23 is located in West London and just 5 minutes’ walk from West Kensington Tube Station. It offers en suite rooms and free WiFi in the reception areas.Accessed by stairs only, each modern room at 23 has a flat-screen TV, a hairdryer and towels. The rooms also benefit from an en suite shower room.Olympia Exhibition Centre is a 5-minute walk from the property. Kensington Palace, The Science Museum, The Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park are within a 30-minute stroll from 23. Nearby attractions include The Natural History Museum and the V&A.London Paddington Railway Station is a 20-minute Tube journey away, while Heathrow Airport can be reached in less than hour via the Piccadilly Line.
A Willesden Green restaurant specialising in Indian and Nepalese dishes. Its name doesn't just represent the venue's address on the High Road - they donate 33 percent of their profits to three Nepalese children's charities: the Everest Child Care Home charity, the Bloom Organisation and SOS Bahini. The food menu ranges from vegetable samosas, naan breads and pani puri to to chicken tikka, mutton chops and marinated chicken cooked in the clay tandoor oven. Keep an eye out for the momo dumplings too - an authentic Nepalese snack traditionally eaten with tomato pickle. One of the aims of the restaurant is to set up a school in Nepal. Any person or organisation donating the £300,000 needed can have it named after them. Sounds like a good way to spend some money if you have it.
A new restaurant from Borough Wines - the group behind L'Entrepot nearby and five wine shops dotted around town. It takes over the site of the recently closed Mayfields - a restaurant also owned by the group. Wine is expected to be a strong point, complementing a menu of bar snacks, small plates and mains taking influence from across Europe. There is a range of craft beer on offer, too.
A wine bar-cum-restaurant in the downstairs deli at Fortnum & Mason, offering a menu put together by the group's development chef, Shaun Hill. The room's design comes from the David Collins Studio, and the name commemorates the year of Fortnum & Mason's foundation. There's a short wine list, with most available by the glass. 1707 does invite guests, though, to purchase a bottle from the adjacent F&M Wine Department to drink for a £10 corkage charge.
In a library-like atmosphere of dark wood and low lighting, the bar staff at the Gore Hotel in South Kensington go about their business of providing drinks and bar food to an affluent clientele. The drinks list is extensive, with a large set of original cocktails playing a major role. Wines are international in scope, and the champagne list begins with Beaumont des Crayères and rises through Bollinger and Taittinger to the expensive heights of Krug, Dom Perignon and Cristal. There is a large selection of single malt and a slightly smaller one of rum. Bar food ranges all over the globe, and takes the form of sandwiches, salads, tapas and other small plates, large platters. Prices for both food drinks are around the average for a place at this level of luxury, around £10-11 for a glass of bubbly or a cocktail, and tapas at £4-5.
A two-floor American pool bar in Clerkenwell with four full-size tables, a separate basement bar downstairs, cocktails and a food menu taking influence from cuisines across the globe. It's even got its own resident pro pool player - World 8-Ball Trickshot Champion, Steve Daking.
52-2 offers accommodation in London, 2.3 km from O2 Arena and 3.7 km from Olympic Stadium. The unit is 5 km from Greenwich. Free WiFi is provided .There is a dining area and a kitchenette complete with a dishwasher, an oven and toaster. Towels and bed linen are featured in this self-catering accommodation.Victoria Park is 5 km from 52-2, while Greenwich Park is 5 km from the property. London City Airport is 2 km away.
75 offers accommodation in London, 1.5 km from Islington. The property features views of the garden and is 1.8 km from The British Museum. Additionally, Angel underground station is a 5-minute walk from the property.The kitchen comes with an oven. A flat-screen TV is also offered.Hoxton Square is 2.1 km from 75, while Dominion Theatre is 2.2 km away.St Pancras International station is 1 km away.The nearest airport is London City Airport, 12 km from 75.
Wood-panelled walls and a black and white checkered floor make for a striking entrance hall at this swanky 5-star hotel, which is a mixture of stylish, monochrome decor and high-quality furnishings. Each bedroom has a handmade mattress, air-conditioning and luxury linen bedding. There are on-demand movies, iPod docks and marble bathrooms with bathrobes and Penhaligon's toiletries. These are rooms befitting its Buckingham Palace location, opposite the Royal Mews and just 500 metres from London Victoria Tube and Train Station. Perfect for exploring nearby sights, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and Piccadilly Circus. If your journey has left you a bit peckish, there's a generous supply of free snacks and canapés, including fresh fruit, crisps, and a selection of dried fruit & nuts, sweets, chocolates and toffees. Once you've dined in the glass-roofed exec lounge you'll feel like you're part of an exclusive London club.
Fine dining restaurant set in what was once the Great Eastern Hotel's ballroom (now the Andaz hotel) serving locally sourced British dishes such as Devon crab tartare with mango and coriander, Gressingham duck with spiced pineapple and Welsh lamb with wild garlic purée.
