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Features Live Action Movies

EO (IO)

Director – Jerzy Skolimowski – 2022 – Poland – Cert. 15 – 88m

*****

Forced to leave his home in the circus, a donkey undergoes a series of adventures – out in UK cinemas on Friday, February 3rd

After an absence of some seven years from the cinema, Skolimowski has chosen to make a movie with an animal as its central character rather than a human being. EO is a donkey (played by some six donkeys over different parts of the film) who undergoes a series of adventures as things happen around him. He starts out as a performer in a circus with a girl called Kasandra (Sandra Drzymalska), who takes good care of him and treats him with genuine affection.

Life is good. But then he finds himself co-opted by (and Kasandra arguing with) another circus person Wasyl (Maciej Stepniak) who uses a whip on him to get him to drive a cart of rubbish to the local tip. These two episodes set the tone for what is to follow: while all the humans here use the animal for their own ends, some treat him with kindness while others don’t, rather using him as a means to an end without any sense of his being a conscious creature.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Saint Omer (Saint-Omer)

Director – Alice Diop – 2022 – France – Cert. 12a – 122m

*****

Researching a proposed book, an academic visits Saint Omer to attend the trial of a woman who murdered her own 15-month old baby – out in UK cinemas on Friday, February 3rd

Holding her baby, a woman walks into the sea.

University lecturer Rama (Kayije Kagame) plans to write a book based around a court case at the Saint Omer criminal court. Her head is full of memories of her mother, with whom her relationship could, at times, be tense. She takes the train to the town, which is in the Northernmost part of France, near the border with Belgium. The Senegalese defendant Laurence Coly (Guslagie Malanda) – the woman seen at the start of the film – is accused of the murder of her 15-month old child Elise.

In her defence, Coly, who has confessed to the murders, claims to have been cursed, that she herself therefore isn’t the party responsible for the killing. Her courtroom testimony unpacks her relationship with her separated parents: she lived with her mother but never really got on with her since they had little in common, while her father paid for her school tuition as he wanted her to study law.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Movies

Puss In Boots: The Last Wish

Directors – Joel Crawford, Januel Mercado – 2022 – US – Cert. PG – 102m

***

As he and others search for the legendary Wishing Star, the eponymous fairy tale character fears for his own mortality after losing eight of his nine lives – out in UK cinemas on Friday, February 5th

It’s been almost two decades since Dreamworks’ Shrek (Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jensen, 2001) turned the animated fairy tale on its head, upending convention to hilarious effect. However, this trick is near impossible to repeat and in animated Hollywood, the success of such a film inevitably engenders a demand for more. Shrek 2 (Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon, 2004) introduced Puss In Boots (voice: Antonio Banderas) and the character was given its own spin-off Puss In Boots (Chris Miller, 2011). Over a decade later, here’s the Puss In Boots sequel.

It starts off promisingly enough with Puss In Boots, voiced once again by Banderas, hosting a party for local townsfolk at his mansion. Only it isn’t his: in a nod to Robin Hood by way of Anti-Capitalism, he’s co-opted the lavish home of the local landowner for the people, and when the landowner turns up, he’s understandably annoyed – cue an hilarious dialogue exchange about “Su casa, mi casa”) – but no match for Puss’ skill with a rapier.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Whale

Director – Darren Aronofsky – 2022 – US – Cert. 15 – 117m

***

An obese man nearing his death must confront people from his past as well as incidental visits from the present– out in UK cinemas on Friday, February 3rd

A dysfunctional body, a dysfunctional family, a dysfunctional world. Charlie (Brendan Fraser) has so abused his body that his obesity is on the verge of killing him. He is bereaved of his gay partner for whom he left his wife and eight-year old daughter and earns his living as an online English language tutor for high school students. His nurse friend and unpaid carer Liz (Hong Chau) visits him at regular intervals, but can’t get him to go to hospital since he doesn’t have a healthcare plan and anyway resents pouring money into the healthcare system.

The healthcare element will look a little weird to anyone living in the UK with its “free at the point of need” National Health Service.

His other visitors in the course of the film are his estranged teenage daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink), his wife Mary (Samantha Morton), a suited missionary (Ty Simpkins) and fast food delivery boy (Sathya Sridharan), the latter mostly heard at the door and only finally glimpsed towards the end.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Fabelmans

Director – Steven Spielberg – 2022 – US – Cert. 12a – 151m

*****

The life and times of a young boy and amateur US movie maker whose extended family harbours an unexpected secret – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 27th

Throughout his career, Spielberg has continued to surprise. He’s made big blockbusters which seem, very often, to be about the intimacies of family relationships. Perhaps it was inevitable that, sooner or later, he would make something like The Fabelmans.

Orson Welles once said that Hollywood was the best train set a boy could have to play with. Presented with a train set, young Sammy Fabelman (Mateo Zoryan Francis-DeFord) plays with it by staging train crashes, about which behaviour his brilliant, scientific nerd father Burt (Paul Dano) is less than pleased.

