Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Kidnapped
(Rapito)

Director – Marco Bellocchio – 2023 – Italy, France, Germany – Cert. 12a – 135m

*****

A boy is forcibly taken from his Jewish family by the Pope to be raised as a Catholic priest because he has been baptised into the Catholic faith – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 26th

Italy, the mid-nineteenth century. The Papal States will have disappeared by 1870 as Italy moves towards unification. In the meantime, they are still under the administrative control of the incumbent pope, Pius IX.

Bologna, 1852. A maid sees off a soldier in the night following a romantic tryst. The soldier is neither here nor there; the maid, Anna Morisi (Aurore Camatti) will play a significant part in what follows. The life of a nine-child Jewish family is about to be disrupted forever.

The home of the very ordinary Mortalo family, who are Jewish: father Momolo (Fausto Russo Alesi), mother Marianna (Barbara Ronchi) and their nine children. The parents are deeply religious and raise their offspring accordingly, teaching them, among other things, to recite the Shema prayer every night before they go to sleep. One night in 1858, they are visited by the authorities under Feletti (Fabrizio Gifuni) who have come to take away one of their children under Papist law.… Read the rest

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
Features Live Action Movies

Boy Kills World

Director – Moritz Mohr – 2023 – Germany, US, South Africa – Cert. 18 – 111m

***1/2

Relentless, non-stop action via a deaf-mute, orphaned kid, schooled in martial arts, returning to the city as a grown man to wreak vengeance on those who killed his family – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 26th

Elite family the Van Der Koys have taken control of the city and instigated an annual ceremony known as The Culling, a physical contest staged for television in a vast arena in which anyone who opposes the Van Der Koys and the way they run the place is killed. This was of little concern to Boy, who as a child (twins Nicholas and Cameron Crovetti from TV series Big Little Lies, 2017-19) grew up in a carefree existence eating Frosty Pops cereal every morning with his sister Mina (Quinn Copeland) and, the pair naively making insulting hand gestures at publicly displayed Van Der Koy statues during the day which gets their family onto the list of candidates for The Culling. And so his parents and sister are despatched in the ceremony, leaving Boy a traumatised deaf-mute.

All of the above comes out early on in a mixture of flashback and over-the-top interior monologue (hilariously voiced by H.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Crazy Family
Gyakufunsha Kazoku,
逆噴射家族)

Director – Sogo Ishii – 1984 – Japan – Cert. 18 – 105m

*****

After proudly moving into their first home as owner-occupiers, a family go berserk and destroy the building – out in selected New York cinemas from Friday, April 19th and selected UK cinemas from Friday, April 25th

This seemingly starts out as a conservative family drama. The family in question comprises father Katsukuni Kobayashi (Katsuya Kobayashi in his debut feature role), mother Saeko (Mitsuko Baisho who worked with directors Akira Kurosawa, Shohei Imamura and Kaneto Shindo), elder teenage son Masaki (Yoshiki Arizono from Ichi the Killer, The Happiness of the Katakuris, both Takashi Miike; Electric Dragon, 80,000 V, Sogo Ishii, all 2001) and younger teenage daughter Erika (Youki Kudoh from Typhoon Club, Shinji Somai, 1985; Mystery Train, Jim Jarmusch, 1989; Heaven’s Burning, Craig Lahiff, 1997). The Kobayashis move in to their first home as owner-occupiers which, although it’s a little on the small side, promises an idyllic existence. Father is the breadwinner with a nondescript office job, mother waters the plants and does the cooking and housework, the daughter wants to be an idol singer and the son is spending all his time studying for school and university in his room upstairs.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Kidnapped

One God, two families

Kidnapped
Directed by Marco Bellocchio
Certificate 12a, 135 minutes
Released 26 April

This Italian drama, based on true events, is set when the papacy was both the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the state authority in parts of Italy, a situation that would change with Italian unification in the 1870s and the instigation of a secular, country-wide system of government. There would be implications for the separation of church and state.

In 1858, six-year-old Jewish boy Edgardo Mortalo (Enea Sala) was removed from his family by the papist authorities following his Catholic baptism (how he was baptised emerges later) and taken to a school run directly by Pope Pius IX (Paolo Pierobon) to educate such ‘Christians’ in the faith and turn them into priests.

The Church’s theological rationale behind this appalling action… [read the rest at Reform]

[Read my longer review on this site]

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Jeanne du Barry
(Jeanne du Barry)

Director – Maïwenn – 2023 – France – Cert. 15 – 117m

***1/2

A commoner works her way into the King of France’s affections and becomes a member of the aristocracy – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 19th

Born of the illicit union between a monk and a cook, the latter (Marianne Basler) taken in along with her daughter by the kindly M. Dumousseaux (Robin Renuchi) who ensures the child gets a decent education, Jeanne (Maïwenn) quickly realises her only viable career options are cooking, which she has no intention of pursuing, and harlotry. Before long, favoured client Compte Jean du Barry suggests to her that she should meet the King. To achieve this, she would need to become part of the King’s court for which a title is required, so she marries Jean in order to become the Countess du Barry and be presented to the King, Louis XV (Johnny Depp) .

