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Words From The WiseShane Carruth Interview: Upstream Color

Posted on Sunday January 5, 2014, 17:27 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Shane Carruth Interview: Upstream Color

Shane Carruth's Upstream Color, his second feature film after 2004's delirious time-travel drama Primer, debuted almost a year ago at the Sundance Film Festival, where its sold-out screening at the Eccles Theatre was one of the event's hottest tickets. The film baffled and impressed in equal measure, telling the story of Kris (Amy Seimetz) and Jeff (Carruth), whose lives are intertwined by strange external forces, including a pig farmer-slash-record producer, a family of orchid gatherers and a conman who uses insects and plant residue to steal money from his victims.

My attempts to sit down with Shane in Park City came to nothing; meetings were arranged and cancelled on account of both our busy schedules, so I followed him on to the Berlin Film Festival. Yet again, Shane was hard to pin down, this time because he was handling all the elements of his film's springtime roadshow release in the US while finalising the packaging for the film's Region One ...

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Small ScreenSherlock Series 3, Episode 1: 'The Empty Hearse' - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction

Posted on Wednesday January 1, 2014, 20:59 by Ali Plumb in Small Screen
Sherlock Series 3, Episode 1: 'The Empty Hearse' - Initial Spoiler-Filled Reaction

Sound the spoiler alarm! If you haven't watched this episode, go away. Still with us? Good stuff. Yes, Martin Freeman’s other half, Amanda Abbington, plays the role of Watson’s bride-to-be, Mary Morstan. And yes, Benedict Cumberbatch’s parents, Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, play Sherlock’s parents. Glad that’s out of the way.

I was lucky enough to watch a preview screening of The Empty Hearse at the BFI, which was followed by a Q&A with the stars (Freeman, Cumberbatch), the writer/co-creators (Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss), the director (Jeremy Lovering) and producer (Sue Vertue). With hundreds of fellow die-hard Holmes boys – okay, mainly Holmes girls – in attendance, there was A LOT of applause and even more laughter throughout the episode, so perhaps my appreciation for this first slice of the third season is a little higher than it might have been otherwise, but ...

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Words From The WiseLars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac: First Look

Posted on Tuesday December 17, 2013, 12:33 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac: First Look

Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac arrives with a very different kind of controversy to the one we expected. It is indeed sexually explicit, as advertised, but is it the whole movie? The answer is yes and no, since the version screened to Empire in Copenhagen at the beginning of December began with a disclaimer noting that the film has been edited – with Von Trier's permission but without his involvement. So while it is the genuine, official release version, there is the small matter of a further 90 minutes, which will very much be the elephant in the room when it comes to reviewing it.

Funnily enough, though, Nymphomaniac not only feels like a complete film, it doesn't feel madly long in its four-hour format, which breaks down roughly into 1hr 50 for Volume One and 2hrs 10 for Volume Two. First things first, however: this is not an entry-level Von Trier film, and it helps to have a certain familiarity with his style...

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Words From The WiseThe European Film Awards 2013

Posted on Monday December 9, 2013, 15:21 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
The European Film Awards 2013

The European Film Awards kicked off on Saturday with a goodie bag that included chocolate biscuits, some gummy bears, a CD DJ mix sponsored by sparkling vodka and an umbrella with a torch on the end. In its marvellous chaos, it reflects something of the randomness of the evening itself; unlike the Oscars, there isn't really any campaigning network, so lesser known films such as Belgium's The Broken Circle Breakdown stood a very real chance of challenging such established Cannes hits as The Great Beauty and Blue Is The Warmest Colour, competing under its original French (and much more explanatory) title La Vie D'Adele, Chapitres 1 & 2.

All eyes were on Abdellatif Kechiche's Palme D'Or winner to take the main prize, which instead went to Paulo Sorrentino for The Great Beauty, a win accompanied by major prizes for Sorrentino as director and his regular leading man Toni Servillo. Industry gossip suggested that Kechiche's film was a late entry to th...

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Words From The WiseMetro Manila Charity Screenings

Posted on Thursday November 28, 2013, 15:34 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Metro Manila Charity Screenings

One of the best indie films to appear on the festival circuit this year was Sean Ellis’s Metro Manila, a fantastic world cinema/heist-thriller crossover that debuted at Sundance in January. Filmed entirely on location in the Philippines (you can read about the shoot here), the film tells the story of a farmer who moves to the capital to work as an armoured car driver, where he becomes involved in a criminal plot. Made by a Brit, the film stars an all-local cast and is filmed entirely in the Tagalog dialect – all the more impressive given that Ellis doesn't speak a word of it. To give you an idea of how good this movie is, Metro Manila won the World Cinema audience award in Sundance, went on to be nominated as the British entry for 2013 Best Foreign Film Osc...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, We Are What We Are, Big Bad Wolves

