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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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Words From The WiseSan Sebastian Film Festival 2013: First Report – Enemy, Le Week-end, Quai D'Orsay and The Railway Man

Posted on Sunday September 29, 2013, 18:03 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
San Sebastian Film Festival 2013: First Report – Enemy, Le Week-end, Quai D'Orsay and The Railway Man

The 61st San Sebastian Film Festival ended Saturday night by giving its highest award, the Golden Shell to Mariana Rondon’s Bad Hair, a lightly gay-themed South American drama that deals with a mother trying to come to terms with her pre-teen son’s obsession with straightening his hair. Todd Haynes’ jury apparently gave it a clean sweep, but this year’s competition selection was nothing if not varied, from Argentinian animation (Juan Jose Campanella’s Foosball) to French political drama (Bertrand Tavernier’s Quai D’Orsay), via British whimsy (Roger Michell’s Le Week-end).

But by far the strangest in the line-up was Denis Villeneuve’s companion piece to this weekend’s release, Prisoners. Though it was shot back to back with that film, and also stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Enemy (pictured) bears no relation at all to the recent Hugh Jackman kidnap drama. In fact, it bears very little of consequ...

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Empire StatesThere's No Pixar Film In 2014. Here Are 7 Steps To Help You Survive The Wait

Posted on Thursday September 19, 2013, 16:01 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
There's No Pixar Film In 2014. Here Are 7 Steps To Help You Survive The Wait

Today Pixar announced that they are moving the planned release date of The Good Dinosaur from 2014 to 2015, to allow more time to rejig the movie following the removal of Bob Peterson as director. Originally due in May next year, the film will now be out in late 2015, after the summer release of Inside Out. Finding Dory, originally down for 2015 as well, has been shunted to 2016. This all means that 2014, for the first time since 2005, will be A Year Without A Pixar Film. How will you cope? Well, we have a few suggestions.

1. Cultivate zen
Realise, deep within your soul, that it's a better idea to change a film's planned release date to have the time to get it right, than to rush something out before it's ready. Contemplate a nearby tortoise or snail or something, sniff some incense and breathe deeply through your nose. Everything ...

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Empire States‘Is Jackie Chan Dead?’ And Other Amazing Film Questions From Google’s Auto-Suggest Function

Posted on Tuesday September 17, 2013, 15:53 by Ali Plumb in Empire States
‘Is Jackie Chan Dead?’ And Other Amazing Film Questions From Google’s Auto-Suggest Function

Type the word ‘is’, followed by a space, into Google, and you’re given four auto-suggestions. They are: ‘is it down’; ‘is jackie chan dead’; ‘is shingles contagious’ and ‘is nelson mandela dead’. One of these is regretably understandable (Mandela is elderly and in poor health but happily, at the time of writing, is not dead), one is pretty dumb (shingles are contagious, yes), another is nonsensical (is what down?) and the other... is incredibly worrying (Chan, who is not that old or that unhealthy, despite his frequent bone-breaking).

This inspired me to see what other cinematic Auto-Suggest gems I could find. Using the starting words of “Why”, “Is” and “When”, here are just ten examples based on characters from The Avengers....

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Words From The WiseToronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double

Posted on Friday September 13, 2013, 17:14 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Toronto 2013: Starred Up, Belle, The Invisible Woman, Dom Hemingway, The Double

It was an incredibly strong TIFF for British films this year, my personal favourite being David Mackenzie's Starred Up (pictured), a harsh prison drama in the vein of Scum. I've followed Mackenzie's career for a while now and considered him to be a director who maybe hasn't quite reached his full potential yet. But even with that in mind, I could never have imagined him making anything quite as full-on and potent as this, a very singular and sustained piece of work that may not hit big with a mainstream audience but will certainly raise both the director's profile and that of his charismatic young star, Jack O'Connell, formerly from the parish of Skins.

It begins with new inmate Eric (O'Connell) being transferred from a young offenders' institution to adult prison. As per the title, Eric is “starred up”, which means his file is marked on account of his violent behaviour, and he arrives as he means to go on: self-contained and unafraid, lashing out at men twice his ...

