Film

Young Hearts Run Free

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Review of 'Bad Education', director Pedro Almodóvar

Pedro Almodóvar began his film-making career as a new Spanish society took shape at the end of dictator Franco's rule. During the 1980s transition period to democracy the politically disenchanted people found a voice in the new cultural movement, movida. Hedonistic and anarchic, it had a strong impact on its followers and Almodóvar's future work. Bad Education is set against the backdrop of the movida in Madrid, where we meet Enrique Goded, a young, successful film director.

Identity Crisis

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Review of 'The Cookie Project', director Stephanie Wynne

This year the 18th Lesbian and Gay Film Festival showpieces one of the still remaining controversial areas of gender identity and sexuality, transsexualism. Black American lesbian film-maker Stephanie Wynne's documentary style film, The Cookie Project, takes up the challenge in a very sensitive but down to earth way.

Wiping the Slate Clean

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Review of 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', director Michel Gondry

This is a dazzling and unique angle on the romantic comedy, penned by one of Hollywood's most original writers, Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation). The rom com of late has been a genre where reality has been sucked out to be replaced by syrupy sentiment and synthetic Mills and Boon cliches. Instead Eternal Sunshine views the romantic comedy through the frame of a wry emotional realism, by looking at the angst, heartbreak and unfulfilled promise of romance, although the film remains tender, uplifting and inspiring.

A Mask of Civilisation

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Review of 'The Fog of War', director Errol Morris

Errol Morris has made a really good documentary based on interviews with Robert McNamara. It is a history lesson for the second half of the 20th century, as well as an insight into the methods and thinking of a member of the ruling class. McNamara did the same job during the Vietnam War that Donald Rumsfeld does today, and was just as hated.

Girls Will Be Boys

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Review of 'Osama', director Siddiq Barmak

Kabul's sandblasted and windswept streets set the opening scene for Osama, the first film released about Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. A flood of widows in cornflower blue burqas, demanding the right to work, sweep the viewer convincingly right into the middle of the drama, where a western cameraman captures the commotion. Guided through the crowd by a mischievous boy called Espandi, the camera lens drowns in water when armed Taliban enforcers arrive to halt the illegal demonstration with water cannons.

Middle Class Misdeeds

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Review of ’House of Sand and Fog‘, director Vadim Perelman

Publicised as an ’exploration of the American Dream gone awry‘, House of Sand and Fog looks promising. A thriller revolving around disputed ownership of a house, the film attempts to deal with issues of immigration, racism, and the crushing of individual hopes by bureaucratic state machinery and alienation. As such, and as a thriller that draws its tension from the relationship between its characters rather than special effects and shootouts, it is certainly streets ahead of most Hollywood movies.

May Days

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Review of ’The Dreamers‘, director Bernardo Bertolucci

Bertolucci‘s The Dreamers captures the excitement and energy of the events in May 1968 Paris, when a students‘ revolt grew into the biggest general strike in history and threatened the entire fabric of the French political and economic order. Though focusing primarily on the cultural turmoil that accompanied the sudden outbreak of radicalism, this is a film in which there is an overwhelming sense that the world can and should be changed.

Death and the City

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Review of ’The Barbarian Invasions‘, director Denys Arcand

This is an apparently simple film about a man‘s slow death, but it seems like all of life is in it. A father is terminally ill in a Canadian hospital, and gradually his family and friends around the world deal with the news, gather round the dying man, and grapple with the meaning of his life and death for both him and them.

The Joy of Neglect

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Review of 'American Splendor', directors Shari Springer Bergman and Robert Pulcini, and 'Lost in Translation', director Sofia Coppola

Both of these films document the quiet desperation of modern life. American Splendor charts the life of gloomy loser Harvey Pekar. Lost in Translation examines the vacuous lifestyles of the burnt-out bourgeoisie.

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