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Art Features Live Action Movies Music

Bill & Ted Face The Music

Director – Dean Parisot – Writers – Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson – 2020 – US – Cert. PG – 91m

****

Party on, dudes! The two friends return having failed over 25 years to write the song to unite all of humanity and prevent the universe unravelling – in cinemas from Wednesday, September 16th

William ‘Bill’ S. Preston esq. and Theodore ‘Ted’ Logan (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) have somehow failed to fulfil their destiny and become losers. 25 years on from their two earlier outings Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Stephen Herek, 1989) and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (Peter Hewitt, 1991). Bill and Ted’s band Wyld Stallyns has been reduced from selling out stadium gigs to playing open mike nights. 

Then they are taken in a time travel pod to 2700 A.D. to discover that because they never did write that song to unify all humanity, the fabric of space and time threatens to unravel by 5.17pm that very day in 2700. 

Their wives Elizabeth and Joanna (the fifteenth century English princesses from the first film here played by Erinn Hayes and Jayma Mays) have had enough and are going to couples’ counselling… so Bill and Ted travel back to join them, inadvertently making the situation worse.… Read the rest

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Art Features Live Action Movies

Blue Spring

Director – Toshiaki Toyoda – 2001 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 83m

*****

Dual format Blu-ray/DVD on sale for a bargain £10 until 21.07.2020 at Arrow Video’s Third Window Films Sale.

Teenage high school movie Blue Spring (2001) centres on the leader of a violent boys’ gang in their final year. The nonchalant Kujo (Ryuhei Matsuda) has befriended Aoki (Hirofumi Arai in his debut role) since the latter first joined his class in their infancy: these days Aoki is Kujo’s number two. The gang now comprises eight boys and periodically re-stages a terrifying ritual. In the opening scene, four of the boys chicken out while the other four including Kujo and Aoki take part.

Their flat school roof has a one storey tower accessible by metal fire escape type stairs. On the roof’s edge is a metal railing overlooking the open ground in front of the school building. The four boys climb over the railing so that their backs are facing the several storey drop below and hold on to the railing with their hands.

I reviewed Blue Spring for All The Anime on its 2019 Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format release.

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Animation Art Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Buñuel In The Labyrinth Of The Turtles

Director – Salvador Simo – 2018 – Netherlands – 80m

***1/2

Streaming on BFI Player (extended free trial offer here) from Thursday, July 16th – with more Buñuel movies here.

Following the success of his surrealist film L’Age D’Or / The Age Of Gold (1930), film director Luis Buñuel finds his main source of funding cut off when the strongly Catholic mother of his primary investor puts pressure in the latter. At the same time, a stranger named Eli Lotar strikes up a post-premiere conversation with the director saying he saw no influence of Dali in the film and presses a book Las Hurdes into Buñuel’s hands.

Frustrated at the lack of funding for his films, Luis decides to film the book which details the appalling living conditions of poor people in a remote village in rural Spain.

As part of my Annecy 2019 coverage, I review Buñuel In The Labyrinth Of The Turtles for DMovies.org.

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Animation Art Movies Shorts

The Physics Of Sorrow (Physique De La Tristesse)

Director – Theodore Ushev – 2019 – Canada – 27m

*****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival.

Available to watch on Amazon here.

Voice-over narration by Rossif Sutherland with the occasional line echoed by Donald Sutherland (or Xavier Dolan with Manuel Tadros in the French language version) accompanies extraordinary serial images. The verbals are adapted from the novel by Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov and with echoes of reincarnation describe universal human and occasional other animal form experience of life. The opening minute or so (see the trailer) describes a person born in 1944 sheltering from English planes and bombing raids, a person born in the Bulgaria of 1968 who remembers the Prague Spring, a fruit fly who lives and dies in a day and the end of the dinosaurs.

This would probably be mesmerising were it just a radio broadcast or a sound file with the actors’ voices and sound effects, but Ushev accompanies his soundtrack with the most incredible images. Partly it’s the arresting content of the visuals he creates here and partly the technique used to realise them. A teenage boy falling in love with a circus acrobat girl who works days at a fairground shooting gallery.… Read the rest

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Animation Art Movies Shorts

The Battle Of San Romano

Director – Georges Schwizgebel – 2017 – Switzerland – 2m 26s

*****

The Battle Of San Romano is the fourth of 13 Original Short Films in the Annecy Festival 2020’s selection for We Are One: A Global Film Festival.

