Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

The Reason I Jump

Director – Jerry Rothwell – 2020 – UK – Cert. 12A – 82m

*****

The inner world of the autistic, explored through the writings and lives of autistic people and innovative cinematography and sound design – in cinemas from Friday, June 18th

Originally a remarkable book this saw autistic teenager Naoki Higashida communicate in prose what it’s like to be autistic to the rest of the world. Having already been widely read in its native Japan, the book achieved international acclaim after author David Mitchell and his wife Keiko Yoshida, whose son is autistic, were so taken with the book that they translated it to English. For Mitchell, the book provided the opportunity to understand the interior world and experience of his autistic son like nothing before it.

A film is a very different media from a book. That begs the question, if you wanted to make the book into a film, how would you go about it? Seasoned documentary film maker Jerry Rothwell (Deep Water, co-directed with Louise Osmond, 2006; How To Change The World, 2015) had some innovative ideas. One was to use Higashida’s writings as a spinal through line for the film, augmenting it with several other autistic people’s experiences.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Movies Shorts

Boxballet (Boxbalet, БоксБалет)

Director – Anton Dyakov – 2020 – Russia – 15m 15s

*****

A pencil-thin ballerina becomes involved with a rough, stocky boxer. Some things seem destined not to be… And yet… – from the Annecy 2021 Animation Festival in the Short Films In Competition section – Official 1

Olya and Evgeny live near each other’s flats. When running to catch the subway train, tall, thin ballerina Olya’s movements are grace personified, the epitome of precision timing. The world of shorter, stocky boxer Evgeny, whose face is a patchwork of scars from his career in the ring, couldn’t be more different. Should she object to the hands of her choreographer on her leg when he’s showing her the position she needs to achieve? Is he being a little overly fresh? She’s unaware of Evgeny buying booze from the local shop and drinking it at home.

Then one day, he sees her in distress and rescues her cat from a tree. She invites him in for a cup of tea, but his embarrassment there causes him to know a cup off the table, breaking it. She takes him to an art gallery, a shooting gallery, roller skating. He retrieves her bag after she’s robbed in broad daylight.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Lamya’s Poem

Director – Alex Kronemer – 2021 – US, Canada – 88m

****1/2

A young Syrian girl becomes a refugee at the same time as she explores the writings of 13th century poet Rumi in her dreams – from the Annecy 2021 Animation Festival in the Official Competition section

Lamya (Millie Davis) is a young girl living with her mum (Aya Bryn) in a city in Syria, her dad having been killed when he went out on a protest. Her tutor Mr. Habadani (Raoul Bhaneja) lends her a thick book of selected poetry by Rumi knowing her to be a voracious reader who will both get much out of the book and take good care of it.

Distant bombing raids seem to come closer every day until one day everyone needs to evacuate the locality. The day in question, Lamya has begged her mum to let her go to the shops with friends. Buying treats, she puts her backpack containing the poetry book on the floor only to find it gone seconds later.

The thief, a young boy named Bassam (Nissae Isen), is reprimanded by his mother and told to return the bag. A bomb raid turns the locality upside down. Unaware of Bassam and what’s been happening with him, Lamya finds the returned bag in the wreckage.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Art Features Movies

Snotty Boy (Rotzbub)

Directors – Santiago Lopez Jover, Marcus H. Rosenmüller – 2021 – Germany, Austria – 95m

*****

A young artist with a predilection for large ladies with large breasts finds himself in confrontation with closet Nazi racists – from the Annecy 2021 Animation Festival in the Official Competition section

1968, the small, rural German town of Siegheilkirchen. Teenage schoolboy Snotty Boy (voice: Markus Freistätter) is obsessed with members of the opposite sex. He is equally obsessed with drawing. He combines the two passions in making a flick book of newly arrived in town, large-breasted girl next door Trude (Katharina Straßer) in her underwear so he can watch her remove her bra whenever he wants.

Two boys at school, the enterpreneurial and duplicitous Spotface (Mario Canedo) and his side-kick Grasberger (Maurice Ernst) discover the book and befriend him so he can draw them pictures for sale to the town’s boys. Class swot and tell-tale Fridolin shows a purchased Trude drawing to his mother and gets Snotty Boy in trouble.

Such activities run counter to the way the authorities would have things. The school is run by a repressive priest (Juergen Maurer) who is first seen teaching his bored class of boys St. Paul’s admonition against fornication.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Archipelago (Archipel)

Director – Félix Dufour-Laperrière – 2021 – Canada – 72m

****

A journey along an estuary traversing its archipelago, perhaps real, perhaps imagined, a trip into an obscure territory of the mind – from the Annecy 2021 Animation Festival in the Official Competition Contrechamp section

Defying easy categorisation, this is a conversation between a woman on a journey and a man trying to convince her of her non-existence. The woman’s shape first appears as a framing device – through the moving shape that defines her we see locations, places and more. Eventually we see her too, as her representation changes from a moving window shape to a simple animated line drawing defining her features against what can be seen through the window of her shape.

