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Empire StatesAre iPads And Smartphones Changing The Face Of Filmmaking?

Posted on Tuesday April 8, 2014, 11:15 by Ben Kirby in Empire States
Are iPads And Smartphones Changing The Face Of Filmmaking?

When shooting Lawrence Of Arabia, one of the biggest challenges David Lean and cinematographer Freddie Young faced was operating the camera and the film. Sand, unsurprisingly got everywhere, the film was warped by the heat, and most of the rushes couldn’t even be viewed until the crew had returned to London. Thank God, then, for technology. Today, we live in a world where not only can a whole Empire videblogisode be filmed on a mobile phone, but so can an actual, proper, honest-to-goodness film.
Sally Potter’s Rage (2009) had the conceit of being filmed on a mobile (even if it was, in reality, a digital camera), and was even released simultaneously in the cinemas and on phones in the UK. Yet in 2014, this is seeming like less of a gimmick. In the last few years, we’ve had plenty of short films – like 2011’s ‘Framed’ – that were shot on a mobile, and 2014 sees the ...

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Empire StatesScreen To Stage: Let The Right One In

Posted on Friday April 4, 2014, 14:59 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In has just opened at the London Apollo, following successful runs at the Royal Court and National Theatre Scotland, which is good news for vampire fans who are looking for a theatrical fix. After all, while our stages groan with doomed princes, '20s playboys and Mormon missionaries, there are relatively few literal bloodsuckers. And this is a strong adaptation of the book / film / whatever, but it hews close to what made Tomas Alfredson's 2008 film work and so its strengths become, for some, also weaknesses. This gives you much of the same impact but also retreads the same snow and blood into the same ground.

As in John Ajvide Lindqvist's book, bullied young Oscar meets a mysterious girl, Eli, who turns out to have an aversion to sunlight and a thing for blood. The setting - or at least the accents - are Scottish this time, but it's still a slow-burning story about a desperate need for connection as much as it is a horror or a thriller. The book has already ...

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Empire StatesMy Encounter With Shia LaBeouf

Posted on Thursday February 13, 2014, 01:14 by James White in Empire States
My Encounter With Shia LaBeouf

There are some moments in life that really help crystalize your standing in the world. Today was one of mine. One of my colleagues recently got to train to be a spy, shoot guns and hang with Sir Kenneth of Branagh. Me? The magazine’s West Coast Editor? I was going to sit across a table from Shia LaBeouf in an art gallery in the middle of Los Angeles. Yes, really. Instead of (mock) mortal peril, I was risking sun exposure and the chance of aching legs from standing around.

Let’s back up a little. First came the controversy. Last December, LaBeouf – best known for his sterling work shouting “NO!” a lot as Sam Witwicky in the first three Transformers movies – released a short film called Howard Cantour that was, the world quickly established, largely cribbed from a Daniel Clowes graphic novel. LaBeouf used skywriting to apologise to Clowes...

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Words From The WiseSundance 2014: Final Wrap

Posted on Thursday January 30, 2014, 14:49 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Sundance 2014: Final Wrap

Although a secret screening of Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Volume One was perhaps intended to provide this year’s dash of controversy, the film that arguably ruffled more feathers was Zach Braff’s somewhat more innocuous Wish I Was Here (pictured), the follow-up to Garden State. The film’s premiere screening at the MARC gained a little notoriety due to being besieged by Braff fans begging for extra tickets, bemoaning the fact that they had paid for it (via Kickstarter) but couldn’t get in. It made for a provocative news angle, but the fact remains that Sundance tickets were never going to be part of the film’s reward scheme, in terms that were made quite clear.
Braff’s film has been under fire since the Kickstarter project was announced, but it’s hard to see quite what the problem is: Braff has delivered a studio quality film that pretty much delivers what its backers were promised. Pe...

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Empire StatesEmpire Meets Chris Hemsworth’s ‘Rush’ Alter Ego

Posted on Monday January 27, 2014, 17:18 by Ally Wybrew in Empire States
Empire Meets Chris Hemsworth’s ‘Rush’ Alter Ego

It’s been a while since anyone was killed on a press day – it’s bad PR – but I still had survival in mind when I arrived at the McLaren Technology Centre to interview Niki ‘Hollywood’ Faulkner, Chris Hemsworth’s driving stunt double in Rush, and drive the rocket-like McLaren 12C. And I was hardly imbued with confidence by the brief chat I had with Faulkner before climbing into the supercar. “I’ve been blown up in a car,” he points out with the nonchalance of a man recalling his lunchtime sandwich. “I had to drive along, this bomb went off and the whole back of the car got blown off.” Right. “That’s nice,” we mutter, sweeping the McLaren for explosives. Sure, it was an unlikely eventuality on a £170,000’s worth of supercar, but you never know.

