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Directed and written by Jafar Panahi
Iran, 2015.

Posing as a simple taxi driver, Iranian director Jafar Panahi (who under the orders of his country is not allowed to work) rides through the streets of Tehran collecting different kinds of passengers and filming them with a camera fixed on his dashboard. With this, he is able to capture fragments of his passenger’s lives and thoughts that— like a mosaic— help build a picture of Iranian society today with all its contradicting and extraordinary stories of humanity.

Challenging the authorities that have formally ordered him not to make movies anymore, Panahi chooses to follow the path of cinéma vérite to continue to tell the story of his country through a mixture of spontaneity and narrative, which gradually begin to fall under the veil of a documentary style film. On the streets of the capital, he picks up passengers of all… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.   
Directed by Guy Ritchie; written by Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram; starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris and Hugh Grant

Set in Berlin in the 60s during the "extraction" of Gaby – the young daughter of a German nuclear scientist— Napoleon Solo, a CIA agent who was formerly an art thief, clashes with Ilya Kuryakin, a KGB agent who is just as efficient as he is unstable. Soon, the two (along with Gaby) will have to work together, to get Gaby’s father back and to prevent the Vinciguerra’s—a married couple— from selling a dangerous nuclear bomb to former Nazis. Collaboration between the three will be a far from simple task…

Bromance, romance, action, elegance and a split screen: these are the ingredients that Guy Ritchie (already at the helm of various Sherlock Holmes films) mixes in the adaptation of… click here to read whole article and make comments



Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation

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Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation
Directed and written by Christopher MacQuarrie
Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin

After managing to foil the theft of a dangerous toxic material, Ethan Hunt has confirmed the existence of a dangerous criminal spy agency called the Syndicate that intends to destabilize the world order with terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, however, the IMF is dismantled and Hunt and his fellow men must decide whether to continue to work on their own against a powerful enemy.  To complicate matters even more, Ilsa Faust, a British agent who infiltrated the Syndicate, forms a relationship with Hunt that will have some unforeseeable implications...

It has been almost twenty years since cinema seized the IMF— the team that dealt with impossible and extreme missions, and was first launched on television a few decades earlier. With its compelling tune and memorable tag line, "this message will… click here to read whole article and make comments



Inside Out

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Inside Out
Directed by Peter Docter and Ronnie del Carmen
With the voices of Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Diane Lane, and Kyle MacLachlan 

When 11-year-old Riley must move from Minnesota to San Francisco with her family, the control center in her head (which is guided by the emotions Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust) has a crisis. Joy, who had always led the group, is worried by Sadness’ strange behavior as it threatens to ruin Riley’s most important memories. During yet another quarrel, Joy and Sadness are catapulted into the great storage unit of memory, from which they will need to find a way back. Meanwhile, Riley, who is prey to the emotions she cannot control, could possibly make some very serious decisions…

There are few films that give the impression of changing the prevalent paradigm of cinematic stories when they hit the big screen.… click here to read whole article and make comments




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Tomorrowland *** 
Directed by Brad Bird
Starring George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and Britt Robertson

Casey Newton is an optimistic girl with a passion for science. She is determined to change the world. One day, she receives a strange lapel pin that allows her to access Tomorrowland, a futuristic and wonderful space-time dimension. Determined to find this faraway place, she crosses paths with Frank Walker, a brilliant inventor who is disillusioned and  knows well Tomorrowland. With his help, and with the help of the mysterious Athena, Newton will have to work hard to save the world from catastrophe… 

Part of the disappointment of this futuristic adventure tagged ‘Disney’ (and the reason that someone has aptly defined the film as "a teen version of Interstellar") probably comes from the expectations generated by Brad Bird’s involvement in the film as director and writer. Bird was the creator of Pixar masterpieces, such as The Incredibles, and Ratatouille, (which, among other good things, contain hymns to the importance of individual excellence and to the ability of surpassing expectations in the name of passion) but also the successful Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, which was Bird’s first exploration in the live action film genre.

