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Now showing at BFI Southbank Belvedere Road,South Bank,London,London SE1 8XT 020 7928 3232

  • Big Dance: Billy Elliot
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Drunken Master 2
  • Goltzius And The Pelican Company
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Venus In Fur
  • Will You Dance With Me?

Billy Elliot 5 stars

Teenager Billy comes into conflict with his miner father Jacky and big brother Tony during the 1984 Miner's Strike when he skips boxing lessons in favour of ballet classes with local teacher Miss Wilkinson. A natural talent just waiting to be nurtured, Billy falls foul of the blinkered macho prejudices of his family and the community - his only release from the misery proving to be the soothing rhythm of the dance steps.

  • GenreAction, Comedy, Drama, Gay, Musical, Romance, Thriller
  • CastJamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Jamie Draven.
  • DirectorStephen Daldry.
  • WriterUniversal Pictures Video.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration110 mins
  • Official site
  • Release29/09/2000

Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell) is a shy 11-year-old living with his proud miner father (Gary Lewis) and older brother Tony (Jamie Draven) during the political and social unrest of the 1984 miner's strike. Times are hard - the men of the house spend their days on the picket lines clashing with the police, while Billy navigates the minefield of adolescence and takes care of his increasingly senile grandmother (Jean Heywood). Determined to forge his son in his own image, Billy's father sends him for boxing lessons with his pal George (Mike Elliot) at the local village hall. Unfortunately, Billy isn't interested in expressing himself with his fists; he's much more taken with the ballet lessons next door, run by the jaded Mrs Wilkinson (Julie Walters). When Billy's old man learns that his son has forsaken boxing gloves for ballet shoes, he is distraught: dancing is not a manly pursuit, certainly not for a miner's son. Fearful of what his friends might say, Billy's father bans him from taking classes and searches for a glimmer of hope in the bottom of his beer glass. One night, during the long trek home from the pub, Billy's father happens to witness his boy performing a routine for schoolfriend Michael (Stuart Wells). Moved almost to tears by the boy's passion, Billy's father suddenly realises that he has let his preconceptions and macho pride cloud his judgement, and sets about raising the money to send his son to London, where the admissions panel of the Royal Ballet awaits. Beautifully observed and surprisingly free of mawkish sentiment, Billy Elliot is a heartwarming coming-of-age tale that speaks straight from the heart, juxtaposing Billy's battle of wills with his prejudiced father, and the community's struggles against the larger forces of the outside world. Newcomer Bell is mesmerising, completely unfazed in front of the cameras. He possesses a charming awkwardness in the initial scenes which immediately endear us to Billy, blooming into exuberance and joy whenever he dons his ballet shoes and loses himself in the rhythms and movements of the dance. His relationship with sour-faced Mrs Wilkinson is beautifully developed, initially fractious and gradually burgeoning into a touching surrogate mother-son relationship. Walters once again employs a canny mix of humour and emotion to get beneath her character's skin. Lewis and Draven are also solid as the working class men who expect Billy to follow them down the mines, and youngster Nicola Blackwell also makes an impression as Mrs Wilkinson's daughter Debbie who awakens frightening but not unpleasant feelings in Billy. The film builds nicely in pace over the course of the two hours to a rapturous finale at the Royal Ballet auditions, topped off with a rousing coda that will have audiences fumbling for their tissues and cheering in the aisles. Daldry's direction is flawless, energising the dance sequences (choreographed brilliantly by Peter Darling) and catching its breath during the sequences between Billy and his family. A triumph

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Thursday 24th July 2014

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 5 stars

Set at the dawning of the 19th century in the final years of the venerable Qing dynasty, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon centres on the undeclared love of legendary fighter Li Ku Bai and the beautiful Yu Shu Lien, brought together when Bai's Green Destiny sword is stolen by his sworn enemy Jade Fox. Laying a trap for their wily adversary, Bai and Lien cross paths with aristocrat Jen and her governess, whose friendship conceals a deadly secret.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastChow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang ZiYi, Chang Chen.
  • DirectorAng Lee.
  • WriterWang Hui-Ling, James Shamus, Tsai Kuo Jung.
  • CountryChi/Hong K
  • Duration120 mins
  • Official site
  • Release05/01/2001

