Powerful Polish film about faith, the Holocaust and Communism

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Warning: this article contains spoilers.

Paweł Pawlikowski’s Ida has rightly garnered plaudits and acclaim wherever it has been shown: its black-and-white camerawork, empty spaces and unhurried pace create an extraordinarily watchable, but eerie picture of decay and neglect.

Considering aesthetics would seem to be repugnant when it comes to the representation of the Holocaust, or of totalitarian communism. But Pawlikowski impresses in the way his cinematic solutions serve the historical and philosophical agenda of the film. The silences and sparse dialogue underline the unsaid more than the said, and the artistic design emphasises flaky, peeling exteriors that have not been retouched or renovated for 20 years.

All this underscores the overarching concerns of the film: the presence of the past, the war’s long shadow, the overweening significance of recent history. The Nazi occupation of Poland and the spectre of the Holocaust are incessantly invoked. The same aesthetic technique in… click here to read whole article and make comments



Cinema classics: Five million years to Earth (1967)

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Quatermass and the Pit (1967)

Directed by Roy Ward Baker

Who’s in it? James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover

What’s it about? Released in the US as Five Million Years to Earth, Quatermass and the Pit is based on Roger Kneale’s 1958 BBC TV serial “Quatermass” and follows the potentially cataclysmic repercussions of the discovery of a 5-million-year-old spaceship during the excavation of a new London Underground line. When the other-worldly antique is unearthed and mysteriously begins to trigger ghostly visions of apparently long dead Martians in some unsuspecting members of the general public, Professor Bernard Quatermass is called into investigate, uncovering an intergalactic conspiracy which leads to some worrying discoveries about the origin of human life on earth.

Memorable Moments? The terror in the eyes of Keir’s Quatermass and his cronies following the explosion in the underground is palpable, when the potentially catastrophic answer to the… click here to read whole article and make comments



Parody The Matrix? In Lego?

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The Lego Movie (2014)

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller 

Who’s in it? Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman (Voice)

What’s it about? Completely ordinary and apparently untalented Lego man Emmett (Pratt), who always does what he’s supposed to do and never steps out of line, finds himself in the wrong place at the right time when he is mistaken, via farcical accident and complete misunderstanding, to be “The Special One”, and dragged against his will on a hapless mission to save the world and stick it to the Man, in this case Will Ferrell’s President Business, who doubles as an evil villain. The Lego Movie is essentially a Matrix parody in Lego, with Lucy/Wyldstyle in the Trinity role, Vitruvius in the Morpheus role and Emmett in the Neo role, with the emphasis on “knowing yourself” and that yourself is all you need to be. By turns… click here to read whole article and make comments



Dark secrets of a world of perfection

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The Giver        
Directed by Phillip Noyce       
Starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgård, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes      
94 minutes

What if we could erase violence, pain and discord? Could a society regularize emotions, eliminate suffering and end war? What if reproduction and sexuality could be completely divorced from the messiness of family life? Wouldn’t it be lovely? In the soon-to-be released movie-from–a-book, “The Giver,” an ideal community is based on this premise. There is a price, of course.

The film is based on Lois Lowry’s novel which has become a literary fixture in American schools. “The Giver” is one of those rare books loved both by teachers and students. Our guess is that the movie version produced by Walden Media will have similar success. For one reason, it has a built-in audience of the millions who read the book as students. For another, it… click here to read whole article and make comments



Classic Cinema: The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

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The Lady from Shanghai (1947)

Directed by Orson Welles 

Who’s in it? Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth, Everett Sloane

What’s it about? Best known to some as the girl from the first of the posters on Andy Dufresne’s cell wall in The Shawshank Redemption, Rita Hayworth stars as femme fatale Elsa in The Lady from Shanghai, another classic if slightly less well known noir-thriller from cinematic genius Orson Welles, who here continues his habit of directing, writing and starring in his own films. Welles’ Irish sailor meets upper crust blonde Elsa (Hayworth) in Central Park after rescuing her horse-drawn carriage from three would-be hijackers, only to be embroiled in a murder plot on the high seas aboard her husband’s yacht. Based on Sherwood King’s novel If I Die Before I Wake, Welles and Hayworth were husband and wife before and during the film’s production though the marriage ended a year after its release. Some interpret the dizzying… click here to read whole article and make comments



Cinema Classics: A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

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A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

Directed by Richard Lester

Who’s in it? John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr

What’s it about? Providing the inspiration for the Monkees TV show, the Superman II director’s pop cultural music doc following a day in the life of the Fab Four was released at the height of Beatlemania and unlike, say, The Spice Movie, was both a hit at the box office and acclaimed by critics as one of the most influential music documentaries ever made. Listed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Great Films of all time, critic Leslie Halliwell called A Hard Day’s Night “a comic fantasia with music…” and its 99% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes is evidence that the film has stood the test of time to become a true Rock n’ Roll classic.

