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To The Ends Of The Earth (Tabi No Owari Sekai No Hajimari)

Director – Kiyoshi Kurosawa – 2019 – Japan – 120m

****

As a Japanese TV journalist works with a Japanese camera crew in Uzbekistan, she meditates on her life and career – from the BFI London Film Festival 2019 and the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) 2019 – and from Wednesday, November 11th on MUBI as part of The Uncanny Universe of Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Yoko (Atsuko Maeda) is a TV journalist working with a production company trying to find magazine format stories as they travel around Uzbekistan. None of them speak Uzbek, so they rely on a local interpreter Temur (Adiz Rajabov). When not shooting, Yoko explores the local city.

The prodigious Kiyoshi Kurosawa is best known for his horror films Cure (1997) and Pulse/Kairo (2001) yet has dabbled in a wide variety of genres. This one is, for want of a better description, a travelogue with a hint of a musical. The heroine desperately wants to be a singer, but has found herself in the job of roving TV presenter – not exactly what she wanted to do, but it’s certainly show business. She wonders if she’s lost her way. Her boyfriend Ryo who we never see is a firefighter working back at Tokyo harbour with whom she periodically communicates by text.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Undergods

Director – Chino Moya – 2020 – UK – 91m

**1/2

World premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival on Sunday, August 30th. Plays again Wednesday, September 2nd.

In a grey urban environment resembling an unspecified city somewhere in Eastern Europe or possibly Russia, two lorry drivers go about their daily routine of picking up corpses from the street. These two characters form the frame story of what is to follow, although exactly what that is isn’t clear from the narrative’s meandering nature. There are stories within stories wherein the character you think is the main character is suddenly usurped by a different character. Several times over.

That’s a pity because they are potentially very interesting stories, so it’s frustrating to see them consistently half-baked. The anthology film is, after all, a tried and tested format and this film attempts do something radical and new with it. The problem is though, to make that form work you really need to understand its rules before you play around with them, break them, or abandon them altogether. This film seemingly lacks that understanding, or thinks you can throw away the framework and everything will still somehow work. It won’t. Or, at least, it doesn’t work here.… Read the rest