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Features Live Action Movies

Hoard

Director – Luna Carmoon – 2023 – UK – Cert. – 126m

****

A young girl’s strange relationship with her rubbish-hoarding mother, cut short in childhood, leads to an equally bizarre bond in adult life – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 17th, with previews from Friday, May 3rd

When I first stumbled across the title of this film, and the image used to promote it of a young couple staring into what I took to be a circular hole, which, I realised after seeing the film, was in fact the outline of a communal bin of the type commonly found on an English housing estate, I guessed it was a thriller – two people stumble upon a hoard: a bag of money or otherwise valuable contents. A noun. However, after viewing, I now realise the title could equally well suggest an activity, a verb. To hoard. The act of hoarding. The state of being which is hoarding. The film isn’t really a thriller. To describe it as a drama might be closer to the mark, but that doesn’t prepare the viewer for how utterly strange and alien the experience of watching this is.

Because the narrative starts off with the relationship between Cynthia (Hayley Squires) and her pre-teenage daughter Maria (Lily-Beau Leach).… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Godzilla x Kong
The New Empire

Director – Adam Wingard – 2024 – US – Cert. 12a – 115m

*****

Godzilla must leave the surface world to team up with Kong in the subterranean Hollow Earth below to defeat a powerful enemy – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

The latest movie in the Toho / Warner Bros. Godzilla / Kong Monsterverse is globetrotting in scope, with scenes of monsters wreaking havoc in Rome and Rio; its central conceit is that Godzilla roams the surface of the Earth fighting off other monsters which humanity would be unable to see off alone, while Kong, reconceived as a similar size to Godzilla, lives in the subterranean paradise of Hollow Earth.

With one beast on the outer rim of the planet and the other in a world beneath its surface, there is no possibility one will run into the other, which fight would be devastating for mankind. To make sure the two monsters remain isolated from one another, the huge Monarch organisation monitors both constantly.

Yet a terrible force is on the ascendant in Hollow Earth, one that neither Kong nor Godzilla would be able to contain let alone defeat on their own. And so, to save humanity, they must join forces and fight it.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Silver Haze

Director – Sacha Polak – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 102m

*****

A young nurse – who seeks closure and revenge from being burned in a fire as a child – falls into a romantic attachment which may lead her towards a sense of community – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

This is the second collaboration between writer-director Polak and performer Vicky Knight, who in real life as a small child was burned in a fire and whose flesh is marked by the physical scars of that trauma. In Dirty God (2019), their first film together, Knight delivered a bravura performance as the victim of an acid attack.

In addition to her being compelling on the screen in that film, Knight apparently enjoyed the whole process of making and promoting it, and Polak wanted to do a further film with her, writing a twenty-page fictional treatment and then leaping into a shoot without fully knowing what she was doing. Her backers misunderstood her to be making a documentary about Knight, yet this is a work of fiction, using created characters to explore the effect of Knight’s real life trauma. If the scars are clearly visible on Knight’s body, what draws you in is something altogether beyond that, the trauma playing out in her interior life.… Read the rest

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Documentary Features Live Action Movies Music

Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus

Director – Neo Sora – 2023 – Japan – Cert. U – 103m

*****

Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto performs a final concert of his music in 2022, months before finally dying of cancer on March 28th, 2023 – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th, 2024

Released in the UK within a day of the anniversary of his passing, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s final concert is an intimate affair, shot in a sound studio by his son Neo Sora in crisp, iconic black and white, the sound of his piano recorded with state-of-the-art equipment. Within months of this performance, cancer would have taken him from us. This is very different from concert films where the performer(s) is / are still alive. Much of Sakamoto’s music tends towards the melancholy, and watching this remarkable, musical testament, one is constantly reminded of the fact that he is no longer with us.

Caught by the camera, he is clearly aware that he doesn’t have that much time left. One of the pieces, he struggles to get right. “This is too hard”, he says, “I need a break.” Nevertheless, the camera and sound recording equipment proceed to capture him playing his 20 chosen compositions with all the considerable skill of the great player that he is / was.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Lavender Hill Mob

Director – Charles Crichton – 1951 – UK – Cert. U – 78m

*****

A Bank of England employee stumbles upon the perfect means to rob his employer of the gold bullion he transports there on a daily basis– classic Ealing comedy is back out in a new 4k restoration in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

Holland (Alec Guinness) has a lowly job at the Bank of England supervising the transfer of recently minted bars of gold bullion to the bank’s secure vault by security van., He rides in the back and is forever asking the harried driver to check round the corner for suspected cars lying in wait to ambush the van. He is considered an honest nobody, an appearance he has cultivated for the best part of two decades. He has a mind to rob the van, if only he could work out how to smuggle the bullion out of the country.

