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Oppenheimer

Director – Christopher Nolan – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 180m

*****

Drama about the father of the atomic bomb, shot with IMAX cameras and best watched in IMAX 70mm format – out in UK cinemas on Friday, July 21st

There are certain hallmarks to Christopher Nolan’s feature length movies. Since The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008), his second Batman movie, he has been shooting a proportion of each one with IMAX cameras. Seen projected on a screen the size of three double-decker London buses at London’s BFI Waterloo IMAX, these are larger than life experiences in a way that movies shown in the viewer’s own home on a screen, even a large one, can never be. And while Nolan is interested in character and performance, most of his movies in the IMAX format, even the historically inspired WW2 movie Dunkirk (Nolan, 2017), contain memorable action, exploiting the vastness of the IMAX screen to great kinetic effect whether it’s Batman roaring along on the Batbike, co-conspirators free floating inside a falling transit van in Inception (Nolan, 2010) or British WW2 soldiers trapped inside a flooding ship.

There is, however, a problem with watching Nolan’s IMAX-intended films in a lesser theatrical cinema format: the framing.… Read the rest

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La Syndicaliste
(lit. The Union Rep,
US: The Sitting Duck)

Director – Jean-Paul Salomé – 2022 – France – Cert. 15 – 121m

***1/2

After a smart and tough-talking woman union rep in the nuclear power industry is attacked, tied up and raped in her own home, the police suggest she may have staged the attack herself – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 30th

Or, as its opening title states in the English subtitled print shown to press, La Syndicaliste Based On A True Story. That title comes after an opening in 2012 in which police are called to the home of Maureen Kearney (Isabelle Huppert) where her cleaning lady has freed her from a chair to which she was tied before being raped by an intruder. The forensic team are all over the premises, taking away evidence. At the police station, she requests a pad and pencil to write down the details of what happened. The police will later accuse Kearney of fabricating the whole incident herself.

The next half an hour or so is a flashback leading up to the incident. Immediately after the titles, it sets about establishing its heroine as a tireless campaigner for employee rights at French state-owner nuclear power company Areva, standing up for ruthlessly exploited workers in an Hungarian subsidiary and well in with Anne Lauvergeon (Marina Fois), the one female executive in an otherwise male boardroom who despite her reliability and excellent track record is being forced out, with as she later tells Maureen lots of dirty tricks used against her.… Read the rest

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Champions

Director – Bobby Farrelly – 2022 – US – Cert. 12a – 124m

****

A disgraced basketball coach is sentenced to community service coaching a team of people with learning difficulties – out on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, June 12th

After spending the night with less than impressed, fortysomething, one night Tinder partner Alex (Kaitlin Olsen), assistant American football coach Marcus (Woody Harrelson) vocalises his strategy disagreement with his coach boss Peretti (Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters) during a match on the sidelines with national TV cameras watching. Later, drunk driving and full of himself, he drives into the back of a police car. His lawyer (Mike Smith) assures Marcus he’ll be fine in court until his brief reveals the judge to be the notorious Hanging Mary (Alexandra Castillo). Despite almost talking himself into a jail sentence, Marcus is given 90 days community service.

His service consists of coaching The Friends, a team of people with learning difficulties run by Julio (Cheech Marin). There is one brilliant player on the team, Darius (Joshua Felder), who was set for basketball stardom prior to being hit by a drunk driver’s car. His immediate reaction when Marcus enters the gym is, he won’t play for him.… Read the rest

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Julie Delpy
talks about
Three Colours: White

Transcript of interview from 1994 with actress Julie Delpy on Three Colours: White. She plays the short but pivotal role of the main character’s ex-wife, whose appearances bookend the film. At the time, the third film in the trilogy had yet to be screened to press.

She was based in LA., on which subject our conversation started:

“I’m doing everything. Both European and American films. My project there is similar to what I was doing before – American films and European films and co-productions, whatever. I’m not trying to see where I should be, I’m just trying to find something that I like to do. It’s a bigger choice when you’re over there.”

Three Colours: White is very much a European film – not a film set in any one country but partly in Paris and largely in Poland. How did she get involved?

