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Profile | One Of The Best Films Of The Year

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Following the success of Unfriended in 2015, more and more films have been made in the “Screenlife” format and been set on computer screens. After producing Unfriended and Searching– one of the best films of 2018- Russian director Timur Bekmambetov is now in the director’s chair for the latest desktop film Profile and once again, Bekmambetov proves that the Screenlife format is completely immersive and a groundbreaking new way of telling stories.

Profile tells the story of British freelance journalist Amy Whittaker, played fantastically by Valene Kane (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) who sets up a fake Facebook profile in order to attract and expose an ISIS terrorist recruiter. Inspired by the 2015 nonfiction bestseller In the Skin of a Jihadist, Profile is the most stressful and suspenseful film you’ll see all year.

As Amy gets further and further into her story and as she gets closer and closer to terrorist recruiter Abu Bilel (Shazad Latif) over the course of multiple Skype calls, the boundaries between her real life and the fake profile she has set up start to melt away.

Valene Kane stars as Amy and Shazad Latif as Abu Bilel Al-Britani in Timur Bekmambetov’s PROFILE, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of BEZELEVS and Focus Features

Despite the entire film taking place on a computer screen, the threat and the danger feels so prominent. As the film’s tagline suggest, the connection is virtual, but the danger is real. This is, in part, down to the phenomenal performances, in particular Valene Kane’s lead. Both Kane and Latif give incredible performances and it’s these performances that really help complete the film.

The desktop format also works incredibly well here. One of the reasons why previous Screenlife films like Unfriended and Searching were so good was because their stories really suited the format. And that’s exactly the same for Profile. After seeing the film, I really cannot imagine any other way that this story could have been told. Seeing the interactions between Amy and Bilel over Skype and seeing everything happening on Amy’s computer screen completely immerses you in the film’s world, making all the events that unfold even more suspenseful.

Profile grabs you immediately and doesn’t let go until the very end. It’s full of tension and is one of the most gripping and engaging thrillers of the past decade. There’s lies and deception from both sides as Bilel is trying to recruit Amy whilst she’s also trying to deceive him to get the best news story possible. And as the film goes on these layers and masks start to unpeel, leaving your heart racing.

Valene Kane stars as Amy in Timur Bekmambetov’s PROFILE, a Focus Features release. Credit: Courtesy of BEZELEVS and Focus Features

Even though production began in 2016 and Profile is only now getting a wide release, the film feels even more relevant after the past year and the amount we’ve relied on relationships between people and doing this through the internet. Bekmambetov describes the film as “a thriller about relationships between people and about fear”. The way that people are using the internet now to develop and live online is constantly changing, particularly over the past year and Profile does an excellent job of showing the connections but also the fear that can come about through the internet.

The Screenlife format is at its most immersive with Profile, and Bekmambetov has created one of the most intense and suspenseful films in recent memory. It’s a format that doesn’t feel gimmicky, but it feels so critical and important in telling a story like this. There’s no other way that this story could be told as effectively and it’s the film’s incredible lead performances, as well as the desktop style, that help make this film as compelling as it and help make it one of the best films of the year.

★★★★★

Focus Features will release Profile in US cinemas May 14th.

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Adventure

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest

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Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is a deadly serious comedy film about friendship and arcade games that’ll surely put a smile on your face and tug at your heartstrings. Set at Bip Bip Bar, it tells the story of a group of unlikely heroes aka friends who help Kim Cannon Arm attempts to be the first in the world to play Gyruss an arcade machine from the early 80s for 100 consecutive hours. The film showcases these heroic outsiders with dreams about becoming legendary world record holders. 

Watching Kim and his friends embark on this quest was certainly like preparing for a marathon as Kim’s friends make him get an annual physical checkup from the doctor, It was easy to get swept up and share their excitement. Director Mads Hedegaard introduces these bunch of endearing misfits who truly make up a kind and supportive community. We learn several details about each of Kim’s friends including careers, favourite games, bands, family life and plenty more. Each are unique and the Documentary made me feel like I’d known this group my whole life. 

The film is also able to capture the gaming atmosphere as it blasts through the 80s with synths and neon lights, which created a stylised, exhilarating journey into Kim’s brain and the world of Gyruss. Montages and Iron maiden tracks also feature and “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler features, which to me represented each member and the story which was ultimately made for pure entertainment. 