My dictionary defines the word masterpiece as a "consummate piece of workmanship; one's best work". No other superlative comes close to paying full tribute to Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a hauntingly romantic epic which dazzles the senses and fires the soul. Set at the dawning of the 19th century in the final years of the venerable Qing dynasty, the film centres on legendary warriors Li Ku Bai (Chow Yun-Fat) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh), reunited when Li's magnificent Green Destiny sword is stolen by his archenemy Jade Fox. Laying a trap for the wily adversary, Li and Yu cross paths with a governess (Cheng Pei-Pei) and her aristocratic ward Jen (Zhang ZiYi), who is secretly betrothed to outlaw Lo (Chang Chen) but will abide by her parents' wishes and settle for a loveless arranged marriage. Yu senses a sinister closeness between the two women, and as she wins the trust and friendship of young Jen, so she learns the dark truth about their friendship, and the governess's startling true identity. Lee turns the martial arts genre on its head, marrying the jaw-dropping choreography and physical daring of the all-important action sequences with breathtaking cinematography and heart-breaking romance. When co-screenwriter James Schamus remarked that he "saw the film as Sense & Sensibility with martial arts", he really wasn't joking. Human drama and hyperkinetic action have equally vital roles to play. Stunt co-ordinator Yuen Wo Ping laughs in the face of Sir Isaac and his bothersome laws of physics, relying on vaulting wire work to allow the actors to defy gravity and soar gracefully through the air, walk on water or skip across rooftops in pursuit of one another. As a result the martial arts become a beautifully conceived kind of dance, composed of flurries of swift and precise leg and arms movements, and heightened by the brilliant flashes of the samurai swords. Elaborate and fluid camerawork and Peter Pau's incredible photography place the viewer as close to the actors as possible, in the thick of the action. For all the mesmerizing action, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ultimately touches upon simple and universal themes (such as being truthful to yourself and following your heart) as well as the pursuit of love. Yun-Fat is the star name here but he willingly takes a back seat to Yeoh and ZiYi, whose struggle to accept their forbidden love provides the film with its emotional centre. Their fierce showdown provides the picture with its show-stopping finale. Performances are exquisite - newcomer ZiYi is a standout - and scenes between Yun-Fat and Yeoh, both desperate to declare the love that courses through their hearts, are almost unbearable. Barely has Big Ben rung in the New Year than Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon stakes a very compelling claim to best film of 2001. Four Academy Awards (Foreign Language Film, Cinematography, Art Direction, Music Score) seem scant reward for such filmic excellence. It will take something very special indeed to surpass it.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

Drunken Master 2 3 stars

  • GenreAction, Drama, Film, Indie
  • CastMichelle Li, Andy Lau, Jackie Chan.
  • DirectorJackie Chan, Lau Kar-Leungbr.
  • CountryHong Kong
  • Duration99 mins
  • Official site

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Thursday 24th July 2014

Goltzius And The Pelican Company 3 stars

It is the winter of 1590 and Dutch painter and engraver Hendrik Goltzius begs an audience with his patron, the Margrave of Alsace, in the hope of securing the money for a printing press with which to produce an illustrated edition of the Old Testament that highlights the salacious stories of The Bible. In order to secure the Margrave's fortune, Goltzius stages six dramatisations of these saucy biblical tales for the court, each of which demonstrates a different sexual taboo.