Feigning calm, I stepped into the 600ph car. But would my driving experience be anything like James Hunt’s antics in Ron Howard’s BAFTA-nomina...

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Words From The WiseSundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look

Posted on Wednesday January 22, 2014, 14:52 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Sundance 2014: The Raid 2 – First Look

How do you follow an action film as tight and tense and damn near perfect as The Raid? The answer, it seems, is to make a film as broad, intricate and damn near perfect as The Raid: Berandal, aka The Raid 2. Obviously the first point to consider is whether Gareth Huw Evans’s second feature matches up to the bone-crunching mayhem of the first, and it does – with gore to spare. But the second point is more crucial: does it hold up as a stand-alone movie in its own right? The answer to that is a resounding yes too; leaving behind the Carpenter-esque confined spaces of the original, Evans’s sequel heads out into the streets of Jakarta, bringing in so many new and fascinating characters that it’s hardly noticeable when the film’s nominal hero Rama, played by a much more confident Iko Uwais, is absent from the screen (which he is for surprisingly long patches).

The first few moments suggest that the film might be hard work, since it carries on almost immediately in the wake ...

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Words From The WiseSundance 2014: First Report

Posted on Tuesday January 21, 2014, 17:36 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Sundance 2014: First Report

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival took a little longer than usual to find its feet, but once it hit its stride it did so with a slew of titles that are among the strongest seen here in recent years. Top of that list has to be Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (pictured), which was added to the programme at the last moment. Very little was known about the film at that time, other than it took Linklater 12 years to shoot, so I was expecting one of his more experimental affairs, like Tape or Waking Life – projects I can appreciate but not necessarily enjoy. The running time of 164 minutes gave me the shivers, so I sat in an aisle seat just in case.
...

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Empire StatesThe Case For The Wolf Of Wall Street, Surprisingly Feminist Film

Posted on Friday January 17, 2014, 12:18 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
The Case For The Wolf Of Wall Street, Surprisingly Feminist Film

*This blog contains spoilers for The Wolf Of Wall Street. Frankly, I doubt they'll actually spoil your enjoyment of the film, because it's great, but please take that into account.*

There's been criticism of The Wolf Of Wall Street for its depiction of women, and it's easy to see why. Numerically speaking, the majority of women in the film are prostitutes, and the film's male characters uniformly grope and harrass them - when they're not engaged in frequently demeaning sex. I can't think of a single scene where these prostitutes were not partially or entirely naked. Besides the call girls, there are a number of female employees glimpsed on the brokerage floor, one of whom volunteers to have her head shaved in return for $10,000, which she reportedly plans to use on breast implants. Another has public sex with a colleague. The two leads are both married to women they cheat upon frequently, and the film's most importan...

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Empire StatesThe Movie Drinking Games Too Dangerous To Attempt

Posted on Thursday January 16, 2014, 16:05 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
The Movie Drinking Games Too Dangerous To Attempt

Titanic was on TV recently, and one thing leapt out: the number of times that the names "Jack" and "Rose" are said. I joked that you could build a drinking game around it, but then I watched a little further. In total, there are something like 130 mentions of both - particularly concentrated during the sinking, as you'd expect - and it seems like even the barest sip per mention would soon see you completely stocious (particularly if, as suggested by one Tweeter, you drank Jack Daniels when his name was mentioned and rosé for her). So please, please, do not try this at home*. But in a spirit of public awareness, the Empire team and I then brainstormed the other film drinking games that you should definitely not attempt.

We can't stress this enough. We're listing these as a joke. ON NO ACCOUNT attempt these.

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Small ScreenSherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction

Posted on Monday January 13, 2014, 14:48 by Ali Plumb in Small Screen
Sherlock Series 3, Episode 3: ‘His Last Vow’ - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction

Bold, budget-busting and a bit bonkers, ‘His Last Vow’ felt like a real series finale: guns, girls, girls with guns, guys with guns, gadgets (but not really), helicopters, sleeping potions, twists, twists-upon-twists, face-flicking, face-licking, resurrections, references and revenge. It delivered the goods, and (figuratively speaking) had them sent in a private jet. How often do you see something this grand, this impressive, this BIG on British TV?

If you like feeling wrong-footed, this was the episode for you – I honestly can’t count the number of “…the hell?” moments I enjoyed. For those not familiar with the original Conan Doyle story of ‘The Man With The Twisted Lip’, seeing Sherlock choose life in a drugs den would have been one of them, but if you have read that short story, it’s a very similar set-up: one of Watson’s neighbours can’t find her husband, says he’s probably in a cloud of opium, and when...

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