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Film

18 - 20 December

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Her

Director: Spike Jonze
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Scarlett Johansson
18 December
Her

Otherwise known as Electric Dreams - the post-iPad edition. For anyone who remembers that ‘80s antique, the Steve Barron comedy centered around a man whose computer becomes sentient, hoping to help its owner improve his lot in life. Here, Spike Jonze tackles similar subject matter, though this time around, our humble individual (Joaquin Phoenix) who writes personal letters for others falls for the operating system on his device. Seems “Sam” (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) is programmed to be intuitive, and as she becomes more and more “human” our hero discovers “feelings” for her.  A lot of buzz has built around this film. It will be interesting to see if it earns any additional love comes Awards Season.


 

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate
20 December
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Will Ferrell is back with the sequel many wanted to see - if, perhaps, not exactly in this form. Early rumors had co-writer/ director Adam McKay considering a musical - or better still, an operetta with the characters singing all their dialogue - and even a tryout on Broadway. Eventually, the decision was made to “go traditional” and send Ron Burgundy and his infamous KVWN colleagues off to New York to be part of the burgeoning ‘80s ideal of 24 hour a day news.  Add in an interracial romance for our hero, an angry ex back in San Diego, and new group of reporters to clash with, and you have all the makings of a major holiday hit.


 

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  American Hustle

Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner
20 December
American Hustle

David O. Russell has been on quite the winning streak since those notorious YouTube videos of his childish behavior on the set of I Heart Huckabees surfaced. He’s lead several noted actors to Oscars and created three amazing movies - The Fighter, The Silver Linings Playbook, and now this one - as part of his career redemption. In fact, this fictional look at the infamous ABSCAM case of the late ‘70s sparks with a kind of kinetic drive we expect from someone like Scorsese, or Tarantino. With an Awards Season win thanks to the New York Film Critics, it looks like Russell’s name will once again be part of this year’s Oscar mix - and it deserves to be. This is a great film.


 

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Saving Mr. Banks

Director: John Lee Hancock
Cast: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Colin Farrell
20 December
Saving Mr. Banks

The story of how Walt Disney convinced reclusive and stand-offish children’s writer P. L. Travers to let him adapt her popular Mary Poppins character for the big screen has long been the stuff of House of Mouse legend. Now, Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson take on the roles of animation giant and stubborn artist in this loving tribute to both perspectives. Over the course of this sentimental studio valentine we learn about Travers past, how important the character of Mr. Banks was to her, and how Disney’s designs for the adaptation drove the author to distraction. It’s all very sunny and bright and brimming with good intentions. Luckily, the movie makes the most of the material.


 

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Walking with Dinosaurs

Director: Neil Nightingale, Barry Cook
Cast: John Leguizamo, Justin Long, Tiya Sircar, Skyler Stone
20 December
Walking with Dinosaurs

Based on the BBC Series, this animated movie has all the trapping of a modern day CG experience. We’ve got cute characters, capable voice acting, and enough visual splendor to keep the kiddies intrigued. Adults may have a bit more problem with this production, however, since it supposedly doesn’t shy away from showing the dangers - and death - that existed during our prehistoric past. In fact, one fears many families coming to see this movie thinking it’s a Disney-fied version of the dinosaurs and not a quasi-realistic attempt to educate the audience on life back a few million years ago.


 

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The Past

Director: Asghar Farhadi
Cast: Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa
20 December
The Past

The last time Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi was in the spotlight, he was accepting awards and accolades for his stunning work of political and personal commentary, A Separation. Now, the famed director is back with another potential winner, this time centering on a group of Iranians in Paris trying to work out the complicated details of their various relationships. With overwhelming support from the critical community and a pair of wins at Cannes—including Best Actress for Bérénice Bejo and the Ecumenical Jury Prize for the film itself—it looks like Farhadi will be part of this year’s Academy Award conversation as well. 


Since deciding to employ his underdeveloped muse muscles over five years ago, Bill has been a significant staff member and writer for three of the Web's most influential websites: DVD Talk, DVD Verdict and, of course, PopMatters. He also has expanded his own web presence with Bill Gibron.com a place where he further explores creative options. It is here where you can learn of his love of Swindon's own XTC, skim a few chapters of his terrifying tome in the making, The Big Book of Evil, and hear samples from the cassette albums he created in his college music studio, The Scream Room.


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