Win tickets to see Lawrence of Arabia at Empire Leicester Square

As the Digital 4K restoration theatrical re-release celebrating the 50th anniversary of Lawrence of Arabia winds down, LondonFilmFanatiq has a pair of tickets up for grabs for the epic’s final screening on the massive Screen One at Empire Leicester Square.  To win tickets to the Tuesday 11 December 18.00 screening, re-tweet the competition tweet found after the jump.  For those who fancy a relaxing Sunday at the cinema watching one of Hollywood’s most beloved features, there’s also an extra screening of Lawrence of Arabia at 14.30.

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The Dark Knight Rises at home, but collapses upon revistation

The Dark Knight Rises is out on DVD, BD & digital 3 December

The Dark Knight Rises was easily one of, if not the most, anticipated films of 2012.  Now, just in time for Christmas, Christopher Nolan’s Bat-finale comes home on Blu-ray, DVD and digital.  As a popcorn blockbuster, seen on the biggest of screens, The Dark Knight Rises delivered ambitious spectacle from the kinds of larger-than-life characters fans hoped for.   The question now is, how well does that translate to the home formats and, most importantly, does The Dark Knight Rises hold up to repeated viewings?

The best of Nolan’s films become more rewarding on repeated viewings.  Memento is a film that demands the viewer return to it and the plot and structure hold up well to close scrutiny.  The always gripping Inception, with its confounding internal logic, proves to be surprisingly solid given how mind bending the journey Nolan takes his audience on is. As for his efforts in the DC universe, Batman Begins has begun to take shape as the best of the trilogy, with the character study of Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne remaining as riveting as ever, even when compared to the antics of Heath Ledger’s viciously clever Joker.  Sadly, after several viewings of The Dark Knight Rises, the cracks and flaws masked by the excitement and unawareness of the initial watch, become more obvious and more troubling.
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Jameson Cult Film Club’s Seven Psychopaths Premiere report

Last night The Oval Space in Bethnal Green, London played host to Jameson Cult Film Club’s Seven Psychopath’s premiere, with the dark comedy being touted by the organisers as a future cult film.  On hand were the film’s writer and director Martin McDonagh, producer Graham Broadbent and star Sam Rockwell.  The trio spoke with press and following the screening held a brief Q&A in front of several hundred eager audience members.

Rockwell and McDonagh were also celebrating their Independent Spirit Awards nominations, with Rockwell getting a supporting actor nod and McDonagh taking a well-earned screenplay nom.

Seven Psychopaths star Sam Rockwell and director Martin McDonagh at the Jameson Cult Film Club premiere 27 November 2012

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Trouble with the Curve avoids striking out

It’s been nearly 20 years since Clint Eastwood was last seen on the silver screen in a film he didn’t direct, 1993’s In the Line of Fire.  For Trouble with the Curve, Eastwood’s perennial bridesmaid-never-the-bride assistant director Robert Lorenz finally gets his day in the sun, as he takes the reins, whilst under his mentor’s squinty-eyed watch.  The resulting baseball-heavy film is an unspectacular slice of cinematic Americana that explores ageing, abandonment and insecurity.

Screenwriter Randy Brown’s story introduces Trouble with the Curve’s central character in the most memorably unusual of ways, as Eastwood’s aged professional baseball scout, Gus, is first seen arguing with his lethargic penis.  It’s a moment that makes one wonder whether Eastwood’s infamous Republican National Convention speech, where he had a discussion with a chair, wasn’t just a clever stealth marketing ploy.  With rapidly deteriorating eyesight and a high profile draft pick to be made, the grumpily defiant Gus rejects the protestations of his doctor (sporting a sure-fire best supporting toupee nominee) and offers of assistance from his legal-eagle daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams).  Trouble with the Curve rather predictably brings Gus, Mickey and former major league prospect, turned rival scout ,Johnny Flanagan (Justin Timberlake, yet again turning on the nice-guy charm) together in sunny, southern US locales as they try to determine whether or not hefty, diva-in-the-making Bo Gentry (Joe Massingill) really is the next big thing the statisticians make him out to be.  Very much a counter-point to Moneyball, Trouble with the Curve is all about heart and experience over clever thinking and that darn, new-fangled technology.
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Captivating and deeply affecting, The Hunt is not to be missed

