sadly the final part of the trilogy The Dark Knight Rises didn’t get look-in either but comic boot movies simply don’t win best picture Oscars, even great ones. Had it been based on a novel by a respected author and feature a hero without a mask and cape there would be no question, it would have received a nomination.The Dark Knight Rises

Moonrise Kingdom: Recognised for its screenplay (where it will most likely lose out to Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained) but overlooked in other categories. It was possibly more Oscar friendly than the other two movies with a charming story and a terrific ensemble cast. The problem, Wes Anderson has long been the darling of the critics but his only Oscar nominations to date are for best screenplay written Directly for the Screen for The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) (Shared with Owen Wilson) and Best Animated Feature Film of the Year for Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).Moonrise Kingdom

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With a few days to go until the Oscars, here are my predictions (in most categories):

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Megan Ellisonzero dark thirty

Other nominees:
Amour: Margaret Ménégoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, Michael Katz
Argo: Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald
Django Unchained: Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone
Les Misérables: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh
Life of Pi: Gil Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark
Lincoln: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
Silver Linings Playbook: Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (2012)Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln

Other nominees:
Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix for The Master
Denzel Washington for Flight

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark ThirtyZero Dark Thirty

Other nominees:
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva for Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts for The Impossible

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christoph Waltz for Django UnchainedDJANGO UNCHAINED

Other nominees:
Alan Arkin for Argo
Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Anne Hathaway for Les MisérablesAnne Hathaway Les Miserables

Other nominees:
Amy Adams for The Master
Sally Field for Lincoln
Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook

Best Achievement in Directing
David O. Russell for Silver Linings PlaybookJENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Other nominees:
Michael Haneke for Amour
Ang Lee for Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino

Django Unchained

Other nominees:
Amour: Michael Haneke
Flight: John Gatins
Moonrise Kingdom: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Zero Dark Thirty: Mark Boal

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Life of Pi: David MageeLife of Pi

Other nominees:
Argo: Chris Terrio
Beasts of the Southern Wild: Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin
Lincoln: Tony Kushner
Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Amour (Austria)Amour

Other nominees:
War Witch (Canada)
No (Chile)
A Royal Affair (Denmark)
Kon-Tiki (Norway)

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Skyfall: Roger DeakinsRoger Deakins Skyfall

Other nominees:
Anna Karenina: Seamus McGarvey
Django Unchained: Robert Richardson
Life of Pi: Claudio Miranda
Lincoln: Janusz Kaminski

Best Achievement in Editing
Zero Dark Thirty: William Goldenberg, Dylan TichenorZero Dark Thirty

Other nominees:
Argo: William Goldenberg
Life of Pi: Tim Squyres
Lincoln: Michael Kahn
Silver Linings Playbook: Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers

Best Achievement in Production Design
Anna Karenina: Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencerannakarenina-sets-various

Other nominees:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Dan Hennah, Ra Vincent, Simon Bright
Les Misérables: Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson
Life of Pi: David Gropman, Anna Pinnock
Lincoln: Rick Carter, Jim Erickson

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Lincoln: Joanna JohnstoLincoln

Other nominees:
Anna Karenina: Jacqueline Durran
Les Misérables: Paco Delgado
Mirror Mirror: The Untold Adventures of SnowWhite: Eiko Ishioka
Snow White and the Huntsman: Colleen Atwood

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Life of Pi: Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik De Boer, Donald Elliottlife-of-pi

Other nominees:
Avengers Assemble:Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Daniel Sudick
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White
Prometheus: Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley, Martin Hill
Snow White and the Huntsman: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Phil Brennan, Neil Corbould, Michael Dawson

Best Documentary, Feature
Searching for Sugar Man: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn

Searching for Sugar Man

Other nominees:
5 Broken Cameras: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi
The Gatekeepers: Dror Moreh, Philippa Kowarsky, Estelle Fialon
How to Survive a Plague: David France, Howard Gertler
The Invisible War: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering

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4

Fandango Groovers Movie Blog is  four years old.  Thanks to everyone who has helped, supported and most importantly read my posts in that time.

Fandango Groovers Movie Blog is four years old. Thanks to everyone who has helped, supported and most importantly read my posts in that time.

