The Fault in Our Stars (2014 dir. Josh Boone)


For a film depicting teenage love this film is a pleasant surprise and although the main characters are supposed to be in their teens this story has so much substance that it is suitable for those of any age.

Hazel, played by Shailene Woodley of The Descendents and Divergent, is a young lung cancer patient who meets 18 year old amputee Augustus, Ansel Elgort, at a group therapy session. She is struck by his honesty and fearlessness as he is with her beauty and wit and after the session they leave together. Their friendship grows into a mutual unconditional love that few adults experience and although advised against it they journey to Amsterdam to visit Hazel’s favourite author.

Many people will cry during this film, it has memorable and inspirational dialogue, which I am sure will be quoted by fans again and again, and some beautiful exchanges between the pair; having you laughing out loud one minute and weeping hopelessly into your hands the next.

An idealistic yet beautiful story about how love ought to be.


Paradise: Love (2012 dir. Ulrich Seidl)


Paradise: Love is a quirky black comedy set in modern-day Kenya. It is part of Seidl’s Paradise trilogy which features films Paradise: Faith and Paradise: Hope.

It is the final instalment and follows 50-year-old Teresa, a lonely over weight and stressed out Austrian, who goes to Kenya to meet up with a friend. Locally her friend is known as a “sugar mama” which basically means a kind of sex tourist, picking up young black Kenyan men for sex in exchange for money and expensive gifts, she boasts about buying her lover a motorbike as an investment toward her sex life and later buys a dancer to perform at Teresa’s birthday gathering with the intention of having sex with him.

At first Teresa is subdued, shy and giggly. Although intrigued by the Kenyan men she is uncertain about picking them up and literally runs away from her first sexual encounter.

At times the film is awkward as Teresa and friends talk about all the Kenyan hotel workers looking the same. The women objectify the Kenyan men referring to them as wild and exotic. During the story Teresa becomes less and less innocent as do the men she picks up.

Paradise: Love is a brave film which is both harsh and tender with an excellent performance by Margarethe Tiesel.


The Dark Knight Rises (2012 dir. Christopher Nolan)


Possibly the most anticipated film of the summer and having been to see the film in its opening weekend I now know that it broke every record.

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An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (UK release 2014 dir. Terence Nance)


Sandra’s Verdict

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is the debut film of young African-American filmmaker Terence Nance. The experimental film is semi-animated and difficult to place into a genre, it is a drama, a romance and as it claims ‘educational’, and although described as non-fiction often extends into ‘what if’ fantasy scenarios.

The film explores Terence’s feelings after his beautiful friend, and object of his desire, Namik Minter, calls to cancel plans she had made to visit his apartment one night in 2006. The narrator explains that the film is really two films, one about his feelings that night called How would you feel? made in 2006 and the other made much later after Terence shows his film to Minter called An Oversimplification of Her Beauty.

As well as exploring his feelings for Minter, Terence also recalls numerous past loves through animation, photography and film; all the while with his own academic narration.

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is an ambitious and refreshing film that will not be to everyone’s taste due to the narrative and artistic risks it takes. However I enjoyed it and would definitely see it again for its honesty and the beautiful images it paints and would urge you to give it a go. I think Nance is a refreshing new talent and cannot wait to see what he will create next.



The Wolf of Wall Street (2012 dir. Martin Scorsese)


Sandra’s Verdict

There are a lot of films based on true events out at the moment and The Wolf of Wall Street in that sense is no different. However unlike some of those films, which tend to trace the steps of the virtuous and high-minded as they battle through prejudice and other adversities, The Wolf of Wall Street gives audiences a kind of respite, allowing us to revel in the vulgarities of 1980s and 90s banking. The film is a comical retelling of the antics of amoral Jordan Belfort while he was head of brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, his debauched nights with prostitutes and friends and his drug addiction right up until his conviction for fraud and money laundering followed by his reincarnation as a motivational speaker. After all the ‘banker-bashing’ that has been going on since the 2008 banking crisis it is refreshing to be able to laugh at these characters and to a certain extent Scorsese has done here with bankers what he achieved  with gangsters in his earlier films. In some ways this film can also be compared to Goodfellas, in that it is amusingly narrated by the main protagonist on whom the film is primarily focused, features a Pesci-like sidekick and  women are either sexual vessels or nagging wives. Scorsese himself has confirmed that there are likenesses between the two films.

Leonardo DiCaprio, who is not known for playing comedy roles, is extremely funny in this film as is the more accustomed Jonah Hill, who plays Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s business partner. There are also some unlikely appearances from the likes of Joanna Lumley, who shares an onscreen pash with DiCaprio, and French actor Jean Dujardin.

The Wolf of Wall Street is an excellent film, filled with energy and wit and should not be missed.



12 Years A Slave (2014 dir. Steve McQueen)


Sandra’s Verdict

British director Steve McQueen does an excellent job adapting Solomon Northup’s 1853 biographical book 12 Years A Slave about his own experience when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery and sent to New Orleans. Northup, born a free man, lived in New York with his wife and two children, as an accomplished violinist he made his income playing society balls and as a carpenter, but was tricked by two white men and enticed to follow them to Washington to join a fictitious circus, whilst there they got him drunk, destroyed his identification documents and sold him to slave traders under the name of a southern slave called Platt Hamilton.

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s depiction of the conflicted Northup is captivating and heartbreaking as you see him forced to act against his conscience and I expect that he will be nominated for the Best Actor award at the Oscars in March. Likewise I expect Lupita Nyong’o to pick up the Rising Star BAFTA for her portrayal of the brutalised Patsey, the object of slavemaster Epp’s molestations. Fassbender, a McQueen favourite, is on form, as usual, as the cruel alcoholic Epps and Cumberbatch is equally good as the more forgiving but by no means less culpable Ford.

12 Years A Slave is the first Hollywood film to follow a slave narrative and I hope it has paved the way for more to follow. It is an absolute ‘must see’ for the insights, truths and contradictions that it presents. It would be a fully deserving winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture.



Django Unchained (2013 dir. Quentin Tarantino)


Andrew’s Verdict


Actually I had high hopes for this film before I walked into the cinema coupled with a slight thought that ‘Tarantino’s films have been ok but not as good as Jackie Brown/ Pulp Fiction’. Well I would put Django up there as one of his best. The script is fantastic and I believe Christophe Waltz should be treated like a gem. He was great in Inglorious Bastards and his performance in this film is even better. That goes for all the cast: I thought Jamie Fox, DiCaprio, Jackson and really the entire cast delivered an ensemble that I have to praise. Blaxploitation abounds and there are hilarious moments and also graphic scences that bring to the fore the rawness of slavery and racism. The first part of the film sees Waltz and Fox and as Waltz takes Fox under his wing and teaches him the art of bounty hunting. In fact its the force of Walt’s character and the sharp wit that we come to love. Fox in contrast blossoms towards the end of the film as the journey to save his wife takes the bounty hunts into the home of southern slavery and its peculiar white/ black, master/ slave relationship which will probably surprise audience who aren’t familiar with the exploitation of blacks outside of the work field. It seems interesting that this film and Lincoln are out at the same time and might point to something about the current zeitgeist.

Really Tarantino is back to his best. He’s taken his love of spagetthi westerns, Blacksploitation and the music of that era and created an unbelievable referenced film that is enjoyable, cringe worthy, thought provoking and manly. What I really like about this film is the balance, and what I mean by that is how often do you sit through a 2:45 hrs and not notice day turn to night?