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Empire Blogs

Under The RadarMovies And Medinas: Empire Reports From Marrakech International Film Festival

Posted on Tuesday December 16, 2014, 15:03 by Phil de Semlyen in Under The Radar
Movies And Medinas: Empire Reports From Marrakech International Film Festival

Opened by jury president Isabelle Huppert (Heaven’s Gate, The Piano Teacher) on December 5, the 14th Marrakech International Film Festival came to a close with an awards ceremony at the city’s Palais de Congress. The ceremony, short and sweet, was followed by a screening of J. C. Chandor’s latest, A Most Violent Year, a slow-burn crime drama starring Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac.

Over its week-long run, the Marrakech festival – held under the patronage of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, no less – managed to be both wide-ranging and intimate, with a main competition comprising just 14 entries. The region was represented by films from Morocco and Egypt, the rest of the world weighing in with works from such far-flung places as Azerbaijan, Serbia, South Korea, Mauritania, The United States and the UK. Hard to pick a winner even in such a small field, but Empire particularly enjoyed The Last Hamme...

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London Film FestivalLondon Film Festival 2014: Fury And Difret

Posted on Sunday October 19, 2014, 16:42 by Phil de Semlyen in London Film Festival
London Film Festival 2014: Fury And Difret

Fury

David Ayer has carved out a niche as a creator of ultra-realistic thrillers, many tapping into his own experiences in the US Navy. Since the release of his submarine thriller U-571, which distorted history to credit America with cracking the Enigma code, Ayer has devoted himself to fairly meticulous truth. Ayer subsequently made his name as screenwriter of the Oscar-nominated Training Day and writer-director of crunching cop movie End Of Watch.

His latest movie – World War II drama Fury – is the closing film of the London Film Festival. Typically character-driven and potently realistic, it’s a solid piece of work.

In the last months of the war, deep within Nazi Germany, Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) finds his tank crew one man short and is assigned the jittery Private Ellison (Logan Lerman) as his new assistant driver. Tasked by Captain Waggoner (Jason Isaacs) with defending a crucial road junction, Wardaddy and his crew must fight off the ...

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Empire StatesCornwall Actually: Your Ultimate Movie Travel Guide

Posted on Monday September 2, 2013, 14:00 by Phil de Semlyen in Empire States
Cornwall Actually: Your Ultimate Movie Travel Guide

I’ve always wondered what it’s like to live in Cornwall. All that beauty. All those pasties. Sean Pertwee in a wetsuit. Poldark. Cream teas. It’s very far away from my house, sure, but it’s more tranquil than a thousand Terrence Malick cornfields, and a perfect place to get away from it all. Unless, of course, you’re a crab, in which case your life is just a perpetual, grinding quest to avoid Rick Stein.

But the county’s major export, apart from tin, fine ales and the eyepatch, has been some of the most spectacular cinescapes to have ever graced the big screen. The Wreck Of The S.S. Paris, a 1899 short with a whiff of silent-era Bayhem (“Paris! Wrecked! Again!”), was followed by Alex Korda’s The Thief Of Baghdad, filmed on The Lizard’s sea-sharpened rocks. Hitch came here in 1939 for Jamaica Inn. There’s been Blue Juice. Sense & Sensibility. Th...

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Empire StatesSeth MacFarlane: Oscar Hero Or Lame Duck?

Posted on Monday February 25, 2013, 05:21 by Phil de Semlyen in Empire States
Seth MacFarlane: Oscar Hero Or Lame Duck?

“From Whoopi all the way down to Ron Jeremy, it’s an honour that everyone else said no,” grinned a visibly nervy Seth MacFarlane at Oscars zero hour. A few minutes later you could sense people backstage fumbling for Jeremy’s number, hoping that the man could free himself from whatever torrid triste he was engaged in at the time to save the day as the Family Guy guy dropped clunker after clunker on the Oscars.

First there was a sur-le-nez remark about Jean Dujardin’s post-Oscars career lull that was undercut hilariously by the man himself about, what, nine months ago on Funny Or Die. If that seemed a little cheap, the riff on Daniel Day-Lewis’ in-character methods on Lincoln (“If you'd seen Don Cheadle on set, would you have had to free him?”, he asked the perplexed Brit) and a sock puppet version of Flight that culminated in him delibe...

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Empire StatesFive Things We Learnt At The London Toy Fair 2013

Posted on Friday January 25, 2013, 15:42 by Phil de Semlyen in Empire States
Five Things We Learnt At The London Toy Fair 2013

Held in the vast Olympia hall in west London, Toy Fair is a giddifying jamboree that brings manufacturers and retailers together amid a vast array of Scalextric, Smurfettes and snoozing Furbys. It’s also – ssshhh! – a secret trove of plot points and spoilers for the big superhero releases of the year ahead. Last January, the nice people at Hasbro gave us a first peek at their new Hulk, revealing Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk clobber a good five months before The Avengers assembled, while LEGO showed off ‘Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape’, in which a tiny god of mischief and an equally tiny, mind-controlled Hawkeye made off with the tesseract in a 4x4. You know, a bit like in the film.

Needless to say, we were back for Toy Fair 2013 this week, hoping to glean more brick-based hints from LEGO’s Iron Man 3...

