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MOVIE OF THE MONTH

Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending
(7/10) review by Steven Hampton

The makers of Cloud Atlas and The Matrix trilogy return with a hectic combination of Cinderella meets Captain Marvel, against a dark space-opera backdrop reminiscent of Dune. Very much an adventure in the astronomatrix, this is certainly not a remake of Al Adamson's soft-core skiffy musical farce Cinderella 2000 (1977), a minor cult flick that remains practically unwatchable when compared to the Wachowskis undeniably spectacular melange of Barbarella, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and several other SF icons we might point a telescope at as significant models for what appears in Jupiter Ascending.



OSCAR WINNER

Whiplash

Whiplash
(6/10) review by Andrew Darlington

Albert Ayler called music "the healing force of the universe." That it can be destructive to individual lives is also part of its mythic lure. This is a jazz film. There haven't been too many great jazz films recently, not since maybe Clint Eastwood's Bird (1988). Although set in the ballet world, Black Swan (2010) shows how Natalie Portman's character Nina is driven to the physical and psychological limits in the quest for an impossible ideal of artistic perfection. Whiplash is all these things, sometimes more and sometimes less. And it's a beautifully intense study of extremes.


VIDEOVISTA FOCUS

The Face Of Fu Manchu

The Face Of Fu Manchu
(7/10) review by J.C. Hartley

Sax Rohmer created Dr Fu Manchu, embodiment of the 'Yellow Peril', in 1913. While dependent upon racial stereotypes and often descending into the lazy racism, the villain's role as cultural bogeyman is offset by an acknowledgement that he is an innovative genius and a true mastermind, although a criminal one. Fu Manchu's nemesis Denis Nayland Smith, a colonial police commissioner seconded from Burma to Scotland Yard with extraordinary powers of access and arrest, and his friend Dr Petrie, are almost powerless to prevent Fu Manchu's wave of murder and terror throughout London in the first novel The Mystery Of Fu Manchu (1913).


RETRO VIEW

White Comanche

White Comanche
(2/10) review by J.C. Hartley

The second point for this review is for the drama-documentary The Great American West, narrated by Jason Robards, as an extra on the disc; the actual feature film White Comanche is appalling. There is a certain amount of mileage in the notion of 'so bad it's good', and that epithet might be applied to the original Casino Royale (1967), and What's New Pussycat (1965), but affording White Comanche some sort of cult status, presumably from the presence of its star, is taking bad taste to extremes.


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