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Features Live Action Movies

A Quiet Place
Day One

Director – Michael Sarnoski – 2024 – US – Cert. 15 – 100m

*****

A terminally ill woman returns to the New York of her childhood as hostile aliens land and start wreaking havoc – franchise prequel is out in UK and Ireland cinemas on Friday, June 28th

Another attempt to duplicate the success of A Quiet Place (John Krasinski, 2018), this time by showing us the first day of the alien invasion in New York City, the sort of thing that couldn’t be done on the small budget of the original. Which sounds like more of the same – and on one level, that’s exactly what this is (so admirers of the original – among whom I number myself – wanting more aliens who hunt by sound, and more terrifying games of hide and seek with them, should find themselves more than satisfied).

There’s a curious attempt by the Studio’s marketing department to offer the chance to find out “why the world went quiet”, which is a great idea but bears no relation whatsoever to this film. Once you know that the aliens hunt by sound, so you must keep quiet to survive – revealed in the original film – this new film offers no further explanation as to why the world went quiet.… Read the rest

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Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Eternal You

Directors – Hans Block, Moritz Reisewieke – 2024 – US – Cert. – 87m

*****

People deal with bereavement with the help of interactive versions of their deceased, loved ones recreated by AI – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 28th

In a rare visual shot in this mostly verbally based documentary, an aerial shot of a graveyard, with light creating lots of little blocks of shadow as it falls on the ranks of gravestones, resembles a slice of internal computer electronics. It’s a pertinent pictorial moment that stands out from almost everything else here.

“Is there some reason you wouldn’t believe me?,” a woman asks her boyfriend. “You died,” comes the sceptical reply. Joshua, from Ontario, Canada, had to endure the trauma of watching the life support machines that were keeping her alive being switched off. After she died, about two weeks short of high school graduation which she was expected to pass, he got the school to graduate her. He later explains this by written chat to her interactive AI.

Psychiatrist Sherry Turkle talks about the problems people face coping with grief in the modern world, where they often live on their own following the death of a partner and don’t have an extended network of family around them like they would have done in former times.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

A Greyhound
of a Girl

Director – Enzo d’Alò – 2023 – Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, UK, Latvia, Estonia, Germany – Cert. U – 88m

****1/2

A young, cookery-obsessed girl with a fear of dogs must come to terms with the fact that her beloved granny is dying – animated feature is out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 28th

Ireland. Faced with an unsympathetic interview panel for the Ballymaloe Cooking School when she unwisely makes a tatty tart with bananas, young girl Mary (voice: Mia O’Connor) finds she has an ally in her granny (voice: Rosaleen Linehan) who gives the judges a friendly talking to when they reject her granddaughter. The girl can always come back next time. She and granny are driving home on a minor coastal road and granny is refusing to talk about her own childhood – apparently there was an incident involving a dog and a well – when granny swerves to avoid a dog and dents the car. Mary doesn’t like dogs, although she’s a caring child who stopped granny accidentally running over a hedgehog earlier.

Granny has been coughing all day. With the news that Mary’s bestie Ava (voice: Amelie Metacalf) is soon be leaving as her dad has got a job in England, it’s not a great time for the young girl, and it gets worse, when she discovers her gran has a fever and her mum calls an ambulance.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Kinds of Kindness

Director – Yorgos Lanthimos – 2023 – UK – Cert. 18 – 144m

***

A triptych of stories from rising star cult director Lanthimos performed by the same intimate, ensemble cast – baffling auteur exercise is out in UK and Ireland cinemas on Friday, June 28th

Beyond a description of its structure – three separate stories performed by the same ensemble cast directed by one of today’s more idiosyncratic directors – Kinds of Kindness is not an easy film to synopsize. If the term ‘kindness’ in the title is meant to relate to the stories, it’s not immediately obvious as to how that should be (unless kindness is being used in the sense of “type of category” as the stories seem to function, on one level at least, as exploration of categories of transgressive behaviour). In terms of actors giving performances, the film is a masterclass; in terms of technical achievement – camera, editing, sand so on – it’s top of the line stuff; yet, in terms of what the film is about, the point of it, why anyone would want to make this film, you may find yourself completely baffled.

The main cast comprises Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley with support from Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie and Hunter Schafer.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

The Glassworker
(Sheesha Gar,
شیشہ گ)

Director – Usman Riaz – 2024 – Pakistan, Spain – 98m

*****

The son of a pacifist glassblower learning his father’s trade falls for the violin-playing daughter of an army colonel in wartime – complex anti-war drama from the 2024 Annecy International Animation Festival in the Contrechamps section, released in Pakistan on Friday, 26th July 2024

If you knew nothing about this animated film beforehand, you’d assume it to be Japanese. Love it or hate it, most animation made in Japan falls within very distinctive, stylistic, visual parameters. According to the press blurb, director Riaz is an admirer of Studio Ghibli directors Miyazaki and Takahata as well as more recent directors Mamoru Hosoda and Satoshi Kon. Visually, the film feels more like a Miyazaki than anything else, and of comparable quality too. Yet it’s also highly original, and Riaz, here directing his first feature after a number of shorts, clearly has his own voice.