This film is based on the eponymous painting by Paulo Uccello in London’s National Gallery which has produced this helpful filmed talk about it. The painting’s subject matter is a 1432 battle between two regional Italian armies. The camera as we know it today didn’t exist at that time and had it done so, Uccello might anyway not have been very interested in using it to record an historical record as such. He seems to be more interested in constructing representational images, forms, and the illusion of three dimensional space.

What interests Schwizgebel is not so much the subject of the painting but the painting itself. It’s a study of the painting in much the same way that painters make studies of subjects with a view to exploring them, perhaps for use in a larger composition. Whether he is employing animation in quite the right medium is debatable. When I say medium, I mean that of the short film.

This short feels less like a film with a beginning, middle and end and more like a cycling loop of images which could go on for ever, so much so that I’ve found myself going back to it and re-watching in whole or in part.… Read the rest

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Art Features Live Action Movies

Snowpiercer

Director – Bong Joon Ho – 2013 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 126m

South Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer (2013), which never had a theatrical release in the UK during its original, international run, finally appears in the UK on home video. Described as “High Rise on a train” by Mark Kermode, it’s an uncompromising dystopian vision, and we can safely attribute its appearance on Blu-ray to a double whammy – Bong’s Oscar-winning box-office hit Parasite, and the broadcast this month of the long-delayed Snowpiercer TV series.

An ecological catastrophe has turned the Earth into a frozen wasteland. The only people still alive are those on a train annually circling the globe. Some are there because they’re rich, others because they were lucky enough to get on board. The rich live in luxury at the front while the poor are kept in squalor at the back. Two members of the lower orders lead a revolt, travelling the length of the train to eventually confront the train’s wealthy industrialist creator. Like the more complex Parasite, it pits ordinary people against wealthy elites.

I review Snowpiercer for All The Anime.

Categories
Animation Art Books Features Live Action Movies

Harryhausen The Lost Movies

There’s nothing else quite like the filmography of stop-frame animator and special effects maestro Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013). A new book, Harryhausen The Lost Movies, is an undeniable treasure trove for those familiar with his films, which include such gems as Jason and the Argonauts and One Million Years B.C. and incorporate fantastical, stop-frame animated creatures and additional bravura special effects into live-action movie narratives.

Compiled by documentary film maker and author John Walsh from over 50,000 items in the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation archive, this coffee-table book sets out to provide an overview of the film maker’s oeuvre through his various unmade projects, lavishly illustrated with photographs and drawings.

I review Harryhausen The Lost Movies for All The Anime.

Categories
Animation Art Movies Shorts

Memorable (Mémorable)

Director – Bruno Collet – 2019 – France – 12m

*****

The techniques used in this remarkable short include both computer and puppet animation, with all the surfaces of both the puppets and the sets resembling that of a canvas painted with oils. It’s the perfect artistic form in which to express the story the film wishes to tell.

Louis is a painter suffering from dementia. Neither he nor his wife and model Michelle are coping well. He struggles to recognise different items of food by name at the dinner table – a bit of a problem when Michelle asks him to pass the pepper – and attempts to eat a banana without taking the skin off it first.

As part of my Annecy 2019 coverage, I review Memorable (Mémorable) for DMovies.org.

Categories
Animation Art Features Movies

Kubo And The Two Strings

Director – Travis Knight – 2016 – US – Cert. PG – 101m

*****

The following review originally appeared in Funimation UK.

Jeremy Clarke on a Hollywood film inspired by the Far East.

Western cinema in general and animation in particular has long held an interest in all things Oriental. Every so often, a film made in the West pays homage to one aspect or another of Eastern culture. The animated fantasy Kubo And The Two Strings is the latest entry in this curious Western sub-genre. It’s a dark fairy tale about the quest of a boy named Kubo for his late father’s long lost suit of armour to protect himself from the evil spirits of his grandfather and two aunts.

The company behind the production are US stop-frame outfit Laika who previously made Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. All three like Kubo are dark visions far removed from the upbeat fare that constitutes much contemporary Hollywood animation. The thought of the creative force behind such productions making a film inspired by Oriental traditions is therefore an exciting one.

Kubo is set in an unspecified period, ancient Japan populated with samurai warriors, malevolent spirits and gargantuan monsters. Street urchin Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson) and other performers gather at the village marketplace to display their wares and earn a crust.… Read the rest