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Special Features


12 Years a Slave (15)

EVEN in recent years, Hollywood has struggled to bring an accurate portrayal of slavery to the big screen. The problem lies in the fact that these films (including last year’s Lincoln and Django Unchained) mostly centre on sympathetic white characters that do all they can to help enslaved black Americans overcome adversity. …

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American Hustle (15)

SEDUCTION, betrayal, jealousy, greed and some rather eccentric hairstyles feature at the heart of the hotly-anticipated American Hustle, a 1970s-set film about con artists which is loosely based on true events. With comparisons already being made to Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, American Hustle portrays a world on film where criminality is as enticing as it is dangerous – although it is never in danger of taking itself too seriously. …

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Gravity (12A)

THE dust has finally begun to settle following the initial excitement for Gravity’s touchdown on our cinema screens. With five star reviews plastered across newspapers and magazines all over the world, many heralding it as the “Best film of 2013”, it’s easy to see how you might begin to build up sky-high expectations for this movie – and expectations on that scale always have the potential to be met with disappointment. …

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Philomena (12A)

AFTER doing the rounds at Toronto, Venice and other prestigious film festivals (raking in a series of awards and glowing reviews), Philomena arrived at Stratford Picturehouse on Sunday morning for a preview screening prior to its release next week. Based on true events, the movie tells the story of Philomena Lee, who was sent to a convent as a young teenager when she became pregnant outside of marriage. …

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Shakespeare on Film Festival – Hamlet (PG)

IT’S been a strange week. I’ve spent a significant part of it working on the arts pages of the paper and gazing at images of David Tennant in his current incarnation as Richard II. No sooner had my colleague Mark Williamson’s rather excellent photographic work been sent off to press yesterday evening than I made the short trip to Stratford Picturehouse to spend the evening gazing at Mr Tennant all over again, this time in the film of his previous RSC adventure as Hamlet. …

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Shakespeare on Film Festival – 10 Things I Hate About You (12a)

THE Shakespeare on Film Festival edged into its second half on Friday with one of the quirkier choices, Gil Junger’s 10 Things I Hate About You. To the casual observer it has the appearance of just another American high school teen movie but just as with other witty, carefully drawn reworkings of literary classics – Clueless springs to mind – it captures the spirit of the original in a wholly original way. …

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Sunshine on Leith (PG)

SEEING a British musical on our cinema screens is nothing short of a rarity nowadays – let alone a Scottish one. Adapted from the acclaimed stage production, Sunshine on Leith follows in the footsteps of jukebox musical hit Mamma Mia! although, thankfully, doesn’t subject its audience to the travesty of Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice. …

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Blue Jasmine (12A)

WHEN Woody Allen was making the film Blue Jasmine he must have woken every morning and sung a paean of praise to whoever had the bright idea of casting Cate Blanchett in the title role (unless of course it was Mr Allen himself...). The Australian actress delivers a devastating performance as a wealthy New York socialite who hits rock bottom after the law catches up with her fraudster husband (Alec Baldwin) and her privileged lifestyle comes to a dramatic and nerve-shattering end. …

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Hawking (PG)

TAKING my seat at Stratford Picturehouse last Thursday evening, I mistakenly thought I was about to watch a docudrama starring Benedict Cumberbatch as a young Stephen Hawking. Maybe there was a lesson to be learnt here about conducting more thorough research but in this case my mistake happened to be a fortunate one. …

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Being Elmo (PG) 76 mins

Star rating: Seven out of ten FOR Muppet fans everywhere, this new documentary is a must see. Not only does it give an insight into how such shows as Sesame Street and The Muppet Show are produced, but it tells a moving true story of one puppeteer, Kevin Clash. Kevin is the man behind the iconic furry red monster Elmo, and we see how he brought the character of this Muppet to life making it one of the most adored puppets in the world. The film explores how from the age of ten this man was making…

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