Posted on Saturday November 9, 2013, 18:40 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, We Are What We Are, Big Bad Wolves

My favourite film of the festival was The Strange Colour of Your Body's Tears, the second "arthouse giallo" (after 2009's Amer) from the writing/directing partnership of Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani. When I left the screening I felt almost battered by it, but its been in my head ever since. A heady and surreal experience, it's a difficult film to describe, but on its most basic level involves the nightmarish psychological journey of a man (Klaus Tange) searching for his wife, who has disappeared from their Parisian apartment, which was locked from the inside. If that sounds like any sort of conventional locked room mystery, I'm not doing it justice.

The structure for a while has flashbacks to the stories of more disappearances in the same opulently decayed building running alongside Tange's current investigations. So we get the woman upstairs, dressed in black lace, sitting in deep shadow, her face always obscured, relating how her husban...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom

Posted on Friday November 8, 2013, 16:14 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: Jodorowsky's Dune, Nightsatan & The Loops Of Doom

Winner of the audience award at this year's Night Visions was Frank Pavich's documentary Jodorowsky's Dune (Filth came second and The World's End placed third - take that, Gravity). This was the film I was most looking forward to seeing at the festival, having heard so much great stuff coming out of Cannes, Telluride, TIFF, Sitges, Fantastic Fest and wherever else. In many ways it doesn't disappoint, but it's also not the kind-of transcendent experience I'd hoped it would be. Despite the story's starting to sound overfamiliar, it's a fascinating and comprehensive glimpse of the film that might have been, with the engaging presence of Alejandro Jodorowsky himself front and centre. So on its own terms as a celebration of the greatest film that never was, it's a complete success. But it lacks any sense of balance, any dissenting voices, and any sense that its principal narrator might be at all unreliable. As such it comes across as over...

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Empire StatesScreen To Stage: From Here To Eternity

Posted on Thursday November 7, 2013, 09:24 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: From Here To Eternity

From Here To Eternity is not the easiest sell in the world, as musicals go. After all, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: The Musical seems like a natural fit for the stage, with all the bright colours and general insanity. But a World War II movie about GIs butting heads before the war is even joined, falling for married women or prostitutes and getting thrown in the stockade? It's a little harder to see immediately where you fit in the high kicks and the sequins. What's more, we're talking about a story by the famously somber author James Jones, also responsible for The Thin Red Line, who was there in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor and who then fought his way across the Pacific. To make light of that legacy would be to lose your audience before you even begin. Luckily, the show treats its characters with respect, and turns out better than we had any right to expect.

The thing to remember is that Les Miserables isn't exactly an obvious source for a musical either, and the dying...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)

Posted on Thursday November 7, 2013, 07:01 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: Adjust Your Tracking (or Does Anyone Actually Miss VHS?)

I missed Rewind This at FrightFest, but I caught Dan M. Kinem’s Adjust Your Tracking at Night Visions: another similar nostalgia-fest for VHS. As a documentary, I didn’t really think much of it. It has no narrative at all, no thrust and no direction, just a series of talking heads discussing their continued love for the videotape format: showing off their collections; outlining the lengths they’ll go to in the name of VHS archaeology; and boasting about the prices they’ve paid (whether bargainously cheap or outlandishly high). The potentially interesting angle of the original indie corner stores being forced out of business by the ubiquity of Blockbuster is dealt with and thrust aside in minutes at the beginning. The love here is for tapes, wherever they came from.

It’s not entirely a waste of time. There’s some funny stuff in there, but I’ve got to throw my hands up and just admit that I don’t get it. I do...

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Under The RadarNight Visions 2013: Fresh Meat, The Colony, Sawney

Posted on Wednesday November 6, 2013, 11:50 by Owen Williams in Under The Radar
Night Visions 2013: Fresh Meat, The Colony, Sawney

We were somewhere around the abattoir at the edge of the Kalasatama district when the beetroot cocktails began to take hold... Welcome back to Night Visions, Helsinki's vibrant genre film festival, celebrating its sixteenth year with record attendances and a full-on programme of international big-hitters and oddities. Even more than last year, it was a mad experience. Empire got off the plane on Wednesday evening and was shipped straight to the American embassy where a jetlagged Simon Barrett was attempting - with impressive élan - interview coherence under the baleful gaze of Udo Kier and occasional interruptions from the ambassador's enormous dog. After which we were off to the Maxim theatre for Finnish Christmas nibbles (what else on Hallowe'en?) before a screening of the 1996 Finnish Christmas comedy Joulubileet, which would possibly have been less baffling without the wine and the day of travelling and the bizarre English subtitles. But possibly not.

W...

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