Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Intimate Strangers (Wanbyeokhan tain)

Director – Lee Jae-kyoo – 2018 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 115m

****

Four couples attend a dinner party where a game with mobile phones threatens to revel all their intimate secrets – online from 2pm Friday, November 6th to 2pm Monday, November 9th, book here, from the Special Focus: Friends and Family strand of the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) taking place right now

A group of male friends since childhood and their wives and girlfriends meet for a house-warming of one of their number. One of the wives suggests a game. Why don’t they all put their mobile phones on the table and share any call, text, email or data that comes in?

Actually, it turns out there are some very good reasons why not – as they will all discover during the course of the evening. Indeed, the film’s final five minutes or so (and, strangely, this is not a spoiler) shows the couples driving home separately and contentedly after a pleasant evening where they wisely declined to play the game. All’s right with the world.

However, in between that coda and the opening, 34 years earlier prologue in which the four men’s childhood selves catch fish through a hole in the ice of a frozen river then spend the evening together round a camp fire in the dark, the four couples do indeed play this game at the present day house-warming.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Nocturnal

Director – Natalie Biancheri – 2019 – UK – Cert. 15 – 84m

***

A man becomes obsessed with a schoolgirl and starts spending more and more time with her at night – in cinemas and on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, September18th

A Yorkshire seaside town. Teenage schoolgirl Laurie (Lauren Coe) is training to be a sprinter and spends much of her time training at the school track. She’s spotted by odd job painter and decorator Pete (Cosmo Jarvis) whose regular girlfriend has just moved out of his apartment. Pete starts to take an interest in Laurie, eventually driving her out to a club then talking with her for hours in his flat.

From Laurie’s life at home with her mother Jean (Sadie Frost), it’s clear that they’ve only recently moved into the area. The girl has a healthy distrust of the older man who starts stalking her. She points out that he might be a serial killer, which he turns into a running joke. His interest seems pretty creepy though, so you do wonder if there’s any truth behind this banter. She’s a teenager playing at being an adult. When he takes her to a bar and they drink shots of whiskey, she is being sick soon after.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Transgression (Pagye)

Director – Kim Ki-young – 1974 – South Korea – 111m

*****

Buddhist, monastic drama. Celibacy confronts carnal desire and a new senior monk must be chosen as the incumbent nears death.

Free to view in the Korean Film Archive as part of

Korean Film Nights Online: Trapped! The Cinema of Confinement

(Friday, July 17th – Thursday, August 27th)

Viewing links at bottom of review

From its opening, a lengthy shot of a mountain hillside slope, this throws anyone unfamiliar with the more complex tenets of Buddhism in at the deep end, peppering voice-over and dialogue with words like ‘yulseong’ (“a monk that learns Buddha’s words”), ‘seonseong’ (“a monk that tries to emulate Buddha’s mind”) and ‘hwadu’ (“a kind of question that leads to seon”). A student disguises himself as a monk to gain admission to a Buddhist temple and see for himself what goes on there.

The temple monks meet to discuss their food problem. There are fifty older monks of more than twenty years’ standing and twenty younger newcomers. One of the old monks Doshim stole and sold some of the temple food. Another old monk tells newcomers that old monks are treated badly at the monastery, suffering deprivation of food, sleep and clothes.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Painted Bird (Nabarvené ptáče)

Director – Václav Marhoul – 2019 – Czech Republic – Cert. 18 – 169m

****1/2

An orphan boy meets a series of adults, a few kind but most cruel, travelling around Eastern Europe during World War Twoin cinemas and online at Amazon, BFI Player, Curzon Home Cinema, IFI@HOME, Rio Cinema Online and Vimeo On Demand in the UK from Friday, September 11th

You’re really not quite sure where you are for the first hour of this mammoth Czech production stuffed with Hollywood stars speaking not a word in English. A boy (Petr Kotlár) whose name we won’t discover until the film’s final minutes flees through a wood before being caught by bullies who burn and kill his pet ferret.

That proves prophetic because soon afterwards at night, he discovers that his aunt, with whom he lives, has died upright in her chair. He is so startled that he knocks over an oil lamp and burns the house down. Now he’s an orphan at the mercy of the world, which is not a pleasant one being Eastern Europe at the time of the second world war. The rural people are primitive. Christianity is largely a matter of ritual and superstition; belief in vampires is so widespread that a local witch can claim the boy is a vampire and be believed.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Yes, God, YES

A plea for honesty

Yes, God, YES
Directed by Karen Maine
Certificate 15, 77 minutes
Released digitally on 17 August

Despite its provocative title suggesting a racy sex comedy about religion, this is actually a gentle independent film exploring the everyday inadequacies of American teenagers growing up within a conservative Catholic tradition. Essential life issues, including sex, truth telling, lying and religion, come up.