The capacious, messy 333 was one of the first clubs to colonise this corner of town, and did as much as any venue to put the neighbourhood on London’s nightlife map. It’s no longer the be-all and end-all of East End clubbing, and the programme in the main room is a little thinner than in previous years. Even so, this two-floored clubbing institution still draws queues for indie-rave and R&B mash-ups at weekends. The basement’s dark and intense, which works well for the dubstep talent on show. Upstairs is the tatty Mother Bar, responsible for countless lost evenings. There’s no food up there besides the iconic nut machines, but really, if you’d eaten earlier, you probably wouldn’t have wound up there in the first place.
This long-standing live music venue is one of few surviving spaces to catch a gig in Zone 1. Across its two spaces you can expect to catch the cream of the touring indie scene, jazz acts and themed club nights. There’s also a gallery space on the site.
It's been called a magic number, something one gets "the hard way," both company and a crowd; in Tom Tykwer's eroto-art-house romantic drama, three is somehow all of these things at once. Simon (Schipper) commissions artists for corporate sculptures, Hanna (Rois) hosts a TV talk show; their relationship is atrophying rapidly. When a handsome scientist named Adam (Striesow) enters the picture, Hanna drifts into an affair as her boyfriend is treated for testicular cancer. Months later, a post-op Simon strikes up a conversation with a male swimmer, who gives him a "scar check" in the locker room. Simon begins hooking up with this gent regularly. Three guesses as to who his lover is."Say farewell to your deterministic view of biology," exclaims one character. (Um, okay.) Apparently, we're supposed to bid adieu to filmmaking that isn't overburdened with bells and whistles, too, as Tykwer employs an arsenal of stylistic and storytelling tics to embellish his love-triangle scenario: interpretive dance sequences, split-screen compositions, movie and literary allusions aplenty. When the director unleashed Run Lola Run in 1998, his pop-punk bursts of energy gave German cinema a much-needed kick in the pants. Tykwer's virtuosic technique has overwhelmed his work ever since, however, and no matter what the film says about sexual fluidity, you can't shake the feeling that 3 exists primarily to justify a shot of three figures impeccably posed together on a mattress. Everything else is redu
Curious as to what a humorless Jackie Chan--headlined historical epic about China's 1911 revolution would look like? This nationalistic period piece about the efforts to overthrow the two-millennium-old Qing dynasty delivers the answer: corny, preachy and tedious. The star and co-director appears hopelessly out of place, trapped in a variety of awkward-fitting uniforms while forced to offer up laughably obvious battlefield advice ("Avoid gunfire!"). Expository dialogue is epidemic and absurdly stilted, never more so than when a weirdo American military adviser claims to join the rebellion because "Chinese revolution is the only thing that can make exciting history"---a baffling statement that makes him, like the rest of this one-note film, seem more than a little simpleminded.Follow Nick Schager on Twitter: @nschagerWatch the trailer See more in Film
Capitalizing on the once-in-a-millennium date, this weak attempt at numerological spookiness follows a novelist (Gibbs) traveling to Spain to see his dying father; he soon connects recent tragedies to the belief that the portals to Heaven and Hell will open once all those ones show up on the calendar. A veteran of the Saw franchise, Darren Lynn Bousman trades torture-porn antics for an old-fashioned Euro-horror vibe, complete with old dark houses and creepy maids; he then wastes what little suspense he generates with endless dorm-room philosophical debates about faith versus atheism and religio-conspiracy theories so far-fetched they'd embarrass Dan Brown. If the ineffectiveness knob goes up to ten, this film manages to turn it up to you-know-what.Follow David Fear on Twitter: @davidlfearWatch the trailer See more in Film
The season-in-one-day gimmick that is 24’s trademark means that Jack Bauer could theoretically have experienced two weeks of postcrisis R&R during a hiatus that lasted eight months for viewers. Instead, gaps of 18 months to three years separate Jack’s adventures, meaning that a series that began in 2001 for viewers and characters alike is now taking place circa 2013. The producers have dodged the issue in the past, but the first four hours of the new sixth season wholeheartedly embrace it—not by throwing in goofy technology but by adding dystopian elements that go further in getting the audience to question their political beliefs, while still providing all the explosive action and merciless suspense with which 24 has become synonymous. America is reeling from a nationwide string of bus and train bombings that have killed hundreds, and the top suspect, Hamir Al-Hassad (Alexander Siddig)—a young Arafat in a $3,000 suit—is maintaining radio silence. Al-Hassad’s top lieutenant, Abu Fayed (Adoni Maropis), offers his boss to the U.S. government in exchange for the man who killed his brother: our boy Jack, who’s entering month No. 20 as a prisoner of the Chinese. Confused by contradictory data, newly inaugurated President Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside) defers a little too much to his chief of staff (Peter MacNicol), a cross between Joseph Goebbels and Tolkien’s Wormtongue, who’s been secretly preparing a final solution to the problem of Islam in America. The premiere relies heavily o
