Monthly Archives October 2015

The Assassin (2015)

The-Assassin-posterDirector: Hou Hsiao-Hsien

Writers: Hou Hisao-Hsien, Zhong Acheng, Chu T’ien-wen, Hsieh Hai-Meng (screenplay), Pei Xing (short story)

Cast: Shu Qi, Chang Chen

Cert: 12

Running time: 107mins

Year: 2015


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The lowdown: Celebrated Chinese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien turns his hand to the wuxia-pien (martial arts) genre for his first film in eight years. But, those expecting House of Flying Daggers or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may be surprised at what an anti-martial arts film Hou has produced. The plot, a female assassin is sent to kill the man to whom she was once betrothed, is standard fare. Hou’s telling is more focused on costumes and scenery than a compelling story or choreographed combat, meaning it’s pretty to look at but likely to leave scratched heads and soft snores.

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The fu...

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The Witch (2015)

The-Witch-posterDirector: Robert Eggers

Writer: Robert Eggers

Cast: Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Harvey Scrimshaw, Lucas Dawson, Ellie Grainger

Cert: 15

Running time: 90mins

Year: 2015


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The lowdown: Joining It Follows and The Babadook as one of the great horrors of recent years, The Witch is a sensational debut from director Robert Eggers. In 17th century New England, a family are banished from their devoutly religious plantation. Isolated on a small farm, they seem to be the targets of witchcraft when their youngest vanishes. But, as they begin to suspect each other, how much is hysteria? Dripping with a malevolent atmosphere, this is how horror movies seemed when you were too young to watch them.

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The full verdict: Vividly depicting an age when lives were governed by religion, supers...

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The Program (2015)

The-Program---posterDirector: Stephen Frears

Writer: John Hodge (screenplay), David Walsh (book)

Cast: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Guillaume Canet, Jesse Plemons, Lee Pace, Dustin Hoffman

Cert: 15

Running time: 103mins

Year: 2015




The lowdown: Lance Armstrong’s rise and fall as the 7 times champion and most notorious cheat of the Tour de France makes for high gear entertainment. Using flash, bang and intelligence, director Stephen Frears and Trainspotting writer John Hodge bring the larger than life story and characters racing onto the screen. Even for those familiar with Alex Gibney’s The Armstrong Lie this is a great ride, with Ben Foster capturing the merciless drive of the hubristic Armstrong and Chris O’Dowd impressive as the journalist who refused to believe the myth.

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The full verdict: A wor...

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The Corpse of Anna Fritz

The-Corpse-of-Anna-Fritz---posterDirector: Hèctor Hernández Vicens

Writer: Hèctor Hernández Vicens, Isaac P. Creus

Cast: Albert Carbo, Alba Ribas, Bernat Samuell, Cristian Valencia

Cert: 18

Running time: 76mins

Year: 2015




The lowdown: When a recently deceased movie star is deposited in a city morgue, it kickstarts a night of wild horror for a morgue attendant and his two friends. Gleefully bad taste and packing shocks and surprises, this is a cheeky little thriller of which you feel Hitchcock would approve.

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The full verdict: Our obsession with celebrity culture is taken deep into the realm of absurd black comedy with The Corpse of Anna Fritz.

Lean, mean and smart, it wastes no time in getting down and dirty with an escalating succession of morally reprehensible actions and subsequent crises.

As her body is trolli...

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When Marnie Was There

When-Marnie-Was-There-posterDirector: Hiromasa Yonebayashi

Writer: Keiko Niwa, Masashi Ando, Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Joan G. Robinson (book)

Cast: Sara Takatsuki, Kasumi Arimura, Nanako Matsushima, Susumu Terajima (Japanese version) / Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, Geena Davis, John C. Reilly (American version)

Cert: PG

Running time: 103mins

Year: 2014




The lowdown: Studio Ghibli’s final film before their “indefinite hiatus” is a warm coming of age movie with a gentle supernatural wrapping. Troubled 12-year-old Anna spends a summer recovering from an asthma attack with her aunt and uncle in their coastal town. Withdrawn, she nonetheless befriends Marnie, a mysterious girl living in a peculiar mansion...

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High Rise

High-Rise-poster1Director: Ben Wheatley

Writer: Amy Jump

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Luke Evans, James Purefoy, Elisabeth Moss, Keeley Hawes, Sienna Guillory, Peter Ferdinando

Cert: 15

Running time: 112mins

Year: 2015


 


The lowdown: Ben Wheatley’s first big screen outing since visiting A Field in England continues the visual and aural assault as he tackles J.G. Ballard’s 1975 cult novel. Tom Hiddleston is a doctor newly accepted into an exclusive high rise condo, who watches as the utopian dream degenerates into an orgy of violence, sex and murder. Despite retaining the 70s setting, meaty swipes at David Cameron’s Big Society Britain pack a punch in a smart, acidic end of days movie.

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The full verdict: Producer Jeremy Thomas has spent decades trying to bring High Rise to the ...

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Son of Saul

Son-of-Saul---posterDirector: László Nemes

Writers: László Nemes, Clara Royer

Cast: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont

Cert: 15

Running time: 107mins

Year: 2015



The lowdown: László Nemes’ feature debut, winner of the 2015 Grand Prix at Cannes, journeys to the very centre of Auschwitz’s extermination apparatus. In 1944 the Nazi’s enter a killing frenzy of unprecedented magnitude. A member of the Sonderkommando, Jewish inmates forced to assist the SS with the extermination of new arrivals, attempts to give a young boy a traditional burial against this background of evil. Within this slim story Nemes portrays the insanity of the Nazi’s Final Solution and the horrors facing prisoners placed in an impossible situation.

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The full verdict: Showing the unshowable is the great dil...

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Suffragette

Suffragette-posterDirector: Sarah Gavron

Writer: Abi Morgan

Cert: 12

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham-Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Geoff Bell, Ben Whishaw, Meryl Streep

Running time: 106mins

Year: 2015




The lowdown: Absorbing and emotional telling of the fight for women’s voting rights, likely to garner plenty of attention come awards season. Brick Lane director Sarah Gavron avoids chocolate box period cosiness, delivering a harder-edged experience than you may expect, and Carey Mulligan proves once more she’s fast becoming the actress of her generation.

Suffragette---Carey-Mulligan,-Anne-Marie-DuffSuffragette---Carey-Mulligan

The full verdict: The opening shot of a woman’s heel sending ripples through a puddle reflecting a sweatshop laundry sets the tone. The political, social and personal status quo is soon to be forever disrupted.

Adopting the 12 Ye...

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Must-See Films at the 2015 BFI London Film Festival

Steve-Jobs---Michael-Fassbender,-glasses-reflection

The 59th London Film Festival runs Wednesday 7th to Sunday 18th October.

12 days.

240 movies and documentary features, plus hundreds of shorts from all over the globe.

Even the most rabid movie buff will concede defeat in trying to see all those films in less than two weeks. So what to watch?

In the best tradition of internet Top Lists, we proudly present the Top 10 movies we are most hotly anticipating. And then looked again and had to expand it to 15.

They may be great, they may exhilarate, hell they may even frustrate… The only guarantee is they will be memorable. Which is what makes the London Film Festival such an essential event year after year.

Enough of the preamble, let’s dive into the idiosyncratic Electric Shadows 59th London Film Festival Must-See list...

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