“I knew Kieślowski, I met him a few times, he’s a friend of Agnieszka Holland with whom I had worked on Europa Europa. I had tested on The Double Life Of Veronique, but knew that I wouldn’t get that part because he told me before the casting began that I wasn’t right for it, but he wanted to audition me because he was thinking of something else later.… Read the rest

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The Woman King

Director – Gina Prince-Bythewood – 2022 – US – Cert. 15 – 135m

****

The warrior women of Dahomey defend their people against capture by neighbouring nations for the white foreigners’ slave trade – out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 7th

Outside of the Greek myth of the Amazons, we don’t really think of armies as being made up of women rather than men prior to the last few decades, yet historically this actually occurred in a West African country, the Kingdom of Dahomey (further info: National Geographic; wikipedia) between the middle of the seventeenth and the end of the nineteenth centuries. These warrior women are the subject of this film which takes place in 1823.

A prologue shows a small unit of the women in action under their General Nansica (an unforgettable Viola Davis) as they attack and slaughter a unit of (male) soldiers [Read more…]

Full review published at DMovies.org.

The Woman King is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, October 7th.

Trailer (please note that the irritating, ill-judged pop soundtrack is not representative of the film):

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Funny Pages

Director – Owen Kline – 2022 – US – Cert. US-R – 86m

***

A young, New Jersey comic book artist wannabe’s life becomes increasingly surreal when he leaves school and home to realise his desired career – out in UK cinemas on Friday, September 16th

Guided by his art teacher Mr. Katano (Stephen Adly Guirgis), New Jersey high school student Robert (Daniel Zolghadri) is developing his voice as a comic artist, constantly comparing notes with fellow student / aspiring comic artist Miles (Miles Emanuel). Following Mr. Katano’s tragic and untimely death, Robert finds himself in court following his breaking and entering Katano’s classroom in an attempt to rescue as much of the man’s artwork as he can salvage before its otherwise inevitable, imminent destruction.

He alienates his middle class father Lewis (Josh Pais) by rejecting the offer of a lawyer friend to be his counsel, instead getting a state defendant Cheryl (Marcia DeBonis) who successfully gets the case dismissed. He gets on well with Cheryl and after the case is over, goes to work for her as an assistant.

Responding to an accommodation advert, Robert rents half a bedroom from Barry (Michael Townsend Wright), who lives in the sleazy basement of a well-to-do house in Trenton, sharing the room with established occupant Steven (Cleveland Thomas Jr.).… Read the rest

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Three Floors
(Tre Piani)

Director – Nanni Moretti – 2021 – Italy – Cert. 18 – 117m

***1/2

Various personal crises beset three families occupying the separate floors of a three storeyapartment block – out in cinemas on Friday, March 18th

This drama is based around the lives of three families, the occupants of three floors of a three storey residential block in Rome. On the ground floor is a couple with a young daughter, on the first is a woman whose husband is frequently away on business, on the top are are married couple who are also judges.

In the course of its narrative it runs through in greater or lesser detail the subjects of birth, drink-driving, dementia, child sex abuse, seduction, jealousy, financial fraud, and flight from the law. It divides neatly into three sections, each five years apart, by means of two ‘Five Years Later’ titles. Most of the story’s surprises occur in the first section, with the two later sections providing time for the consequences of these events to be explored in the long run.

It adapts a novel that was originally set in Tel Aviv, here moving the action to Rome.

Frames from “Tre Piani” . Director Nanni Moretti DOP Michele D’Attanasio

It is (to say the least) a challenging film to review – or for that matter to sell – without ruining it in advance for audiences, containing, as it does, a number of major plot twists which completely redefine what happens afterwards, one of them occurring in the opening minutes.… Read the rest

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The Mauritanian

Director – Kevin Macdonald – 2021 – UK – Cert. 15 – 129m

****

A pro bono lawyer defends a post-9/11 terrorist suspect in Guantánamo Bay against his US Army prosecutor – plays Curzon Home Cinema rental from Monday, October 4th

Based on a true story, this kicks off in Mauritania, North West Africa in November 2001 – as a title tells us, two months after 9/11. Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) walks on a beach then attends a Muslim wedding in Mauritania, to which he’s returned after living in abroad in Germany. During the celebrations, two local cops turn up and want him to come for questioning about his brother, whose current whereabouts he reminds them he doesn’t know. “The Americans are going crazy since the attacks two months ago,” they tell him. Momentarily alone, changing out of celebratory robes into something more casual, he erases his mobile phone contacts before agreeing to go with them.

Three years later, New Mexico law firm partner Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) learns of his disappearance and that the story has just broken in Der Spiegel that Slahi is currently allegedly being detained in Guantánamo Bay as “one of the organisers of 9/11”. The US government has recently stated that inmates have the right of ‘habeas corpus’ – if the evidence against them isn’t deemed sufficient to hold them in detention, they should be released.… Read the rest