A young Buddhist monk (Velon) who spends his days drawing pictures in Washington Square Park and his evenings meditating in his St. Marks Place apartment becomes obsessed with his next-door neighbor (Gitelman), a teenage S&M prostitute, in this intriguing directorial debut from Yongman Kim (of Kim’s Video). The film was shot on location in the East Village and teems with the neighborhood’s sights and sounds, but it hardly qualifies as realism: Eschewing dialogue in favor of a dense, multilayered soundtrack, 1/3 finally reveals itself as a parable on the ethical perils of the contemplative life. (Opens Fri; Village East.) — Joshua Land
Alternating between stunning fixed takes and quick you-are-there camera movements, Bill and Turner Ross’s portrait of their tiny Ohio hometown (the title is its zip code) weaves a hypnotic tapestry out of everyday banalities: barbershop conversations, parking-lot doughnuts, an argument over whether the Who’s “Squeeze Box” is about a dildo. Unlike Harmony Korine’s Gummo—another tale set in the Buckeye State’s backwoods—there aren’t any picturesque weirdos here, just ordinary folks going about their business; documenting a homecoming football match, 45365 covers the locker-room pep talk, then ignores the game itself. For the filmmakers, who wins or loses means little. The ongoing ritual of small-town American life is all.—Andrew Schenker More new Film reviews
We’re dropped into the world of 9 much like its titular character is: with little sense of where we are and without the words, at first, to describe it. There’s nothing but desolation and ruin all around—the kind of junkyard postapocalypse so beloved of speculative fantasy. What keeps our attention is 9 (Wood) himself: He’s a slightly hunchbacked stitch doll with a zippered burlap body and minibinoculars for eyes. It’s not until he meets fellow stitch man 2 (Landau) that he gains the ability to speak and learns that he is one of the last living creatures on Earth, which has been all but destroyed by sentient war machines. Sobering stuff for an animated movie that pitches itself somewhere between cutesy children’s entertainment and hectoring Grimm’s fairy tale. The problem with 9, though, is that it lacks a consistent tone. This lovingly detailed world feels disconnected from the concerns it raises, especially in the ways the film scrubs any sense of horror from the deaths of billions and the devastation of the planet. Writer-director Shane Acker is more out to prove his mastery of animation technique. Save the voice work, which is celebrity-heavy and mostly undistinguished, 9 is a marvel to take in, especially the individual character designs. Most memorable among the stitch people are 3 and 4, who have memorized all the books in a collapsing library and relay the information by projecting it as a scratchy black-and-white film. But Acker’s finest creation is the Seamstress,
Huge-iosity has no truer practitioner than Roland Emmerich, the demolitions expert behind Independence Day (the White House), Godzilla (the Brooklyn Bridge) and The Day After Tomorrow (the earth’s Northern Hemisphere). Emmerich’s films offer the rush of throwing a sandbox tantrum; here, he upends the whole playground. In case there’s a New Age no-fly zone around you, that date—2012—happens to be the mystical year in which the Mayan calendar is said to end, along with the world. Or maybe not. Perhaps what the ancients were actually predicting was a great expense of money on stupefyingly silly special effects involving John Cusack, epic floods, an exploding Vatican and a tenacious doggie. The set pieces are grand—gloriously dumb and never realistic enough to make you wince at the fact that billions of microscopic souls are dying before your eyes. Rather, you wince at everything else: Do we really care about the emotional fissures of a broken suburban family, when only moments earlier they are seen piloting through a collapsing Californian seaboard or an erupting Yellowstone? The worst sins of dialogue are visited upon the wonderfully soulful Chiwetel Ejiofor, who has to remind creepy government types that those massive high-tech arks are for all of us, not just the rich and powerful. The movie, meanwhile, is just for kids.—Joshua Rothkopf Now playing. Watch the trailer More new Film reviews
Stephen King, the author of this source material, has already done haunted hotels. So the idea of stretching what was simply supposed to be a dessert course (a short story in King’s 2000 audiobook Blood and Smoke) to a full meal speaks more to Hollywood appetites than the proper dictates of drama. The tale is skimpy, mostly set in a New York City suite that, despite its bustling midtown location, is said to host unspeakable evil—and it doesn’t even have Wi-Fi. But as shown by Piper Laurie in Carrie and Kathy Bates in Misery, King’s work can often inspire wonderfully unhinged turns from actors smart enough to be in on the joke. And that’s the case with 1408, in which John Cusack uncorks one of his most verbal, manic performances to date as a ghost debunker who fearlessly checks into the room to write a final chapter in his latest bestseller-to-be. Cusack, comfortable in ironic Hawaiian shirt and curled lip, excels during the film’s initial you-gotta-be-kidding phase; he’s even better by the time his character is screaming deranged insults into a minibar. Swedish director Mikael Hfstrm ultimately lays on the CGI too thick, but when he trusts his star, who fully dives into psychological meltdown, he’s on to something. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.) — Joshua Rothkopf