Tomorrowland certainly offers moments of genuine surprise. For example, the viewer is surprised when Frank is… click here to read whole article and make comments



Guardians of the Galaxy

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Guardians of the Galaxy
Directed by James Gunn
Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Dijimon Hounsou

It is the 1970s. Peter Quill is about to become an orphan. His mother takes her last breath, while there has never been any trace of his father. Peter leaves the hospital convinced of having to grow up on his own when a UFO scoops him up and takes him away.

Now we meet him again as a man in a faraway world. After having grown up on a ship of outlaws he has become a thief himself. This is precisely what catapults him into a story that is even more than he can handle: the precious sphere that he stole from his own companions is really an object of desire of evil villain, Ronan, who wants to destroy the universe. In order to escape, Quill must form an unlikely alliance with four absurd characters:… click here to read whole article and make comments




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Directed and written by David Ayer
Starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBoeuf, Jason Isaacs, Michel Peña, and Scott Eastwood

In April 1945, World War II seems to be coming to an end, yet for the crewmembers of an American tank, the horrors and dangers of war continue as they face their daily mission in German territory. Leading the mission is the fierce Sergeant Collier, who finds Ellison, a simple soldier on his first mission, a part of his crew. 

The cruelty of war -- which is described emblematically through Sergeant Wardaddy Collier's words, "Ideals are peaceful; history is violent" -- is seen through the eyes of a greenhorn. Although this is nothing new, Ayer (who also made Training Day and the first Fast & Furious) tells the story in the restricted space of the passenger compartment of an army tank, which will become home, fort, and, perhaps, tomb to five men.

That the viewer knows he finds himself in… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 19 JUNE 2015

Jurassic World

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Jurassic World

Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Omar Sy

Twenty years after the tragedy that forced it to close, the dinosaur park has now reopened.  It is more spectacular and ambitious than ever before, thanks to the investment of a rich Indian man who, on paper, wants to give everyone the possibility of becoming aware of the smallness of man compared to nature. Yet, in reality, he hides a less worthy deal with the army to use the park “monsters” for military purposes.

As expected, precisely when the manager of the park (Claire)’s nephews visit, the new attraction— a genetically modified dinosaur— escapes, scattering death across the island. The only one capable of stopping the killer dinosaur is Owen, a former marine in charge of training a team of vicious velociraptors—a dangerous weapon that will come in handy in the… click here to read whole article and make comments



Oscar-nominated Timbuktu: right at the heart of the world

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A tracking shot of a gazelle running across the northern Mali desert. Shattering gunshots. A van of men is chasing the beast, concerned not to kill, but to exhaust and capture it. More gunshots: traditional wooden statues are blown to bits in the sand.

These armed marauders are jihadists arriving from Libya and other countries into Azawad, the region of Mali in which Abderrahmane Sissako’s new film Timbuktu is located. They don’t speak the local languages (particularly Tamasheq, a Tuareg dialect) and so use translators and a mixture of Arabic, Bambara, French and English in order to ensure that women wear gloves and socks, that men roll up their trouser legs, and to ban, inter alia, football, music, smoking, loitering in the streets and sitting on one’s doorstep. Woe betide anyone who breaks these arbitrarily-imposed laws; it’s lashes, stoning or a gunshot for them.

Except that these jihadists are hypocrites. They are… click here to read whole article and make comments



Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Avengers: Age of Ultron***** 

Written and directed by Joss Whedon
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johasson

As the avengers battle the last troops still loyal to Hydra, they discover a new artificial intelligence. Out of fear for the destiny of the world, Tony Stark decides to use it as part of his global defense program. But when things do not go as planned, the avengers find themselves face to face with a new terrible threat, which would have never occurred had they not yielded to their own fears. New and unpredictable allies join them, but the real danger comes from within…

While in the first Avengers movie, Nick Fury assembled his team of superheroes due to an alien threat, this time the avengers’ own fears are responsible for their new challenge. The mysterious Wanda Maximoff (a new entry alongside her twin… 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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