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Feature Four Frames

Four Frames: Literal and symbolic barriers in Proof of Life (Taylor Hackford, 2000)

Upon its release, Proof of Life (2000) was marketed and received as a vague update of the untouchable and inimitable classic Casablanca (1942). Tony Gilroy’s script pairs a realistic hostage-negotiation scenario with an unconsummated romance between its central characters: Meg Ryan’s Alice Bowman, whose husband Peter (David Morse) has been taken hostage by rebels in […]

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Architecture & Film Feature

Architecture and Film #7 False perspective

Beyond its utility in replicating the interior of a building convincingly, the architectural set  attracted film-makers who held that cinema allowed an entirely new kind of story-telling. In Weimar Berlin, Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer each drew on disturbing personal incidents to write The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, and believed that a fully visual filmic experience was necessary […]

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Architecture & Film Feature

Architecture and Film #6 Exposed

Much of the architecture on show in films doesn’t actually exist, as a location or even a set. Instead, buildings are conjured through the alchemy of models, matte paintings, photographs or computer-generated imagery. Miniatures have been used to represent the unbuilt or unbuildable for many decades, either on their own or in combination with live […]

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Feature Four Frames

Four Frames: Panic Room (David Fincher, 2002)

It’s no real surprise to learn that David Fincher’s least favourite of his films are Panic Room and Alien 3. Both are films with powerful female leads where for once his masculinity is undermined by complex femininity. Pretty much the first words uttered here are by an arrogant male real estate agent, standing on the […]

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Feature Thousand Words

Through a glass darkly: reflections on M and its descendents

Fritz Lang’s 1931 masterpiece M, concerning the pursuit and capture of the Berlin child-killer Hans Beckert (memorably played by Peter Lorre), deserves to be regarded as a towering landmark of cinema and an important stylistic catalyst for a host of reasons. Along with the game-changing use of leitmotifs to associate a sound with a character, […]

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Lost Classic Reviews

Lost Classic: Who Killed Teddy Bear (Dir. Joseph Cates, 1965)

Wallowing at the boundaries of what could be discussed — if not actually shown — on screen in 1965, Who Killed Teddy Bear (question mark conspicuous by its absence) must have looked at the time like some sort of paean to perversion. The story itself is a simple B-movie thriller: a would-be dancer, Norah (Juliet […]

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Lost Classic Reviews

Lost Classic: Seven Days To Noon (John and Roy Boulting 1950)

Released last year for the first time on DVD, the Boulting brothers’ Seven Days to Noon is nearly sixty years old now but seems more relevant and frightening than ever. As well as working as an entertaining thriller it offers an interesting insight into how people might have dealt with the ultimate threat of annihilation […]