Initially, the stop-motion animated feature $9.99 resembles one of those foulmouthed Davey and Goliath parodies from Mad TV. Yet as the first sequence makes abundantly clear, director Tatia Rosenthal and screenwriter Etgar Keret aren’t poking fun...they’re deadly serious. A semiabsurdist dialogue between white-collar worker Jim Peck (LaPaglia) and a bearded homeless man (Rush) builds to a blood-splattering punch line that decisively sets the film’s melancholic tone. Animation is so often used for frivolous flights of fancy that it’s something of a shock to see it employed in the service of a tale that emphasizes human foible and mortality. That’s not to say $9.99 lacks for bizarre sights: The homeless man sprouts angel wings; a pot-addled slacker converses with three Lilliputian drunkards; a muscled repo man reinvents himself as a hairless blob to please his model girlfriend. These world-weary characters, all of whom live in or around the same apartment building, may be grounded in earthly problems and pursuits, but the fantastic always intrudes. The film’s title is the price of a self-help book, purchased by Jim’s ne’er-do-well son, Dave (Johnson), which promises to reveal the meaning of life. Happiness, or at least a happy ending, would seem to be the ultimate goal for everyone involved. Yet Rosenthal and Keret consistently play on audience expectations, especially in the recurring image of a piggy bank with an endearing yet horrifyingly fixed facial expression. It’s cute
In Peter Morgan’s script for 2010’s ‘Hereafter’, a glimpse of the beyond linked disparate individuals across the globe: this time his notional modernisation of playwright Arthur Schnitzler’s warhorse ‘La Ronde’ is the catalyst for an international chain of interpersonal connections. Following a cash-strapped young Slovakian woman (Lucia Siposová) to Vienna, we meet an errant English businessman, Michael (Jude Law), and through him the story moves to London, where his faithless spouse (Rachel Weisz) has a liaison with a young Brazilian (Juliano Cazarré) – whose complicated love life in turn whisks us even further afield.Since Morgan (‘The Queen’) is a capable miniaturist, the performers are decent enough and Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles (‘City of God’) has an eye for colour-supplement chic, it’s pleasant enough viewing. The overall design, however, is a shaky construction, since we never spend enough time to bond with each participant, and no matter how much the film tries to draw out a key theme about the significance of making your own decisions in life, it’s only too obvious its outcomes are all skewed by the storyteller’s contrived need to keep adding links to the daisy chain of his story. As the meet-cutes and air miles rack up, there’s little sense of increasing momentum or escalating stakes, just more of the same mini-melodramas. Anthony Hopkins makes the most of his spot playing a recovering alcoholic, while twitchy Ben Foster seriously overdoes it as a waveri
Spielberg's extravagant folie de grandeur, a madcap comedy recreation of an allegedly true story, with Hollywood suffering from mass panic when it's thought that a Japanese submarine is about to lead an invasion force into California. The period sets are wonderful, the cast full of bright talent, and Spielberg's expertly choreographed slapstick is wondrous to behold. There is a problem, however, in that it isn't actually very funny: one feels that Spielberg was concentrating his powers so much on the mechanics of timing, cause and effect, that he forgot that what makes the best comedies funny is human reaction. Here the characters are too cartoon-like ever to win our attention (though Stack's military bigwig obsessed with Disney's Dumbo is the touching exception who proves the rule).
Thompson's evocation of the spirit of the '60s protest is most moving when it abandons the soapbox and concentrates on domestic discord. We follow the fortunes of college buddies Ralph (Downey) and Scott (Sutherland), opposed in temperament but united in ideals. They both despise American involvement in Vietnam, but Scott's the one with a social conscience, while Ralph likes to get stoned and strip down to his underwear. Inevitably the two rebels clash with their parents, inspiring support from their mothers (splendid perfomrances from Cassidy and Hartley) and hostility from Scott's gung-ho father (played with conviction by Dern). The film effectively recreates the fear and defiance which accompanied Nixon's support of the draft lottery, with 19-year-olds designated as the first for the slaughter.
Restored and re-released at the BFI Southbank this week, 8½ is one of Italian director Federico Fellini’s greatest films. Released in 1963, it’s wildly fun and frenetic but also a penetrating portrait of a filmmaker (Marcello Mastroianni) in a creative rut. Inventive and imaginative, 8½ has been much copied, but this is the real thing. See it.