  • GenreBiography, Drama, Historical/Period, Indie
  • CastF Murray Abraham, Giulio Berruti, Vincent Riotta, Ramsey Nasr.
  • DirectorPeter Greenaway.
  • WriterPeter Greenaway.
  • CountryUK/Neth/Fr
  • Duration128 mins
  • Official site
  • Release11/07/2014 (selected cinemas)

Recently awarded one of BAFTA's highest honours - Outstanding Contribution To British Cinema - director Peter Greenaway returns to the big screen with a typically inventive, audacious and visually arresting portrait of the 16th-century Dutch painter and engraver, Hendrik Goltzius. It is the winter of 1590 and Goltzius (Ramsey Nasr) begs an audience with his patron, the Margrave of Alsace (F Murray Abraham), in the hope of securing the money for a printing press with which to produce an illustrated edition of the Old Testament that highlights the salacious stories of The Bible. In order to secure the Margrave's fortune, Goltzius stages six dramatisations of these saucy biblical tales for the court, each of which demonstrates a different sexual taboo. With writer Thomas Boethius (Giulio Berruti) lurking in the wings, actors Adaela (Kate Moran), Susannah (Anne Louise Hassing) and Eduard (Flavio Parenti) shed their clothes and inhibitions to bring each story to erotically-charged life.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

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Some Like It Hot 5 stars

Struggling musicians Joe and Jerry witness the 1929 St Valentine's Day Massacre and flee for their lives, with the mob in hot pursuit. Their only escape is to dress up as saxophonist Josephine and double bass player Daphne with an all-girl band, travelling towards Miami. They find it tricky to maintain their cover, surrounded by a bevy of beautiful girls, but a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

  • GenreClassic, Comedy, Romance
  • CastJack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe, George Raft.
  • DirectorBilly Wilder.
  • WriterBilly Wilder, IAL Diamond.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration121 mins
  • Official site
  • Release20/10/2000 (selected cinemas); 18/07/2014 (selected cinemas)

Another re-release of Billy Wilder's classic 1959 comedy, which features Marilyn Monroe in one of her most famous roles as sex-pot Sugar Kane. Struggling musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witness the 1929 St Valentine's Day Massacre and flee for their lives, with the mob in hot pursuit. Their only escape is to dress up as saxophonist Josephine and double bass player Daphne with an all-girl band, travelling towards Miami. They find it tricky to maintain their cover, surrounded by a bevy of beautiful girls, but a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

Venus In Fur 3 stars

movie title

Writer-director Thomas Novachek has spent the entire day auditioning actresses for his new play to no avail. Out of the blue, the theatre doors open and rain-sodden, bedraggled Vanda Jordan staggers into the stalls to audition. She doesn't appear to be on the call sheet but after some begging and pleading, Thomas allows Vanda to read the role of Wanda while he plays the part of Severin von Kushemski.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance
  • CastMathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner.
  • DirectorRoman Polanski.
  • WriterDavid Ives, Roman Polanski.
  • CountryFr/Pol
  • Duration96 mins
  • Official site
  • Release30/05/2014 (selected cinemas)

The battle of the sexes unfolds on a Parisian theatre stage in Roman Polanski's playful interpretation of the acclaimed stage play by David Ives, which opened off-Broadway in 2010. Writer-director Thomas Novachek (Mathieu Amalric) has spent the entire day auditioning actresses for his new play, adapted from the 1870 novel Venus In Furs by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. Outside, it's raining and Thomas is on the telephone to a friend, lamenting the poor quality of the actresses who read for the lead character. Out of the blue, the theatre doors open and rain-sodden, bedraggled Vanda Jordan (Emmanuelle Seigner) staggers into the stalls to audition. She doesn't appear to be on the call sheet but after some begging and pleading, Thomas allows Vanda to read the role of Wanda while he plays the part of Severin von Kushemski. As the audition unfolds, Vanda demonstrates startling insights into her character and shockingly, art imitates life as the balance of power shifts between the director and the actress.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

Will You Dance With Me? 3 stars

  • GenreDocumentary, Special
  • DirectorDerek Jarman.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration78 mins
  • Official site

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Thursday 24th July 2014
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