Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Next Sohee
(Da-eum So-hee,
다음 소희)

Director – July Jung – 2022 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 134m

*****

A schoolgirl on an internship is appallingly exploited by her employers, and a police detective is called in to investigate – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th

Here’s a film which presents a real problem for reviewers. Something monumental happens in the middle of the film which entirely changes it. It’s a little bit like the shift from the traumatic drama to the police manhunt in High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) and a bit like the infamous shower scene in the middle of Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). And yet, the film is like neither of those classics in any other way (except, perhaps, the fact that it’s a remarkable film that will leave you with an indelible impression afterwards). Still, how much can a reviewer give away without ruining the film for audiences?

It’s very much a film of two halves. The first half centres around Sohee (Kim Se-eun), a star pupil at an average secondary school. She is obsessed with dancing, specifically the kind of dance moves associated with K-pop girl- and boy-bands. Among her friends are another former intern from her school who dropped out of her intern position and now spends her evenings getting paralytically drunk.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Sweet East

Director – Sean Price Williams – 2023 – US – Cert. 18 – 104m

****

Dumping her boyfriend, a South Carolina high school student skips a class trip to Washington, DC and falls in with a series of outsiders living in their own isolated visions of America – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

Although this starts off with heroine Lilian (Talia Ryder from West Side Story, Stephen Spielberg, 2021) in bed with her boyfriend Troy (Jack Irv), and a lot of visible flesh, it’s not so much a sex scene as a scene in which two people talk about the ending of the movie they watched last night. Soon after, the pair and their classmates are piled into a coach, complete with tour guide, driving them to Washington, DC. When Troy and others lark around in hotel corridors, she doesn’t really feel part of what’s going on.

At a restaurant, she meets activist and body-piercing enthusiast Caleb (Earl Cave from True History of the Kelly Gang, Justin Kurzel, 2019, Days of the Bagnold Summer, Simon Bird, 2019), who without sexual intent shows her the piercings and metal studs encrusting his penis. Going with him and his fellow commune members to an activists’ event, she finds herself at an outdoor radicals’ fair where she meets Laurence (Simon Rex from Red Rocket, Sean Baker, 2021) to whom she gives her name as Annabelle and who kindly offers her a place to stay – his place in Delaware, no strings attached.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Holdovers

Director – Alexander Payne – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 133m

*****

A teenage pupil must remain at school in the care of his strict and widely despised Ancient History teacher over the 1970 Christmas holidays – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 19th

A school movie with a difference: this takes place not in term time, but in the holidays. Specifically, a New England boys’ boarding school in the 1970 Christmas holidays, when, for various reasons, five pupils – three teenage, two younger – are unable to go home for the seasonal break, so must instead be looked after by a member of staff at the school. That task falls to ancient history teacher Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti), who is filling in for the member of staff who made up a story about a difficult family health situation to get out of being lumbered with the task. Paul is put upon for jobs like this because he’s the guy who can’t say no; he’s also a stickler for hard work and discipline who is disliked by fellow teaching staff and pupils alike.

Once the other staff and students have left, one other person remains on the premises: the head cook Mary Lamb (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) who has a connection to the institution beyond her employment.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Mean Girls (2024)

Directors – Samantha Jayne, Arturo Perez Jr. – 2024 – US – Cert. 12a – 112m

**

A reimagining as a musical of the eponymous, 2004 US High School movie in which the new girl finds herself up against a girl clique – out in UK cinemas on Friday, Wednesday, January 17th

Raised and homeschooled on the open plains of Kenya, 16-year-old Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) is in for a shock when her mum suddenly decides the family is moving back to the US. The shock comes specifically in terms of High School, which she swiftly discovers to be a hostile world of exclusive cliques.

Two outsiders Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey) take it upon themselves to explain who’s who and against their advice, she falls in with the Plastics: Regina George (Reneé Rapp), Gretchen (Bebe Wood), and Karen (Avantika), a group of three rich, bitchy and style-obsessed girls who regard themselves as superior to everyone else.

Cady swiftly puts a foot wrong by falling head over heels for Regina’s boyfriend Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney), and the narrative swiftly develops into a conflict between her and the other three Plastics, particularly Regina. It’s a musical, too: cue song and dance numbers.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Tinker Ticker
(Deulgae,
들개,
lit. Wild Dog)

Director – Kim Jung-hoon – 2013 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 102m

*****

A university professor’s aide who in his spare time builds bombs and sends them to people free of charge connects with a spoiled student prepared to detonate them – from LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival 2023 which runs in cinemas from Thursday, November 2nd to Thursday, November 16th

High school student Park Jung-gu (Byun Yo-han) makes bombs as a hobby. Ten years later, he’s on the internet, sending bombs out free of charge to any interested parties. However, people who receive his bombs do nothing with them.

By day, Park works forBaek (Kim Jong-goo from Exit, Lee Sang-geun, 2019; Poetry, Lee Chang-dong, 2010; Nowhere To Hide, Le Myung-se, 1999), a lecturer in business studies at the local university, and watches arrogant, rich kid Lee Hyo-min (Park Jong-min from LKFF 2023 Closing Night Film Dr. Cheon And The Lost Talisman, Kim Seong-sik, 2023; Decision To Leave, Park Chan-wook, 2022; Deliver Us From Evil, Hong Won-chan, 2020; Netflix series Hellbound, Yeon Sang-ho, 2021) argue coherently against Baek’s pro-consumerist lecture and get failed in the course for his trouble.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

The First
Slam Dunk

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

*****

A high school basketball team sets out to defeat the seemingly unstoppable league champions – plays Annecy International Animation Festival from Wednesday, June 14th: Edinburgh Film Festival from Wednesday, August 22nd-23rd; out in UK and Ireland cinemas on Wednesday, August 30th

The coastal town of Shohoku. 11-year-old Ryota Miyagi (voice: Miyuri Shimabukuro) lives in the shadow of his 14-year-old, elder brother and school basketball star Sota (voice: Gakuto Kajiwara). One evening, Sota takes his younger sibling out for a practice at the local court, playing as hard as he can to push Ryota, which makes the youngster want to push himself harder still. Sota then alienates Ryota by going on a fishing trip with his peer group rather than respond to Ryota’s demand to extend their practice session. When his elder brother is tragically killed at sea, Ryota must both step into both the role of man of the house and prove himself in the school basketball team.

