Halloween films for children, little or big (Pt.2)

by Lally Pollen

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Coraline (2009) PG
Beautifully animated stop motion feature based on the book by Neil Gaiman, about a young girl thrown into an idealized replica of her world, which is more sinister than at first it seems.

***

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Frankenweenie (2012) PG
Animated feature film based on the short by director Tim Burton.  A young boy, victor, conducts experiments to bring his dog back to life. As the monster dog wreaks havoc in the town the boy must convince them of the loyalty and good nature of his best friend.

***

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The Black Cauldron (1985) U certificate
One of Disney’s lesser known animations, Black Cauldron was the first to be released that was not a musical and was with held from video release due to its dark content. Its tells the story of a young boy and his companions who go on a quest to get hold of a powerful object before the evil Horned King gets his mitts on it.

***

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Labyrinth (1986) U certificate + Dark Crystal (1982) PG
Written and directed by Jim Henson, the characters of both these films were based on the designs by Brian Froud. Labyrinth stars David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. Sarah (Connelly) must rescue her baby brother from The goblin kings, by completing his Labyrinth with in 13 hours. Dark Crystal is an animation using puppets. Jen a young orphan raised by peaceful wizards must embark on a quest to find the missing piece of the dark crystal to restore the balance of the universe.

***

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Paranorman (2012) PG
An animated comedy adventure from first time director Chris Butler. Norman has the ability to see and talk to the dead, yet most people do not believe his ability is real. The town of Blithe Hollow (a nod to Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit and Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow) is under threat from a curse cast by a witch condemned centuries ago. Norman is the only one who can save them.

***

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Dracula (1931) PG
Although black and white films may not interest some children, Bela Legosi gives one of the most iconic performances of the count in this beautifully creepy version of the classic novel.

***

*****DON’T FORGET: 2 FOR 1 RENTALS ON ALL HORROR FILMS ALL DAY THURSDAY!!!*****

HAPPY FRIGHT FEST!

FILM OF THE DAY: SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1945)

INFIRM? ELDERLY? VULNERABLE? BEWARE, THERE’S A KILLER ON THE LOOSE. AND HE’S LOOKING FOR YOU!

spiral_staircase_ver2A surprisingly frightening noir, starring George Brent and Dorothy McGuire, The Spiral Staircase leads you on a twisting and turning journey of murder and suspicion. Just when you think you’re on comfortable and familiar ground and, indeed, are about to write it off after a few minutes as being predictable and hammy, you quickly realise the film has you turned around and that in fact you’re not where you thought you were at all.

spiral-staircase-muteA killer with a weakness for those suffering from afflictions begins to strike in a small town. Helen, played by Dorothy McGuire hasn’t spoken since she was a child – surely, as a mute, she too will become a victim? The killer sees her and is overcome with an urge to destroy her. But who is he? Or she?

spiralstaircase-3Nicholas Musuraca’s fantastic, crisp, noir cinematography does much to heighten the sense of an impending threat, veiling the mansion – in which most of the action takes place – in heavy, gothic shadows and masking the killer’s face, revealing all but an eye.

In fact, the motif of the close-up eye is used throughout the film, but, cleverly, director Robert Siodmak uses close-ups from different actors to represent the killer’s own eye, thereby increasing the difficulty the audience has in identifying the culprit.

20120810-121310At first you suspect the elderly doctor, then the young doctor. Or could it be Helen’s employer, the seemingly bed-ridden Mrs. Warren, played to excellent effect by Ethel Barrymore…?

spiral-staircase-gunDeeper and deeper we are led, turning around and around, in and out of rooms, up and down stairs, bounced from one character to another. Alfred Hitchcock meets Agatha Christie? Perhaps. But one thing is for certain – you’ll be checking and double checking all your windows are locked…

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posted by Dixie Turner

Halloween films for children, little or big (Pt.1)

By Lally Pollen

monster-houseMonster House (2006) PG
Animated horror-comedy about three teens exploring the haunted house across the street, only to discover the house itself is a living, breathing monster.

***

l_121164_4116ace5Corpse Bride (2005) PG
Stop-motion animation from director Tim Burton, featuring voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Michael Gough. A young groom inadvertently marries a dead woman whist practicing his wedding vows.  Despite
the sinister tone of the plot and title, Corpse Bride blends musical numbers, comedy and charm with a gothic aesthetic.