McMullen's film about the Paris Commune offers a stirring rendition of the 'Internationale' sung, at a moment of seeming defeat, by the actors in Ramborde's Theatre in Paris, as reactionary government forces close in to remove, as it were, the masses from the stage of history. McMullen depicts the events of those heady days - from the assassination of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico in 1867, through the crazy Franco-Prussian war, to the crushing of the communards - as a farcical theatrical event, taking his cue, no doubt, from Marx's famous remarks about how history repeats itself (his words themselves repeated imperiously by a black Marx played by director Med Hondo). In and out of Ramborde's Theatre or the nearby Café Anglais, a gallery of historical cut-outs impersonates the various mighty forces at work in society. It's a grand, ambitious, three-act, sub-Brechtian affair, which exhibits the McMullen trademarks: a painterly eye, an unashamed taste for Big Ideas and allusive puns, and a tendency to lapse into obscurity and pretentiousness.
Kovacs' episodic attempt to evoke the trippy, dippy and momentous days of '68 centres on San Francisco, where Hungarian exile Zoltan Szabo (Tecsi) and family are putting the final touches to their newly acquired ethnic restaurant. Throughout, radio bulletins, television broadcasts and posters conveniently announce that this is the year of the Tet offensive, the Chicago Convention, etc, but that's as deep as it goes. Zoltan puts his faith in his two sons, but law student Peter (Larson) is soon dropping out, turning on, wising up and getting laid, and his brother (Locke) comes out as gay to beat the draft. Shot like a pastiche of '60s soap opera, it finally peters out in a bathetic happy resolution of sorts.
In this splendidly lurid thriller a detective checks out the disappearance of a single woman in Room 302 of the New Hope Apartments, Seoul, a haven for the upwardly mobile. His chief informant (and soon his prime suspect) is the woman's pushy neighbour in 301, another single woman in many ways the exact opposite of the absentee. What unfolds is a hair-raising history of marital discord, sexual abuse, anorexia and bulimia... and the truth about the Korean penchant for dog-meat.
Hyams' sequel to Kubrick's big daddy of sci-fi movies may not have the novelty of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it is still a better film than anyone could have dared to expect. Scheider plays the American space agency boss trying to find out what happened to the ill-fated 'Discovery' spacecraft and its surviving crew-member. He joins a Russian space mission to Jupiter captained by the formidable Mirren, but things get pretty sticky when news comes through that back on Earth the super-powers are on the point of war. Hyams has not come up with a climax to match Kubrick's rush through the star-gate; but this is still space fiction of a superior kind, making the Star Trek movies look puny by comparison.
Wong Kar-Wai’s long-awaited, sumptuous follow-up to ‘In the Mood for Love’ makes for a rapturous cinematic experience. It’s not just the stunning production design (William Chang), exquisite camerawork (Chris Doyle, Lai Yiu Fai, Kwan Pun Leung) and superbly used music (various artists and composers, including Shigeru Umebayashi), which together give the film the febrile intensity of a nineteenth-century opera (Bellini features on the track). It’s also the subtlety and complexity that distinguish Wong’s charting of the emotional odyssey undergone by Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung) as he goes through a series of relationships with different but likewise lovely women: a prostitute (Ziyi Zhang), a gambler (Gong Li), a cabaret singer (Carina Lau), and his landlord’s daughter (Faye Wong). With such beauties surrounding him, you’d expect Chow to be happy, but the film mainly takes place in the mid-’60s, the years immediately following his heart-breaking encounter with a married woman (Maggie Cheung in ‘In the Mood for Love’). It’s a relationship that still shades and shapes his reactions to every woman he meets, and it therefore also influences the allegorical sci-fi novel he’s writing, set in the year 2046 (after the number on a hotel-room door) but inspired by his own memories and desires… Wong intercuts scenes from this book with Chow’s various affairs and non-affairs, allowing Wong to build layer upon bittersweet layer of meaning in a work as cerebrally rewarding as it is sensually sed
Straightforward transfer of the Broadway musical by Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone about the conception and passing of the American Declaration of Independence. Suspense mounts as the nays change to yeas, and Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson do a one-two-three-kick routine. They also sing. Everybody sings. Amazingly plastic film-making. The mind boggled, gave up, and enjoyed it. They've even included the slavery cop-out. Very long at 141 minutes.
A modestly engaging, low-key feminist movie about an unmarried actress in Munich who becomes pregnant but decides against marrying the child's father, and eventually moves in with a more agreeable man she meets on a winter sports holiday. In the end she determines to live and raise her child alone, a decision which, considering the men in the movie, seems eminently reasonable. Don't get the impression that this movie has it in for men; it's much harder on the parental generation, and very sympathetic to kids who find themselves unwitting victims of middle class domestic unrest. Heidi Genée worked as an editor with the first wave of new German directors (Kluge, Sinkel), and has a keen eye for the absurdities of domestic life as well as a good ear for comic lines.
