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Features Live Action Movies

Bori

Director – Kim Jin-yu – 2017 – South Korea – Cert. – 109m

***

Pre-teenager Bori feels alienated from her little brother, mum and dad because she’s the only one who isn’t deaf available to watch from 10am-11pm on Thursday November 12th as the Online Closing Gala of the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF).

Pre-teenager Bori (Kim Ah-song) lives by the sea with her close and loving family – a dad who often works nights on ships, a devoted mum, a little brother Jeungwoo (Lee Rin-ha) who’s brilliant offensive futsal player. Her best friend Eun-jeong (Hwang Yoo-rim) is the daughter of the delivery man at the local takeaway restaurant, whose very reasonably priced black bean noodle dishes the family avail themselves of often. Bori’s dad, mum and little brother are all deaf, so at home they communicate in sign language.

The family go to a firework display where Bori slips away from the edges of a crowded tent where she can’t really see anything and goes to talk to an immigrant stallholder about his jewellery. But then she can’t find the family and after wandering around, hands herself in at the local police station where her family later find her.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Love You Forever (Wo Zai Shijian Jintou Deng Ni)

Director – Yoyo Yao Tingting – 2019 – China – Cert. PG – 115m

***1/2

Exclusively in cinemas from Tuesday, August 25th (Chinese Valentine’s Day this year).

Hands write in a notebook. In a voice-over, Lin Ge (Lee Hongchi) describes himself as “a man who doesn’t exist… No memories of me in this world.” He will repeat these words later on. He talks of the past and we see the images of the day in 1991 when his mum died, he got beaten up by a bunch of other little boys and he was rescued by little girl Qiu Qian who became his playmate that summer.

Ge loses a marble in a pond and, looking for it, finds an old, stopped watch. He and Qian start playing the game of “Wolf, Wolf, what’s the time?” until one day her family moves and he runs after the departing car until his little legs will run no more.

As a teenager to the horror of both his teacher and his bereaved father he and two friends set up a business selling “magic bottles”, running breathlessly along multi-storey school walkways to avoid being caught until they / he chance(s) upon a group of boys blocking a gangway, looking at the beautiful new girl recently transferred to the school and doing ballet training.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Sheep Without A Shepherd (Wu sha)

Director – Sam Quah – 2019 – China – Cert. 15 – 112m

*****

Fantasia Film Festival 2020 virtual edition from Thursday, August 20 and UK cinemas from Friday, August 21st.

This opens with a prison break in which the escapee ends up interred in a coffin next to the corpse of the man who was trying to get him out. That turns out to be a story told by Li Wiejie or Jie for short (Xiao Yang), an insatiable watcher of detective and crime thrillers. The film lays its cinematic cards on the table almost immediately by referencing Hitchcock, montage, sound effects, excitement and The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994). Sheep Without A Shepherd is in thrall to the West’s suspense movies and plays out like one while at the same time retaining its distinctive Chinese character with its emphasis on the importance of family ties and loyalty.

Jie and his wife (Tan Zhuo) run a small store in Thailand. Their daughter Ping known in the family as PingPing (Audrey Hui) persuades dad to fund her to go to summer camp where she is drugged and videoed being gang-raped by privileged brat Su Cha (Beety) and his pals.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Babyteeth

Director – Shannon Murphy – 2019 – Australia – Cert. 15 – 118m

*****

In cinemas from Friday, August 14th

Uniformed schoolgirl Milla (Eliza Scanlen) stands on a platform ill at ease with her classmates. The train comes in. Before she can move to get on it, someone has knocked into her rushing past to stand close to the passing train. It’s Moses (Toby Wallace), unkempt in shorts and tee shirt. He asks her for money. He points out she has a nosebleed, cradles her on the ground, puts his tee over her mouth and jaw… to catch the blood.

Milla’s psychiatrist father Henry (Ben Mendelson) has a home session with a patient that turns into sex on a desk. This is his wife Anna (Essie Davis) who is on medication and has mental problems. They have another problem as a family: their daughter has cancer.

When Milla brings Moses into her parents’ comfortable suburban family home, they take an immediate dislike to him. This reaction is compounded by his habit of stealing medications from their home to sell later on the street. Nevertheless, he will be around the home more and more and by the end will be to all intents and purposes living there with Henry and Anna’s consent.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Finding The Way Back

Director – Gavin O’Connor – 2020 – US – Cert. 15 – 108m

***

Available on VoD from Friday, July 10th

Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) has a drink problem. He separated from ex-wife Ange (Janina Gavankar) over a year ago. With his life going nowhere, Jack gets a phone call asking him to drop in on the Catholic school where he used to play baseball which turns out be be a job offer for team coach since the incumbent has just unexpectedly had a heart attack. Jack used to be the team’s star player back in the day, but he isn’t sure if he should take the job.

Anyway, he goes for it and finds himself building a bunch of no hope kids into a winning team. He has to fire one who turns up late for practice and build the confidence of the best player on the team who doesn’t believe he should be team captain. He has to stop swearing because it’s against school policy and he must deal with his drinking problem before it gets the better of him. He has bigger personal issues to confront as well– there are reasons why he drinks.

