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Category: Features

Film Essay: Harlan Ellison Tribute

Harlan Ellison RIP: The Writer on the Edge of Forever

Essay by Lee Hill

Given that most of his books were out of print when he died, the widespread outpouring of love and admiration for Harlan Ellison belies the writer’s own cynicism about modern popular culture. During the heyday of his career in the 60s and 70s, Ellison dragged science fiction and fantasy (and legions of wallflower-like fans) kicking and screaming into the ferment of counter-cultural upheaval and experimentation. He did this not only as an award-winning short story writer, but through the anthology, Dangerous Visions, where he commissioned established and emerging writers, from Theodore Sturgeon and Robert Bloch to Samuel Delany and Philip K Dick, to explore themes such as sex, race, politics, the environment, the limits of technological progress, etc. with a revolutionary fervour that many in the parochial world of SF fandom were uncomfortable with.

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LFF 2017: 120 BPM

120 BPM is a film you tend to admire rather than love. Robin Campillo’s film deals with the rise of Act Up in France in the late 80s and early 90s as the activist group tackled the complacency of government, medical and pharmaceutical establishments in dealing with the crisis. If the film veers towards being a polemic at times, it contains many scenes that remind one of the anguish and rage the early years of the epidemic unleashed across the LGBT community world-wide.

Anyone who thinks protestors just blindly show up to cause trouble will have their consciousness seriously expanded after watching this film. Campillo’s camera plunges the viewer into the centre of the practical and ideological debates that drive organisations like Act Up. Like Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom, 120 BPM features several scenes of young adults in meetings refining and discarding ideas and arguments as they move towards political action. When an intervention at a medical conference doesn’t go as planned, the activists hold a post-mortem to determine what went wrong.

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Coming Soon: Tony Richardson and Woodfall Films

Tony Richardson and Woodfall Films: A Revolution in British Film
A month-long season at the BFI Southbank, April 2018
Reviewed by Lee Hill

From 1959 to 1963, director Tony Richardson became synonymous with “kitchen sink realism”. That catchphrase simultaneously celebrated and dismissed a new wave in British film. The wave first came to attention when Richardson and Karel Reisz screened their documentary short, Mamma Don’t Allow, as part of the 1956 Free Cinema programme at the National Film Theatre, now BFI Southbank. Thanks also to a precocious amount of work in student productions at Oxford, Richardson became part of The Royal Court Theatre, where he directed John Osborne’s two most famous plays, Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer.

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Oscars 2018: Our Predictions

Rachael Kaines shares her Oscars 2018 wish list.

The Oscars are here again. After the snafu of last year and the extremely unlikely event of the voters actually picking the best film for best film, all bets are off this year. “Oscar bait” films seem to be doing worse year on year, which makes for much better pickings and increasingly harder to predict winners.

Here are some predictions, or rather a wish list of sorts. (predictions are in bold)

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Report: I, Tonya Press Conference

Report by Amon Warmann

I, Tonya has been a big player in this year’s awards season, and for good reason. Margot Robbie delivers a career-best performance as Tonya Harding – an ex figure skating champion with a shocking story to tell – and she’s ably supported by an eye-catching turn from Allison Janney, Harding’s overbearing mother.

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Film Releases: Weekly Round Up

A round up of this week’s new releases by our Editor Linda Marric

The Maze Runner: The Death Cure

The third and final instalment of this very popular dystopian trilogy sees it opening with a bang. An impressive action set piece which could rival any thriller worth its salt. The film is however sadly let down by a meandering screenplay which doesn’t seem to have got the memo that less is always more.

Dylan O’Brien et al are back for one last spin of the wheel and we are prepared to follow them up to a point. The narrative sadly fizzles out towards the end when the makers can’t quite decide which ending to go for so decide to use all five. Watchable nonsense, just don’t expect much more from it.

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Most Anticipated Movies of 2018

By Freda Cooper

So that was 2017, the year when horror became the genre of choice and broke a few boundaries into the bargain. When every month had at least one blockbuster, or a superhero movie – or both. When some superheroes weren’t exactly super. And when fan backlashes became the norm, from La La Land to The Last Jedi.

But, most importantly of all, people still kept going to the movies. Because, despite the inevitable flops and disappointments, as well as the more serious, longer term issues, it was a pretty good year as far as the films themselves were concerned. Those of us that write about cinema have had one hell of a job compiling our top tens – even top twenties – this year, because there were so many contenders.

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The 10 Best TV Shows of 2017

Rachael Kaines picks her favourite TV shows of 2017. Do you agree?

We have been blessed by yet another great year for television, with the golden age showing no signs of ending or even slowing down. Deciding a top ten is very difficult this year, it could have easily included things like Catastrophe, Big Little Lies, Game of Thrones, Easy (why is no one talking about this show?), and, of course, Twin Peaks (not allowed on this list, everyone decided it was a movie).

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The Best Christmas Films You Will Re-Watch Yet Again This Christmas

Complied by Rachael Kaines

Christmas is a time of joy, and in honour of that so is this list. Filled with the films that you will quite happily watch for the ninth time (even though you insist it’s crap) after a cheese course large enough to down an elephant, whilst sipping slow gin and fluctuating between contentedness and intense nausea. These movies as much a part of Christmas as turkey and fights with the in-laws.

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