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Raindance film review: The Ninth Cloud Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Tuesday, 30 September 2014 11:43
Director: Jane Spencer
Cast: Michael Madsen, Megan Maczko

The Ninth Cloud is a film that floats between fantasy and reality. It follows Zena (Megan Maczko), a grief-stricken young woman who finds herself falling in love with struggling artist Bob (Michael Madsen). As she tries to win his affection, she instead attracts two others: drunk musician Jonny and self-centred socialite Brett.

"He put my hand on his penis!" Zena cries the morning after, clutching her gloves in a semi-daze. Megan Maczko does a good job as the confused lead, but she's so believably bewildered that she also winds up being quite annoying; it is hard to remain sympathetic to someone so resolutely in denial. Indeed, she chases Bob everywhere like an eager puppy, even after he tells her he's gay... and sleeps with other women.

That in itself is not necessarily a problem, but the rest of the supporting characters are equally difficult to like; from the vain artist types to the shallower IT girls, none of them are particularly memorable or engaging. Perhaps it is because there are too many for us to get to know fully.

Michael Madsen matches Megan's quality, impressing in moments where Robert moves from anger to tears. Together, the couple find glimpses of charming happiness, as they dance in circles outside his trailer-like home in a Hackney squat, but their unrequited relationship is seemingly doomed. The biggest tragedy, though, is that we don't care more about it. Director Jane Spencer's sense of location is strong, but The Ninth Cloud is content to float between fantasy and reality. Sometimes, it floats a little too much.

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Raindance film review: Fight Church Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 26 September 2014 13:21

Directors: Daniel Junge, Bryan Storkel
Cast: John Renken, John Duffell

Fight Church is a documentary about Christians who are also MMA fighters. If that sounds like a bizarre contradiction, it's because it is - and it's to the movie's credit that it acknowledges this.

Directors Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel stand back and let the fighters speak for themselves. Some of them are pastors, others are not, but all of them are God-fearing men. And all of them enjoy punching each other in the face in cage matches.

It's "one of the few sports mentioned in the Bible" argues one, without a trace of irony or humour. Indeed, what's striking is just how serious and un-self-aware they are about their chosen lifestyle - even when they adopt such amusingly paradoxical wrestling names as "The Pastor of Disaster".

The film's decision to leave its subjects to voice their own beliefs means that we engage with the humans as more than mere sideshow curiosities. For all their violence in the ring, some are compassionate outside of it: two pastors who duel each other (in the hope of an evenly matched bout) sit happily side by side in a sermon afterwards. Others are less so: John, the leader of a crusades-supporting denomination says turning the other cheek is important, but that if you disrepect him, "you're going down". It's only a matter of a time before he comes out of retirement to defend his wife's honour, fist to fist.

Even here, though, that decision is impressive in its sheer, religious-like commitment: John's retraining is a disgusting act of pummeling rubber tyres and vomiting, which Junge and Bryan Storkel shoot up close with the same physicality they use to capture fights.

At the same time, though, they give plenty of screen time to John Duffell, a New York priest who repeatedly points out that MMA goes against the Christian moral of loving one another. This impartial approach is the documentary's greatest strength - and also its weakness. It's perhaps no surprise that one half of the directorial duo (Storkel) previously helmed Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians (which also premiered at Raindance). This lacks that movie's gripping narrative drive, but what emerges is an intriguing tale of fervent devotion to agape and aggression. Fight Church is a documentary about Christians who are also MMA fighters. That alone is enough to make it worth watching.

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Raindance film review: Human Capital Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Thursday, 25 September 2014 16:45
Director: Paolo Virzì
Cast: Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Matilde Gioli
Certificate: 15

Rich people, eh? They're not very nice. Everyone knows that. So a film about a guy getting involved with Italy's upper class might not sound like a must-see, but Human Capital is bitingly good stuff.

Paolo Virzì's film follows Dino Ossola, an estate agent eager to sit at the big table with the wealthy sharks - literally, in the case of a charity gala at his daughter's school. And so, after dropping Serena at her boyfriend's mansion, Dino does his best to rub shoulders with everyone he can find. In no time at all, he's tennis partners with the top man himself, Giovanni Bernaschi.

Fabrizio Bentivoglio is fantastic as the hapless idiot, happy to take out a loan and lie his way into their famously lucrative hedge fund - despite their warnings that only those who can afford it should join. And the fact that the film is titled "human capital".

