Film

Man about the House

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Review of 'Pure', director Gillies Mackinnon

Gillies Mackinnon's new film 'Pure' opens with a ten year old boy, Paul, preparing a fix of heroin. He puts it on a tray with flowers and cigarettes, and takes it upstairs to his mother as 'breakfast in bed'. Paul thinks that all he is doing is helping his mum with her 'medicine'. She is sick--so sick she has forgotten it is his birthday. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the film, in which Paul's mother Mel's drug addiction is seen through his eyes.

What the Tourists' Eyes Don't See

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Review of 'Life and Debt', director Stephanie Black

Get a taste of anti-capitalism Caribbean style. 'No money, no job. Borrowing money to lend. Too much foreign debt'--these are the words of the Jamaican reggae artist Mutabarka in the powerful documentary 'Life and Debt'.

This film exposes the harm capitalism inflicts on a nation and its people by looking at Jamaica, where the IMF has had its claws into the country for over 25 years.

Hitting the Right Notes

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Review of 'Werckmeister Harmonies', director Bela Tarr

This film is directed by an acclaimed Hungarian film-maker, Bela Tarr, whose work was recently celebrated with a retrospective at the National Film Theatre in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A more appropriate title would be the name of the novel it is based on, 'The Melancholy of Resistance' by Laszlo Krasaznahorkai, as that is what the film is about.

Shot for a Purpose

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A history of American war films

Darryl F Zanuck's 'The Longest Day' was very much a Nato film. It was made during the 1961 Berlin Wall crisis and reflected the US's need of its European allies in the Cold War with Russia. The film went out of its way to show the British, French, German and American experience of the D-Day landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944. The Allies were shown working together and those 'decent' Germans who had fought bravely and were not Nazi fanatics were rehabilitated. There was, of course, no mention of the Russian contribution to the defeat of the Nazis.

Beautiful Picture

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Review of 'Frida', director Julie Taymor

Frida Kahlo was an extraordinarily colourful character--in her own right as a popular and unconventional painter, but also as the wife of one of the greatest modern painters, Diego Rivera, and sometime lover of one of the greatest Russian revolutionaries, Leon Trotsky. It is therefore no accident that her life has been celebrated in many books and plays. This rendering, 'Frida', directed by Julie Taymor with Salma Hayek as Frida, is a very worthy addition to the list.

When You Hear the Warning

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Review of 'The War Game', director Peter Watkins

With Bush's recent adoption of a pre-emptive nuclear strike strategy, and the increasing anxiety we feel about living in a more unstable, conflict-riven world, the DVD release of 'The War Game' could not have been more timely. 'The War Game', produced 38 years ago, is a drama documentary about a 'limited' nuclear attack, and still retains its political impact and urgency.

Flower Power

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Review of 'Adaptation', director Spike Jonze

'Adaptation' is a multi-layered black comedy by director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, whose previous offering was the wonderfully inventive 'Being John Malkovich'.

The film is based on the true ordeal Kaufman encountered while trying to adapt Susan Orlean's book, 'The Orchid Thief'. The latter is a passionate study of wild orchids and focuses on a charismatic jack of all trades named John Laroche, who is busy hunting for orchids in the swamps of Florida.

Paler Sun

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Review of 'Solaris', director Steven Soderbergh

The first film version of Stanislaw Lem's science fiction story 'Solaris' was directed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972. Thirty years later Steven Soderbergh--the man responsible for 'Erin Brockovich' and last year's re-make of 'Ocean's Eleven'--gives us his version. Both films use the bare plot of Lem's story and develop themes implied in it, but the difference between the two films is startling.

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