By the time Ryota is 17 (voice: Shugo Nakamura), he is one of the players on the Shohoku school basketball team which itself faces challenges: specifically, if it is to win the national championships, it must defeat the the seemingly unstoppable reigning champions the Sannoh school basketball club and their star player Masashi Kawata (voice: Mitsuaki Kanuka), Ryota’s opposite number (both wear their team’s no.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

The Tunnel
To Summer,
The Exit
Of Goodbyes
(Natsu
E No Tunnel,
Sayonara
No Deguchi,
夏へのトンネル、
さよならの出口)

Director – Tomohisa Taguchi – 2022 – Japan – Cert. – 83m

****

Damaged boy meets damaged girl one summer to discover a tunnel in which time passes much faster and innermost desires are fulfilled – from the 2023 Annecy International Animation Festival in the Official Competition section and out in UK cinemas on Friday, July 14th

A rural railway platform in the rain. Puddles on the platform. The tannoy states that the train is delayed by half an hour because it has collided with a deer. The standing boy explains to the sitting girl who isn’t from around these parts that that often happens in this region and offers her his umbrella. At first, she refuses thinking him a bit of a creep, but then comes round. They swap names and numbers on their phones so that she can return his umbrella. They read each other’s names out loud: she reads Tano Kaoru; he reads Hanashiro Anzu.

Next day, Kaoru (voice: Ouji Suzuka) takes the train to high school where the class is introduced to a new girl: it’s Anzu (voice: Marie Iitoyo). Like her initial coldness towards Kaoru, she ignores various girls attempts to be sociable and has a run in with the girl class bully Kawasaki (voice: Arisa Komiya), punching the latter in the face and causing a nosebleed when Kawasaki “accidentally” drops the old manga in which Anzu is engrossed onto the floor.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Spider-Man
Across
The Spider-Verse

Directors – Joachim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson – 2023 – US – Cert. PG – 140m

*****

Assorted Spider-Men and -Women interact across many multiverse worlds as an elite Spider force attempts to prevent their interactions causing disaster – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 2nd

The first part of a two-part sequel to Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse (Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, 2018) with the conclusion Spider-Man Beyond The Spider-Verse due for release next year. So be warned: Across ends mid-story with a To Be Continued… legend plastered across the screen.

Having played around with the multiverse concept in Into, Across ramps it up to overload, introducing new worlds with titles that appear on screen before you’ve worked out where you are, making you want to hit pause and stop and take it in. You can’t do that in a public cinema, where the image and sound is sharper than it is in the home but you have no personalised remote control, and that’s a defining characteristic of the theatrical cinema medium.

You can of course go back and see a movie again and again for successive viewings, and I imagine that will be happening a lot with Across during its theatrical run because its visuals are consistently amazing, but once it’s available on a home platform where you can freeze it, go back, look at bits of scenes again, this movie will take on a whole new life as the viewers interact with it at their own pace.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Boogeyman

Director – Rob Savage – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 98m

*** 1/2

Two sisters recently bereaved of their mother start to imagine something nasty waiting for them in the darkness of night – Stephen King adaptation is out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 2nd

An uninvited man Lester Billings (David Dalmachian) turns up at the home-based office of therapist Will Harper (Chris Messina) wanting to talk. His family died, and he is suspected of murdering them… but, he claims, it wasn’t him who did it. Harper has recently lost his wife, so it’s inevitable that Billings’ story will resonate with him. While Harper excuses himself to covertly call the police, Billings starts wandering round the home in which Harper lives with his two daughters – the teenage Sadie (Sophie Thatcher) and the much younger Sawyer (Vivien Lyra Blair).

The scene in the office is the Stephen King short story (published in his Night Shift collection) and only a small part of the movie. It is, however, a highly significant part – the incident that sparks everything else off. Billings claims his family was slain by a hideous monster, and the impressionable Sawyer is at the age of childhood where she imagines monsters lurking in the closet or hiding beneath the bed.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Shazam!
Fury Of The Gods

Director – David F. Sandberg – 2023 – US – Cert. – 130m

***1/2

Three Daughters of Atlas enter present day Philadelphia to repossess a staff which contains power that has been stolen from them; immature teenager recast as adult superhero Shazam! and his six superhero companions must stop them – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 17th

Something of an oddity in the DC Comics canon, Shazam! concerns Philadelphia teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who inadvertently absorbs superpower energy which enables him to transform into the adult superhero Shazam! (Zachary Levi) by merely uttering the word “Shazam!” However, despite the adult physique, he still thinks like a teenager. Outside of superhero life, he is one of seven orphans who, since the end of the original Shazam! (David F. Sandberg, 2019), have had the same thing happen to them. So, seven children, seven superheroes. And their two put-upon foster parents, Rosa and Victor Vásquez (Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews).

To be honest, I could take or leave the title character (as played by teenager Angel and adult Levi) but the other kids are likeable enough at least to the extent that their characters are fleshed out here… and some are fleshed out far more than others in the narrative.… Read the rest