What I’ve Been Watching: Captain America: The Winter Solider

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In my opinion, Captain America has had the most difficult task in making the transition to the big screen. Primarily because both his character and his name comes from the American Armed Forces, not exactly the most popular of organisations across the world.

The first film wisely took Steve Rogers , aka Captain America back to his Second World War roots. After all few can argue with a man fighting the Nazis. That film ended with Steve Rogers being frozen in the Arctic Sea only to be awoken seventy years later in the present age.

Captain America: The Winter Solider is set after the events of Avengers Assemble and sees Rogers (Chris Evans) having to cope both with life in the present day as a civilian. The film sees Rogers working for S.H.I.E.L.D. and being confronted with the reality that things aren’t just as black and white today as they were during the Second World War. Who are the good guys and the bad guys? Who can he really trust?

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What I’ve Been Watching: Noah

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At first glance Darren Aronofsky may not seem like the obvious candidate to being a biblical epic to the masses. With films like Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan he has built up a reputation for his uncompromising view of humanity and the destruction we are capable of doing to both ourselves and others. However, The Fountain, arguably his most ambitious film, was undoubtedly about the more transcendent questions of life, death and our place in the universe.

In many ways Noah sits comfortably between all these themes as we see a main character trying to figure out his place within a very destructive and unforgiving world.

The film is based on the biblical account of a man who builds an ark to save him and his family, they being the only righteous people left on the whole planet. In the movie Noah is ably assisted Tolkien-esque rock monsters, angels who left heaven to try and help out humanity as best they could. Can Noah stand up against the evil that surrounds him and follow through The Creator’s plan to give the planet a fresh start?

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What I’ve Been Watching: The Double

double-poster-eisenberg-580x435Richard Ayaode’s first feature film Submarine was an indie coming-of-age film where the two teenage protagonists are forced to rely on each other as their parents’ lives become perilously unstable.

The Double sees him take on the troubles of twenty-something Simon James (Jesse Eisenberg) whose existence is barely acknowledged by his boss, his colleagues, and the woman he’s in love with (Mia Wasikowska).

Based on a Russian novella by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Double sees Simon’s life change when a new colleague of his starts working there. He’s confident, charming, easy-going, and looks exactly like Simon. As Simon starts to get to know James, their lives become destructively intertwined.

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What I’ve Been Watching: Muppets Most Wanted

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The Muppets hit the big screen in 2011 and marked a reboot of sorts for a group of characters that had last been on the big screen in 1999 with the forgettable Muppets from Space.

The reboot was a runaway success, with fans, critics and the general public alike (It even topped this incredibly prestigious end of year list). So, as Muppets Most Wanted‘s opening number makes clear they’re “doing a sequel”. Can it match the standard set by the 2011 film?

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What I’ve Been Watching: Under the Skin

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Under the Skin is the kind of strange, imperfect, lovingly crafted film that goes down a treat at film festivals, but will divide audiences upon general release.

For example, during our showing a number of people walked out, while a similar number stayed right up until the end of the credits. Why did the film provoke such differing reactions?

Under the Skin stars Scarlett Johansson as a mysterious woman with an english accent who drives around Glasgow in a white van trying to seduce local men. Having lured a number of men backs to hers, she begins to have second thoughts about what she is doing and begins to question who she really is.

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What I’ve Been Watching: Grand Budapest Hotel

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Grand Budapest Hotel is the latest film from Wes Anderson, a colourful, highly-stylised director whose films have a unique look, feel and sound no other director who dare try and recreate.

Grand Budapest Hotel sees Anderson transporting us to 1930s Europe where a hotel concierge, Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) takes a young lobby boy, Zero, under his wing (Tony Revolori). Gustave takes pleasure in entertaining older women. However, when one of them leaves an expensive painting to him in her will, Gustave is targeted by the late woman’s family who feel he has no right to this priceless work of art.

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What I’ve Been Watching: Her

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Technology, and robots in particular, have always got something of a bad rap in science fiction. Whether they’re trying to destroy us in The Terminator, trying to imprison us in The Matrix, or going mad with power in 2001: A Space Odyssey, often they’re viewed as something to be feared.

Of course these representations are reflections of our own fears of technology. Whether it’s television, computer games, the internet, mobile phones, or Facebook all have had to undergo a rite of passage whereby they are blamed for all of societies ills before becoming a normal part of everyday life.

Her explores a potential future technology of personalised operating systems (think a more advanced version of SIRI). In it we see the lonely Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) trying to get to terms with parting from his wife. Comfort comes from a new OS called Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) whose personality has been specifically programmed for him.

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