The Dogme 95 movement, co-founded by Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, emphasised storytelling as the heart of filmmaking, whilst rejecting flash and big budgets.  Vinterberg’s 1998 feature Festen was the first of many films that embraced the concepts put forth by the Danish directors.  While Festen was received to great acclaim, Vinterberg has struggled to find sure footing since.  Following a series of made-for-TV movies and music videos, forays into English-language productions with It’s All About Love and Dear Wendy proved largely unsuccessful.  Now, 14 years on from his most celebrated work, Vinterberg has come storming back with the chillingly relevant Jagten (known as The Hunt in English-speaking markets), a film certain to fuel much discussion and debate amongst its audience.

Penned by the director and Tobias Lindholm, The Hunt portrays a modern-day witch hunt, as a local Danish villager is accused of sexually abusing a child at the school he works at.  Before any actual evidence surfaces, public opinion begins to harshly swing against him.  With the UK swept up in gossip over a paedophilia scandal with links to press and government, The Hunt could hardly have been released at a more appropriate time.  Mads Mikkelsen, already terrific earlier in the year in A Royal Affair, continues his hot-streak with a powerful portrayal of Lucas, the divorced father whose life is torn apart by baseless allegations.  It’s not a spoiler to say that Lucas is wrongly accused, as The Hunt has no pretensions of being a crime-thriller.  Instead, Vinterberg presents a tale of mob paranoia, injustice, familial bonds and loyalty.  That the girl, Klara (Annika Wedderkopp making an intense debut) Lucas is accused of molesting is his best friend’s daughter makes for all the more poignant of circumstances.
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Win a pair of tickets to Nordic Film Festival closing night gala screening of Pure

London’s inaugural Nordic Film Festival will take place between 30 November and 5 December 2012 across London at Riverside Studios (Hammersmith), Ciné lumière (South Kensington) and Prince Charles Cinema (Leicester Square). Nordic Film Festival brings together a broad mix of independent films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, celebrating the best in Nordic filmmaking past and present. With the recent wave of Nordic fiction that has resonated so strongly with UK audiences, the time seems ripe to celebrate this area of European filmmaking in a festival context.

To celebrate the event, LondonFilmFanatiq has a pair of tickets to give away to the closing night gala screening of Pure starring A Royal Affair star Alicia Vikander Wednesday night, 5 December.  Details on how to enter and the full festival line-up follow after the jump.
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Peña and Gyllenhaal light up End of Watch

Let it never be said that David Ayer doesn’t love Los Angeles.  Or police.  Or police in Los Angeles.  The director of Harsh Times and Street Kings,  has taken on screenwriting duties on his CV for L A-steeped films The Fast and the Furious, Training Day and Dark Blue, to name but a few.  So the fact that his latest effort, End of Watch, which he has written and directed, focuses on a pair of LAPD officers should surprise, roughly, no one at all.  It also, probably, shouldn’t be surprising that even Ayer himself seems to have grown tired of the standard procedure, as he presents End of Watch from an experimental perspective.

Much of End of Watch is exhibited via “found footage”, which is largely culled from Officer Brian Taylor’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) cameras of various shapes and sizes, as he records the daily activities of he and partner Miguel Zavala (Michael Peña) for a film-making class.  Brian and Mike may be low on the food chain, but the idealistic young officers prove to be a dynamic duo, as the audience sees them, over an indeterminate period of time, brave house fires, gun fights and drug cartels.  Yet, the meat of the film is what happens in between these episodes, as the documentary-like structure takes the viewer on patrol with the young guns and bears witness to their brotherly bond through their banter and dynamic.  Talk of family and love is peppered with ball-busting of the most amusing and affectionate nature.  The narrative arc consists of a turf war, which depicts a cultural changing of the guard in South Central Los Angeles, as a Mexican gang assumes power.  Unfortunately, none of this manages to be anywhere near as compelling as the time spent in the cruiser with End of Watch’s heroes.
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Brilliantly conceived Starbuck delights

One of the year’s best comedies is about to hit cinemas thanks to the French-Canadian duo of director Ken Scott and his co-screenwriter, comedian Martin Petit.  In fact, the Montreal-set Starbuck has been so well received on the festival circuit that Scott is currently helming the Hollywood re-make starring Vince Vaughn currently titled The Delivery Man.  Yet, if there was ever a foreign feature in no need of an English language re-make, then Starbuck is it.