Numerous elements jostle for attention as the film proceeds. On one level, it’s a journey along the Gulf of St Lawrence in the French-speaking part of Canada, the estuary of the river which connects the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. A train journey is represented by the view through a carriage window. There are numerous islands, some of which may be real. There are clips from black and white and occasionally colour travelogue documentary films.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Movies Music Shorts

Stationary Peaceful Protest

Directors – Xhosa Cole, Shiyi Li – 2021 – UK – cert. 15 tbc – 11m

*****

Sax player Xhosa Cole recounts a #blacklivesmatter rally in Birmingham while Shiyi Li provides incredible animated images – from Sheffield DocFest 2021

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of animation at Sheffield DocFest – maybe there is and I’ve yet to find it –  but there IS this terrific little short. The soundtrack is sax player Xhosa Cole’s monologue about driving to Birmingham for a Black Lives Matter rally which people of black, white and numerous other skin hues are attending. Beforehand, he debates whether to take his horn, and does so. At the rally, he runs into his old sax teacher and the pair improvise a duet, defusing a confrontation between a black woman and a black policewoman the details of which he never knows, showing great respect for both parties.

Set against the earnest voice-over are representational images of the narrative veering towards the abstract: Shiyi Li’s kinetic coloured shapes swirl around in a manner worthy of pioneering experimental animator Len Lye, who likewise often set his visuals against jazz music. Li’s imagery flirts with infographic iconography – for example, a walk on foot into the venue traverses a carpet which is also an arrow conveying a purpose, a sense of direction.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Live Action Movies Music Shorts

Blondie: Vivir En La Habana

Director – Rob Roth – 2021 – US – 18m

*****

Watch an incredible collision of cultures as new wave band Blondie tours Havana – from Sheffield DocFest 2021

Shot in several aspect ratios by multimedia artist and Blondie collaborator Roth (Doom Or Destiny music video, cert. 18, 2017; creative director on lead singer Debbie Harry’s memoir Face It, 2019), this is a vibrant, visual account of the band’s March 2019 tour of Havana. There are clips from songs recorded at several gigs here (with Harry sporting a variety of striking outfits) that make you wish you’d been there. For some songs, the band’s sound is augmented by Cuban musicians giving the likes of The Tide Is High a completely new lease of life.

Rather than going the obvious route and simply producing a film of the concerts – which I’m sure would be well-received by the band’s admirers, among whom I number myself – Roth has mashed the digitally produced concert footage up with Super 8 and 16mm footage of both Havana itself and members of the band.

He’s also had a lot of fun augmenting numerous live action shots with 2D animation drawn directly onto the moving images adding another layer to the already complex imagery.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

One Cut Of The Dead In Hollywood (Kamera Wo Tomeruna!, supin-ofu: Hariuddo daisakusen, カメラを止めるな!スピンオフ ハリウッド大作戦)

Director – Yuya Nakaizumi – 2019 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 57m

The first 16 minutes **1/2; the rest ***1/2

A zombie film being shot in one long, single take and set in a restaurant in Hollywood is attacked by zombies… or is it? – out as an extra on a One Cut Of The Dead Hollywood Edition Blu-ray on Monday, May 31st

Spoiler alert. The film is basically a copy of the first film, slightly tweaked but not really adding anything much to it. Similarly, this review is basically a copy of the review of the first film.

With a title that translates literally as “Don’t Stop The Camera! Spin-off: a great strategy for Hollywood!”, this is another loving homage to both the movie shot in one take and to the zombie movie. Or so it appears for its first 16 minutes, after which it turns into a comic drama about film making.

Let’s start where the film does, with its first 16 minutes. “6 Months after the tragedy, Chinatsu is a waitress in Hollywood. Struck dumb, she died her hair blond (sic) and renamed herself Holly.” Thus reads the opening title as waitress Holly / Chinatsu (Yuzuki Akiyama) ignores customer comments about her inability to speak.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

One Cut Of The Dead (Kamera Wo Tomeruna!, カメラを止めるな!)

Director – Shinichiro Ueda – 2017 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 96m

The first 37 minutes *****; the rest ***1/2

A zombie film being shot in one long, single take and set in an abandoned warehouse is attacked by zombies… or is it? – on a Hollywood Edition Blu-ray on Monday, May 31st

With a title that translates literally as “Don’t Stop The Camera!”, this is a loving homage to both the movie shot in one take and the zombie movie. Or so it appears for its first 37 minutes, after which it turns into a comic drama about film making.

Let’s start where the film does, with its first 37 minutes. Chinatsu (Yuzuki Akiyama) is defending herself with an axe from her boyfriend Ko (Kazuaki Nagaya) who has turned into a zombie. However, like the girl facing a knife-wielding maniac at the start of Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981) the actress playing her is not very good and the illusion of the film collapses much as the illusion of Blow Out does when the actress delivers the most pathetic scream you’ve ever heard.

As the film delivers its first revelation – that this is not a woman defending herself against a zombie but the shooting of a movie scene of an actress portraying a woman defending herself against an actor playing a zombie – director Higurashi (Takayuki Hamatsu) storms into the scene to berate her for her shortcomings.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Movies

Gunda

Director – Victor Kossakovsky – 2020 – US, Norway – Cert. PG – 93m

*****

Strangely compelling naturalistic, black and white documentary Gunda, follows the lives of a sow and her litter on a farm – in cinemas from Friday, June 4th

Break it down to its fundamental elements and cinema is sound and image. You can impose narrative on it. You can make a script and construct a story bolstered up by production design and soundtrack music. All that is an add on. You can throw most or all of that out, pick a subject you believe to be worthwhile and go out and shoot a documentary of it. In the current case, seasoned documentary film maker Kossakovsky has spent 30 years trying to find a producer who believed in this film enough to help him get it made.

Its subject is the lives of farm animals, and while these include one sequence featuring cows and another involving chickens, its main character is a pig. There are no spoken or written words in the film outside the written credits and the name Gunda visible at the start. The images are in black and white – they were shot in colour, which was then removed to cull the cuteness of the pink pigs.… Read the rest