wed 22/05/2019

Film Features

Canal Dreams: the Panama Film Festival

Demetrios Matheou

Cannes, that irresistible feeding frenzy of film, is just around the corner. But 6,000 miles away in Panama City a film festival has just concluded that, for entirely different reasons, is equally significant. Panama isn’t known for its film output – it's made just one fiction feature in more than 60 years – and while America may have relinquished its control of the canal, the grip of its cultural colonialism has proven much more difficult to loosen.

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Richard Griffiths, 1947-2013

Jasper Rees

Richard Griffiths, who has died at the age of 65 from complications during heart surgery, will be remembered above all for three performances, two on screen and one onstage. In Withnail & I (1987), he embodied in Uncle Monty a predatory homosexual who, according to the film’s director Bruce Robinson, was based on Franco Zeffirelli. Many years later Griffiths found himself playing a character parked on the same spectrum in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys (2005).

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Ben Affleck: from Bennifer to Renaissance Man

Adam Sweeting

"There are no second acts in American lives," said F Scott Fitzgerald, but he had failed to include  Ben Affleck in his calculations. "This is a second act for me," announced Affleck, as he collected the Best Director award for his work on Argo at the recent BAFTAs in London, "and you're giving me that and this industry has given me that.

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Oscars 2013: Best Actor/Actress/Director

Emma Simmonds

Given the quantity of uncertain outcomes, this year's Academy Awards guarantee excitement, and there's nothing better than an Oscars ceremony filled with surprises. Furthermore, the selection of films nominated this year are of a rare vintage.

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Oscars 2013: Best Picture/Foreign Language Film/Animated Film

Matt Wolf

Time is drawing nigh to mark those Oscar ballots, but what movie should one vote for as the year's best? While odds-makers have been busily touting one title over another, the less-vaunted fact about this year's shortlist is that relatively few stinkers have made the cut.

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Oscars 2013: Best Screenplays/Supporting Actor/Actress

Karen Krizanovich

Frank Capra called the Oscars “the most valuable, but least expensive, item of world-wide public relations ever invented by any industry”. They are, like it or not, the film awards against which all others are judged - even to the point that other countries’ film awards are scheduled in relation to the ceremony. Despite being the accepted mark of excellence, the Oscars are not a meritocracy.

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Oscars 2013: The Spielberg Story

theartsdesk

Whether Lincoln can pip frontrunner Argo to this year's Best Picture gong is in the hands of the Academy, but its 12 nominations are a notable achievement in director Steven Spielberg's extraordinary career. It's sometimes been easy to dismiss Spielberg as a sentimentalist, an entertainer first and an artist second but his films are pure cinema, and for every work of groundbreaking spectacle he's delivered something equally as thought-provoking.

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Oscars 2013: Casting a vote for political films

Demetrios Matheou

An intriguing aspect of this year’s battle for Oscar was the early assurance with which pundits placed Lincoln as their favourite for best film. Steven Spielberg's frontrunner merits recognition; what surprises is that no one has noted the significance if it were actually to win. For despite Hollywood’s long history of fine political films, in over 80 years only one has ever won the prize.

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Oscars 2013: Daniel Day-Lewis

Nick Hasted

A week from now he could be the all-time Oscar king. If Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance in Lincoln wins him a third Best Actor award, it will send him clear of a thoroughbred field of nine past double-winners, Jack Nicholson, Spencer Tracy and Dustin Hoffman among them. Those other nine were all American.

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BAFTAs 2013: Argo, Skyfall and Day-Lewis trump Les Mis

Emma Simmonds

Presented a clear fortnight ahead of the Oscars, while the BAFTAs might have little, if any, bearing on the decision making there, they at least provide an opportunity for the Brits to have a go at the glitz and glamour before award fatigue sets in. With treacherous weather an inauspicious portent, how the night would go was anyone's guess - for, as the ceremony began, only Daniel Day-Lewis and Anne Hathaway were clear favourites in their respective categories.

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Montgomery Clift: The Right Profile

Ronald Bergan

Both on screen and off, Montgomery Clift was sensitive, hesitant, introspective, self-destructive and often tortured. A personality that expressed itself on film as if afraid of what the camera would reveal. There were at least three faces of Clift. The early public one of the dark, romantic, handsome star of the fan magazines; the face of extraordinary beauty marred after a car accident in 1956, and the private face of drink, drugs and a series of unloving homosexual encounters.

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10 Questions for Director Pablo Larraín

Demetrios Matheou

Often it takes a generation or two before a country can address its dark days on films; Hitler didn’t feature in a central role in a German film until Downfall, in 2004. This timorousness was certainly the case in Chile, where in the immediate years following the end of General Pinochet’s dictatorship, in 1990, the local cinema was dominated by sex comedies.

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theartsdesk at the London Comedy Film Festival 2013

Emma Simmonds

Proving that laughter is the only sure-fire cure for the January blues, this year's London Comedy Film Festival took place over four days from Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th January. Known commonly and affectionately as LOCO, it once again showcased the best of comedy filmmaking from around the world, lined-up alongside a range of imaginative events - a programme seemingly designed to give the most depressing month of the year a well deserved kick up the arse.

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The Return of Arnold Schwarzenegger

Adam Sweeting

As promised, he's back. Arnold Schwarzenegger's last major movie appearance was in 2003's Teminator 3: Rise of the Machines, probably the worst of the Terminators but a lucrative one nonetheless. Since then he has popped up in a few cameo roles including an appearance as Prince Hapi in the Jackie Chan/Steve Coogan remake of Around the World in 80 Days, but from 2003-2011, he was mostly preoccupied with being governor of California.

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Parting Shot: Michael Winner, 1935-2012

Jasper Rees

Michael Winner was always proud to call himself a film director but his filmography is notably short of quality moments.

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Opinion: How soon is too soon for plot spoilers?

Jasper Rees

Last November, for the 25,000th time on the stage, the actor playing Sergeant Trotter in The Mousetrap stepped forward during the curtain call and asked members of the audience not to reveal the play's surprise ending to others. To do so would, by implication, spoil the whodunnit for future audiences. Over the years the odd clever-clogs stand-up has disobeyed the injunction. And whoever wrote the play’s Wikipedia entry also gives the game away.

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