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The Film that Broke the King of Cool

In 1969, when Steve McQueen suggested a film about the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race, everyone thought it couldn’t fail. Everyone was wrong At the end of the 1960s Steve McQueen had it all. Though it was an era of longhaired peaceniks, this shorthaired toughie had become acknowledged as the King of Cool. … Read more
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Isn’t It Iconic?

La Dolce Vita might not be the best Italian film ever made. Or the cleverest, steamiest or most gripping. But it is the most iconic. Here’s why… Just a touch over 50 years ago the assembled critics at the Cannes film festival gave Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita a standing ovation. Not at the end … Read more
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Ryan Reynolds and the Death of the Real Man

All aboard Ryan Reynolds, prime example of Hollywood’s new breed of depilated, exfoliated, irrigated masculine star. Whatever happened to real men? From out of the low, strong sun, three figures ride towards the camera, tall in the saddle, squinting into the wind. As they hit medium shot, John Wayne turns to the compadre on his … Read more
Chyeon Jeon-myeong in Hansel and Gretel

6 April 2009-04-06

Out in the UK This Week Mike Leigh at the BBC (2 entertain, cert 12) Before heading off on his film career, auteur Leigh did some great stuff for TV. Here’s the pick of his 1973-84 output, including Nuts in May and Abigail’s Party, along with Leigh’s own audio commentary, intelligent interviews and a clutch … Read more
Jill Wagner in Splinter

30 March 2009-03-30

Ratings on the UK system – U=universal, PG=parental guidance, 12, 15 and 18 are self-explanatory, E=Excempt Celia (Second Run, cert 15) Oz director Ann Turner’s classic 1989 rites-of-passage debut, about one girl’s amply furnished fantasy childhood. It’s the story of a child, from a child’s point of view, rather than adult looking back, and set … Read more
Walt Disney's Pinocchio

9 March 2009-03-09

Ratings on the UK system (ie U=universal, PG=parental guidance, 12, 15 and 18 are self-explanatory, E=excempt) Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Platinum Edition (Disney, cert U) From the days when the voice cast went uncredited, Walt Disney’s 1940 follow-up to Snow White gave us the Oscar-winning song When You Wish Upon a Star, a wooden boy with … Read more
Andrea Riseborough in The Devil's Whore

16 March 2009-03-16

Ratings on the UK system (ie U=universal, PG=parental guidance, 12, 15 and 18 are self-explanatory, E=excempt)   The Devil’s Whore (Lionsgate, cert 15) Having played Mrs Thatcher, Angela Riseborough is once more an iron lady in a proto-feminist TV series set during the English Civil War and laced with death and lashings of bodice-ripping and … Read more
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Gran Torino

Old grizzled Clint Eastwood plays Shirty Harry in a film about redemption, ageing, learning to live with others, sacrifice but most of all about the myth of Clint himself. The skimpy plot concerns a grumpy Korean war veteran whose neighbourhood has gone to the dogs, evidence of which he sees in his immigrant neighbours, who … Read more
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Tropa de Elite aka Elite Squad

Anyone who’s read a lot of film reviews will be familiar with the “redeeming features” style of reviewing. “Worth a look to see De Niro on fire”, “Ken Adam’s set designs lend it a style the script is struggling to equal”, and so on. Sometimes people pop round to my house to borrow a dvd … Read more
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Batman: The Dark Knight

  Not having enjoyed the first Nolan/Bale Batman film (yes, he was traumatised by bats. I get it!) I wasn’t looking forward to the second. But, having been told how great it was, how awesome Heath Ledger was, how dark it all was, I was prepared to put prejudice to one side and settle back … Read more
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Before Sunset

This 2004 follow-up to Richard Linlater’s 1995 Before Sunrise is a first-date movie for people who fancy themselves as having more going on upstairs. But grey matter to one side, do you need to have seen the first film to enjoy the second? Probably not, though it helps to know that in Before Sunrise Ethan … Read more
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Norman McLaren: The Art of Motion

  Who? Those who have no idea who Norman McLaren is won’t be so nonplussed after the briefest glimpse of his work. Frequently working by drawing directly onto the film stock itself (as in Boogie Doodle), this Scottish-born wizard experimenter is the creator of an instantly recognisable style of animation, frequently set to jazz or … Read more

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