It opens with a frame story about youthful glassblower Vincent Oliver (voice: Sacha Dhawan) who, with the help of his father, is preparing for the opening of his debut glassware exhibition. He rereads a letter from a girl which his father (voice: Art Malik) had told him years ago to destroy in their workshop’s furnace.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Diplodocus
(Smok Diplodok)

Director – Wojtek Wawszczyk – 20234 – Poland – 84m

****

A young diplodocus must save the comic book in which he lives from being erased by the artist who created – from the 2024 Annecy International Animation Festival in the Annecy Presents section

Animation. A bookworm (English voice: Wayne Greyson; Polish voice: Tadeusz Baranowski) appears, a “respected devourer of picture stories”. His function is not exactly that of a Greek chorus, more like a comic interlude who occasionally wanders into the narrative as light relief, to leaven the whole. Not that this likeable romp, is any need of leavening, but it’s a nice touch which nicely sets the tone for the whole piece. It’s about characters in a comic book whose very existence is threatened by the originating artist’s run-in with his commercially driven but artistically clueless lady publisher.

Beyond a vast, bubbling, primeval swamp in a crater, an inventive and adventurous, male diplodocus child (English voice: Julian Wanderer; Polish voice: Mikołaj Wachowski), Diplodocus as the credits calls him, nicks snails off a frog to use as climbing suckers. A butterfly flies past. Diplodocus gets sent to his room by his essentially conservative parents (English voices: Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Marc Thompson; Polish voices: Monica Pikuła, Grzegorz Pawlak) for wanting a life of adventure.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

the G

Director – Karl R. Hearne – 2023 – Canada – Cert. 15 – 106m

*****

A 72-year-old conned out of her home and assets calls up someone from her past to exact revenge – gripping thriller is out in UK and Ireland cinemas on Friday, June 21st

After a brief opening in which two men complete the task of burying a third alive, this switches to a hospital appointment of Mrs. Hunter (Dale Dickey from Hell or High Water, David MacKenzie, 2016; Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik, 2010), 72 years old and gruffly describing herself as “socialite, retired”. She is accompanied by her grown-up granddaughter (Romane Denis), photogenic legs in tight shorts, and giving the middle finger to men who come on to her. The elder drives the younger home, deliberately missing the turn-off so they can spend more time together talking in the car.

Then Hunter returns to her condo to care for her bedridden partner Chip (Greg Ellwand from February, Oz Perkins, 2015), hit a bottle of vodka and perch precariously on a stepladder on her balcony to fix a dicky light. She is watched by a man from a car parked in the street. Next morning, there’s a knock at the door, and men including “your legal guardian Rivera” (Bruce Ramsay) and his assistant (Jonathan Koensgen) come into the apartment bearing a court order to move the couple to a facility.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

New Life

Director – John Rosman – 2023 – US – 85m

***1/2

Neither the widow nor the assassin pursuing her towards the Canadian border are quite what they seem – genre-bending thriller is out on digital in the UK

The sound of a distressed woman. Now we see her (Hayley Erin) – her head is bleeding as she walks. Away from – what? She makes it down the street in a very normal-looking, small town somewhere in Middle America, into her very ordinary, well-kept, no frills, suburban house. She washes the blood off her head, switches a hoodie for a sweater. Constantly checking around her, she sees the armed men in the hallway and exits through a window.

Another woman (Sonya Walger) puts down her handgun on the edge of a bathroom sink. She looks tired. The yellow post-it notes on her mirror read “I have unlimited opportunities to succeed” and “I am in the process of becoming the best version of myself”. She takes a pill from the ‘M’ compartment of a little circular dispenser marked in letters for days of the week. On her mobile, she hits Play on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, specifically the song Like a Rolling Stone.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Next Sohee
(Da-eum So-hee,
다음 소희)

Director – July Jung – 2022 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 134m

*****

A schoolgirl on an internship is appallingly exploited by her employers, and a police detective is called in to investigate – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th

Here’s a film which presents a real problem for reviewers. Something monumental happens in the middle of the film which entirely changes it. It’s a little bit like the shift from the traumatic drama to the police manhunt in High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) and a bit like the infamous shower scene in the middle of Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). And yet, the film is like neither of those classics in any other way (except, perhaps, the fact that it’s a remarkable film that will leave you with an indelible impression afterwards). Still, how much can a reviewer give away without ruining the film for audiences?

It’s very much a film of two halves. The first half centres around Sohee (Kim Se-eun), a star pupil at an average secondary school. She is obsessed with dancing, specifically the kind of dance moves associated with K-pop girl- and boy-bands. Among her friends are another former intern from her school who dropped out of her intern position and now spends her evenings getting paralytically drunk.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Wilding

Director – David Allen – 2023 – UK – Cert. PG – 75m

*****

How Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell closed down their failing farm and instead let nature run wild to regenerate the land’s depleted biodiversity – inspiring documentary is out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th

Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree (Lady Burrell) inherited the Knepp farm in West Sussex from his parents in the early 1980s. They kept it going for some 17 years. However, by the late 1990s, they were in debt to the tune of one and a half million pounds. Realising that agro-chemical pesticides and contemporary industrial farming practices were destroying the topsoil necessary for biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem, the couple then took the bold decision to stop farming and, with a little initial, minor tinkering, set about rewilding the land (i.e. letting nature take its course) and, hopefully, repair the damage done. They faced considerable opposition from the local farming community for the first five years or so. Then things began to happen which brought public opinion onto their side. In 2018, Isabella Tree wrote a book about the whole experience: Wilding: the return of nature to a British farm.

This documentary feature adaptation of Isabella’s eponymous 2018 book about their experience was shot during the pandemic and uses actors to portray the couple’s younger selves, so seamlessly cast that you actually don’t notice.… Read the rest