But while Dino's disastrous financial management could eventually tire over two hours, Virzi's smart script - based on a novel by Stephen Amildon and co-written with Francesco Bruni and Francesco Piccolo - switches perspective to follow events again from the perspective of Giovanni's wife, Carla.

That Rashomon-like chapter structure repeats again with Serena, a progression that moves from the stately opulence of the Bernaschi family to increasingly haphazard strands of the plot. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi's nervous, unhappy wife is fraying horribly at the edges, convincing her hubby to buy an old theatre, while Serena flits between her boyfriend, Massimiliano, and new fling Luca.

Throughout the tapestry is woven one key question: what does this have to do with a cyclist we see knocked off the road at the start? And who is responsible for the hit and run?

The cast are all excellent, especially Fabrizio Gifuni's wonderfully slippery Giovanni, but Matilde Gioli steals the show as the stunning, insecure Serena, who soon witnesses the repercussions that her dad's desperate grabbing up the social ladder has for all those on the rungs beneath; a journey that moves between indifferent grace to shabby disarray. From the smooth opening of a garage door on a luxurious, sunlit driveway to the panicked face of a guy out of his depth, Human Capital offers a gripping contrast between the haves and the have-nots of modern society. The film has been selected by Italy for the foreign-language Oscar race. After seeing the fallout from Italy's top hedge fund, it seems like a safe bet.

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Raindance film review: I Origins Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Thursday, 25 September 2014 12:25
Director: Mike Cahill
Cast: Michael Pitt, Brit Marling, strid Bergès-Frisbey
Certificate: 15

Scarlett Johansson has dazzled in the last year with her turns in Her, Under the Skin and Lucy, a trilogy of films that has seen her become the unofficial queen of interesting sci-fi. But at the other end of the budget spectrum, another actress has produced her own fascinating trio: Brit Marling.

The star of The East has an earnest quality about her whenever she's on screen, which challenges any cynicism you may have about her equally earnest movie choices. That nature makes her perfect for science fiction, a genre full of wonder and discovering new possibilities.

That is what I Origins is about: the opening of minds. Michael Pitt plays Dr. Ian Crane, a rationalist who has a thing for eyes. He takes photos of the eyes of whomever he meets, only to be dazzled by a breathtaking pair of balls on a lovely young girl called Sofi (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey). Her Argentine eyes seem to follow him everywhere, even appearing - in one striking scene - on advertising billboards across the city.

Eventually, the two cross paths again and fall retina over heels in love. The one area they disagree? Science. He believes in logic and rational thought - his main aim in life is to document the evolution of the eyeball, refuting the notion of intelligent design with fact. She believes in anything and everything - while he pores over worms and genes, she hangs photos on her wall of statues in cemeteries that were once said to come to life.

Cahill shoots their relationship with fitful bursts of colour - and a heavy dose of swooning sentiment. Thanks to Pitts and Bergès-Frisbey's wide-eyed sincerity, their romance is engaging to watch - but that's only the start of I Origin's story.

Enter Brit Marling as Karen, Ian's bright lab assistant. Scribbling notes on the window and gazing at the sky, she sees potential for making history - a goal that she starts to reach, thanks to a brave jump forward in time halfway through. That chronological shift takes in emotional trauma, new systems of biometric identification and one particular discovery that leaves Ian questioning everything that has gone before. It's a sudden change in direction for the movie, one that requires a leap of faith from the viewer - but it's what marks Mike Cahill as one of the most interesting sci-fi filmmakers around. Just as Another Earth investigated the impact of another Earth without leaving someone's backyard, I Origins tackles the genre from a different perspective; it's a film that becomes about the boundary between science and fiction (UIDAI iris identification does actually exist in India), between seeing and believing.

It's a neat companion piece to the recent (and much tighter) The Sound of My Voice, which trod a similar path between skepticism and spirituality; one that's seemingly tailor-made for Brit Marling's typically earnest scientist. At almost two hours, I Origins' meandering structure makes for a long watch, but its slow stacking of evidence and gradual building of emotional investment means that by the time the ending comes, its mysteries do stick with you. Like all the best entries in the genre, it takes a long hard look at what makes us human and then asks the simple question: what if?

I Origins is released in UK cinemas from Friday 26th September.

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Top 20 films to see at the 2014 Raindance Film Festival Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Monday, 22 September 2014 23:41

Tomorrow marks one of my favourite days of the year: the day the Raindance Film Festival kicks off in London. The 2014 Raindance line-up is as diverse as ever, with an exciting array of talent attached to projects - and, even more excitingly, a range of films from people you've never heard of before.

