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Features Live Action Movies

Sheep Without A Shepherd (Wu Sha)

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

*****

A family stands together when their daughter kills the local police chief’s son who is both a rapist and blackmailer – available to rent online in the new Chinese Cinema Season 2021 in the UK & Ireland.

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

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Away

Director – Gints Zilbalodis – 2019 – Latvia – Cert. U – 75m
****1/2
Exclusively in these cinemas from Friday, August 28th

A boy hangs from a tree by a parachute in a wilderness. He wakes. A strange, towering black / grey figure approaches, shining as if metallic or viscous like a solidified, smooth, crude oil or tar. It picks him up. He is in a dark tunnel, light at one end. He goes the other way, is out of the giant’s clutches, runs. It slowly turns and lumbers after him. There are occasional, giant, semicircular hoops in his path. He goes through them, eventually entering a grotto which fully circular hoop the giant can’t follow. Welcome to the strange, dreamlike world of Away.

Beyond an abandoned motorbike, in the middle of the grotto, is a lake bordered with orange trees and the ocean. The boy feeds, bathes and makes the acquaintance of a shy, little yellow bird. Finding a key and a map in a rucksack, the boy learns that the semicircular hoops mark a route to a harbour. His bike will furnish him the means to get there. A flock of white birds is flying in the same direction, however the yellow bird can’t join them because it can’t fly.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Isle (Seom)

Director – Kim Ki-duk – 2000 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 89m

***

Review originally published in What’s On In London to coincide with the film’s UK theatrical release.

Latest UK release from Korean maverick director Kim Ki-duk (Bad Guy; Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring) has a unique setting: an isolated lake upon which float small chalets on rafts available for hire by punters. The proceedings never leave these immediate surroundings, which include the shack with a jetty on the shore – from which proprietress Hee-Jin (Im Suh Jung) hires out the chalets and sometimes her body – and a mysterious isle in the lake’s centre.

She embarks upon a relationship with life-weary punter and ex-cop Hyun-shik (Kim Yoo-suk), bringing unexpected changes to them both.

This is not a film for the faint-hearted, containing as it does some pretty unsettling imagery involving physical sexual activity and fish hooks, even if much of this is suggested rather than shown.

What we’re seeing here has been slightly pruned at the request of the UK censor the BBFC, notably of scenes involving the slicing off of a live fish’s sides before the camera which have been removed on grounds of animal cruelty.… Read the rest