Yuri is an artist living in Ukrainian Cossack family in the early 1930s. All seems well in the land; the people are free, well-fed - and Yuri himself has fallen in love with the beautiful Natalka whom he has known since he was a child. However, their lives are about to change forever with the new communist regime of Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin. Millions of people in agricultural areas of the USSR are left to starve to death as their harvest is confiscated by a ruthless government. It's a famine known as Holodomor which lasted between 1932 and 1933, and even when farmers try to move to more affluent areas, their travel is impeded by more official regulations. Together the people of Ukraine must band together to take back their country and their crops, and bring this cruel starvation episode to an end.
Continue: Bitter Harvest Trailer
Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic maestro who so expertly infuses his creepy movies with vivid emotions. The film looks flat-out amazing, with lush production design, clever effects and a cast of outrageous characters. So it's somewhat frustrating that the movie feels weighed down by a story that's more complicated than it needs to be. There's too much plot detail explained in the dialogue, and the quirkiness gets a bit exhausting by the time the film passes the two hour mark.
It's set in the present day, as Florida teen Jake (Asa Butterfield) travels to an island off the coast of Wales to bring closure after the death of his beloved grandfather (Terence Stamp). His oblivious father (Chris O'Dowd) goes with him, but doesn't notice that Jake has discovered that Grandpa's bombed-out childhood home actually still exists in a 1943 time loop created by the ymbryne Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), who can turn into a bird and maintain loops like this one. Jake also realises that the freaky Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) is on his trail, so he tries to help Miss Peregrine rescue her children, all of whom have peculiar supernatural abilities.
From here the film takes on a more traditional action trajectory, as Barron and his toothy, long-limbed Hollows try to devour the children's eyes. Yes, there are a lot of grotesque touches in this story, and Burton knows that kids in the audience love this kind of stuff. They'll also be tantalised by the busy visual landscapes, which are magnificent in 3D, grossed out by the yuckiness and excited by the thrilling set-pieces. Adults will find all of this a bit harder to stomach, simply because the wordy dialogue never quite makes sense of the messy plot.
Continue reading: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children Review
Jake has always been an ordinary boy but when he finds himself on a small island, things begin to happen that few people would be able to explain. His new friend, a beautiful young girl named Emma seems to be able to perform miraculous occurrences start to happen.
Things become a little clearer - yet utterly more baffling - when he's taken to meet Miss Peregrine at her exceptional orphanage for children. As Jacob is quick to learn, each of Miss Peregrine's kids has a special ability, something unique to them. Emma can control oxygen and must wear hefty boots to keep her feet firmly attached to the ground, whilst Bronwyn is a little girl with incredible physical strength.
Miss Peregrine is the protector of the children and acts as their matriarch. To keep them safe she's formulated a way of manipulating time to keep the kids away from dangerous monsters who hunt them down - however, as the dark forces become stronger the Children are placed in more and more danger - unbeknownst to Jacob, perhaps he holds the key to keeping his new friends safe.
There's a cool 1960s beat to this documentary, which explores the creation of The Who through the eyes of the two men who made them stars, Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. Filmmaker James D. Cooper deploys an astonishing collection of unseen photos and film footage to tell the story, including both new and archival interviews with the people involved. And even if there are sequences that feel like they're off the topic, this is a strikingly engaging documentary both about the band and the music industry.
Kit and Chris were the ultimate odd couple: Kit was super-posh (and also gay at a time when being so was illegal), while Chris was a working-class Londoner. But they shared a deep love of art and philosophy, and planned a career together making movies. To kick off their career, they decided to make a film about a band, and they thought the High Numbers were the perfect subjects: neither cute like the Beatles nor brutish like the Stones. They chose one of the band's old names for itself, The Who, and came up with clever ways to build an audience. Then in 1969 their rock opera Tommy pushed The Who into super-stardom, resulting of course in drug use, money issues, fame problems and lots of arguments.
What's most fascinating about Lambert and Stamp is the way they allowed The Who to have a life of its own, constantly shifting their own goals rather than try to make the band what they wanted it to be. Using a range of colour and black-and-white imagery, this lively and witty documentary captures their strong personalities, while carefully detailing how they managed everything from the band's music and clothing to the way they played on-stage (there's a hilarious montage of guitar-smashing). And like Lambert and Stamp themselves, everything is infused with a strong sense of the British class system, which they cleverly exploited for their own gain.
Continue reading: Lambert & Stamp Review
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. A trade dispute on the planet Naboo has led to a full-scale invasion of the planet. Two members of the of the honourable Jedi Order, Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) travel to the Trade Federation flagship to negotiate an end to the blockade. While they are there, however, they uncover a secret invasion of the entire planet which threatens to endanger millions of lives. Their quest to save the planet and keep the peace will lead them to a young boy with incredible potential. And the fate of the entire galaxy will be thrown into danger.
Continue: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Trailer
Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were important players in The Who's career. Eager to produce a film based on rock 'n' roll as amateur filmmakers, they ended up managing the group, bringing their music to a wider audience and gleaning interest from the US music industry with top albums such as 'Who's Next', 'Tommy' and 'A Quick One'. They wanted to mentor and document a band that would become renowned for their misfit music and rebellious lifestyle, but within ten years the relationship between the Lambert and Stamp and the band was broken down beyond repair as serious financial issues arose, and their drug fuelled lifestyles began to take their toll on their success.