Catching his majesty’s eye and favour, she is invited to his apartment, like many other women before or after her (although one suspects there were more before than after). Before meeting him alone, she is schooled in royal etiquette by the King’s trusted, right-hand man La Borde (Benjamin Lavernhe).… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Fantastic Machine
(original title:
And the King Said,
What a Fantastic Machine)

Directors – Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck – 2023 – Norway, Sweden, Denmark – Cert. 15 – 88m

****

An idiosyncratic history of moving image technology and its increasingly pervasive role in human society, from camera obscura to smartphones and social media – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 19th

To understand what this movie is about, which I’m not sure I did going in, you have to understand its title. The fantastic machine in question is, in part, the camera. That might lead you to anticipate a history of photography, but that’s not quite what this is about. You’d be forgiven for believing that, though, for the first few minutes when we see a contemporary, on the street, walk-in exhibit of the camera obscura or pinhole camera, a natural optical phenomenon whereby light passes through a simple pinhole onto a surface or screen beyond to recreate an inverted image of where the light came from. As a visitor marvels of the resultant, real time moving image of people outside the exhibit walking around, “it’s upside down”. As a human guide to the exhibition explains, that’s how the human eye works. Our brains correct the upside down image so that appears the right way up.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

If Only I Could Hibernate
(Baavgai Bolohson)

Director – Zoljargal Purevdash – 2023 – Mongolia, France, Switzerland, Qatar – Cert. 12a– 96m

****

A gifted Mongolian boy is torn between providing for his siblings and pursuing his studies – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 19th

Teenager Ulzii (Battsooj Uurtsaikh) lives with his mum and his three younger siblings in the yurt district of Ulaanbaataar, Mongolia’s capital city, their father having long since disappeared. Mum (Ganchimeg Sandagdorj) is illiterate and struggles to find work, and there is much antagonism between her and Ulzii, who is going through the school system his mother never experienced and took money from his summer job to buy sneakers before giving the remainder to his mum, who needs it to buy coal for their yurt’s stove to keep the family warm in severe, subzero wintry conditions. Sometimes it’s all too much for their mum, who often gets drunk at night.

In class, Ulzii is the star pupil at physics, often completing complex equations using solutions his teacher wouldn’t expect from anyone less than two years older. His teacher (Batzorig Sukhbaatar), finding a prodigy on his hands, starts to coach him to do well in the National exams in order to win a free university scholarship to study physics, which the boy wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.… Read the rest

Categories
Art Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Exhibition on Screen:
John Singer Sargent
Fashion & Swagger

Director – David Bickerstaff – 2024 – UK – Cert. U – 93m

****

Late nineteenth century society portrait painter John Singer Sargent was fascinated more by their clothing and the possibilities of paint than he was by the women he painted – documentary is out in UK cinemas for selected screenings from Tuesday, April 16th

Based on the exhibition first at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) and now at Tate Britain, this opens with incidental music that conjures a contemporary dance floor, a soundtrack which provokes a strange tension with paintings hanging on walls and costumes displayed in glass cases as the camera moves through the physical spaces in which they are displayed. But then, the title suggests this might be a little different from Exhibition on Screen’s usual fare.

John Singer Sargent’s A Portrait of Miss Elsie Palmer (A Lady In White), 1889-90, shows the energy and intensity of his portraiture. The brushstrokes are arresting and like nothing else being done at the time. The paintings might be perfect, but the people within them most definitely are not: Sargent captures their imperfections in a most compelling way. He looked deeply at people, and some of his sitters were afraid to sit for him because of what he might see.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Civil War

Director – Alex Garland – 2024 – US – Cert. 15 – 109m

*****

Four journalists travel across the war-torn US to interview the President before he resigns or flees the country – out in both UK and US cinemas on Friday, April 12th

The US President (Nick Offerman) is rehearsing a speech, But he can’t seem to work out how to deliver the words.

Seasoned photojournalist Lee Miller (Kirsten Dunst) and journalist colleague Joel (Wagner Moura) are on the front line in the war-torn US. She is in the thick of it, taking photographs, when she spots a twentysomething woman Jessie Colin (CaIlee Spaeny from Priscilla, Sofia Coppola, 2023) doing the same thing, and gives the young woman her hi-vis jacket to help her chances of staying alive.

The girl is so preoccupied with taking pictures that she cradles the jacket in an arm while shooting images with her stills camera. Later, she runs into Lee in their hotel where all the journalists are staying, among them the grizzled veteran Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson from Dune, Denis Villeneuve, 2021) who, despite mobility issues which require him to walk with a cane, insists on being in the thick of it as far as possible.… Read the rest