***

the-nightmare-before-christmas-movie-poster-3607Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) PG
Based on a poem by Tim Burton, this stop-motion musical follows Jack Skellington, the king of Halloween, on his quest to understand the nature of Christmas. Music composed by, and featuring the voice of, Danny Elfman.

***

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addams_family_values_ver1Addams Family (1991)  PG + Addams Family Values (1993) PG
The first directorial feature from Barry Sonnenfeld (Get Shorty, Men in Black), The Addams Family is based on the characters created by Charles Addams and stars Raul Julia and Angelica Huston. Charming gothic family comedies.

***

600full-the-witches-posterThe Witches (1990) PG
Based on the book by Roald Dahl, The Witches is part adventure, part fantasy horror, about a little boy who after stumbling upon a witch convention and being turned in a mouse, must try to stop their sinister plans. Angelica Huston plays the head witch, who may be a little scary for very young children.

***

Young-Frankenstein-PosterYoung Frankenstein (1974) PG
A Mel Brooks comedy starring Gene Wilder about the grandson of the famous scientist inheriting the castle and continuing Dr Frankenstein’s experiments, after years of trying to live down the family reputation. A few of the jokes and innuendos may well go over the heads of the very young.

***

hocus-pocus-movie-poster-1619Hocus Pocus (1993) PG
Goofy and flamboyant Disney comedy celebrating all things Halloween.  This comedy-adventure stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and a very young Thora Birch. Three sister witches are resurrected 300 years after their initial demise in Salem, Massachusetts. It is up to two teenagers, a little girl and an immortal cat to stop them once and for all!

***

*****DON’T FORGET: 2 FOR 1 RENTALS ON ALL HORROR FILMS ALL DAY THURSDAY!!!*****

HAPPY FRIGHT FEST!

HALLOWEEN OFFER: 2 for 1 Rentals on all Horror (including staff…)

ARE YOU A HORROR GUZZLER?

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OR MORE OF AN OCCASSIONAL SNACKER?

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EITHER WAY, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OUR HALLOWEEN OFFER OF 2 FOR 1 RENTALS ON ALL HORROR FILMS. ALL DAY THURSDAY 31ST OCTOBER.

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BOOK EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT…

posted by Dixie Turner

O So Topical… Privacy, Panopticism and Privation

499247958_415bc5df68_zThe Lives of Others (2006) – dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

A meticulous Stasi secret police agent becomes involved in the lives of a writer and his lover who are under his surveillance. Perhaps we too can touch the lives of those who listen by living a more intriguing life (whisper whisper plot plot)

600full-1984-poster1984 (1984) – dir. Michael Radford, starring John Hurt, Richard Burton and Suzanna Hamilton.

Based on George Orwell’s fantastic dystopian novel, where everyone is watched and communication monitored ALL THE TIME. Burn your Rolodex and watch your thoughts, people. The thoughtcrime police are coming up the stairs…

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The Conversation (1974) – dir. Francis Ford Coppola, starring Gene Hackman.

A surveillance expert obsessed with his own privacy has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he has been watching are in danger of being murdered.

gatekeepers_ver2The Gatekeepers (2012) – dir. Dror Moreh

State-secrets galore in this fantastic documentary on Israel’s Shin Bet security agency.

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We Steal Secrets (2013) – dir. Alex Gibney

The stories we all want – and need – to hear, but no-one wants to tell. Almost no-one…

How the whistle was blown, the consequences and the distractions.

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posted by Dixie Turner

New Releases: 28th October

NOW YOU SEE ME:

now-you-see-me-2013-movie-posterAs if by magic That Geeky Guy, The Hulk, Woody from Cheers, That Cinema Owner in Inglorious Basterds, Some Girl from Home & Away, James Franco’s brother, Alfie, and Morgan Freeman all  come together for a labour of love/good payday (delete as appropriate) in this tricky thriller.

Could be fun, could be tosh (could be fun tosh). Cert. 12

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BEFORE MIDNIGHT:

BEFORE-MIDNIGHT-stillsIf you like those French films where they all sit around drinking wine and nothing much happens (and you can watch Ethan Hawke without feeling queasy) then this is for you.

The third and final part in the “Before…” trilogy should certainly satisfy fans of the previous installments. Cert. 15

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BLING RING:

The-Bling-Ring-poster-french-XLBased on a true story about fame-obsessed LA teenagers who used the internet to track celebrities’ whereabouts in order to rob their homes.