Continue: Lambert & Stamp Trailer
Tim Burton combines his sunnier filmmaking style (Big Fish) with his more deranged impulses (Dark Shadows) for this amazing true story about both the nature of art and how easy it is to slip into an unhealthy relationship. This is the true story of Margaret Keane, the painter responsible for those huge-eyed waifs that peered eerily from virtually everyone's wall in the 1960s and 70s. It's funny and shocking, and best of all deeply moving.
The film opens in 1958 as Margaret (Amy Adams) is fleeing with her daughter Jane (Raye, then Arthur) from an abusive marriage. She settles in San Francisco, and as she begins to establish herself as a local painter she meets fellow painter Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), a fast-talking charmer who not only discovers that Margaret's paintings have an audience, but he takes credit for painting them himself. At first it's a case of mistaken identity, then it becomes a commercial issue. But as Walter innovates with printed posters and postcards, creating a whole industry around the mournful images, he begins to live the high life, hanging out with movie stars and world leaders while Margaret is locked in her studio at home painting to meet the demand. After he threatens her with legal ramifications and physical violence if she tells anyone the truth, Margaret finally snaps.
Burton keeps Adams at the centre of the film, drawing out her feisty personality and deep artistic sensibilities while letting Waltz become an almost cartoonish villain whirling around her. It's a clever trick, because it forces the film's central question about whether Margaret's paintings are indeed art (Terence Stamp's snooty New York art critic definitely thinks not), even as her artistic integrity is never in doubt. Adams is terrific in the role, especially since Burton focusses on her expressive eyes to draw the audience in. By comparison, Waltz is rather over-the-top, but he keeps adding subtle shades to Walter's manic bravura, and he makes the climactic courtroom sequence hilariously ridiculous.
Continue reading: Big Eyes Review
Margaret is an inspirational American painter desperate to sell her unique artwork depicting women and children with outsize eyes. She takes to the glamorous North Beach in San Francisco in a bid to try and make some money selling on the street and it's there she meets the charming Walter Keane, who takes a strong interest in her talent. The pair marry and have a child named Susan, but things take a dramatic turn when Walter starts selling the paintings under his own name, claiming that art by women doesn't sell as well. While revelling in their luxury, Margaret starts to feel uneasy - despite her apparent dreams of success coming true. She decides enough is enough and takes Walter to court, insisting that she is the true creator of every single Big Eye painting. He's prepared to fight back, but just how far is she willing to go to prove the truth?
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Crunch Calhoun is a motorcycle stunt artist and former art thief who caused himself some pretty crippling damage in his last daredevil show. Now, feeling useless and bored without his usual adrenaline fix, he decides to go back to work in a new heist - right after his neck brace comes off first. He enlists his half-brother Nicky into his latest criminal scene, as well as his forger friend Guy de Cornet and his new apprentice Francie Tobin, while Crunch himself will use his motorcycle skills as the party's wheelman. The plan? Steal the Gutenberg Bible; the world's most valuable book; and switch it for a fake. It soon becomes clear as the heist gets underway, however, that not everyone in on the scheme can be trusted. Can such a huge plot be successful with betrayal on the cards?
Continue: The Art Of The Steal Trailer
By focussing on the emotional bleakness in this story, writer-director Williams manages to find some interesting moments in a film that otherwise seems contrived to reach fans of heartwarming fare like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet. And while this film sometimes feels like a geriatric episode of Glee, it at least finds authenticity in the characters' emotions, thanks to clever acting and filmmaking.
It opens with an ageing couple: the perpetually cheery Marion (Redgrave) and her relentless grump of a husband Arthur (Stamp). "You know how I feel about enjoying things," he scowls as she chirps about him coming along to cheer for her singing club at an upcoming competition. But Marion has cancer, and she's trying to make sure that he doesn't shut down when she dies, cutting off contact with his single-dad son (Eccleston). Sure enough, he reacts to her death with cruelty and isolation. But Marion's relentlessly upbeat choir leader Elizabeth (Arterton) won't give up on him, and when she discovers that he can sing, she urges him to take Marion's place at the competition.
After the strikingly original thrillers London to Brighton and Cherry Tree Lane, this is not the kind of film we expect from Williams, but if we look closely we can see him constantly undermining expectations. This film isn't quite as heartwarming as it seems, allowing its characters to be rather startlingly awful at times even though the story is punctuated by uplifting sequences. And of course the veteran cast members are excellent. Redgrave is luminous as Marion, holding the film's emotional centre even after her character is gone. And Stamp quietly reveals a hidden tenderness under Arthur's rough exterior.
Continue reading: Song For Marion Review
Date of birth
22nd July, 1938
Yuri is an artist living in Ukrainian Cossack family in the early 1930s. All seems...
Ransom Riggs' bestselling novel is appropriately adapted into a movie by Tim Burton, the gothic...
Jake has always been an ordinary boy but when he finds himself on a small...
There's a cool 1960s beat to this documentary, which explores the creation of The Who...
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. A trade dispute on the...
Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were important players in The Who's career. Eager to produce...
Tim Burton combines his sunnier filmmaking style (Big Fish) with his more deranged impulses (Dark...
Margaret is an inspirational American painter desperate to sell her unique artwork depicting women and...
Crunch Calhoun is a motorcycle stunt artist and former art thief who caused himself some...
By focussing on the emotional bleakness in this story, writer-director Williams manages to find some...
It's impossible to avoid comparing this film to both Inception and The Truman Show, as...
What if our future was planned, if everything in life was part of one big...