This deceptively ordinary drama accomplishes everything it sets out to do and will hold your attention throughout.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Movies

Mosley

Director – Kirby Atkins – 2019 – China, New Zealand – 97m

*****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

Mosley (voiced by writer-director Kirby Atkins) is a thoriphant who lives on the small holdings farm of his owner Simon (Curt Cloniger) where he and Bera (Lucy Lawless) have a small boy Rue (voiced by director’s daughter Leah Atkins when little and Scarlett Sills in additional dialogue). The backbreaking work Mosley does for Simon is that of a plough horse. Simon is not a particularly bad man, but sees nothing wrong with pushing Mosley as far as he can with the result that Mosley is often completely exhausted by the end of the day.

He then has to contend with the hyperactive Rue leaping on him and demanding he come out and play. One evening, Rue wants dad to come and see his new hiding place and Bera insists it’s important. Rue talks about what he would do if he had hands, which takes Mosley back somewhat since thoriphants have hooved feet like horses or cows. A trip to Rue’s hideout reveals vast, underground cave paintings of thoriphants walking upright. And they have hands. There’s a long tunnel there too.

Mosley patiently explains that the uprights “are not real.… Read the rest

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Animation Movies Shorts

The Fox And The Pigeon

Director – Michelle Chua – 2019 – Canada – 6m

*****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

This starts off opening a children’s book cover for a tale about, you’ve guessed it, a fox and a pigeon. In the time honoured tradition of such books, there are illustrations and words (in rhyming couplets) on the page. And like so many animated films, the characters move and come to life while the author acts as a narrator and reads the words.

What’s different about The Fox And The Pigeon is that while the characters want to live their own story – screenwriters often say that as they write they feel their characters talking to them and dictating the direction things should go – the narrator has other ideas and tries to impose his own narrative upon them. The fox finds a coin and buys an ice cream cone. Sitting on a park bench, he’s aware of the pigeon, who clearly wants to share the ice cream. But, intones the author reading his words, “why would a fox want to share with a pigeon?”

As the tale plays out, the author becomes increasingly vindictive, wanting the two characters to conflict with one another, to the point of one killing the other.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Movies

True North

Director – Eiji Han Shimizu – 2020 – Japan, Indonesia – 93m

****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

The life of an ordinary family living in Pyongyang is interrupted when their father disappears and their mother is unable to tell their infant son Yo-han and his younger sister Mi-hee exactly what has happened to him, although she reassures them that everything will be fine. A few days later, in the middle of the night, there’s a knock at the door of their apartment. Officials come in and search the place, make the family pack a few belongings then put them into a truck.

On the ensuing journey, there are no stops for the lavatory. The truck takes them to a political camp where they will be imprisoned although it’s never quite clear what offence they have committed. Father is apparently an enemy of the state, even though he appears to have an exemplary record. Despite promises that the family will see him soon, he’s not in the camp to which they’ve been taken. They are going to have to fend for themselves there.

Mother does her best to keep her kids’ spirits up – no mean task when you’re living on meagre rations and forced to do backbreaking work shifts harvesting crops in the fields (woman and girls) or working in the mines (men and boys).… Read the rest

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Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

My Favorite War

Director – Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen – 2020 – Latvia, Norway – 77m

****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

In World War Two. Latvia was caught between the Nazis and the Russians. After the Nazis capitulated, the country was absorbed into the Soviet Union. Ilze’s grandfather, a small farmer, was declared an Enemy of the State and sent to Siberia because he owned a small piece of land. Her Communist Party member father became a City Manager but he was killed in a car crash leaving her mother to bring up her and her brother alone.

At age three, Ilze’s parents risk everything by taking her to a forbidden beach a few miles from their home just so their young daughter can see the sea. This is the self-proclaimed “happiest country in the world” where party officials can queue jump and take the last pack of butter, where peace is paramount but shooting lessons are mandatory at school. As Ilze grows, she must keep quiet about all sorts of things or her mother will lose her job.

This is made using 2D cut-out animation in a highly unobtrusive manner. It’s so effective in fact that most of the time you don’t feel as if you’ve watching animation at all, just that the medium here is the best it could possibly be to tell the story.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Little Joe

Director – Jessica Hausner – 2019 – UK – Cert.12A – 105m

****

Available on Blu-ray from Monday, June 15th.

Currently streaming on BFI Player, iTunes, Amazon Prime and Curzon Home Cinema.

A scientific explanation follows a vertiginous shot circling over rows of plants in a high tech, white, laboratory nursery against an eerily unearthly electronic score. Alice (Emily Beecham) and Chris (Ben Whishaw) have genetically engineered a plant which in return for being looked after, watered regularly and talked to emits a scent which will make its carer/owner happy.

Outside of work, single mum Alice confides in her psychologist (Lindsay Duncan) her worries that she doesn’t give her young son Joe (Kit Connor) enough of her time. We sense that Alice is a control freak concerned that her “handling the unpredictable” job may include elements she can’t manage. Then she crosses a line by bringing one of the happiness plants home for Joe to nurture, naming it Little Joe. In caring for the plant, he sniffs its scent. As he becomes more and more occupied with the plant’s welfare, he neglects other things, including his hitherto beloved mother.

Over at DMovies.org I review Little Joe on its UK theatrical release.