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Empire Blogs

London Film FestivalLondon Film Festival: Men, Women & Children; Mr Turner; The Possibilities Are Endless

Posted on Saturday October 11, 2014, 11:59 by Helen O'Hara in London Film Festival
London Film Festival: Men, Women & Children; Mr Turner; The Possibilities Are Endless

Jason Reitman brings together an impressive cast in Men, Women & Children, a feature that has ambitious plans to tackle the impact of technology on modern relationships. It's a disappointment then that the film feels muddled in its execution despite the best efforts of the actors.

The film is an ensemble drama, focusing on separate characters' individual plotlines whilst stringing them all together by the association of a single shared town. Bored married couples, tormented teens and worried parents all face the ambiguous qualities of the internet and technology.

The problem first lies with the name of the film, which is itself misleading. The action revolves around a clash of cultures between adults and teenagers, not children, and the younger generation in the film are very much coming to terms with their burgeoning adulthood. Unfortunately, the sheer number of separate stories mean that the most interesting characters get very little screen time. Not only that, ...

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London Film FestivalLondon Film Festival: The Goob, Something Must Break

Posted on Friday October 10, 2014, 12:28 by Helen O'Hara in London Film Festival
London Film Festival: The Goob, Something Must Break

British social realism comes to a Norfolk field in The Goob, which is the debut feature from Guy Myhill. It’s a film that boasts a lot of atmosphere, but very little in the way of significant plot as it traces a dysfunctional family over one sun-drenched summer.

The presence of Prometheus star Sean Harris looms large over every moment of the film. Harris plays Womack, the aggressive, intolerant boyfriend of Janet (Sienna Guillory). When he isn’t cheating on Janet or masturbating in his truck, Womack can usually be found verbally abusing Goob (Liam Walpole). With one hand permanently resting on his crotch and the other poised for a fistfight, Harris is excellent, helping to imbue the film with the consistently unsettling feeling that we are witnessing the calm before an inevitable, violent storm. Unfortunately, the payoff is little more than a light breeze.

Myhill’s script is like an excitable child. Every time it starts to chisel away t...

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London Film FestivalLondon Film Festival: Timbuktu, White God, Listen Up Philip

Posted on Friday October 10, 2014, 11:53 by Helen O'Hara in London Film Festival
London Film Festival: Timbuktu, White God, Listen Up Philip

Contrary to popular opinion, film festivals are not just an excuse for critics to go out, get merry and make bad decisions. That does happen, of course, and more than we should admit, but the main reason for festivals' existence is to promote new and interesting films from all over the world to eager audiences. So to escape the downpours that are plaguing the big smoke, I hit the cinemas hard.

Timbuktu

First up was Timbuktu, a witty but incredibly brutal film that chronicles a fundamentalist Muslim group that takes over the titular town and the repercussions it has on everyone. With the rise of Isis over the last year, Timbuktu feels like essential viewing. Discussions revolving around interpreting the Qu'ran, Sharia Law and Allah are all punctuated by scenes of both distressing violence or candid normality – football, local gossip and farming practices are all brought to the fore. Fragmented stories become tied together through ingenious camera work and strong imagery....

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Empire StatesScreen To Stage: The Hobbit Stars

Posted on Friday September 5, 2014, 17:55 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: The Hobbit Stars

Usually when I've written these Screen To Stage blogs, I've been trying to compare a film to its stage adaptation. This time, I'm doing something a little different. This summer sees Martin Freeman play Richard III at the Trafalgar Studios, and Richard Armitage star in The Crucible at the Old Vic. So how did the Hobbit stars fare in their roles, and compared to one another?...

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Empire StatesScreen To Stage: Shakespeare In Love

Posted on Friday July 18, 2014, 13:12 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Screen To Stage: Shakespeare In Love

Putting Shakespeare In Love onstage feels like a no-brainer. It's a film that often sounds like a play, with all those throwaway Shakespearean lines surrounding the actually Shakespearean lines, and of course it's a film about putting on a play. It's a film that has a lot to say about the importance and strength of drama, and the vital necessity of having a bit with a dog. And in fact here the truth of Henslowe's maxim that "comedy, love and a bit with a dog; that's what they want" is amply demonstrated. The stage show delivers all three in spades, and judged purely on its own considerable merits it succeeds. The only problem is that it proves hard to outdo the film, so people familiar with the original may find this a little less satisfying than those who come to it fresh.

The story is virtually unchanged: William Shakespeare (Tom Bateman), sometime actor and relatively succesful playwright, is struggling for inspiration and under monetary pressur...

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Empire StatesWhy Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?

Posted on Wednesday April 9, 2014, 10:48 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Why Do People Think Captain America Is Boring?

This week Vulture published an article arguing that Captain America is “only interesting if he’s a prick”. It echoes quite a few conversations I’ve heard where people complain that Cap is “boring” or “vanilla” or whatever, like the only heroes they want to see are the ones who reflect the worst in themselves. And frankly, I’m beginning to wonder what the hell is wrong with everyone.

Batman broods. We get it. Like Angel in Buffy and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, it’s part of his essence. Many superheroes, action heroes and sci-fi stars have troubled pasts that they sometimes like to reflect upon while staring handsomely into the distance. But does it feel to anyone else like maybe we have a few too many troubled heroes these days? And that maybe this whole dark, brooding, troubled, tortured thing h...

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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 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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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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