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A few thoughts on A Good Day To Die Hard: Die Hard 4.0 (2007) aka “Live Free or Die Hard had its problems but it also had its charms. The wisecracking Justin Long fulfilled the roll taken by Samuel L. Jackson in the superior Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995). While Mary Elizabeth Winstead playing John McClane’s daughter performs a similar role to McClane’s wife, Bonnie Bedelia in the classic original Die Hard (1988). These two elements combined with a half decent antagonist played by Timothy Olyphant and a few good action set pieces to make the movie watcahble if inferior to its predecessors. A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) tries to combine the two archetypes into John (aka Jack) McClane Jr. (Jai Courtney) but this is the least of the movies problems.A-Good-Day-to-Die-Hard

There is a scene in the movie where the McClane’s drive from Moscow to Chernobyl in little more time than the villains fly there in a helicopter. As we walked out of the movie last night, the friend I had watched it with mentioned that Chernobyl is six or seven hundred miles from Moscow across the border in The Ukraine. Ten to twelve hours drive. As I said at the time, if the movie was any good he wouldn’t have noticed or at least wouldn’t care. But how did our heroes end up at Chernobyl? To put it simply it was the conclusion of a thin but convoluted plot that borders on xenophobia.A_Good_Day_To_Die_Hard_poster

Filled with big action scenes but lacking any fun or excitement. A car chase puts the protagonist in peril or perceived danger, this creates excitement, by taking that danger out of the movie removes the viewers involvement and interest. While we know that John Mclane isn’t going to get badly hurt in a Die Hard movie, we still need a glimmer of realism and a sense of danger to keep us on the edge of our seat and keep us interested. In this new Die Hard movie Bruce Willis’ character crashes spectacularly twice before changing vehicle and carrying on unharmed, and all this is within the first act. How far have we come from our hero running, barefoot over broken glass in the Nakatomi Plaza. An there begins the start of the success of the original Die Hard, the Nakatomi Plaza, and what the confines of one building brinks to the story. No one gets in, no one gets out, one man against a group of bad guys. With limitations comes creativity and that’s what we got in Die Hard, that and one of cinemas greatest ever villains, Hans Gruber played to perfection by Alan Rickman. It is also worth remembering the way Die Hard rewrote the rulebook of the action movie by casting the “everyman” Bruce Willis who at the time was best known for the TV show Moonlighting. After the success of their previous movie Predator (1987), it would have been easy for director John McTiernan and producer Joel Silver to cast Arnold Schwarzenegger or someone like him in the role, they very nearly did. It was reported that Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson and Frank Sinatra (long story) all turned the part down. Robert De Niro, Don Johnson and Richard Dean Anderson were also considered.Stirb langsam

In the ultimate copout of the genre/franchise the distributors cut the movie to achieve a 12a certificate. This is the kind of cynical filmmaking where the bottom line comes before the artistry of the movie. Many of the problems can’t be blamed solely on the director, John Moore, but the poor pace and lack of vigour certainly can be. Not nominally one for character assassination, however Moore doesn’t exactly have a strong track record: Behind Enemy Lines (shameless rip-off of Bat*21), Flight of the Phoenix (crappy remake), The Omen (crappy remake) and Max Payne (terrible video game adaptation). At a time when the Bond franchise is hiring Sam Mendes and Star Trek has been taken over by J.J. Abrams, it shows a lack of ambition at best.

Where can the franchise go from here? It could be that its time to call it a day, alternatively like the character in an action film the producers may look for redemption. If they are going to have another stab at it, they need a great and hopefully original concept, a good script and a talented director. In short they need to do what John McTiernan did twenty-five years ago.

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Dom 5Back for a second year of Groovers Movie awards. As with last year, no nominations, just winners. Ten categories, most of which are the same or similar to those in other awards. The award itself named the “Dom” is modelled after a Dom Pérignon bottle (you need to watch Fandango to understand the relevance) and is a virtual for a second year as Moët haven’t approached offered to sponsor the award.

Best Movie:
Skyfallskyfall
Best Director:
Ben Affleck for Argoben affleck directing argo
Best Actress:
Marion Cotillard for Rust and BoneMarion Cotillard  Rust and Bone
Best Actor:
Matthew McConaughey for Killer JoeKiller Joe
Best Screenplay:
Moonrise KingdomMoonrise Kingdom
Best Foreign Language Film:
Rust and Bonerust-and-bone-poster
Best Documentary:
Marley – The Imposter got all the plaudits but I found Marley more interesting and enjoyable.Marley
Best Looking Movie:
Life of Pi; An amalgam of many awards including Cinematography, Production Design and Art Direction. Life of Pi wins the award for being the most beautiful looking movie of the year.life-of-pi
Best Ensemble Cast:
The Avengers: last years Movie Stars of the year given to movie stars who had impressed in a variety of movie has been replaced by Best Ensemble Cast, this goes to: Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Bettany who all played a part in making The Avengers great.Marvel Avengers Assemble
Fandango Award:
Fandango was writer/director Kevin Reynolds debut (and best) feature, and the first notable movie for star Kevin Costner. That is why the Fandango Award goes to someone in a début or breakthrough feature: Gina Carano in Steven Soderbergh’s B movie masterpiece Haywire.haywire-gina-caranoDom 5

