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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Four Horsemen – review” was written by Peter Bradshaw, for The Guardian on Thursday 15th March 2012 22.15 UTC

In these parlous times, there can never be enough criticism of bankers and tame politicians enjoying what Milton Friedman called socialism for the rich. Ashcroft’s documentary lands some punches, but it is hampered by a PowerPoint-style presentation. As our western empire declines, he sees four apocalyptic horsemen: crooked finance, terrorism, poverty and ecological collapse. It’s all fair comment, with sharp snippets from Noam Chomsky and the FT’s Gillian Tett, although the tone is patronising sometimes. Ashcroft unveils some bold cures at the end, but we need more specifics.

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Big Miracle – review” was written by Philip French, for The Observer on Sunday 12th February 2012 00.04 UTC

Back in October 1988, there was a heartwarming human-interest story that briefly swept more serious events off the world’s TV screens. Three California grey whales were trapped under the ice in the Arctic circle near Barrow, Alaska, with only a small hole in the ice to use for a breather. Unless released within three days to head out for the southern breeding ground, they’d die. There followed a rescue mission that involved the media, the oil industry, the politicians, Greenpeace, the Wildlife Management Dept, the National Guard, the small-town inventors of a domestic thawing device and the USSR in its dying days. But the title of this film is ironic. It wasn’t a “big miracle” of international co-operation. Everyone exploited the crisis in the manner of the cynical journalist (Kirk Douglas) in Billy Wilder’s classic 1951 movie Ace in the Hole who talked up a potentially disastrous story of a man trapped underground in the New Mexican desert. They all had personal or professional agendas to pursue, ranging from an oil company boss (Ted Danson) eager to gain kudos and further drilling rights, to Ronald Reagan polishing his reputation in its final months and securing the election of his successor, George Bush. It is a fascinating story based on a prize-winning book called Freeing the Whales: How the Media Created the World’s Greatest Non-Event, and right at the end Sarah Palin pops up on TV reporting on a local basketball match as Alaskan TV gets back to trivial normality. Recalling no doubt that Ace in the Hole was the biggest box-office disaster of Billy Wilder’s career, the makers attempt to coat their fascinatingly bitter pill with saccharine. They are, however, only partially successful.

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Intruders – review” was written by Peter Bradshaw, for The Guardian on Thursday 26th January 2012 22.10 UTC

A decade ago, Spanish film-maker Juan Carlos Fresnadillo made a brilliant debut with his metaphysical thriller Intact, about an occult world of gamblers. Later, he directed 28 Weeks Later, and now there is this, Intruders, a highly conventional supernatural chiller in a very ordinary Hollywood-ised manner. The action unfolds in creepy parallel worlds. In Spain, a sensitive and imaginative boy is terrorised by a ghostly intruder in a hooded parka, and he and his mother are comforted by the traditional “troubled priest” figure, played by Daniel Brühl. And in suburban London, in a 30s-type semi, a 12-year-old is terrified by the same horrifying intruder, a phantom who exerts exactly the same hold on her imagination. Her father is played by Clive Owen, who has a faintly preposterous, macho job welding rivets on high buildings in London. A final twist unites the two strands, and an explanation makes it all hang together reasonably enough, but this is really very humdrum stuff compared to the electric strangeness of Intact.

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