With tickets starting from £8 during weekdays, the low numbers stretch to audience budgets as well as filmmaker budgets - and with the London Film Festival still two weeks away, why not explore some creative film-making in the coming fortnight?

What's worth catching at this year's festival? Which ambitious indie has the most interesting ideas? We pick our top 20 films to see at the 2014 Raindance Film Festival.

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Film review: Wish I Was Here Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Saturday, 20 September 2014 06:52

Director: Zach Braff
Cast: Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin
Certificate: 15

It's hard to imagine a more Zach Braff-y film than Garden State. That is, unless you've seen Wish I Was Here.

The film, very much a follow-up to his previous quirky-immature-guy-comes-of-age-and-learns-life-lessons hit, is about a quirky, immature guy coming of age and learning life lessons. At least, that's what it says on the tin.

Braff plays Aidan, an actor who finds himself having to rethink his life when his wealthy dad, Gabe (Patinkin), becomes ill and decides to keep the bank funds to try and cure himself. What will his kids do without being to attend private school? What will his wife, Sarah, do, trying to support the kids while holding down a job? What about his brother, a "genius" child who spends his day making cosplay costumes to impress a girl? And, more importantly, when will Aidan get the lucky break he needs to become a famous actor?

The script, written by Zach and his brother, Adam, provides endless obstacles for Aidan navigate, mixed with typically surreal and offbeat humour - from awkward home-school lessons to a a joy ride in a sports car with Scrubs' Donald Faison. The well-juggled tone is as much expected from a Zach Braff film as the indie soundtrack, which mostly consists of recordings from artists Zach Braff likes. Made with the support of Zach Braff fans through Kickstarter, it's a movie for those people; the ones who like Zach Braff.

The problem is that Zach Braff's film is mostly interested in Zach Braff's character, the one written by and starring Zach Braff. He's earnest, dreams of artistic success and is prone to fantasise about being a spaceman. He's as Zach Braff-y as Zach Braff can get. But while the star's schtick can charm in its own twee way, Aidan's self-centred nature - and the belief that he deserves to have his dreams fulfilled - makes for a surprisingly unlikeable protagonist. The fact that Aidan seems to learn nothing from his hard-done-by rite of passage only exacerbates the issue; Garden State resonated beautifully through its sincere, 20-something appreciation of the wider world, but Wish I Was Here's 30-something limbo struggles to find a note to hold on.

Amid the recitals of Robert Frost and Coldplay, though, are beats that genuinely linger. Mandy Patinkin's gruff father - complete with Homeland beard - spends the runtime in bed dispatching disparaging comments about his sons. Kate Hudson's Sarah, meanwhile, has to deal with sexual harassment at her office. Their story lines in themselves may not ring true, but when Sarah and Gabe meet halfway through at the hospital, they have a conversation that could well bring you to tears; a moving discussion of flaws and feelings that sees Kate Hudson deliver one of the best turns of her career. It's proof that Braff is capable of finding tender, mature moments between his talented ensemble. Wish I Was Here? Wish it was about them instead. That life lesson, perhaps, will come with the director's next movie.

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Film review: Magic in the Moonlight Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 19 September 2014 17:18

Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney
Certificate: 12A

"There's no such thing as magic," declares Colin Firth in Woody Allen's new film. He plays Stanley, a tight-lipped Brit better known to the public as Wei Ling Soo, a Chinese magician whose showstopping trick is transporting himself from a locked sarcophagus into a nearby swivel chair. It's a nice idea for a comedy. The problem is that Stanley repeats his diatribe too many times. By the time he starts lecturing about rational thought for the 51st time, it gets a little old.

One could say the same about Woody Allen. While Magic in the Moonlight revels in its 1920s period detail - from Darius Khondji's sumptuously lit country mansions to the stunning French Riviera coast - it feels old in a different way, one that's composed of several elements of his previous films. That science versus faith debate, so often a prized argument of the director's protagonists, is a prime example, as conversations begin to overlap with ones you've heard before. Another key scene, which sees his lead couple share an intimate moment in an observatory, is borrowed straight from Annie Hall.

But if Allen is following his usual formula, he hits some of the right beats, namely in his casting decisions. Colin Firth is impressively annoying as the blustering skeptic, who makes sarcastic comments at every opportunity, although he may irritate many rather than amuse. It's a pleasure to see fellow Brit Simon McBurney given a prominent role as his sycophantic sidekick too.