Fate intervenes in the form of a newly arrived tenant at the downmarket Balmoral Guest House in Lavender Hill, where he lodges. Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway) runs a business selling tourist tat, including lead models of the Eiffel Tour for selling at that Parisian monument. He melts the lead down on his London premises to cast it into the models.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Drift

Director – Anthony Chen – 2023 – Singapore, UK, France, US – Cert. 15 – 93m

****

A Liberian woman and former London student from a privileged background has lost everything and lives on her wits in a Greek holiday resort until she makes a connection with a tour guide – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

A T-shirt-clad back sits on the beach, facing away from us, looking out to a calm, blue sky and sea. A figure of indeterminate gender at this point. In an isolated, unpopulated landscape. However, as this young black woman (Cynthia Erivo) starts to make her way around the place, elements of both are gradually revealed to us. She travels on a bus with white tourists to a small, sleepy town where Greek lettering on the shop signs gives us some idea of where we are. Later, she takes the return journey and is back on the beach. She washes her underwear (she appears to only have the one pair) and T-shirt in the sea, letting them dry in the sun while she shelters in a cave. She momentarily panics at the sight of a coastguard vessel before realising it’s merely a small fishing skiff.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Sweet East

Director – Sean Price Williams – 2023 – US – Cert. 18 – 104m

****

Dumping her boyfriend, a South Carolina high school student skips a class trip to Washington, DC and falls in with a series of outsiders living in their own isolated visions of America – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

Although this starts off with heroine Lilian (Talia Ryder from West Side Story, Stephen Spielberg, 2021) in bed with her boyfriend Troy (Jack Irv), and a lot of visible flesh, it’s not so much a sex scene as a scene in which two people talk about the ending of the movie they watched last night. Soon after, the pair and their classmates are piled into a coach, complete with tour guide, driving them to Washington, DC. When Troy and others lark around in hotel corridors, she doesn’t really feel part of what’s going on.

At a restaurant, she meets activist and body-piercing enthusiast Caleb (Earl Cave from True History of the Kelly Gang, Justin Kurzel, 2019, Days of the Bagnold Summer, Simon Bird, 2019), who without sexual intent shows her the piercings and metal studs encrusting his penis. Going with him and his fellow commune members to an activists’ event, she finds herself at an outdoor radicals’ fair where she meets Laurence (Simon Rex from Red Rocket, Sean Baker, 2021) to whom she gives her name as Annabelle and who kindly offers her a place to stay – his place in Delaware, no strings attached.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Shift

Director – Brock Heasley – 2023 – US – Cert. 12a – 115m

***

A former hedge fund manager is separated from his wife when a mysterious stranger ‘shifts’ him into a parallel world devoid of hopeout on digital from Monday, March 25th and Blu-ray / DVD from Monday, April 1st following its release in cinemas in the UK on Friday, December 15th

A fully clothed, bloody-handed man unexpectedly finds himself in the middle of a lake, swims to shore and, in voice-over, introduces us to a flashback as to how he got there. Fearing for his job security in a stock market crash, Wall Street hedge fund manager Kevin (Kristoffer Polaha from Jurassic World Dominion, Colin Trevorrow, 2022; Mad Men TV series, 2007-9) hits a hotel bar where he is approached by Molly (Elizabeth Tabish from The Chosen TV series, 2019-2024) who was dared to get him to date her by her three drinking companions.

To both of their surprises the pair end up going on a date, and then, in a rapid fire montage, marrying and having a child, only to later lose the child and have their relationship slowly implode as a result. One day, everything falls finally apart: he (it’s about him, not her) has failed to pay some bills, misses an important early morning meeting at the office, and is hit by another car whilst driving home talking to her on the phone.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Cape Fear
(1991)

Director – Martin Scorsese – 1991 – US – Cert. 18 – 128m

*****

A vicious ex-con seeks revenge on the family of the lawyer he sees responsible for his incarceration in prison – review from Strait – the Greenbelt Newspaper, March 1992.

Directed by Martin Scorsese with characteristic and frenetic energy, Cape Fear is his best movie in years. It ranks not so much alongside The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, file under embarrassing personal projects along with Until the End of the World, Wim Wenders, 1991) but rather as a companion piece to early collaborations with actor Robert De Niro like Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980).

Here, the actor is first glimpsed from behind as a muscled torso tattooed with the Scales of Justice and numerous biblical verses. It’s a foretaste of things to come.

While the original Cape Fear (J. Lee Thompson, 1962) had Robert Mitchum as ex-con Max Cady who terrorises the lawyer (and his wife and daughter) responsible for his prosecution, Scorsese’s remake borrows religious elements from another Mitchum-as-villain vehicle, Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955), in which his character justifies his actions in fundamentalist Christian terminology.

De Niro’s Cady is specifically a self-designated vessel of judgement upon the lawyer and his kin.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Ghostbusters
Frozen Empire

Director – Gil Kenan – 2023 – US – Cert. 12a – 115m

****

Back in New York, running the family Ghostbusters business out of the old fire station, the Spenglers must thwart an evil entity who possesses the power to freeze things – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 22nd

This sequel to Ghostbusters Afterlife (Jason Reitman, 2021), written by the same three-man writing team of father and son Ivan and Jason Reitman and Ghostbusters geek Gil Kenan, picks up and runs with some of the strengths of its predecessor even as it dispenses with others. One thing it dumps is the previous entry’s completely out-there originality; instead, it follows the time-honoured principle of Hollywood movie sequels: go out and make the first movie again.

It’s basically a rehash of the original Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984) with the younger generation of Spenglers standing in for the old, and with Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), Ray Stantz (Dan Ackroyd), Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) and Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) from the original helping the newer characters out. There is not, perhaps, as much of Bill Murray as one would like, and his heart doesn’t seem to be in it. Otherwise, though, fans of the franchise will probably be happy.… Read the rest