If anyone’s right for this it’s Sofia Coppola who has a knack for making portraits of the rich and famous that get beneath the glossy surface. Cert. 15

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OUR CHILDREN:

Our-Children-posterCritically acclaimed drama based on a true story.  A tragic tale about a mother desperately trying to break free from an oppressive home-life with a strong cast that features Niel Arestrup (You Will Be My Father), Tahar Rahim (A Prophet), and Emilie Dequenne (Rosetta) who won Best Actress at Cannes for this performance. In French with English Subs. Cert. 15

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STAND UP GUYS:

StandUpGuysColorPosterCoolbig01Another of those lets-get-the-gang-back-together movies that helps keep aging Hollywood actors in work.

The most interesting thing here is the director: Fisher Stevens, best known for playing Ben Jabituya (the ‘Indian’ inventor) in Short Circuit. Since then he’s produced a load of documentaries (winning an Oscar along the way for The Cove). He also played Iggy in Super Mario Bros.

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Also out this week:

SPRINGSTEEN AND I:

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SNITCH:

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CALL GIRL:

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MADEMOISELLE C:

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MAGNIFICENT HAUNTING:

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LOVE, MARILYN:

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RETURN TO NIM’S ISLAND:

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COMMUNITY SEASON 4:

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Recent Additions (Films We Should Have Had Before But Didn’t):

A70-204ADDAM’S FAMILY (1991)

Unless you missed our (various) announcements on the matter, The Addams Family has finally been released on DVD (the sequel, Addam’s Family Values, having been already released years ago). We can all now enjoy fighting over who gets to have the Hallowe’en of their dreams by watching an Addam’s double bill… Book early to avoid (beautifully bitter) disappointment. Starring Anjelica Houston, the late Roul Julia, the wonderful Christopher Lloyd and the wee Christina Ricci.

***

vrxVON RYAN’S EXPRESS (1965)

Ol’ blue eyes (Frank Sinatra), unable to stick to crooning and rubbing shoulders with hoodlums and wise guys, insisted on making movies so that his fragile ego wouldn’t crack. This one is a World War II American-hero pic where he leads a bunch of mostly British prisoners of war to freedom from their German captors. Entertaining Sunday-afternoon fare, and good for kids eager a bit of war/action, but not yet old enough to enjoy the news…

***

brother_sun_sister_moon_xlgBROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON (1972)

Franco Zeffirelli’s first film after the immense success of his Romeo and Juliet was this tale of the early life (and love) of St. Francis of Assisi.

***

41GcYBhFGRL._SY300_COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (1998)

At just over 6 and a half hours, this 4 part TV mini series promises the die-hard Monte Cristo fan something closer to the epic novel than the myriad other versions on offer. In French with English subs, starring Gerard Depardieu and Jean Rochefort.

posted by Dixie Turner

NEW RELEASES: 21st OCTOBER

WORLD WAR Z:

World-War-Z-posterPost-apocalyptic blockbuster starring Brad Pitt as a UN employee who must save the world from zombies. Directed by Mike Forster (Kite Runner, Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace). Cert. 15

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STONE ROSES: MADE OF STONE:

530_lyrj_nShane Meadows directs this wonderful documentary charting the return of the Stone Roses as they prepare for an almighty comeback. For anyone that’s ever loved the music, but not had a change to go to one of their gigs, this is the next best thing: the live footage is truly exhilarating and will leave you applauding uproariously before you realise you’re actually just at home on your sofa..

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RENOIR:

renoir-uk-film-movie-quad-poster-design-london1French drama revolving around the love triangle that sprung up when an ageing Renoir Sr. and a battle-worn Renoir Jr. became infatuated by the same young woman. French with English subs. Cert. 12

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Also out this week:

THE EAST:

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THE PURGE:

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HUMMINGBIRD:

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AMERICAN HORROR STORY SEASON 2:

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BORGIAS SEASON 3:

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REVENGE SEASON 2:

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SPECIAL OFFER: SATURDAY 19TH OCTOBER – QUOTE ‘INDEPENDENTS DAY’ AND GET 2 FOR 1 RENTALS

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CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT VIDEO STORE DAY WITH US!