The star of the show by eons, though, is Emma Stone. She lights up the place as Sophie, a gifted young clairvoyant whom Stanley is invited to expose. His debunking, though, soon turns to drooling as he's dazzled by her red hair, big eyes and seemingly limitless knowledge of his past. Stone hams it up with a hilariously deadpan performance. "I'm getting a mental impression..." she mutters, waving her hands in front of her and gazing airily at nothing.

Together, the odd pair make a nice contrast - occasionally, too much so, as Emma's young looks and Colin's old face err on the side of awkward rather than entertaining. That old-fashioned juxtaposition, though, is just as much a part of Allen's dated show as everything else, a repertoire that doesn't think twice about uncomfortable romantic pairings, or at least considers it a comic tradition. It's to the cast's credit that, by the time the final scene arrives, you stop noticing the gap; or perhaps it is simply part of this script's odd, retro charm.

Nostalgia is central to Magic in the Moonlight's appeal, itself as hazy as the sun setting in the background of Stanley and Sophie's daytime jaunts in his motor car. If Firth dips into his Mr. Darcy routine a little too much come the second half of the slow 100 minutess, Stone smooths over the cracks with the hypnotic presence of a blooming Keaton. And that, perhaps, is the astonishing part of this whole act: that every time a new Woody appears, even on the back of a great one - which, these days, usually spells disaster - fans still bustle into the theatre, wishing they'll be amazed like it's 30 years ago. The greatest trick Woody Allen ever pulled was convincing the world his bad films didn't exist. And so you'll leave the theatre, blinking in surprise, only to forget the mediocre comedy altogether.

"There's no such thing as magic," declares Stanley over and over. There is such as thing as Woody Allen, though. And even if he debunks his own illusions one too many times, that remains something to celebrate.

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The top 10 film strands to see at the 2014 London Film Festival Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Thursday, 18 September 2014 07:06

245. That's the number of feature films showing at this year's London Film Festival - up 12 from last year and up 20 from 2012. It's a lot of films.

So, when public booking for tickets opens today at 10am, you've got a tough decision to make. The internet is, of course, already full of countless lists of top picks, the best films starring Benedict Cumberbatch and the celebrity guest highlights, but there are so many other films in the line-up that it's not hard to come across ones that take your fancy. Yes, even Godard has a movie playing at the BFI IMAX.

That's why the London Film Festival divides up its programme into strands: to help you find something to suit your tastes. Laugh. Dare. Love. Thrill. Cult. Debate. Journey. But let's face it, sometimes those abstract nouns and evocative verbs aren't the easiest thing to browse. What if you just want a film about robots?

And so present to you our 10 alternative strands for the LFF 2014, to make it easier to find something specific to your interests. Really like war films? Want to know more about journalism? Enchanted by Eva Green? There really is something for everyone.

Sadly, we live in a time where there aren't many countries not engaged in conflict - 11, according the latest count from the Institute for Economics and Peace - and cinema continues to explore the reasons and ramifications of war, from The Imitation Game's story of Alan Turing cracking the Enigma code in WWII and '71, which sees a young Brit (Jack O'Connell) caught behind enemy lines in 1971 Belfast, to Zero Motivation, modern military comedy about Israeli soldiers. Most moving, perhaps, of all is a restoration of 1927's The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands, which will be accompanied by a new score played by the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines.

Zero Motivation
Damn the War!
War Book
The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands
The Imitation Game

It's not easy being a journalist, judging by this collection of newspaper-related LFF entries. Jon Stewart's debut, Rosewater, is based on the memoir of Maziar Bahari, a reporter detained for 188 days in Iran, while Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Palme d’Or-winner Winter Sleep follows retired actor struggling to write a local newspaper column.

Winter Sleep
Born Yesterday

Sometimes, you just want to see people hit things. Or kick things. Or attack things with swords. With the newly announced addition of Donnie Yen's Kung Fu Jungle receiving its world premiere at the LFF, our FISTS strand is for you.

Kung Fu Jungle
Dragon Inn

True stories are a popular source of cinematic inspiration, be it Alan Turing or an Iranian prisoner. Abel Ferrara gets in on the biopic game with Willem Dafoe playing Pasolini, while Timothy Small will star as painter Joseph Mallord William Turner. Channing Tatum and Steve Carrell are already feted for their turns in Foxcatcher, about wrestling world champions Dave and Mark Shultz. There's even a film about Italian poet Leopardi and Sergei Parajanov's 1969 film about 18th-century Armenian ashugh, Sayat Nova: The Colour of Pomegranates. (Mental note: Campaign for a Pomegranates strand at next year's LFF.)

