Categories
Animation Movies Shorts

Golden Conch (金色的海)

Director – Wan Guchan – 1963 – China – Cert. N/C U – 36m

*****

A mermaid falls for a poor fisherman and moves in with him arousing the wrath of her sea goddess mother available to rent online from Friday, February 12th to Wednesday, May 12th in the UK & Ireland as part of the Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro in the Chinese Cinema Season 2021

A coral island, drifting mists, drifting faerie maidens. Underwater. Every morning, says the female narrator, a fisherman goes out in his boat and sings to these mermaids. But their mother the sea goddess doesn’t like to be disturbed so she hides the girls from him by increasing layers of blue fog. 

The fisherman goes about his work and his net keeps picking up a conch shell which he keeps throwing back in the water. When he returns home, there is food prepared on his table, which is odd because he lives alone. 

Next day when he’s out, the camera closes in on his simple cottage. Inside there’s an urn, inside the urn floats the golden conch (the image distorted by patterned glass) which lap dissolves into a faerie maiden. She walks round the house, magics a fire alight in his stove and opens the window to marvel at his singing. … Read the rest

Categories
Animation Movies Shorts

Fishing Child (Yu Tong, 渔童)

Director – Wan Guchan – 1959 – China – Cert. N/C U – 23m
*****
A Catholic priest attempts with the help of a local official to steal a magic, wealth-producing bowl from a poor fisherman – available to rent online from Friday, February 12th to Wednesday, May 12th in the UK & Ireland as part of the Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro in the Chinese Cinema Season 2021

Animation has long proved effective as a vehicle for mythology, fairy stories, folk tales and suchlike. This little film proves it again. Made using traditional 2D Disney style backgrounds and camerawork augmented with 2D cut-out characters, it’s also a visual marvel in which can also be seen the influences as diverse as Chinese art and UPA cartoons. 

A poor, coastal village is blockaded by foreign (i.e. European) ships preventing the local fishermen from pursuing their livelihood. That doesn’t however stop a local official from tormenting an old fisherman by demanding he pay Fish Tax. The man is flabbergasted since the blockade prevents him from working and therefore earning money, but the official insists, threatening to chop up the man’s boat with his axe if payment is not forthcoming the next day. 

Thinking as the rain pelts down, the understandably worried man decides to go out in the storm as the ships won’t be looking for fishermen and catch fish to pay the tax.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Make Up

Director – Claire Oakley – 2019 – UK – Cert. 15 – 85m

***1/2

In cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, July 31st.

Q&A with director Claire Oakley (recorded Monday, August 3rd).

I liked this a lot as it started off but less as it wore on. It has an enigmatic plot, a striking female cast and an intriguing location / setting. For me sadly the plot descended into cliché when it promised so much more. Other elements compensate however.

Ruth (Molly Windsor) heads down from Derby to join boyfriend Tom (Joseph Quinn) in the coastal Cornwall caravan park where he works on site in maintenance during the off-season, (cara)van provided. He’s delighted she can make it. Cue bedroom scenes. Ruth learns from facility manager Shirley (Lisa Palfrey) that Tom’s job is ideal for couples who live on site, which suits Ruth fine.

She’s less happy though when she tidies up the van and finds a red hair on an item of Tom’s clothing. Does he know someone with red hair? He never answers the question. But Ruth becomes obsessed with it. She imagines a red head disappearing round the side of a van. She goes paddling with 11 year old Kippa (Elodie Wilton) – to a depth of about four feet which when you can’t swim is not a smart move in surfing seas where the waves are high.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

The Red Turtle (La Tortue Rouge)

Director – Michaël Dudok De Wit – 2016 – France / Belgium / Japan – Cert. PG – 82m

*****

From the get-go, this is not your usual 2D animated film. The Red Turtle is slow-paced, has no dialogue and is certainly not aimed at children. Yet there’s nothing here you wouldn’t want kids to see, as its PG certificate testifies. Whether young minds would be spellbound or bored I wouldn’t like to say. Nor is it Studio Ghibli’s usual home-grown, Japanese fare being a French-Belgian production by a Dutch director based in London. Nor does it start off where you might expect.

A man adrift in a powerful, stormy grey sea is separated by some distance from his overturned, small boat. There is no indication of how he got there, and no flashbacks explain later on. Rather, the character reaches dry land and must survive there alone.

The story functions as an effective fable about adulthood and life. Michaël Dudok De Wit and his team brilliantly develop the character of the man through the various challenges he must face… [Read the rest]

Review originally published in DMovies.org, May 2017, to coincide with the film’s UK theatrical release.

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

White Squall

UK PAL Laserdisc review

SURROUND SOUND MOVIE OF THE MONTH

Dir Ridley Scott (1996) Starring Jeff Bridges, Caroline Goodall, John Savage, Scott Wolf, Balthazar Getty, Ryan Phillipe Dur 124min Dist Encore; £26.99 Cert 12 DS Widescreen

1961 and a group of final year High School students sign up for a yacht cruise halfway round the world and back under a disciplinarian Cap’n (Jeff Bridges), the type of leader who’ll scare a boy into climbing the rigging even though he knows the lad’s brother died from falling out of a tree and breaking his neck. They slowly come together as a crew but then tragedy strikes.

Despite visually prettified opening, Scott’s visuals capture minutiae of nautical detail building to a crescendo in the terrifying storm sequence, where amazing sound effects engulf the living room. Great cinematography, unwatchable without widescreen, is well served by the crisp image transfer. Woefully underrated on theatrical release – this is one hell of a disc!

Film 5/5

Picture 5/5

Sound 5/5

Reviewed for Home Entertainment.

Trailer: