Categories
Animation Features Movies

Spy x Family
Code: White
(SPY x FAMILY
CODE: White)

Directors – Kazuhiro Fusuhashu, Takashi Karagiri – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12A – 111m

*****

A spy and an assassin are married to each other, each unaware of the other’s secret career, while neither of them are aware their adopted daughter is a telepath who therefore knows everything they don’t – bonkers anime deploying cookery to prevent Armageddon (!) is out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 26th

An opulent art deco ball. Couples dance. A man connives to be alone with a drunken woman so he can…photograph a file in an office desk. A woman driving a car rips off her face (in the manner of the characters in Mission: Impossible II, John Woo, 2000) to reveal… a man, the spy Loid (voice: Takuya Eguchi). Another woman, Yor (voice: Saori Hayama), is revealed as an assassin when she kills a man who sold industrial secrets. The spy and the assassin are married to one another in a pretend marriage which is a cover for their undercover operations, although neither knows the other is in the spy / assassination game. Their daughter Anya (voice: Atsumi Tanezaki) – adopted to make the bogus marriage look real – is a telepathic orphan who can read minds, so knows about the two secret identities of her ‘parents’.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Some recommendations
from
Ireland’s
Japanese Film Festival
2024

Runs from 11-27 April 2024.

Please click links to read reviews.

Blue Giant

Director – Yuzura Tachikawa – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 120m

*****

Three 18-year-olds form a jazz band with the aim of playing at Tokyo’s top jazz club

Evil Does Not Exist

Director – Ryosuke Hamaguchi – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 106m

**

A small, unspoiled village community is visited by two representatives of a company planning to set up a glamping facility.

The First Slam Dunk

Director – Takehiko Inoue – 2022 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 124m

*****

A high school basketball team sets out to defeat the seemingly unstoppable league champions

Nominated for Technical Achievement in Sound Design at the London Critics Circle Film Awards 2024.

Lonely Castle In The Mirror

Director – Keiichi Hara – 2022 – Japan – Cert. – 116m

*****

Seven children are sucked via mirrors in their homes into a mysterious castle perched high above a sea, presided over by a wolf queen, and prowled by a hungry wolf at night

Mondays: See You ‘This’ Week

Director – Ryo Takebayashi – 2022 – Japan – Cert. – 82m

****

A comedy in which a group of office workers must find a way to escape the week-long time loop in which they find themselves trapped

Monster

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2023 – Japan – Cert.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Godzilla x Kong
The New Empire

Director – Adam Wingard – 2024 – US – Cert. 12a – 115m

*****

Godzilla must leave the surface world to team up with Kong in the subterranean Hollow Earth below to defeat a powerful enemy – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

The latest movie in the Toho / Warner Bros. Godzilla / Kong Monsterverse is globetrotting in scope, with scenes of monsters wreaking havoc in Rome and Rio; its central conceit is that Godzilla roams the surface of the Earth fighting off other monsters which humanity would be unable to see off alone, while Kong, reconceived as a similar size to Godzilla, lives in the subterranean paradise of Hollow Earth.

With one beast on the outer rim of the planet and the other in a world beneath its surface, there is no possibility one will run into the other, which fight would be devastating for mankind. To make sure the two monsters remain isolated from one another, the huge Monarch organisation monitors both constantly.

Yet a terrible force is on the ascendant in Hollow Earth, one that neither Kong nor Godzilla would be able to contain let alone defeat on their own. And so, to save humanity, they must join forces and fight it.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Godzilla
King of the Monsters
(2019)

Director – Michael Dougherty – 2019 – US – Cert. 12a – 132m

***

Fantastical, giant creatures Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra and Rodan battle it out on land and sea, leaving cities devastated in their wake – in cinemas from Wednesday, May 29th 2019

Warner Bros’ latest effort in their strategy to create a self-contained universe out of Toho’s Godzilla and his accompanying trademark monster characters to rival that of Disney’s popular Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes is a mixed bag. On one level, it’s a hackneyed family story involving a couple splitting apart with their daughter caught in the middle, a plot not of the slightest interest to fans of Godzilla who aren’t paying to see a family drama. On another level, it’s a thinly veiled excuse to recreate Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Mothra, Rodan and others with state-of-the-art, special effects technology and have them fighting against one another, at which aim it succeeds handsomely. In passing, it delivers facile, one-line ideas about nuclear war and global warming. Finally, it wants to explore the iconography of these extraordinary creatures, but scarcely knows where to begin. They are great properties, but you can’t help but wish it was directed and produced by people with a stronger visionary sense.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Robot Dreams

Director – Pablo Berger – 2023 – Spain – Cert. PG – 102m

*****

In need of a companion, Dog builds Robot – but then, disaster strikes – charming, dialogue-free 2D animation is out in UK cinemas Friday, 22nd March following its screenings in the 2023 London Film Festival

The 1980s. Brooklyn. The East Village. Bored with endless, cook from frozen macaroni cheese meals from the fridge and channel hopping or playing both parts of computerised table tennis against himself, Dog longs for a companion. To this end, he buys a DIY self-assembly kit from which he builds Robot. For a short period, the pair are inseparable, walking and eating hot dogs together in Central Park, but then disaster strikes after Robot swims in the sea when the pair visit the beach. When it’s time to go home, his battery power is depleted, and he can’t move.

So Dog has to leave incapacitated Robot there. He buys books on robots from the local bookstore to work out how to repair his friend. Alas, on arrival at the beach, he discovers it’s closed since yesterday was the last day of the Summer season. A less than sympathetic cop won’t listen to his entreaties and sends him packing; Dog later returns with bolt cutters and removed the chain and padlock preventing entry, but is apprehended by the unsympathetic policeman before he can rescue Robot.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

The Lyricist Wannabe
(Tin4 Ci4 L,
填詞L,
lit. Lyrics Nerd / Dickhead)

Director – Norris Wong – 2023 – Hong Kong – Cert. 12a – 112m

****

A girl pursues her dream of becoming a Cantopop lyricist – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 15th

The movies are full of rags-to-riches stories in which someone dreams of becoming a star, works hard to achieve that, and it ultimately all comes true. While that can happen, because in real life there are clearly stars out there, in most cases it doesn’t. This film follows a similar path: a girl gives her all to achieve her chosen dream but ultimately doesn’t make it, which is probably a far more common occurrence than the one in which the aspirant succeeds.

Law Wing Sze (Chung Suet-Ying) is a student at a church school run by nuns. She doesn’t read music, but is obsessed by Cantopop and wants to write lyrics, spending much time rewriting lyrics of old Cantopop songs such as Infernal Affairs which she rewrites as Student Affairs. For this endeavour she is summoned to Sister Che’s office where the nun / teacher helpfully gives her a crit session and suggests she change certain words to more accurately express what she’s trying to say without unintended double entendres.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Movies Shorts

Pachyderm
(Pachyderme)

Director – Stéphanie Clément – 2022 – France – 11m

*****

A nine-year-old struggles with the trauma that befalls her at her grandpa’s – nominated for Best Animated Short at the 2024 Academy Awards, VoD details below review

She’s nine (voice-over: Christa Theret), and in the Summer she goes to stay with granny and grandpa. She plays on a swing, missing mum and dad, she watches a cabbage white butterfly in the garden. The house is tidy, ordered, perhaps obsessively so. It smells of polish; the kitchen smells of bleach. Tomorrow, grandpa will take her to the lake, where he likes to fish. To get to her bedroom, she must pass the big, intimidating horn mounted at the top of the stairs, a hunting trophy from a pachyderm. In her room, she can see eyes watching her from the wood grain of the ceiling timbers. She doesn’t sleep by counting sheep; she kills monsters. As the floorboards creak outside her door, she hides in the wallpaper, in the flowers, in sleep. After all, as grandma says, what could happen?

Before the trip, she accidentally pricks a finger on one of grandpa’s fishing hooks – lures, as they call them – but grandpa kisses the cut better with the kiss that heals all things.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Live Action Movies Shorts

Letter to a Pig

Director – Tal Kantor – 2022 – France, Israel – 17m

*****

Under the watchful eye of an authoritarian teacher, as a class of bored teenagers listens to a visiting Holocaust survivor recount his experiences, one of their number daydreams about the pig with which the survivor shared a barn – nominated for Best Animated Short at the 2024 Academy Awards, VoD details below review

A figure (voice: Indra Maharik) with one shoe flees, running through a forest. “Nothing mattered”, says the old man sitting, his hands clasped together on the desk, in front of the schoolroom of bored Israeli teenagers. Haim (voice: Alexander Peleg) is recounting his experiences under the Nazi regime, but the teenagers would rather be somewhere else. Haim tells how he fled to a barn, where the pig there effectively saved his life. The severe teacher (voice: Ayelet Margalit) ejects one of them for remarking, “oink, oink”. Haim, recounting the past, talks about people capable of hate not deserving to live; he has clearly been unable to forgive those who acted on behalf of the Nazi regime.

Drifting off into a reverie, in her mind’s eye, one girl (voice: Moriyah Meerson) sees the SS send a pig to pursue the boy through the forest.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

The Inventor

Directors – Jim Capobianco, Pierre-Luc Granjon – 2023 – US, France, Ireland – Cert. PG – 100m

****

Towards the end of his life, inventor Leonardo da Vinci goes to live in France under the patronage of the King – stop frame / drawn animation composite is out in the UK’s Vue cinemas on Friday, March 8th

Rome, Italy, 1516. Leonardo da Vinci (voice: Stephen Fry) happily shows off a giant optical system of magnifying glasses for observing the heavens to his assistant Francesco Melzi (voice: Angelino Sandri). Francesco retorts that Leonardo ought to be worried about the Pope who has spies everywhere (and sure enough, there are eyes watching from nearby peepholes). Leonardo’s other assistant, the hulking, mute Zoroastro sources corpses for him, on which the curious Leonardo performs dissections and studies what he finds through making drawings in his quest for find the animated spirit of man, a search which, in dreams and visions, often leads him into confrontation with a mysterious, gargantuan, dark-hooded figure.

The inventor is summoned to Pope Leo X (voice: Matt Berry) who wants to know, why can’t Leonardo just make pretty things? The arrival of a messenger whose helmet is half crushed by a cannonball leads Leo to suggest Leonardo fashion him machines of war.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Lonely Castle
in the Mirror
(Kagami no Kojo,
かがみの孤城)

Director – Keiichi Hara – 2022 – Japan – Cert. – 116m

*****

Seven children are sucked via mirrors in their homes into a mysterious castle perched high above a sea, presided over by a wolf queen, and prowled by a hungry wolf at night – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2024 between Friday, 2nd February and Sunday, 31st March

Teenager Kokoro Anzai (voice: Ami Touma) can’t face going to school. Her understanding mother (voice: Kumiko Aso) takes her instead to the Classroom of the Heart at an alternative school for a session with friendly teacher Mrs. Kitajima (voice: Aoi Miyazaki). This is to be Kokoro’s new school, but in the end, she can’t face going to that one either, so her mum phones her in as sick.

Moping in her bedroom, she is attracted to lights glowing around the tall mirror there before touching its surface which, like the mirrors in Orphée (Jean Cocteau, 1950) dissolve to allow her to pass through them into another world. On the other side, she finds herself in a castle perched high on a rock above a sea along with six other kids – tall Aki (voice: Sakura Kiryu), soccer player Rion (voice: Takumi Kitamura), computer geek Subaru (voice: Rihito Itagaki), piano player Fuka (voice: Naho Yokomizo), enigmatic Masamune (voice: Minami Takayama), and dumpy Ureshiro (voice: Yuki Kaji).… Read the rest