It's 1979, and naive adonis Shane O'Shea (Phillippe) is sick of his grey New Jersey existence. Entranced by a photo of soap star Julie Black (Campbell), he visits her New York hangout, Studio 54. Club boss Steve Rubell (Myers) takes a fancy to him, and soon Shane's a busboy, enjoying a new life with sexy couple Anita (Hayek) and Greg (Meyer). He thinks things can only get better, but... The strange truth about 54 is that it's almost great; its best moments have a bleak, blasted energy reminiscent of Boogie Nights and Blue Collar. There's a political sensibility at work here. Ultimate exclusionist Rubell provides the perfect means to study America's race and class divisions, and Myers exploits every vicious, self-hating line that comes his way. All Rubell's scenes are beguiling. The problem is, the other characters - straight in every way, their highs and lows come over like the twitterings of Fame.
Rodolfo shares his story of being tortured.
‘1:1’ takes the inner-city high rise as societal microcosm by following the bigotry and violence that stem from an incident in which a white youth is beaten up and put into a coma. Shadi is from a Palestinian family and is secretly dating Mie, the sister of the aforementioned victim, while his bullying brother Tareq throws his weight around and uses his brawn to snub social responsibility. It’s not long before eyebrows are being raised and fingers are being pointed, but that’s really as far as it gets, with tensions never boiling over and the film ambling along without going anywhere particularly interesting.
Based on the true story of a bunch of MIT geeks who hit Las Vegas for a winning run on the blackjack tables before casino security cottoned on, this is a great idea for a movie but not a great movie. In essence, it adheres to the evergreen guys-on-a-mission template, with hard-up undergrad, Ben (Jim Sturgess, lightweight but passable) fearing he’ll be priced out of Harvard Medical School. He is lured by maths professor Rosa (Kevin Spacey, urbane but hokey) into a guerrilla unit of his best students ready to take on the baize tables: his argument is that twenty-one is a simple game, and by remembering which cards have been dealt, you give yourself a better chance of knowing when to fold or take a chance. Prospects look good for the rest of the picture at this stage, but disappointment takes over with the realisation it’s all being pitched to a pre-teen audience, smoothing out potentially juicy moral dilemmas and sanitising the grown-up throb of the Vegas experience into anodyne glitz.Actually, there’s something rather pernicious in the way the film drools over the towering chips, palatial suites and incipient gambling fever, as if to tantalise viewers way too young to be admitted to these very establishments; all of which hardly keeps us on-message that friendship’s a greater prize than cash alone. The whizzo-conceit and slick visual bling do give it an undeniably diverting buzz, yet the movie’s cautionary formula shows its hand way before the clunky final reel.
Shot entirely from the front of a car and using (with one exception) just two camera angles, this low-budget digital sheds light on the predicaments of six women and a child – all inhabitants of modern Tehran – as they argue, joke, cajole and comfort each other during ten brief journeys. It also explores the knotty relationships between reality, fiction and truth, and between the actors, the audience and the film-maker. It’s a quietly audacious experiment in which its creator’s determination to eliminate visible traces of ‘direction’ from the equation makes for unusually forthright viewing.
The French crime thriller has long had a love-hate relationship with its more (commercially) powerful American counterpart – from Hollywood’s embrace of the fatale atmospherics of ’30s French poetic realism to Melville’s complimentary refinements of the cruder energies of post-war US film noir. Olivier Marchal’s hard-nosed ‘36’ – an unsentimental, slightly OTT portrait of the ruthlessly competitive police heirarchies stationed at the Quai des Orfèvres – is out of tune with recent efforts to re-emboss the French policier with a recognisably Gallic stamp (and a deeper social and psychological emphasis) by directors such as Bertrand Tavernier (‘L627’) and Xavier Beauvoir (the upcoming ‘Le Petit Lieutenant’). Ex-cop Marchal opts instead for the wholesale import into the elegant Paris arrondissements of recent American modes such as moral cynicism, tokenistic character development and tacit racism, along with battlefield-level firepower. The result is a curious hybrid: a vision of LA-sur-Seine, overrun by military-efficient ethnic gangsters and Uzi-wielding cops, elegantly shot (by Denis Roudenas) in steely hues and ’Scope and as compelling in its way as Godard’s dystopian ‘Alphaville’. If most of the pleasures are probably unintentional, so be it – the preposterous dawn Rue de Rivoli robberies and abandoned warehouse firefights are sweetly reminiscent of ‘The Sweeney’ and ‘The Professionals’. But the discomforted performances by the crème of French thespians – André Dussollier (
