Film

Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat

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Review of 'Cabaret', director Bob Fosse

'Cabaret' has been re-released for its thirtieth anniversary. It is a terrific musical set in Berlin in 1931. It tells the story of Sally Bowles (Liza Minnelli), the so called international star of the Kit Kat nightclub, and her entanglement with Brian Roberts (Michael York), a Cambridge PhD student.

'Cabaret' is based on Christopher Isherwood's stories about his time in Berlin, when it was the bohemian capital of Europe. The film depicts the sexual liberalism of the Weimar Republic, but also the desperate poverty of the time and the political turmoil of a society in crisis.

Wheels of Change

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Review of 'Beijing Bicycle', director Wang Xiaoshuai

It is always refreshing to see a film from a part of the world whose traditional culture is so different from that of the west. But Chinese tradition is being pressed hard by the lure of modern western values and desires, introduced by the country's rapid economic growth and integration into world markets. This growth necessitated a massive influx from country to town during the last two decades--about 100 million people.

Beach Parties

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Review of 'Sunshine State', director John Sayles

John Sayles, still best known as the director of 'Matewan', has never made an uninteresting film. 'Sunshine State' is no exception. This is an intensely human story set against the background of Plantation Island on the Florida coast.

Selective Memories

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Review of 'The Majestic', director Frank Darabont

In the US in the 1950s thousands of actors, film-makers, writers and technicians had their lives and livelihoods destroyed by an anti-Communist witchhunt. In an atmosphere of mutual suspicion, many of those accused of Communist sympathies named their friends in order to avoid being blacklisted themselves. The studios willingly joined the frenzy, passing on the names of longstanding staff who then had to face the inquisition. Hollywood's cooperation with the show trials has been a shame from which it has tried to make amends on many occasions. 'The Majestic' is its latest attempt.

Moving Down the Highways of Life

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Review of 'I'm Going Home', director Manoel de Oliveira

I'm Going Home' is a French film by the little known but prolific Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira. Michel Piccoli's protagonist, Gilbert Valance, is an ageing and principled actor who meets tragedy one night after the show. Like many recent French films 'I'm Going Home' opens with the scene of a play, in this case Ionesco's 'Exit the King' in which Gilbert is the lead. The metaphor soon becomes clear. After the curtain falls he learns that his wife and daughter have been killed in a car accident. He is left alone with a small grandchild whom he tries to comfort and be comforted by.

Too Young to Take the Rap

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Review of 'Biggie and Tupac', director Nick Broomfield

In September 1996 Tupac Amaru Shakur (2Pac) was shot dead in Las Vegas. Six months later Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls aka Notorious BIG suffered the same fate in Los Angeles. In the period before they were killed, the two men were arguably the biggest rap stars on the planet. To this day neither murder has been solved.

Sex in the City

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Review of 'Sidewalks of New York', director Edward Burns

New York is the setting for this exploration of love, deceit, and the neuroses of six people in and out of various relationships. 'Sidewalks of New York' is an attempt to understand the interaction of the city with its inhabitants, and the impact of this on their lives and their relationships.

Fight or Flight

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Review of 'The Invincible', director Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog's 'The Invincible' is set in 1932 in a Polish stetl (Jewish village), and Berlin just before Hitler's victory. It tells the story of Zishe Breitbart (Jouka Ahola), the son of a Jewish blacksmith with phenomenal physical strength, who is lured to Berlin with the promise of fame and fortune. There he meets Hanussen (Tim Roth), 'king of the occult', who runs a cabaret specialising in the supernatural that is popular with Nazis and wealthy Berliners, at a time when the Nazi movement is on the edge of power.

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