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We are a few hours away from the BAFTA awards, in advance of that here are a few thoughts on who I think will and should win:
Best Filmbafta awards
Zero Dark Thirty is the best film and should win, I would also be happy to see Argo win but actually think it will go to: Les MisérablesZero Dark Thirty
Alexander Korda Award for Outstanding British Film of the Year
Skyfall is by far the best film in the category and is unlucky not to be in the best film category. It stands a good chance of winning but if Les Misérables doesn’t get best film, it will be in with a chance too.skyfall
Best Actor
Hugh Jackman and Ben Affleck were both great and in any other year would be worthy winners, but there is really only one contender this year: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (2012)Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln
Best Actress
A really strong category, I think it will go to Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty.Zero Dark Thirty Best Supporting Actor
I would be happy to see any of the nominees win this one, but think Tommy Lee Jones edges it for Lincoln.Tommy Lee Jones Lincoln
Best Supporting Actress
The shoe in for the equivalent Oscar is Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables, she stands a good chance here too, the only competitor could be Judi Dench for Skyfall.Judi Dench Skyfall
David Lean Award for Achievement in Direction
I would chose Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty with Ben Affleck for Argo as a close second. However, I have a feeling Michael Haneke for Amour may sneak it.Michael Haneke Amour
Best Screenplay (Original)
Only one choice here, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for the magical Moonrise KingdomMoonrise Kingdom
Best Screenplay (Adapted)
Another strong category, I would go for David Magee for Life of Pi and think it should win, as much for the complexity of adapting the screenplay as for the final result.Life Of Pi
Best Cinematography
It easy to forget that cinematography is about hw well shot and lit and film is not how pretty the finished result is. With this in mind it has to be a straight fight between Janusz Kaminski for Lincoln and Roger Deakins for Skyfall. My vote goes to Deakins.Roger Deakins Skyfall
Best Editing
To clarify for the people who nominated Django Unchained, this catergry is for the best editing, not the movie most in need of editing. Again I think it’s a straight fight between Skyfall (Stuart Baird) and Zero Dark Thirty (Dylan Tichenor, Billy Goldenberg). I would lean towards Zero Dark Thirty.zero dark thirty
Best Production Design
I would like to see Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock for Skyfall as they avoided all the usual lazy clichéd pitfalls usually associated with the franchise. However the design of Anna Karenina (Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer) is both clever and stunning so will probably win.annakarenina-sets-various
Best Costume Design
All the nominees tick all the relevant boxes Jacqueline Durran for Anna Karenina looks like a good bet.annakarenina_poster-header Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music
None of the nominated scores was that memorable for me.
Best Make Up/Hair
Forgoing the flash and flair of the other nominated movies, Lincoln had a believable look of the era.Lincoln
Best Sound
Skyfall had the most amazing sound design , especially noticeable when seen in Imax but Les Misérables will most likely win for the original way in which the songs were recorded.Les Misérables
Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects
All the nominated movies could put up a strong argument for this award, but Life of Pi edges it.life-of-pi
Best Film not in the English Language
I liked Untouchable and Headhunters but thought Rust and Bone was considerably better than both. However, I havent seen Amour (the favourite) or The Hunt so can’t accurately predict this one.Marion Cotillard  Rust and Bone
Best Animated Feature Film
I have seen two of the nominated movies. Frankenweenie was better than Brave.It's a dog's death … Frankenweenie
Best Documentary
I have only seen two of the three nominated movies so will go with the favourite: The ImposterThe Imposter
EE Rising Star Award
Her Killer Joe performance is enough for me to give it to Juno Temple but wouldn’t mind seeing Andrea Riseborough or Elizabeth Olsen win as they are both brilliant in everything they do. I would like to see more of Suraj Sharma and Alicia Vikander before deciding on their future stardomJuno Temple Killer Joe
Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer
I would love to see Dexter Fletcher, Danny King win for the excellent but under seen Wild Bill. Dexter Fletcher