Marcks’s clever – well, intricate – but finally disappointing indie debut feature has a fine cast and serious attitude, or at least as much attitude as the loutish young denizens of smalltown Middleton, New England can muster. Take Jack (Henry Thomas), for instance. When, cruising home, drink taken, he hits something – bang on 11:14 – which he first assumes to be a stray deer but turns out to be a young man; he has no compunction in stuffing the roadkill in the trunk for later disposal. That’s insensitive! Likewise, convenience store employee Buzzy (Hilary Swank) agrees, a mite too easily, to have her arm blown off to fake a robbery for a mate (Shawn Hatosy) desperate to fund his corrupt girlfriend Cheri’ s abortion. Isn’t that a betrayal of trust? Even Frank (Patrick Swayze), Cheri’s dad, jumping to conclusions having found his darling, two-timing daughter’s other boyfriend with half his face missing, seeks a discreet burial for the corpse far from the prying eyes of the police. There’s more, but none of it particularly moral.Marcks mounts all this as an essay in synchronicity, replete with flashbacks, overlaps, connections and black humour. It must have looked better on paper. Swank liked the script enough to have her part rewritten and came on board as executive producer. But there’s something mechanical about the end result, as well as a faint trace of self-satisfaction and easy cynicism. Rachael Leigh Cook is suitably venal as arch manipulator Cheri, there are some outra
Taking its cue from Frank Miller’s comic-book version of Greek history rather than the 1962 vintage swords-and-sandals epic ‘The 300 Spartans’, the latest Hollywood take on the heroics of Thermopylae brings us Gerard Butler’s hammy Scots-accented Spartan king Leonidas in an all-encompassing wash of computer-tooled blood-letting. In principle, it’s a great tale of derring-do, as vastly out-numbered Spartan warriors defend a mountain pass against the mighty Persian army, but Zack Snyder’s movie in no way does justice to it. What should be a thrilling saga of triumph over the odds becomes a yawn-inducing cavalcade of carnage as wave after wave – after wave, after wave – of the enemy lines up to be slashed, gashed, chopped, spiked, speared and generally mushed. Ho bloody hum. Any ideological connotations to the fact we’re supposed to be cheering on the white guys as they scythe their way through turban-wearing Persian hordes? Hard to credit the picture with that much relevance, though it’ll doubtless be huge in US Army camps. And speaking of camp… Since it’s positively tumescent with macho posturing and somewhat bereft of humour, the film’s an absolute riot of ambiguous sexual signage. The buffed-up Spartans, for instance, go into battle wearing leather posing-pouches and little else, as they try to lure their foes into a narrow passage called the ‘Gates of Hell’, while Rodrigo Santoro’s Persian leader Xerxes delivers a queeny strop-fest pitched somewhere between RuPaul and Ming
This sprawling and episodic Uruguayan family drama follows the individual storylines of rebel schoolgirl Ana (Anaclara Ferreyra Palfy) and her separated parents. Her handsome mother, Graciela (Sara Bessio), pays stoical visits to a dying relative, while her father, Rodolfo (Humberto de Vargas), makes pitiful attempts to crawl back into the family bosom. Ana doesn’t much care for her parents’ woes, or school, or anything beyond attracting unsuitable men. Her apathy is infectious. The anecdotal plot is too loose for its undemonstrative characters, while intrusive surges of melancholic indie folk make it all feel like an overlong music video.
A look at the torture methods used by the Portuguese government in the Fascist era.
Jackie Robinson became the first black Major League baseball player in 1947 – wearing jersey number 42. His story is so heroic it becomes hard for any filmmaker to run the bases without falling into emotional goo. Writer-director Brian Helgeland has somehow found a way to do it, cleanly and intelligently, by sandwiching his movie between soft slices of sentiment, but leaving room for a meaty interior that surprises with its rawness. An ugly strain of racism is hooted from the stands and even the dugouts. One scene of prolonged hectoring is breathtaking for a studio movie; Helgeland cuts to an innocent child echoing the worst habits of his dad. Robinson had to quietly win over his own teammates, not all of whom saw an opportunity for nobility. In ‘42’, as in the best sports films, you also learn a lot about mechanics: Robinson’s aggressive technique was itself seen as an affront. The style of the film – lush and traditional – is nothing special, but the takeaway, a daily struggle for dignity, is impossibly moving.
Made for ESPN’s ‘30 for 30’ strand in the US, this is a functional documentary about the controversial men’s 100m final at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. It’s a moderately interesting tale, focusing on the rivalry between Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson, and on the doping scandal that saw Johnson stripped of his gold medal. Director Daniel Gordon has done his groundwork and every one of the key players is interviewed, including our own Linford Christie, whose bronze medal was upgraded to a silver. But the film’s TV roots are too obvious: it’s essentially a parade of talking-head interviews and fairly standard archive footage, with little effort made to place these events within the wider context of sports doping. The best sporting docs are those that take the time to persuade viewers with no vested interest in athletics to care about the characters and their story. But ‘9.79’ (named for Johnson’s ‘winning’ time) isn’t willing to run that extra mile.
A tri-generational saga about the effects of Fascism, mechanization and social change on two Italian families.