There’s a rumour going round Alice’s Catholic high school that she (Natalie Dyer) has been “salad tossing”. Having no idea what this means, she spends much of the film trying to find out. Impressed that Nina (Alisha Boe) has been on a four-day camp and seems to have her life together, Alice signs up.

The camp takes place at a Catholic retreat centre staffed by a nun and Father Murphy (Timothy Simons). Alice is immediately attracted to Chris (Wolfgang Novogratz), the camp leader and school football team captain. When Nina asks Alice to surrender her watch and mobile phone “because you’re on Jesus’ time”, Alice keeps her phone hidden to play games on it… [Read the rest]

I review Yes, God, YES for Reform.

Available to view on Amazon Prime and iTunes.

Trailer:

Categories
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

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Young Ahmed (Le Jeune Ahmed)

Directors – Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne – 2019 – Belgium, France – 85m

***1/2

Exclusively on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, August 7th

Belgian teenager Ahmed (Idir Ben Addi) is having problems with his teacher Miss Inès (Myriem Akheddiou). As he sees it, she disrespects his Muslim faith. His life timetable is governed by the time table of not, as you might expect, his school but his mosque. He must attend prayers at a specific time. Actually, his teacher and school are more than accommodating of these demands, but that’s not how Ahmed sees it.

He has long and deep discussions with his local Imam, Youssouf (Othmane Moumen), a radical jihadist and frankly a pretty creepy individual. Ahmed looks up to and trusts him. More than he does his teacher who he accuses on various occasions of betraying the faith, having a Jewish boyfriend and being an infidel. (Incidentally, this being a French language movie the word ‘infidel’ has a direct meaning of ‘unfaithful’ in that language, something I’ve never noticed before.) More than he does his mother (Claire Bodson) who he berates for having the occasional drink or two. It doesn’t help that he seems to regard women and girls as unclean and inferior.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Giraffe

Director – Anna Sofie Hartmann – 2019 – Germany, Denmark – 82m

****

On MUBI from Thursday, August 6th. As part of a series of films from the 2019 Locarno Film Festival.

There is a beautiful, lengthy shot of a giraffe at the start. Beyond that, it’s hard to know why it’s called that. No doubt we’re meant to construct our own ideas as to why this might be so.

Leaving that aside, this is a curious film, part drama, part documentary. Some of the time, you’re not exactly sure which of the two you’re watching.

A link is being built between Denmark and Holland that will require the demolition of numerous 19th Century farmhouses in its path. It falls to ethnologist Dana, 38 (Lisa Loven Kongsli) to compile a record of these houses and the people who lived in them before they are gone forever. The premises vary from derelict to maintained with occupants about to move out.

Going through one of the derelict farmhouses, Dana discovers the diary of one if its occupants and starts reading. The woman lived alone but had occasional romantic visitors, a compelling tale – for Dana at least, since it seems uncannily to mirror her own existence.… 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

Virus Tropical

Director – Santiago Caicedo – 2017 – Colombia, Ecuador – 97m

****

Currently streaming on MUBI: scroll down for the link to subscribe.

Quito, 1976. Paola (voice as child: Martina Toro)is born as the youngest of three sisters, Claudia (Camila Valenzuela) is the oldest and Patty (voice as child: Maria Parada) the middle one. Her father Uriel (Diego León Hoyos) is a Catholic priest supposedly retired from the church but in practice still working. Apart from one daughter’s first communion, we see virtually nothing of his life as a priest. Fairly early on in the narrative he departs for another city to carry on his ministry, leaving his wife Hilda (Alejandra Borrero), the girls and the family housemaid Chavela (Javiera Valenzuela) behind. Although he returns to the family much later on, he is never more than a peripheral figure in what quickly becomes a story of a girl growing up in a mostly female environment.

At home, Paola plays alone with Barbie dolls and a lone Ken while mum struggles with the disobedient Claudia, worried that she’ll ruin her life with the wrong boy. Claudia turns this around to study fashion design in Italy, then unexpectedly marries someone and moves away to the Galapagos Islands at the last minute instead of going to college.… Read the rest