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Manchester film reviews
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Manchester film reviews

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life at Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Anne Ryan July 2011

 

Fans of the work of Terence Malik have to be blessed with patience - enduring years between films and then whilst watching the films themselves. His films are characterised by the use of voiceover, over achingly beautiful visuals and an attempt to tackle themes of existence and transcendence. The Tree of Life won this year's Palme d'Or, but has since divided critics - even over the scenes they like!

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Manchester film reviews

H3 screening at Writing on the Wall festival

Reviewed by Denis Joe May 2011

 

The 30th anniversary of the Irish Hunger Strike was excuse, if excuse were needed, for a showing of the excellent Les Blair film H3, written by former Hunger Striker Laurence McKeown and ex-prisoner Brian Campbell, and filmed in the H Blocks of the Maze prison in the North of Ireland, screened at the Writing on the Wall festival with Séanna Walsh.

 

H3 was made nearly a decade before Steve McQueen’s Hunger (though McQueen was ignorant of the existence of H3 - at the premier of Hunger it was believed that Hunger was the first time that the Hunger Strikes were the subject of a film, as Seanna Walsh pointed out after the screening). Whilst McQueen’s film is the more celebrated of the films, H3 is in many ways the superior - there were also two other films made about the Hunger Strikes before Hunger: Some Mother's Son directed by Terry George in 1996 and Il silenzio dell'allodola, by Italian film director and scriptwriter David Ballerini in 2005.

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Manchester film reviews

Gordos (Fat People)

Gordos viewed at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Dir Daniel Sanchez Arevalo, ES 2009, 120 mins

Reviewed by John Hutchinson April 2011

 

Undoubtedly, the most interesting of the sophisticated films and perhaps the “winner” overall of this year's Spanish and Latin American Film Festival at the Cornerhouse, is Gordos (Fat People). This has won many accolades, including the best supporting actor at the Goya awards in 2009, and has been a huge box office success in Spain.

 

The film takes as its central premise the subtitle “todos llevamos uno dentro” - loosely translated as “there is a fat person waiting to get out in all of us”, and is sophisticated as it explores this concept in often hilarious and satirical detail. I use the term concept rather than narrative here for although there is a bewildering interweaving of the dramas and crises of many lives, all united under the bursting umbrella of obesity, one way of responding to the film is at a conceptual level rather than to an individual story line.

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Manchester film reviews

Octubre (October)

Octubre (October) viewed at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Dirs Daniel Vega Vidal & Diego Vega Vidal, PE 2010, 93 mins

Reviewed by John Hutchinson April 2011

 

The 17th Spanish and Latin American Film Festival at the Cornerhouse showed its final film on 27th March ending a 3 week fiesta of films, talks, discussion, educational events and an art exhibition. This annual event has become a permanent feature of the Manchester cultural landscape to the extent that at the Café Cervantes, the conversational cafe run by the Cervantes Institute (the Spanish equivalent of the British Institute) a number of Spanish speaking veterans revealed they had been attending since its inception.

 

The general consensus was that this year has not been quite of the same vintage as past festivals but then veterans usually take pride in saying that and the impressions of some films grow over time as their details fade. This author would nevertheless like to explore some of the films critically and suggest that there were tastes on offer that appealed to sophisticated and raw palates alike in specific cultural contexts.

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Manchester film reviews

Of Gods and Men

'Of Gods and Men' and 'Biutiful' 

viewed at the Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Anne Ryan April 2011

To mark the bank holidays and the long weekends which some of us are enjoying, the Cornerhouse has been showing some of its recent greatest hits - two of which are the most successful foreign language films of 2010, 'Of Gods and Men' and 'Biutiful'.

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Manchester film reviews

Inside Job

Inside Job at Cornerhouse

Reviewed by Anne Ryan March 2011

In praise of the documentary

Documentaries did not begin with Michael Moore – he is only the most high profile of a growing number of predominantly American film-makers, who are tackling the big issues of today, in an incisive and even entertaining way.

 

Despite the success of Moore's work and Morgan Spurlock's 'Supersize Me' – it is not always easy to get access to these films. In Manchester we are fortunate to have the Cornerhouse, though even these documentaries do not always get a long run. 'Inside Job', is the second film by former academic Charles Ferguson, and deals with the collapse of the US financial system and its subsequent 'rescue'.

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Manchester film reviews

Howl Film Poster

Howl - on general release

Reviewed by Denis Joe March 2011

Starring: James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm, Jeff Daniels and Treat Williams. Director(s) and Writers: Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Animation: Eric Drooker.


Mary Murphy;  “What are you rebelling against ?
Johnny:  “Waddiya got?”
    [The Wild One László Benedek 1954]

Art doesn’t change society it can only reflect it. If Whitman gave voice to the American Dream in Leaves of Grass, then Ginsberg’s Howl! announced the nightmare.

 

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness" is the most famous opening line of any 20th Century poem. It was delivered by Allen Ginffsberg, during a now-legendary group reading at the Six Gallery in San Francisco on Oct. 7, 1955, to an audience of around fifty people.

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Pete PostlethwaiteBrassed Off at Liverpool Philharmonic

Director: Mark Herman; Starring: Pete Postlethwaite, Ewan McGregor, Tara Fitzgerald

Reviewed by Charlotte Starkey January 2011

This is not so much a review as an acknowledgment of a memorable event last week. The screening of Brassed Off at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall on Tuesday 25th January was particularly appropriate and poignant, a fitting tribute to the much admired Pete Postlethwaite who died on 2nd January 2011.

 

He began his acting career just a few yards from the Philharmonic Hall, at the Everyman in the 1970s. Since then he has touched almost everyone in theatre and film both here and abroad as well as gathering a huge following among audiences. He enriched any scene with his presence. He was a wonderful teacher, actor and northerner born just down the road in Warrington sixty four short years ago. He played in Alan Bleasdale’s The Muscle Market (1981), a separate ‘addition’ to the rest of Boys from the Blackstuff episodes. He has played most major theatres, Bristol Old Vic, Manchester’s Royal Exchange among them, and he has been a lead actor in memorable Shakespearean performances.

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Manchester film reviews

The King's Speech

The King's Speech at Cornerhouse

Director, Tom Hooper; with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter, at various venues around Manchester including Cornerhouse.

Reviewed by Anne Ryan January 2011

'The King's Speech' is one of the first big films of the year and is already a hot tip for the Oscars – it's triumph is to make you forget that this is a British costume drama and appreciate it as the story of a profoundly damaged man, who achieves private happiness through his wife and children, and finally public success with the help of his first real friend.

 

British actors, trained in a theatrical tradition, are celebrated for their use of language – Colin Firth here is an actor and a man robbed of his voice.

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Manchester film reviews

The Social Network

The Social Network viewed at Cornerhouse, Manchester

Reviews by Anne Ryan, Simon Belt and Fat Roland October 2010

Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker David Fincher (Se7en and Fight Club) and written by The West Wing’s creator Aaron Sorkin, this absorbing drama chronicles the rise and fall of the three founders of the social-networking phenomenon Facebook, following them to the heights of their success and the depths of jealousy and greed.

 

Anne Ryan's view...

So what do you do if you're a nerdy kid at college and looking to get laid? Well if you're a girl you might dye your hair, lose weight, have a makeover – even consider getting implants – but if you're a boy, and specifically if you're Mark Zuckerberg – you invent Facebook.

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