Patrick Huard is likable loser David Wozniak, who back during his Uni days in the 80s engaged in a certain kind of manual labour for extra income.  Trading his splash for cash under the alias of “Starbuck”, David remains blissfully unaware of the seeds he has indirectly planted.  However, a lawsuit more than 20 years later now threatens to reveal his identity to his offspring- all 533 of them.  It’s a remarkable set-up, but the execution of the plot keeps Starbuck with a firm footing in reality, rendering the humour of the situation all the more effective.  Loaded with witty dialogue and gags, Starbuck offers a light-hearted take on a handful of serious issues, as David begins to secretively track down his some of his diversely mix of offspring.  The results are blissfully laugh-out-loud throughout, yet Scott never loses focus of the tenderness of the emotion woven into each scene.  It’s rare that any film, especially a comedy feels so perfectly balanced, but Starbuck ticks all the right boxes.
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Silver Linings Playbook blows its golden performances

Regardless of what one might make of his films, there’s no denying that David O Russell knows how to bring a brilliantly eclectic cast together.  His follow-up to the critically acclaimed The Fighter is no exception, as Silver Linings Playbook brims with A-list Hollywood talent (and Chris Tucker).  A loose adaption of Matthew Quick’s 2008 debut novel of almost the same name, Russell sets the stage for his all-star players to go crazy upon, and, indeed, crazy is the name of the game here.

I’ll have what he’s having.

Bradley Cooper is Pat, he of the silver linings outlook that has helped him pull his post-psychotic-breakdown life back together.  Fresh out of the psychiatric hospital following a lengthy stay, Pat is taken in by his parents, as brought to life by the formidable duo of Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro.  Though not as unstable as his son, De Niro’s Pat Sr is a rather bonkers, obsessive compulsive bookie, whose behaviour implicitly poses the question of whether or not superstition is a minor form of mental illness.  It’s not just the boys who get to bring the batty, though, as soon Jennifer Lawrence enters the scene as a severely bereaved young widow looking to fill her void, so to speak.  It’s tricky ground that Russell’s treading upon here, as serious portrayals of mental illness tend to be played for laughs.  When Tucker’s chronic escapee keeps popping up, it’s certainly amusing, but it’s difficult to not be tinged with a touch of sadness.  This is more so the case when Pat struggles to readjust to life in a world far less familiar to him following eight months of treatment.  The idea that someone might flip out over Hemingway’s A Call to Arms at four in the morning plays to the idea that the film is merely entertainment.  However, if the intent of Silver Linings Playbook is to elicit an emotional response to the suffering of these characters it asks viewers to care about, then it’s hardly fair to frame how they behave as comical.  Lacking an intelligent balance of heart and humour, Silver Linings Playbook teeters in tone for the first half before it squarely lands in predictable rom-com territory.
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Win FRIENDS: The Complete Series Box Set on Blu-Ray

Although London Film Fanatiq has a very particular specialty (hint: it’s in the name), sometimes an offer comes along that’s too good to pass up.  This is one of those times.  After all, how could I turn down the chance to give away the complete series of FRIENDS on Blu-ray to one of my readers?  I’d be doing you all a disservice and far be it for me to ever do such a thing!

That’s right!  To celebrate this week’s release of “Friends – The Complete Series” on Blu-ray for the first time ever, London Film Fanatiq has all ten seasons in glorious high definition to give to one lucky reader.  There are two ways to enter; find out how after the jump where you can also check out the 30 Days of Friends: Trivia Challenge!

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