Memorable Moments? Aside from the obvious soundtrack highlights like She Loves You played live in… click here to read whole article and make comments



CINEMA CLASSICS: The Lives of Others (2006)

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The Lives of Others (2006)

Directed by Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck

Who’s in it? Martina Gedeck, Ulrich Mühe, Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur

What’s it about? This morally uncompromising and utterly compelling Best Foreign Language Oscar winner plays as a tense political thriller set in East Berlin in the twilight years of the Soviet Republic as the Stasi exert their ruthless pressure on ordinary citizens they consider to be enemies of the state. When a hardened surveillance operative (Mühe) is dispatched to spy on a theatre director (Koch) and his affair with his actress girlfriend (Gedeck) he is gradually immersed in the minutiae of their daily lives and slowly rediscovers his own dignity, as his conscience kicks in and he struggles to do the right thing.

Memorable Moments? The film’s climactic closing sequence is undoubtedly its most memorable, partly because you don’t see it coming but it’s also a powerful reminder… click here to read whole article and make comments



Cinema Classics: An Autumn Afternoon

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An Autumn Afternoon (1962)

Directed by Yashijiro Ozu 

Who’s in it? Chishū Ryū, Shima Iwashita, Keiji Sada

What’s it about? The final and perhaps most touching film from the renowned Japanese auteur is a lovingly observed and delicately delivered family drama set in Japan, which sensitively brings to bear the full weight of cultural/relational experience you would expect from the Tokyo Story director. An Autumn Afternoon tells the story of ageing widower Shuhei (Ryu), struggling to stave the inevitable ache of loneliness since the death of his wife, and the travails of his three children with whom he busies himself. As his daughter’s proposed marriage approaches, Shuhei encourages her to follow his more traditional impulse re suitability, attempting to maintain a semblance of control over her life in his diminishing role, but also to feel needed and to be useful. Shot in colour, the film considers the commonalities of family life with… click here to read whole article and make comments



A harrowing odyssey to the USA

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The Golden Dream (2013)

Directed by Diego Quemada-Diez 

Who’s in it? Brandon Lopez, Rodolfo Domínguez, Karen Martínez

What’s it about? The Golden Dream (La Jaula de Oro) is Ken Loach prodigy Quemada-Diez’s first full blown solo project after plying his trade for years as the respected and conscientious British director’s camera assistant. The film uncovers the “human warmth, compassion and truth” hidden in the most unlikely of situations, namely modern day Mexico, if you happen to be an illegal migrant looking for a better life in the US. The plot follows three Guatamalan teenagers as they busk their way across the border, hitching a lift on the roof of an obliging train along the way while attempting to stay the right side of traffickers and drug lords, in search of greener grass. Awarded the Best Talent Prize last year at Cannes, Quemada-Diez is undoubtedly a graduate of the Loach school of down to earth… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 30 JUNE 2014

Captain America saves the world. Again.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier            
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo     
Starring Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders       
136 minutes     

While trying to fit into the 21st century, Captain America works for the SHIELD (a military and counterintelligence organization created to protect the world) as sidekick of director Nick Fury. He is still Steve Rogers (his civilian identity), though, and his rigid, old-fashioned moral code leads him to contest Fury’s methods. When Fury suffers a fatal attack at the hand of the mysterious Winter Soldier, Steve starts investigating with the Black Widow, the only person that he can trust... His enemy has taken possession of SHIELD and Captain America is now public enemy number one....

Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) runs marathon distances around the Lincoln Monument with the pace of the runner Usain… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Popcorn is MercatorNet's funky blog about what's hot and what's not in the world of cinema. Feel like contributing? Contact us at Feel like commenting? Sound off beneath the posts. 

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