SHOW US YOUR LOVE – FOR FILMS, FOR INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES, FOR THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD, FOR US…

THIS SATURDAY (TOMORROW) WE ARE OFFERING 2 FOR 1 RENTALS TO ANYONE WHO QUOTES ‘INDEPENDENTS DAY’ – USE IT OR LOSE IT PEOPLE!!!

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A Taste For Terror: Carrie (1976)

As Hallowe’en approaches, Video City’s own blood-sucking ghoul takes us on a trip

into the dark…

Carrie_10Carrie (1976).

by Lally Pollen.

The original poster for Carrie shows two images of the same young girl. The first version of her is holding flowers in her arms, her long golden hair shining in the spotlight underneath a glittery crown, a blissful smile beaming down on her unseen audience.

The second is holding no flowers, her slick wet hair grips the sides of her head, its deep red hue almost lost against the dark background. Stark white glows from all sides of her pupils, her smile replaced by a hard, intensely focused stare. The blood covering her body hides the party frock, instead emphasising the protruding collar bones which cast shadows across her thin body.

This poster sums up the film well. It is about how girl one turns into girl two. A film about transformation, and not just Carrie’s but ours as well.

Based on the book by Stephen King, Carrie was released in 1976 and is amongst Brian De Palma’s first big hits. Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is a teenage girl hated by her entire school, teachers included, and her mother, a religious fundamentalist, believes her to be a child of Satan. Carrie assumes she’s dying when she get her first period, her mother having left her ignorant of the facts. The opening scene is of the traumatic start to her sexual awakening. Slow-motioned, steam-filled shots of a crowded shower room depict lively, ethereal, dream like creatures that turn into vicious cackling tormentors at the helpless pleas of our protagonist. These are high school bullies, teenage girls presented as something akin to the sirens in The Odyssey. These terrors however, are all merely a build-up to what we should be truly scared of.

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The abuse Carrie is subjected to bonds us to her plight, we can not but sympathise with her as she is bullied by all those around her. We long for her to be accepted, to have at least one night of undisrupted joy. Despite the ever-present sense of impending doom, we dare to hope.

carrie1However, her helplessness and inability to face her foes from the start develops another desire. A longing for revenge takes over. This desire reaches a boiling point when the fatal prank is pulled. As her justice is blindly thrown at all in her line of sight, we are simultaneously caught up in her blood-lust and in fear of it. Carrie is the victim that turns into a monster, yet so are we.

Despite all the awful acts committed through-out the film, it is the final scene that cuts to the heart of some basic human fears. The horror of helplessness, the prospect of losing control and of being on the outside looking in.

carrie_1976_1The director makes good use of the universally understood fear of nightmares, using a multitude of camera tricks to give many of the film’s key scenes a dream-like quality. Using split-screen, revolving shots and many other techniques, the realistic fears of the cruelty of teenagers and mob mentality, bountiful in high school situations, are blended with the surreal, mysterious and supernatural possibilities of nightmares.

tumblr_maqq97PQbq1qaf396o1_1280Just as De Palma was influenced by Hitchcock, referencing Psycho both by using the famous four-note soundtrack and the Bate’s name for the high school, so in turn has he influenced many others after him; a dialogue continued over many generations of film.

“After Carrie, everyone had to have a second ending” Wes Craven

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New Releases:14TH OCTOBER

BEHIND THE CANDELABRA:

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Emmy-winning HBO drama that the Hollywood film studios wouldn’t touch (this is still the 21st Century, right?) about the life and loves of Liberace. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. Sparkling eye shadow and diamante galore!

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AFTER EARTH:

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Sci-fi starring real-life father and son team Will and Jaden Smith. Dropped on a deadly planet, the two must overcome the odds – and their own fears – to survive. The planet? Yes, it’s Earth… Whatever happened to utopian sci-fi as a genre?

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SPIKE ISLAND:

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British coming-of-age comedy-drama set in the early 90s. A group of young lads who have formed a band and who are avid fans of The Stone Roses, plan to see their favourite band in the flesh at what was to become the legendary Spike Island gig…

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LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE:

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Iranian master film-maker, Abbas Kiarostami, directs this Japanese drama that centres around the unexpected connection that develops between a young prostitute and an elderly widower.

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SUMMER IN FEBRUARY:

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British romantic period drama focusing on a love-triangle amongst a group of friends in the Edwardian artist’s circle that had settled in Cornwall in the early 20th century.