The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner
The Colour of Pomegranates

Who doesn't like a bit of Susanne Bier? The LFF certainly does: they've got two of hers included this year. George Clooney would get tons of column inches out of that alone: the Oscar-winning Danish director deserves no less.

A Second Chance

Enchanted by Eva Green? Join the queue. The queue, that is, to book tickets for either of her two films showing in Leicester Square this October.

White Bird in a Blizzard
The Salvation

I love a good cave. Mysterious, dark, covered in little bits of hair. But if Nick Cave the musician isn't your thing - he's scoring two films at this year's festival - why not try a film about an actual cave instead? Even better, book one of the below blindfolded and see where you end up in four weeks' time. (Warning: Watch out for caves.)

Far From Men
In Darkness We Fall

Cute. Furry. Always on YouTube. Animals are everywhere in modern society, so it's no surprise to see that they have infiltrated the BFI's event too. There's White Bird in a Blizzard, which stars Eva Green and Shailene Woodley as… oh. And Foxcatcher about Channing Tatum hunting fox… oh. But wait a minute: there is Animal Farm screening in the retro family catalogue. That has animals in it, right?

Animal Farm
The Lamb
White Bird in a Blizzard

As the old cinema saying goes, if it sounds like a medical condition, you know you're in for a good night. From Whiplash to 3 Hearts, these titles are all wonderfully intriguing and exciting. Unless, of course, they're being read to you by your doctor. In which case cancel your LFF tickets now and start making peace with your estranged Aunt Mildred.

3 Hearts
Hungry Hearts
Shrew's Nest
The Turning
The Goob
Butter on the Latch
The Green Prince

There are some interesting hints of technology in this year's LFF, from social media and long-distance relationships in 10,000km to our second-screen-dominated lives captured in Jason Reitman's Men, Women & Children. But screw technology. What we all want to know at the LFF each year is this: are there any films with GIANT ROBOT OVERLORDS? Finally, there is. It's called, in fact, Robot Overlords. A small British sci-fi that sees a young boy escape curfew in an age of, well, robot overlords, it's a wee adventure directed by none other than Jon Wright: guy who made the wonderful horror-comedy Grabbers. If you haven't already put this at the top of your to-see list, the film also stars Gillian Anderson. And Sir Ben Kingsley. And GIANT ROBOT OVERLORDS. Did I mention the robots?

Robot Overlords

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Dizzyingly cinematic: Why the Young Vic's A Streetcar Named Desire is perfect for NT Live Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 10:33

"What is straight?" asks Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire. "A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it's curved like a road through mountains."

That's what the Young Vic's production of Tennessee Williams' 1947 play manages to capture on stage: the curve of the human heart and mind. When the traumatised Blanche arrives on the doorstep of sister Stella's apartment in New Orleans, she is hoping for a straightforward stay. In no time, she locates the liquor under the sink and takes a swig. The room immediately starts to spin. It doesn't stop.

It's a stunningly bold piece of design from Magda Willi: staged in the round, the production centres on Stella and Stanley's home, an exposed unit on a turntable that constantly, slowly revolves.

On a technical level, it's an impressive feat: under the careful eye of director Benedict Andrews, things are choreographed seamlessly so that people hop on and off the carousel of Blanche's downward spiral, hanging off stairwells or slipping out into the wings just as the opportunity arises.

On a practical level, it's also what makes this version of A Streetcar Named Desire perfect for NT Live, the now established process that will see a bunch of cameras broadcast the performance live into over 1,000 cinemas around the world tonight (Tuesday 16th September).

While sitting in the theatre, every scene rotates to be shown from different vantage points; a process that might sound distracting but is anything but. In fact, it's actually very cinematic, like watching a screen that repeatedly pans to another character's perspective; a restless, uneasy experience that taps directly into Blanche's crumbling mental state.

Gillian Anderson is jaw-dropping as the faded belle, simultaneously attractive and pathetic, powerful and pitiful. "I don't tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth," she insists to her sister (the equally wonderful Vanessa Kirby), impressively stubborn in her deceit, but tragic in how she has fooled herself.

Ben Foster echoes her subtle turn with a similarly nuanced Stanley, giving the plain-speaking brute a soft, sympathetic edge. When he throws plates against the wall, he doesn't yell like an ape; he almost resentfully tips them with a casual flick, more conflicted than crude.