Noel Clarke’s latest, ‘18.104.22.168’, is on the face of it completely different to his ‘Kidulthood’ mini-franchise. Following four west London sixth-form girls who get mixed up with stolen diamonds, it’s a brash and ambitious play for the mainstream: girl power rebooted for anyone too young to remember Riot Grrrl or even the Spice Girls. Still, jammed as it is with teen sex and misbehaving, and with a plotline that hinges on a packet of Pringles, if you’re over 21 you’re probably too old to be watching.Like a pop svengali, Clarke has put together a line-up of characters to cater for all tastes. The film splits into four sections, covering the same three days from the perspective of each. Tamsin Egerton plays a pretty, posh blonde who jets off to New York to lose her virginity. Ophelia Lovibond is the arty indie screw-up. American actress Emma Roberts is all sass and smarts, while Shanika Warren-Markland, who had a tiny part in ‘Adulthood’, announces herself as a big new talent as the butt-kicking, feisty one. Clarke himself appears and there are cameos from R&B singer Eve and ‘Clerks’ director Kevin Smith.The film doesn’t go in for subtlety. It’s frenetically paced, with non-stop music, and pops with teen issues: abortion, self-harm, bisexuality, suicide, stalking. That’s before you get to the diamond heist. But Clarke has got an unmistakable knack for writing teens. One of this lot is more worried that her mates aren’t talking to her than the fact that she has an international sm
Before '10' was released in America, its producers were so certain it was a clinker that they tore up contracts for two other Blake Edwards pictures. The miscalculation was understandable. Much of the film comes on like a Jill Clayburgh picture someone rewrote for Bob Hope, with Moore playing an ageing Unmarried Man who pursues lubricious women (rating them out of an ideal ten) to stave off menopause. Technically it's atrocious, trading on absurd coincidence, lame slapstick, and some peculiarly ugly photography. But the studio failed to see that Edwards had hit on a subject (male sexual insecurity) which was bound to strike a chord with the post-Clayburgh audience. The climactic love scene - in which Moore proves utterly unable to perform when he gets his emancipated dream woman (Derek) to bed - is very funny and represents a real catharsis in the history of Hollywood romance: Dudley Moore became the first actor to turn screen impotence into superstardom.
In a prime location in the Hammersmith and Fulham district of London, 65 is situated 800 metres from Hammersmith Apollo, 800 metres from Riverside Studios and 1.7 km from Olympia Exhibition Centre. The accommodation offers free WiFi throughout the property.The nearest airport is London Heathrow Airport, 15 km from the bed and breakfast.
A modern British restaurant from chef James Cochran.
The vague term ‘indie rock’ has shifted a lot in meaning over three decades, but some associations have stuck, namely loud guitars, black-framed glasses and skinny teens in skinny jeans. An unabashed celebration of indie-ness in its most recognisable form, ‘1234’ is unlikely to make many converts but will appeal to anyone who’s ever bought the same single on three different formats just to get all the B-sides.Debut writer-director Giles Borg knows his territory: the film is a simple tale of homemade rock ’n’ roll romance and takes place in a series of rehearsal studios, pub back rooms and arts labs where his fey, shuffling cast of awkward twentysomethings meet, make music, make eyes and sort of fall in love to a soundtrack of late ’90s DIY seven-inches. It’s heartfelt, nicely written, competently directed and entertaining, though the the hipper-than-thou namedropping is a bit tiresome, and the underwhelming climax is frustrating in the extreme.
Initially, the stop-motion animated feature $9.99 resembles one of those foulmouthed Davey and Goliath parodies from Mad TV. Yet as the first sequence makes abundantly clear, director Tatia Rosenthal and screenwriter Etgar Keret aren’t poking fun…they’re deadly serious. A semiabsurdist dialogue between white-collar worker Jim Peck (LaPaglia) and a bearded homeless man (Rush) builds to a blood-splattering punch line that decisively sets the film’s melancholic tone. Animation is so often used for frivolous flights of fancy that it’s something of a shock to see it employed in the service of a tale that emphasizes human foible and mortality. That’s not to say $9.99 lacks for bizarre sights: The homeless man sprouts angel wings; a pot-addled slacker converses with three Lilliputian drunkards; a muscled repo man reinvents himself as a hairless blob to please his model girlfriend. These world-weary characters, all of whom live in or around the same apartment building, may be grounded in earthly problems and pursuits, but the fantastic always intrudes. The film’s title is the price of a self-help book, purchased by Jim’s ne’er-do-well son, Dave (Johnson), which promises to reveal the meaning of life. Happiness, or at least a happy ending, would seem to be the ultimate goal for everyone involved. Yet Rosenthal and Keret consistently play on audience expectations, especially in the recurring image of a piggy bank with an endearing yet horrifyingly fixed facial expression. It’s cute bey
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