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I had heard rumours a couple of years ago that Richard Linklater was working on a follow up to Before Sunset (2004) but didn’t hear anything else until someone mentioned that it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month, now called Before Midnight. Given that there were nine years between Before Sunrise and Before Sunset my first reaction was that it is too soon to make a third film. Then I realised it has been nine years since Before Sunset, then I felt old! When before Sunset came out in 2004, I was surprised, firstly that an indie film was receiving a sequel, then secondly that it was getting one after such a long gap. It doesn’t seem like long ago that I was sat in a cinema watching it, this is a prime example of how our perception of time speeds up as we get older. It also got me thinking about the original film and how I came to see it.Before Midnight

Back in 1995 I was a cynical film student interested in young hip directors like Quentin Tarantino and the greats I was studying: Ford, Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Welles etc. A few friends were going to Before Sunrise (1995). Was I interested in seeing what was billed as a romantic drama? In a word NO! But, I had seen Slacker (1991) and Dazed and Confused (1993), liked the former, loved the latter. Although not one of my favourite directors the way he is now, Richard Linklater was certainly on my radar. I also to be honest had a bit of a thing for Julie Delpy after seeing Killing Zoe (1993) and Three Colours: White (1994). So I went along not expecting anything, what happened, I loved it. In a year that included Heat, The Usual Suspects, Se7en and Casino it is easily in my top three on the year. More importantly than that, it taught me a lesson about being judgmental of movies and of perceived genres. I own both movies on DVD and have watched them back to back many times including just a few weeks ago and am never disappointed.Before Sunset

Part of the appeal of the movie is the natural realism and the familiarity of the situation. We have all met someone in passing on the street, on public transport in a shop and strike up a conversation. Some of those lead to lasting relationships, but most are passing conversations that don’t go anywhere. We get of at our stop, or get served in the shop and we never see the person again. The movie gives us the what if of life. Bet then we get to the end of Before Sunrise, an ending that cuts deep down into the viewers personality and tells us about our outlook in life. – WARNING SPOILER ALERT – Jesse & Celine (Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy) spend an afternoon and a night getting to know each other before having to go their separate ways. Without exchanging contact details they agree to meet up six months later. Did they meet up or did one or even both of them not make it? Until Before Sunset we could only speculate and what you think happens says a lot about you as a viewer and as a person. It also leaves a problem when writing a sequel that was again perfectly resolved.Before Sunrise

Given the way Before Sunset ended it is easy to speculate where the characters will be in Before Midnight, but I hope Richard Linklater has some surprises for us. With a script by Linklater and the stars Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke who appear so perfectly in tune with the characters we can be confident that whatever happens we will not be disappointed with the direction they take.

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“For all the shut-down strangers and hot rod angels
Rumbling through this promised land”

Racing In The Street, Bruce Springsteen

The Fast and the Furious (2001) first appeared more than a decade ago with a title borrowed from a 50’s Roger Corman movie and a plot lifted from Point Break. Who would have thought all these years on we would be seeing a fifth sequel to what was basically a fun but routine movie.Fast & Furious 6 poster

All for of the main cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez return for this latest film (despite one of them appearing not to have survived an earlier instalment) whose trailer premiered at the Super Bowl this weekend. Since the first film Diesel has had his ups and downs, most of the downs involving ill judged attempts at comedy. Rodriguez remains a talented actress but has never found a part to match her debut in Girlfight. On the other hand, the franchise represents the high point of the careers of both Walker and Brewster. This smacks of if in doubt go with what you know! It also helps that the previous film Fast & Furious 5 (aka Fast Five) (2011) was not only a high point for the franchise but also retuned a healthy worldwide box-office in excess of $600 million. Depending on who you listen to, that movie may have started life out as an unused Italian Job sequel script with the imaginative title, The Brazilian Job. Whatever its origins, it was surprisingly good, Fast and Furious 6 is billed as a direct sequel.Fast & Furious 6

After years of destroying customised Japanese cars and classic American muscle cars it appears to have turned its attention to England and a couple of cars that will be recognisable to British viewers, a Jenson Interceptor and even a Ford Escort RS1600. Having taken over for the third film, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Justin Lin directs for the fourth consecutive time. It is interesting that having three different directors for the first three films Lin has made the franchise his own. He has certainly breathed some life into it. There are several familiar faces from the other movies including Dwayne Johnson in his second Fast & Furiouse movie. They are joined by Gina Carano as one of Johnson’s agents and British actor Luke Evans who appears to be the villain.

A little like the latest Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, The Last Stand, I don’t expect it to be very good, but as long as its good fun, I really don’t mind. Fast & Furious 6 is set for release on 24th May.

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