Themes of achieving success is a presence in this documentary as it has scenes filled with pure joy, sentimental bliss and deep philosophical moments of the loss of a friend and acceptance. As we watch Kim make his way through hours and hours of his challenge we see his friends are always with him for comfort and to help keep track. They play Iron maiden music to boost his moral but its clear to me that with friends like this, Kim has already won. 

https://youtu.be/d-AidtIZF64

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Reviews

Last Night in Soho – It Lends Itself To The Big Screen Experience That We Have All Craved

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Edgar Wright returns to his British roots with his love letter to 1960’s London…

When the trailer was first released for Last Night in Soho, it looked far removed from anything that Edgar Wright had ever directed and that is proved with the final product. Wright perfectly captures the intense, chaotic energy that is London with its somewhat ‘seedy’ underbelly. It feels like a love letter from Wright to a location that is clearly very close to his heart.

At times thrilling, at times exciting and at times frightening, Last Night in Soho never felt boring nor did it outstay it’s welcome. The screenplay is excellent with some vintage moments of Wright’s comedic style and the soundtrack is fantastic, perfectly reflecting 1960’s in London.

Thomasin McKenzie in Last Night in Soho

When the audience is transported back to London in the 1960’s through the eyes of our protagonist, Eloise (McKenzie), the iconography really does make it feel as though you’re stood in the middle of Soho in the 60’s. Certainly a wonderful, and at times unsettling, experience for both the audience and our lead character.

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Sandy and Matt Smith as Jack in Edgar Wright’s LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, a Focus Features release. Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh / Focus Features

As for the cast, they all fit perfectly into their designated roles. Youngsters Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are our leading ladies and they perfect their roles to a tee. McKenzie goes from strength to strength with every role she does and Anya Taylor-Joy is beginning to find herself as the go to actress for horror. It will certainly be interesting to see the types of performances these two actresses put in for their next films.

Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith in Last Night in Soho.

Matt Smith is also very good here, his career trajectory since Doctor Who has been a very interesting one and he really is beginning to find his feet now. Acting greats Terence Stamp and the late great Diana Rigg play a crucial part in the films proceedings. It was wonderful to see Rigg back on the big screen for one final time.

The last ten minutes did begin lose the immersion that was felt during the rest of the runtime however the twist is a very good one. It’s great to see Wright experimenting more with his filmmaking and it would be wonderful to see more of this style from him, he is clearly a filmmaker who is not adverse to taking risks with his craft. Definitely catch this in cinemas if you get the opportunity, it certainly lends itself well to the big screen experience that we have all craved!

Last Night in Soho is released in UK cinemas on the 29th of October.

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Drama

Mothers of the Revolution – They’ve Challenged World Leaders, Altered The Course Of History And Truly Inspired Millions

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Mothers of the Revolution tells the story of one of the longest protests in history. Between 1981 and 2000, thousands of women from around the world came together at Greenham Common to take a rightful stand against nuclear proliferation. This remarkable group of fearless women were shunned by the press and the media. Director Briar March reveals the women as the cold war heroes they truly were, she tells the story of these women through their eyes and though reenactments as they persisted arrests, condemnation and scorn. 



In the early 1980s, a young mother in Wales was alarmed like many about the UK government’s Campaign called “Protect And Survive”, which advised people to use the four minutes between the warning and a nuclear strike to stack suitcases full of objects like books to absorb the radiation. The Pressure and rising threat to their own families’ safety called for action and thus the Women for Life on Earth group was born.

From the conversation around the kitchen table in Wales, Karmen Thomas took action. She was instrumental in organising the initial protest which on the 5th of September 1981 these women marched from Wales too Berkshire to protest over the nuclear weapons being kept at RAF Greenham Common. Over 120 miles they become a living protest against the British Governments decision. The protest surly gathered momentum as when the reached Greenham Common permanent camps were set up. 

Many women joined the camp such as Chris Drake, a single mother and millworker who truly felt like she belonged and felt like she was born again. Young mothers were not a group who traditionally had their voices heard at the time and the press moved on to other issues they deemed more important, So the women organised Embrace The Base. A day in which the camp and women across the country who travelled up joined hands to form a human chain around the entire military base. 

This documentary is a celebration of Greenham such as its spirit and the effects, which were all worth celebrating. However the film also shows the difficult aspects such as the brutal evictions and assaults by the police force and soldiers. It truly was a Cold War drama/thriller with the tension of a soviet spy novel. It’s also the story of love especially for family and children , and of the commitment these women made to a higher cause. 



They’ve challenged world leaders, altered the course of history and truly inspired millions, it’s an emotional and empowering documentary. 

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