FRIDAY, 13 MARCH 2015

We’re obsessed with zombies – which says a lot about our fears

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The zombie invasion is here. Our bookshops, cinemas and TVs are dripping with the pustulating debris of their relentless shuffle to cultural domination.

A search for “zombie fiction” on Amazon currently provides you with more than 25,000 options. Barely a week goes by without another onslaught from the living dead on our screens. We’ve just seen the return of one of the most successful of these, The Walking Dead, starring Andrew Lincoln as small-town sheriff, Rick Grimes. The show follows the adventures of Rick and fellow survivors as they kill lots of zombies and increasingly, other survivors, as they desperately seek safety.

Generational monsters    

Since at least the late 19th century each generation has created fictional enemies that reflect a broader unease with cultural or scientific developments. The “Yellow Peril” villains such as Fu Manchu were a response to the massive increase in Chinese migration to… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 13 MARCH 2015

Still Alice

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Still Alice
Directed by Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart

Featuring a heart-breaking central performance from Julianne Moore as Alice Howland, a Columbia University Linguistics professor diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s, Still Alice shows us the painful reality of a disease we’d really rather not think about, a disease that frightens us, that we don’t understand and are terrified of experiencing first hand.

Based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 bestselling novel of the same name, the film tracks Alice’s diagnosis after the first effects of the disease cause her to forget the words to a speech she gives at her University. The film is an intimate portrayal of the devastating impact the disease has on Alice’s husband (Baldwin) and their children – also at risk due to the hereditary nature of the condition - as they struggle to come to terms with the fact that, in spite… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 27 FEBRUARY 2015

Exodus: Gods and Kings

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Exodus: Gods and Kings **(*)
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, John Turturro

Moses is raised in the Egyptian Court where he grows up to become a general. He discovers that he is a Jew who belongs to a people that have been enslaved for 400 years and live awaiting liberation.  He survives his exile in the desert and starts a family of his own. God calls to Moses asking him to liberate the Jewish people, using his skills as a general to fulfill his mission. When faced with Pharaoh Ramses’ stubbornness, God sends the plagues to force the Egyptians to surrender. Yet when the Egyptians decide to follow the Jews to the Red Sea, the most sensational prodigy occurs

It is no surprise that after Noah (Noah, by Darren Aronofsky), the tale of Moses— the heroic biblical protagonist of an action-filled story packed with… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2015

American Sniper

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American Sniper
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller

Chris Kyle is brought up by his father as a good Christian and a good patriot. After seeing the terrorist attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and Tanzania, he enlists in the Navy Seals. Thanks to his extraordinary aim, he becomes a sniper, responsible for protecting the ground troops in Iraq. Through various missions, totaling 1,000 days abroad, he becomes the deadliest sniper in the American army— a legend for his people, and a privileged target for his enemies. Such great acts of violence— both performed and suffered— have put Chris' marriage to Taya on the line, forcing him to find an alternative way to serve his country and his fellow soldiers

Chris Kyle's story embodies the contradictions and the greatness of the American nation. Kyle, who has gone down in history as the most lethal sniper of the American… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 17 FEBRUARY 2015

Big Hero 6

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Big Hero 6

Directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams
Starring: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Daniel Henney
 

Inspired by the Marvel Comic strip of the same name, Big Hero 6 is the 54th Disney animated film and the first since the success of last year’s double Oscar winning phenomenon Frozen. With Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for best animated feature for 2014, the film is the first Disney movie to feature Marvel characters and sees gifted robotics engineer Hiro create a hi-tech team of superheroes to take on a mysterious masked villain.

Hiro spends his spare time fighting the robots he has built in the back alleys of a futuristic, playfully named Fransansokyo. His elder brother Tadashi, worried that Hiro is wasting his prodigious talent as well as his time, takes him to his university’s robotics lab. Hiro is inspired to apply for a place himself, where… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 1 JANUARY 2015

Let’s face it: “The Interview” is a lousy, lousy film

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It’s a pity that North Korea’s cyber attack on Sony in response to its film The Interview made it Sony’s most downloaded movie of all time. Even more regrettable is that it has led some to proclaim the movie as political satire. 

I only watched the film because of the brouhaha that ensued about freedom of speech and how Hollywood had caved to Pyongyang’s cyber vandalism. And I cringed through all of its 112 minutes of crass and puerile testosterone-charged college-jock-humour. The film had no redeeming features. All of the jokes were scatological or sexual. Many were just plain demeaning of women.

The film’s plot follows two mediocre journalists who are approached by the CIA to assassinate the hermit kingdom’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un, after scoring a face-to-face interview with him. That’s the closest the film gets to political satire. It does not compare to classics like Charlie Chaplain’s The… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 11 NOVEMBER 2014

Interstellar: Christopher Nolan’s flawed masterpiece

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At about the midway point of Interstellar, a spacecraft descends into the atmosphere of a pristine white planet. Gliding downwards, the tip of the craft brushes against a cloud, and the cloud shatters in a shower of crystal. It’s a startlingly beautiful image – worthy of Kubrick, even – and it stole the breath of the audience at the IMAX screening I attended.

Then: “Ice cloud!” announces one of the astronauts piloting the craft, witlessly and unnecessarily.

So here we have the paradox of a Christopher Nolan movie. It’s astonishing yet occasionally plodding, far too long but well worth the time. Nolan’s recurring themes – the power of ideas, the negotiable nature of reality – are present and better realized than ever before. But so are his big vices: an apparent reluctance to submit to any form of pruning, and a habit of telling instead of showing, which produces some wretchedly… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2014

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


 

FRIDAY, 12 SEPTEMBER 2014

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


 

FRIDAY, 22 AUGUST 2014

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


 

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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 popcorn@MercatorNet.com. Feel like commenting? Sound off beneath the posts. 


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