As this trio collide in varying combinations, a normal in-the-round production would see you miss parts of their performances. The Young Vic's staging, though, amplifies every detail. Sitting behind the sink adds to the home's claustrophobic confines; swooping behind the door during a row leaves you eavesdropping from the bathroom. It's a perfect display of how to make obstacles and props a part of the text, turning background into foreground.

Throughout, Alex Baranowski's music creates an oppressive atmosphere that adds to the visual feel, while rough and ready song choices during scene changes echo the action ironically in way you normally associate with the end credits of Mad Men.

When Blanche dresses up for a birthday party halfway through, flashing lights and colourful decorations create the illusion of spinning top, a circus act gone horrifyingly wrong. The spinning production's most powerful aspect, though, comes in between the lines. When Blanche insults Stanley to Stella, he stands behind the mesh front door, hearing everything; like the audience watching this abstract unit of architecture, he sees no wall there. When Stanley later talks to Stella about Blanche, she sits in the bath, isolated by a shower curtain singing show tunes - an element that would normally take place off-stage. We still move through the home without boundaries, but for Blanche, those walls actually exist; she is the only one who hears nothing outside of her own world. Overhearing from behind the kitchen sink, the division between reality and fantasy has never seemed more visible.

For tonight's broadcast, an NT Live director would normally have to pick several points in an auditorium and cut between them, struggling to reproduce theatre's presentation in another medium. Here, the set does the work for the camera; NT Live could work by simply staying stationary, sitting in one place as Blanche's descent into madness repeatedly spirals into view. The screen may be straight, but the Young Vic's A Streetcar Named Desire is dizzyingly curved.

Find out where A Streetcar Named Desire is showing here.


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Film review: In Order of Disappearance Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 12 September 2014 12:23

Director: Hans Petter Moland
Cast: Stellan Skarsgård, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Bruno Ganz, Pål Sverre Hagen
Certificate: 15

There's something about snow that suits comic violence. The white brings out the red in the blood. It worked a treat for the Coen brothers back in the 1990s. Now, with In Order of Disappearance, Norway is making a killing.

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2014 Raindance Film Festival line-up revealed Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Monday, 08 September 2014 12:51

Raindance has revealed its 2014 film festival line-up. The festival, which runs for 12 days, will screen 100 feature films and over 150 shorts.

Raindance 2014 kicks off on Wednesday 24th September with the UK premiere of I, Origins, the latest film from Mike Cahill, whose fantastic Another Earth opened the festival a few years back. The director will be on hand for a Q&A at the Gala - as is usual for the majority of their screenings - and the Opening Gala will be followed by a party Leicester Square's Cafe de Paris with a performance from Fine Young Cannibal's lead Roland Gift.

It closes with a screening of Wolf, with star Marwan Kenzari taking questions from the audience on the night, followed by a do at Leicester Square’s Ruby Blue.

In between, you can expect a typically varied line-up from Europe's largest indie festival. In fact, the emphasis is on diversity more than ever, with the programme now divided up into themes: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. The festival's commitment to showcasing talent from around the world, from a mix of genres and from a range of (low) budgets has won it a growing kudos among creatives, which is evident from the increasingly starry guests you can expect to find pimping their passion projects.

Last year, Danny Huston and Toby Stephens were on hand to support Two Jacks and The Machine. This year, Andrew Scott and Alice Lowe will be attending the festival, plus you can find Charlotte Gainsbourg in Asia Argento's Misunderstood, Leighton Meester and Debra Messing in Like Sunday, Like Rain, Wes Bentley in Things People Do and the UK debut of Diego Luna's biopic Cesar Chavez, starring Michael Peña and none other than John Malkovich - who will also reportedly be hanging around the Vue Piccadilly.

The joy, though, is in chancing upon the other artists in between the high profile names - the kind of people who would mortgage their house to fund their flicks.

After 22 years, Raindance continues to be a wonderful chance for the public to discover talent and for filmmakers to showcase their work. Indeed, last year, Raindance followed the fest with the launch of its own VOD site, Raindance Releasing, which gives a digital platform to some of the fest's titles. The thought that some of the brightest entries in this year's line-up will have a chance of UK release even without a theatrical distributor snapping them up makes the festival more exciting than ever.

If you have a film premiering this year at Raindance and will be releasing your film on VOD in the UK, we want to hear from you - our sister site,, is the UK's only video on-demand magazine with a section dedicated to supporting and covering digital indie releases.

For more information on the Raindance Film Festival, visit

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