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Film Reviews: 13 Minutes - The Wonders - The Salt of the Earth - True Story

17/07/2015 17:03 BST | Updated 16/07/2016 10:59 BST

Oliver Hirschbiegel's 13 Minutes relates the fascinating story of Georg Elser, the man who nearly killed Hitler - The Wonders (Le Meraviglie), Alice Rohrwacher's captivating take on a family fighting to preserve a traditional rural way of life - The Salt of the Earth, Wim Wenders memorable and fascinating portrait of the Brazilian born photographer Sebasiao Salgado - True Story limps along without the expected tension from a face-to-face psychological duel between journalist and multiple killer.

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Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Cast: Christian Friedel, Burghart Klaubner, Katharina Schuttler, Johann von Bulow

Genre: Drama

Language: German with English subtitles

Country of Origin: Germany 2015 116 mins.

Certificate: 15

Rating: ****

Meticulously planting a bomb in the Munich Burgerbraukeller prior to Adolf Hitler's anniversary speech on the 8th November, 1939, Georg Elser (Christian Friedel), a carpenter from Koenigsbronn in Baden-Wurttemburg became the man who missed killing Hitler who left the hall 13 minutes before the device exploded killing seven people. Arrested at the Swiss border with a map of the Burgerbraukeller and detonators, Elser found himself in front of Arthur Nebe (Burghart Klaussner), Head of the Criminal Police in the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and the Head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Muller (Johann von Bulow). A brutal interrogation revealed nothing and even convinced Arthur Nebe that Elser was a lone wolf. Hitler insisted that he was part of a communist plot and demanded a signed confession.

13 Minutes is a fascinating story told in flashbacks from 1932 and is well shot and edited with a strong lead cast and an authentic period feel. Placing Elser's relationship with married Elsa (Katharina Schuettler) as the focal point at the expense of an examination of Elser, the man, his flirtation with communism and opposition to National Socialism detracts and questions remain. A post script's offered but why wasn't Elser executed after his confession and what happened to Elsa immediately after his arrest?

Released 17th July

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Director: Alice Rohrwacher

Cast: Sam Louwyck, Alba Rohrwacher, Maria Alexandra Lungu

Genre: Drama

Language: German, Italian, French with English subtitles

Grande Prix 2014 Cannes International Film Festival

Country of Origin: Italy, Switzerland, Germany 110 mins.

Certificate 15

Rating: ****

Shot by cinematographer Helen Louvart in a neorealist style, Alice Rohrwacher's unique and utterly captivating coming-of-age tale of a family fighting to preserve a traditional rural way of life has a mesmerising, surreal dream-like quality that places mood over formal plot.

Wolfgang's (Sam Louwyck) 12 year-old daughter, Gelsomina (Maria Alexandra Lungu), the eldest of three sisters is heir to a rural bee keeping kingdom on their small holding in the countryside between Umbria-Lazio and Tuscany. Life's hard, money's short, their neighbours use pesticides, new European laws are a burden and Gelsomina lives with the constant fear that she'll forget to change the bucket that collects the precious honey from the centrifuge. When Gelsomina comes across a camera crew filming an advert for 'The Countryside Wonders,' a surreal TV show that offers cash prizes to those who represent a traditional agricultural family, she's fascinated by the host, Milly Catena (Monica Belluca) in her Felliniesque costume and decides to enter the contest against her father's wishes. With her secret in place, Gelsomina has to contend with her father agreeing to take Martin (Luis Huilca Logrono), a 14 year-old deeply traumatised German boy from a rehabilitation programme. This is a summer of change for Gelsomina and her family.

There's a mesmerising quality and strength to this quiet, poignant and captivating reflection on the loss of old rural ways with a young cast who are natural and vibrant.

Released 17th July

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Director: Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribero Solgado

Genre: Documentary

Language: English, Portuguese, French with English subtitles

Country of Origin: France, Belgium, Italy 2014 110 mins.

Un Certain Regard 2014 Cannes International Film Festival

Certificate 12A

Rating: ****

Wim Wenders camera pays tribute to the renowned Brazilian born photographer Sebastiao Salgado whose black and white images have documented many of the major events of the 20th century. From the iconic images of Brazil's Serra Pelada gold mine to the horrors of Rwanda and Congo, Salgado has witnessed and chronicled not only world events but the beauty and diversity of the planet. Told through Salgado's son, Juliano Ribeiro, Wender's offers a memorable and fascinating tribute to a great photographer.

Self-imposed exile in Paris in 1969 and the gift of a camera from his wife Leila, saw Selgado, an economist leave his job at the World Bank to begin his life's journey with a camera. With Leila, the driving force in Salgado's career and the freedom and desire to travel the world his sensitive and beautiful images capture life in all its forms. Witnessing the horrors of Rwanda and Congo in the late 90s, 'My soul was sick' led to his return to Brazil and the family farm rich in childhood memories. Deforested and a shadow of its former self, Salgado formed the Instituto Terra and undertook the task of returning the land to its subtropical origin but his camera is never far away.

Released 17th July

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Director: Rupert Goold

cast: James Franco, Jonah Hill, Felicity Jones

Genre: Drama, Thriller, Mystery

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA 2015 99 mins.

Certificate 15

Rating: **

Fired from the New York Times magazine for fabricating a story about slavery in Africa, investigative journalist Michael Finkel (Jonah Hill) retreats to the the comforts of Montana and his girlfriend Jill Barker (Felicity Jones) to ponder on his future. The wake up call comes when Pat Frato (Ethen Suplee), a reporter on the Oregonian phones asking about his relationship with Christian Longo (James Franco), who was arrested in Mexico and charged with killing his wife and three children. Why did a multiple killer wanted by the FBI use Michael Finkel's identity?

The story centres on a series of face-to-face encounters and the manipulative psychological game play between the Longo and Finkel, looking for a way back in. UK Theatre director Rupert Goold offers a technically well shot film but what should be a tension laden psychological duel allied to a drip feed insight into the motives and lives of journalist and killer has script limitations and limps along to a court room designed for accused multiple killers to practice facial contortions. And why sideline Felicity Jones who's the best part of the movie?

Released 17th July