Welcome to our 883rd weekly edition; Thursday, February 6, 2014

Movie reviews:
(France/Italy, 2013) Dir: Asghar Farhadi. Stars Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet, Elyes Aguis. "The film is made naturalistically, and music is only heard at the end, yet for all its heartbreaking veracity, it has the tragic grandeur of mythology," says Andrew. " .. searing drama in which truths, lies, blame, guilt, actions and consequences collide in a spectacular emotional tour de force," says Louise.

NEWS: Gossip-free zone
* One In Ten shorts to raise awareness of child disadvantage;
* Four Aussie films to SXSW fest;
* Holocaust Film Fest not all gloom;

BOX OFFICE: Reports & charts every Monday & Thursday (after 4pm)

Win one of 15 double inseason passes to Dallas Buyers Club, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée starring Spirit Award winner Matthew McConaughey, Gotham Independent Film Award winner Jared Leto and Screen Actors Guild Award winner Jennifer Garner, courtesy Pinnacle Films. In cinemas February 13.

Movie reviews:
(US, 2013) Dir: Justin Chadwick. Stars Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto, Tony Kgoroge, Riaad Moosa, Jamie Bartlett. "It's a powerhouse of a film: informative, powerful, moving, involving and inspirational with Idris Elba outstanding in the title role," says Louise. "The importance of the events in Mandela's life - the whole world was watching - have seemingly constrained the filmmakers and made some of the key moments feel heavy handed. Yet even so, the film does manage to convey the notion that a single human being can change the world," says Andrew.

Movie reviews:
(US, 2013) Dir: Jason Reitman. Stars Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gatlin Griffith, Dylan Minnette, Gattlin Griffith. "There should be more directors like Jason Reitman - he manages to take a premise and flesh it out in such a rich way, that we become totally engrossed in its reality and characters," says Louise. "Reitman's adaptation is thorough and complete, in that he retains some of the key textures and emotional backstories which form the principal characters, enriching the film as well as our experience of it," says Andrew.

Movie reviews:
(US, 2013) Dir: Jon Turtletaub. Stars: Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Jena Sims, Mary Steenburgen. "Last Vegas is not one of Fogelman's good scripts. Like The Guilt Trip, that relied heavily on the casting of Seth Rogan against the diva Barbra Streisand, this flimsy premise of four sixty-something guys heading to Vegas for a last hurrah is counting on the star power of its four stars with little else to offer," says Louise. "With stars of this calibre, the movie can't be all bad, and it ain't. It's just hollow," says Andrew.

Berlin Film Festival 2014:
Bulging with films from Asia and Latin America, this year's festival in the middle of Europe also has one special attraction for Nick Roddick: 92-year-old Alain Resnais' last (?) film. Guests include George Clooney, ".. catnip for a room full of women".

[Coming in March, Romeo & Juliet, starring Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Paul Giamatti. "I felt like jumping on a plane to Verona after watching Julian Fellowes' traditional adaptation of William Shakespeare's tragedy in which beauty, youth and a superb sense of place cocoon the narrative in which forbidden love is the theme," says Louise.]
Calendar of films releasing in February

Noah, stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly;
Transformers: Age of Extinction, stars Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer;
A Million Ways to Die in the West, stars Liam Neeson, Charlize Theron;
22 Jump Street, stars Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube;
The Grand Budapest Hotel, stars Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, Ralph Fiennes;
The Other Woman, stars Kate Upton, Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann;

At a glance:
TOP 20
Short and sweet (or not) opinions on the most popular current releases. An easy reference for choosing which movie to see tonight or tomorrow or right now! (Occasionally we also slip in a few of the editors' favourites if they don't make the top 20)

Stars Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl. "The film is one big adrenalin rush and the emotional wallop it delivers is its biggest surprise," says Louise.

Stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo. "The film belongs to Mark Ruffalo in many ways, the central figure whose addiction, failure and redemption takes us in and out of laughter, tears and introspection. Gwyneth Paltrow is fresh and fabulous," says Andrew.

Stars Cecilia Roth, Lola Duenas, Blanca Suarez. "Brimming with the sauciness of earlier Pedro Almodóvar works, the flavour of this life-affirming comedy about sex, sexuality and transgression is on display in the scene when three gay flight attendants wave arms, flip wrists and sprint headlong into a lip-synching routine of the title song by the Pointer Sisters," says Louise.

Competition winners:
To win one of 20 double inseason passes to Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, courtesy Paramount Pictures, we asked: What was something that surprised you and how did you react? Vija Leitis (VIC): I looked in the mirror. Saw my reflection. Screamed. I realised I'm old.

Every Australian film we have ever reviewed (film / DVD / video release), or have reported from the set, or featured in any way, is listed here, going back to films made even before the launch of Urban Cinefile, such as The Piano, Romper Stomper, Muriel's Wedding (pic), The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and dozens more. Over 500 films.

It's a steep walk from Gruyères railway station to the historic Swiss hilltop village of Gruyères, world famous for its cheese. But Gruyères (population 300) has a dark secret which only the most curious - or well informed - will discover: the gallery of H. R. Giger, Oscar winning designer of the alien in Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) and other things similarly subversive, erotic, fantastic and out of this world. Andrew L. Urban reports.

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