However, his mother Mitzy (Michelle Williams), after some thought, realises that her son need to see the trains crash over and over again, so secretly allows him to stage a crash and film it with the family’s Super 8 home movie camera to enable his required repeat viewing. This kindles within the boy a desire to make his own movies, and soon he’s enlisting his family, friends and neighbours in these enterprises.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Plane

Director – Jean-François Richet – 2022 – UK, US – Cert. 15 – 107m

****

A commercial passenger aircraft flying through bad weather conditions gets into trouble and is forced to land on an island run by military insurgents – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 27th

While this is unlikely to win any Oscars, it’s a shrewdly put together action movie that gets everything right, tells its audience exactly what it’s going to do and then proceeds to do it, wrapping up everything very quickly in about thirty seconds once the narrative is over. That might not sound like much, but most action movies you see fail to meet such criteria. Moreover, a lot of action movies work perfectly well on a small screen, but this one works better if you see it on as big a screen as possible.

Singapore. Scotsman Brodie Torrance (Gerard Butler from 300, Zak Snyder, 2007) is cutting it fine and may be about to be late for work again. Since he’s an airline pilot, that’s quite a big deal. Somehow, he gets to the cockpit of the plane with enough time to introduce himself to his co-pilot Samuel Dele (Yosun An from Mulan) ahead of the pre-takeoff, routine inspection by an aviation official.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Wandering Earth II (Liulang Diqiu 2, 流浪地球 2)

Director – Frant Gwo – 2023 – China – Cert. 12a – 173m

***

Sequel – or rather prequel – wants to explain how it was that the Earth became the Wandering Earth, but instead throws convoluted plot, big budget effects and action set-pieces at us while not really explaining anything – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 27th

Gwo’s mega-expensive, blockbuster franchise is back for a second instalment, this time at three rather than two hours in length. Surprisingly, II isn’t so much a sequel to The Wandering Earth as a prequel which attempts to explain its predecessor by exploring many of the events which take place leading up to it, including the attempt by the United Earth Government (UEG) to launch the Wandering Earth Project, the complex system of jet engines constructed around the Equator like a belt round a large man’s belly to enable the ecologically-damaged Planet Earth to be piloted through space in an attempt to find a new home for the human race.

As if aware that three hours of interpersonal drama and action sequences based around this might prove too much for even the franchise’s most ardent fans, Gwo and his screenwriters build in a second plot involving Tu Yuheng (Chinese megastar Andy Lau) whose wife and small daughter are killed in a road accident.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Wandering Earth (Liulang Diqiu, 流浪地球)

Director – Frant Gwo – 2019 – China – Cert. 15 – 125m

**

An ecological disaster of a deep-frozen, future Planet Earth is powered through space by jets on its surface in search of an alternate living space for the endangered human race – on Netflix UK, with sequel now in cinemas

The child Liu Qi (Guo Hexuan) looks through a telescope at Jupiter with his dad Liu Peiqiang (Wu Jing from The Battle At Lake Changjin, Chen Kaige, Dante Lam, Tsui Hark, 2021) while his grandpa Han Ziang (Ng Man-tat) sits on a nearby chair. After dad leaves for the International Space Station (ISS), grandpa will be his guardian because grandpa will get dad’s place in the Underground City.

The sun will engulf the Earth in a hundred years. But the United Earth Government (UEG) has a solution: human migration to another location in space thanks to the Wandering Earth Project. Originally, all humanity was to shelter in the underground cities following the ecological disaster that turned the Earth’s surface into an uninhabitable, frozen wasteland.

17 years later, Liu Qi (Qu Chuxiao) has grown into a typically rebellious young man. Leaving a note for his grandpa guardian, he and his younger, school student sister Han Duoduo (Zhao Jinmei) depart the Underground City via a dubious deal for fake ID passes and the thermal suits necessary to survive the intense surface cold.… Read the rest

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Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Getting Away With Murder(s)

Director – David Nicholas Wilkinson – 2021 – UK – Cert. 15 – 175m

*****

Most of the perpetrators of the Holocaust were never prosecuted: this documentary attempts to understand why not – debuts on various streaming platforms UK, USA, Canada and Australia on Friday, January 27th 2023 (Holocaust Memorial Day)… Full details below review:

There’s something about the enormity of the issues involved here that makes this a very tough watch. (If it wasn’t, there would be something wrong. The Holocaust is not an easy issue to deal with. Films about it can consequently be tough to watch. And so they should be.) That combined with the near three-hour running time (this is not a complaint, honest) means it sat on my pending review pile for quite a while before I finally sat down and watched it.

I suspect Wilkinson is aware of this problem. As the film starts, he takes you (as it were) gently by the hand as he walks into Auschwitz and matter-of-factly discusses its horrors, helped by a man who works in the museum there and has probably helped numerous people before and since to come to terms with the implications of the place as they go round it.… Read the rest

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Animation Live Action Movies

Japan Foundation Tour 2023

This year’s Japan Foundation (JPF) Touring Programme, which runs throughout February and March and is celebrating its 20th edition, contains three manga-related live-action films and one anime. With screening venues spread widely over the UK, it covers the following two dozen UK cities: Aberystwyth, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Chester, Colchester, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, Kendal, Leicester, Lewes, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Norwich, Nottingham, Plymouth, Sheffield and York.

The JPF has a programme that uses a selection of mainly recent releases along with one or two older classics to show present-day Japanese cinema in a wider context. Hence the title of this year’s theme: Always Evolving: Japanese Cinema Then, Now, and for the Future.

The four manga-related titles are: BL Metamorphosis, Sensei, Would You Sit Beside Me?, My Broken Mariko and Blue Thermal (pictured), the only animated feature in this year’s programme.

[Read the full article at All The Anime].