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Words From The WiseToronto 2013: All Is By My Side, We Are The Best!, Sunshine On Leith

Posted on Friday September 13, 2013, 13:28 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Toronto 2013: All Is By My Side, We Are The Best!, Sunshine On Leith

Now for a musical interlude. I didn't see Can A Song Save Your Life?, but seeing as Harvey Weinstein just paid $27m for it, I can only assume it can. Something I did make a bee-line for, however, was All Is By My Side, which didn't cause as much of a splash as I thought it might, being the second feature by John Ridley, screenwriter of Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave. Although it's a very, very low-budget endeavour, the film's limitations – which preclude the use of Hendrix's most famous music – play to its advantage, since Ridley eschews the usual biopic approach, instead taking a snapshot of 12 crucial months in the musician's life, three years before his death in 1970.

What surprised me most is how much attention Ridley plays to the British characters who moulded Hendrix's ideas and images. We first meet him in 1966 in a New York nightclub, where he is talent-spotted by model Linda Keith (Imogen Poots) playing guitar with jobbing R&am...

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Words From The WiseToronto 2013: Child Of God, Bad Words, Life Of Crime, All Cheerleaders Die, The Dog

Posted on Friday September 13, 2013, 11:23 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Toronto 2013: Child Of God, Bad Words, Life Of Crime, All Cheerleaders Die, The Dog

Here we start coming to the square pegs of the festival, the films that don't quite fit into any of the usual sections. I'll briefly skim over James Franco's Child Of God, partly because it was in Venice too but mostly because it's really not very good. Like his Cannes entry As I Lay Dying, it is a literary property, adapted from a novel by Cormac McCarthy, that tells the story of a gibbering hillbilly (Scott Haze) who is dispossessed of his father's estate and later finds some kind of comfort in the company of not-very-living ladies, one found in a natural state, the rest made not-alive to order. It must be said that the most enjoyable thing about this dingy misery-fest was watching people at the film's press and industry screening leave the cinema in droves, but Franco's film isn't an actual misfire, just an unsuccessful attempt to translate the writings of a sage and superior talent without the equivalent visual vocabulary with which to do so. Haze, given to...

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Words From The WiseToronto 2013: Labor Day, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years A Slave

Posted on Wednesday September 11, 2013, 19:47 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Toronto 2013: Labor Day, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years A Slave

Going into Toronto, at the top of my to-see list was Jason Reitman's Labor Day, the director's first foray into straight drama. Reitman's comedies are usually character-based, so this seemed to be no bad thing, especially with the casting of Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in the leads. I have to say the result is somewhat disappointing, especially since it is clear that Reitman can certainly handle the required shift in tone, and the film's better moments involve silence and a growing sense of tension. However, I don't think too many audiences will buy into the storyline, which promises a slick, Stand By Me-like tale of a boy's Last Summer Of Childhood but actually delivers a rather creaky melodrama that veers wildly between romantic licence and outright implausibility.

It begins in the supermarket, where Henry Wheeler (Gattlin Griffith) is shopping with his introverted divorced mother Adele (Winslet). The boy is accosted by a stranger, Frank (Brolin),...

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Words From The WiseToronto 2013: The Fifth Estate

Posted on Friday September 6, 2013, 15:38 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Toronto 2013: The Fifth Estate

Julian Assange, cooped up in the Ecuadorian Embassy, already feels like yesterday’s news, upstaged by Edward Snowden and his flight to Hong Kong, never mind Bradley Manning and his post-lock-up gender reassignment plans. And so does the opening night film of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival; called The Fifth Estate, it is a turgid political drama with very little politics or drama. It’s the sort of film where the characters try to drum up some excitement by exclaiming what’s happening in a quivering state of excitement, hoping that maybe they can make a silk purse out of what is effectively a film about some people seeing some emails they weren’t supposed to see (there is no physical macguffin).
One could argue that The Social Network didn’t have much fibre either, but that film really IS All The President’s Men compared to this. It begins with a montage of ancient writing techniques, before zipping i...

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