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Small ScreenEmpire Visits Fresh Meat Season 2

Posted on Tuesday October 9, 2012, 17:11 by Phil de Semlyen in Small Screen
Empire Visits Fresh Meat Season 2

University life can be fraught. When you’re not navigating around a mountain of dirty dishes or scratching out an essay under the malign influence of Pot Noodle, there’s a full-blown identity crisis to cope with and no bloody teabags to help you do it. Take Kingsley, Fresh Meat’s resident geology-turned-drama-turned-geology-again student. “He’s gone away for the Christmas holidays and come back as a self-styled ‘jazz man’,” erstwhile Inbetweener Joe Thomas tells Empire. “And he’s definitely overreaching.”

Sure enough, Kingsley’s new look for season two of Channel 4’s award-winning comedy involves some egregious knitwear and a Tony Almeida-style soul patch that quickly sees him dubbed ‘Patch Adams’ by housemates Vod (Zawe Ashton), Howard (Greg McHugh), Josie (Kimberley Nixon), JP (Jack Whitehall) and Oregon (Charlotte Ritchie). And, as McHugh explains, he’s not the only ...

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Empire StatesTen Things I Learnt From The Bond 50 Press Day

Posted on Thursday September 27, 2012, 14:59 by Phil de Semlyen in Empire States
Ten Things I Learnt From The Bond 50 Press Day

You may have heard that the James Bond movies – all 22 of them – have arrived in one giant case of pure, Blu-ray 007ness; motored across Britain in the kind of crazed PR stunt that’s worth its weight in valium. The convoy of Bond vehicles stopped at every James Bond location en route to London, from Scotland's Eilean Donan Castle (The World Is Not Enough) to Nene Valley (Octopussy). I was invited along to Day 5, the Stoke Park leg, to celebrate with three Bond girls and a certain toothy villain. Here’s what I learnt along the way.

Stoke Park Has A Surprising “00” Back Story
As any fule kno, Stoke Park appears in Goldfinger and again as a double for a Hamburg ballroom in Tomorrow Never Dies* (*I didn’t actually know this). It’s also a hefty 1-wood from Pinewood Studios, which made it Connery’s course of choice during his Bond years...

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Empire StatesMe And Jaws: Empire Goes Swimming With Sharks

Posted on Tuesday September 4, 2012, 18:49 by Phil de Semlyen in Empire States
Me And Jaws: Empire Goes Swimming With Sharks

Since I first watched Jaws as a cowering ten year-old, I’ve always had a strange fascination with sharks. I loved Jaws – I still do 15-odd views later – but it’s always seriously coloured my view of the sea. That’s true of a lot of people, but I’ve had it particularly bad. Even on the English shoreline, where you’re unlikely to encounter anything more deadly than a disorientated whiting, I see an ocean teeming with psychotic cacharodon carcharias wanting to do me in the eyeball like old Ben Gardner.

So why am I about to get in the water with a whole bunch of sharks at Chester’s Blue Planet Aquarium? Good question. Because Jaws was coming out in full 1080p glory? Because I’m an eejit? When Psycho comes out on Blu-ray I’m not planning on spending a night in a motel run by a knife-wielding lunatic with mummy issues. I once survived a viperwolf attack on an Avatar soundstage, but that was motion-captured so it doesn’t really co...

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Empire StatesOur Favourite Bob Hoskins Moments

Posted on Thursday August 9, 2012, 12:41 by Phil de Semlyen in Empire States
Our Favourite Bob Hoskins Moments

The news of Bob Hoskins’ death is a further reminder that they genuinely don't make 'em like they used to. It's hard to imagine any contemporary actor bursting to prominence with the same coiled energy that characterised an early '80s Hoskins heyday spanning The Long Good Friday, Brazil and Mona Lisa. When he announced his retirement in 2012, we asked Empire's twitter followers to name their favourite Hoskins moments. As a tribute to the North Londoner, we've reassembled the results here. Here's your tribute to Blighty’s finest.

Battering Les Battersby in a skip for Shane Meadows' Twenty Four Seven (1997) - @BustedShoe
Not just a fine actor, Hoskins also has an eye for an up-and-coming director. His Mona Lisa producer Stephen Woolley put him in touch with a young Midlander called Shane Meadows for the director’s first film, Twenty Four Seven. “He was doing a piece of theatre in the West End”,Continue reading...

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Empire StatesFive Reasons Why Jean Gabin Still Rocks

Posted on Wednesday May 23, 2012, 22:13 by Phil de Semlyen in Empire States
Five Reasons Why Jean Gabin Still Rocks

Confession time. I have a serious man-crush on Jean Gabin. Same for Alain Delon. Same for Jean-Paul Belmondo. In fact, any of the great Gallic icons. It’s the cool hats. The hats, and that knack they had for making everyone wish they were French. Even people who’d been to France and knew that being French basically meant a lifetime of shrugging and brushing baguette crumbs off your jumper.

But it's mainly Gabin. He was born a generation before his friend Belmondo and (the French-Swiss) Delon, and blazed a trail as one of the first superstars of French cinema. He died many years ago, but his standing is underlined this month by a BFI season that delves into his immensely classy filmography. I can’t recommend it enough. Here’s five reasons to catch Gabin on the big screen....

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