Film

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.

The Trotters Trading Company

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Review of 'Revengers Tragedy', director Alex Cox

If your idea of a good night out is a movie based on a 400 year old play in blank verse, set in an imaginary and dystopian Liverpool with a cast that includes Eddie Izzard, Cherie Booth's dad and Craig who won Big Brother, all played out to the music of Chumbawamba, then get your coat now. 'Revengers Tragedy' is what you've been waiting for.

When an Oasis Becomes a Blur

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Review of 'Live Forever', director John Dower

'Live Forever' documents, in the words of writer and director John Dower, 'the rise and fall of one of the most visible movements in [contemporary] British music, Britpop', largely through interviews with some of the principal participants in the 'movement'--Damon Albarn of Blur, Noel Gallagher of Oasis and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. Narration is kept to a minimum in an attempt to let the story flow.

Airing the Dirty Washing in Public

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Review of 'The Magdalene Sisters', director Peter Mullen

Margaret is raped by her cousin at a family wedding. Rose has just given birth out of wedlock and has her son forcibly taken for adoption. Bernadette is in an orphanage and is unaware that her blossoming sexuality will be used against her. All three are sent against their wills to the Magdalene Laundry.

A Triangle of Love and Despair

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Review of 'The Hours', director Stephen Daldry

'The Hours' was never going to be a low-key production. Directed by 'Billy Elliott''s Stephen Daldry, and with a Hollywood blockbuster cast starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman and her famous fake nose, it was always going to be up for award nominations and receive a lot of attention.

Kidman, Streep and Moore play three unrelated yet linked women living at different times, who we see grappling with the ideas of what makes their lives worth living and how they can be happy within the constraints of society.

One Moment in Time

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Review of '11.09.01', various directors

'11.09.01' is a movie I expected to like. After all, it is an interesting idea. Eleven directors from around the world were given a budget of $400,000 and asked to make a short film (each a symbolic 11 minutes 9 seconds and one frame long) about 11 September.

It's also a film that our enemies actively hate. It has been mercilessly attacked in the right wing press of the world, usually for being 'anti-American propaganda'. The film has been effectively banned in the US. On the other hand Indian director Mira Nair has acclaimed the movie a 'rebirth of cinema's conscience'. If only.

Poetry in Palestine

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Review of 'Divine Intervention', director Elia Suleiman

What do we learn of the real lives of Palestinian men, women and children from the press? Not much. 'Divine Intervention' is a highly successful attempt to challenge this censorship by omission. Its form is reminiscent of 1980s Latin American magical realism. This is not accidental. In order for those voices to be heard, director Elia Suleiman has created an allegory, a pastiche of the sufferings of the Palestinian people which contains sublime moments of pathos, humour and love.

Counterpoint

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Review of 'The Pianist', director Roman Polanski

When the Nazis invaded Warsaw in September 1939, 360,000 of the city's 1 million inhabitants were Jewish. By the time the Nazis retreated in January 1945 there were only 20 Jews left alive. 'The Pianist' is the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, one of those survivors.

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