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ALSO OUT THIS WEEK:

BIG WEDDING:

The Big Wedding Official Poster

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HAWKING:

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MODERN FAMILY SEASON 4:

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MENTALIST SEASON 5:

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Patrice Chéreau (1944-2013)

patrice-chereauIt has been announced that french director/actor/writer, Patrice Chéreau, died yesterday. Chéreau left behind him a well-respected body of work, including the sumptuous La Reine Margot, starring Isabelle Adjani and Daniel Auteuil – one of the go-to classics of recent French cinema, Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train, the controversial English-language film Intimacy which sparked much debate surrounding the question of unsimulated sex on film, and the fantastic Gabrielle starring Isabelle Hupert and Pascal Gregory.

gabrielle-movie-poster-2005-1020449997Based on the short story, The Return by Joseph Conrad, Gabrielle tells the story of a high-society couple whose relationship, on the night of their 10th anniversary, is thrown into question by the revelation of an infidelity. With minimal dialogue the film manages to be utterly captivating through masterful performances and Chéreau’s incredibly sensitive direction. Much recommended.

posted by Dixie Turner

The Video Rental Business: The Lay of the Land

DSC01041Majestic Disorder investigates the UK video-rental industry and asks whether the shop-based rental market can survive. Thanks to GOOD CUSTOMERS AND DEDICATED STAFF it seems like it can… Read the report – featuring an interview with Video City’s own lead man, Simon, and tell us what you think!

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And don’t forget to support your local independent film rental outlet on Saturday the 19th October:

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DSC01039If we got a pound for every time we were asked “When are you going to get a computer?” we’d probably be able to get hold of a UK copy of Time of the Gypsies on DVD…

photos and posted by Dixie Turner

New Releases: 7th October

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING:

much-ado-about-nothing_612x907By most accounts, a very fine re-telling of the Shakespeare play, set in modern America and directed by Joss Whedon, director of Avengers Assemble, Serenity and the very fine TV series Dollhouse and the man behind Buffy, Firefly and Toy Story… Filmed on a low-budget and shot primarily in Whedon’s own residence, the film stars actors from a variety of the director’s previous productions – Whedon fans keep your eyes peeled. Cert. 12

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**

DEADFALL:

deadfallThriller involving a pair of siblings who are on the run after a heist they pull goes wrong. Heading in separate directions, Liza is picked up by a young man heading to a Thanksgiving dinner with his family. Things seem quiet until Liza’s brother turns up, with the police close behind. Starring Eric Bana (Hanna) , Olivia Wilde (Rush), Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) and Sissy Spacek (Carrie) and Kris Kristofferson (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid). Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters). Cert. 15

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**

BACHELORETTE:

bachelorette_posterDark American comedy about three friends invited to be bridesmaids for a friend’s wedding. As the bachelorette party begins to unravel, each one of them comes faces to face with dark aspects from their past. Starring Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia). Cert. 15

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**

WE STEAL SECRETS: WIKILEAKS:

we-steal-secrets-the-story-of-wikileaks-posterDocumentary about the whistle-blowing website that has been at the centre of so much controversy and has been the conduit for many troubling revelations, from war crimes to the massive breaches of personal privacy committed by our governments everyday. Directed by Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Freakonomics, Mea Maxima Culpa, Enron). Keep an eye out for the forth-coming feature film, the Fifth Estate, with Assange played by Benedict Cumberbatch – might make for an interesting comparison. Cert. 15

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**

BREATHE IN:

breathe-in-poster02The lives of a married couple are turned upside down when they play host to an enigmatic foreign exchange student. Directed by Drake Doremus (Like Crazy). Cert. 15

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**

Also out this week:

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COME AS YOU ARE:

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EPIC:

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BOMB GIRLS SEASON 1:

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SIBERIAN EDUCATION:

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posted by Dixie Turner

Coming Soon: International Independent Video Store Day

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Support your local, independent, HUMAN-RUN film emporium (hopefully, that’s us!) with the 3rd Annual International Independent Video Store Day.

“Film fans, Directors, actors, producers, screen writers, distributors, labels and anyone in the home entertainment film industry who has a vested interest in working together to promote this industry from the bottom up, should take this day to join with us as independently owned video stores across the world act together, unified in purpose to take a stand and to celebrate the rich history and promising future of home video!”

So come and chat to us, Tweet at us/about us – perhaps even compose a little song.

Posted by Dixie Turner

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