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The Revenant
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
03 02 2016

ImageDirected by Alexandro Gonzŕlez Ińŕrritu

In a terrifying opening sequence the sickening thunk of a wooden arrow passing through human flesh and sinew and bone, kicking off a kaleidoscope of blood, fear and pain, sets your nerves jangling. And that's without the queasy expectation of the bear attack that we know is to come. Not for those with a weak stomach, this extremely graphic and dour film is brilliantly filmed and acted, but an ordeal that, after the first hour, starts to take that little bit too long to make its point, so that as with some relief you leave, you might begin to ask yourself ‘So what?'

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Steve Jobs
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
25 01 2016

ImageDirected by Danny Boyle

You might well think of the work of Danny Boyle, ‘the nicest man in films', as sprawling, anarchic, full of some kind of joie de vivre, whether it's the bouncing pantomime of the Olympics ceremony, the Slumdog world of India or the ‘Choose life' highs and lows of Trainspotters. But in Steve Jobs, the icy precision that must lie below the presentation of all that teeming life is right up front. We all remember those louche TV performances of Jobs, wooing his public like he was a better, smarter one of them, with his new magic machines designed to fulfil their every digital need. Here, in the form of a 3-act play, set over 14 years, we look behind the scenes, literally, in the corridors and back rooms of the studios where the three key launches are about to take place, and witness the confrontations with family and previous colleagues. It's wordy, demanding, sometimes exasperating and, against expectations, utterly thrilling.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
14 01 2016

ImageDirected by J J Abrams

Star Wars was always going to be about nostalgia as much as plot or action or character. But two young London-born actors actually give you hope that it might, just like its original forebear, become a launching pad for new stars. Daisy Ridley, great niece of actor and playwright Arnold Ridley (soon to be portrayed by Michel Gambon in the upcoming Dad's Army), is the spirited and resourceful Rey, and John Boyega, already nominated as an upcoming star in the baftas, is Finn, the new version of Luke Skywalker, a good boy with a conscience, a former stormtrooper who's seen the light. This new departure, the fact that people can change and no one, not even a guy enclosed in white plastic, doesn't have the power to make a moral choice, perhaps says something good about our times in comparison with what we somewhat sloppily think was the golden age into which the very first Star Wars movie so spectacularly broke, with all its enhanced B picture values.

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