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Animation Features Movies

Perfect Blue (Pafekuto Buru, パーフェクトブルー)

Director – Satoshi Kon – 1997 – Japan – Cert. 18 – 81m

*****

Multi-layered, identity crisis psycho thriller redefines the boundaries of animation, Japanese or otherwise – plays in the Anime season April / May 2022 at BFI Southbank

During a gig by girl pop trio CHAM, one of its three singers Mima announces her decision to quit the band. Her intention to pursue an acting career is a move designed to both help her escape the inevitable waning popularity of the pop idol and make the public take her more seriously than they would the innocent girl they perceive her pop idol / persona to be.

Her agent, a former pop idol herself, expresses concern when Mima is first required to play a rape scene in her new daytime TV soap Double Bind and second to pose nude for a photographer. But there’s worse to come for Mima as an internet fan page starts to chronicle an idealised version of her life and a series of bloody corpses start piling up in her wake.

Although it plays like an Argento or De Palma Hitchcockian thriller, Perfect Blue is in fact a cel animated, subtitled Japanese affair that once and for all kills off widespread misconceptions about animation – it’s neither for kids, nor cute, nor simplistic.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Shop Around The Corner

Director – Ernst Lubitsch – 1940 – US – Cert. PG – 99m

*****

Two store employees argue constantly, unaware they are perfect for one another – out in cinemas on Friday, December 3rd

It’s quite a shock to see an old Hollywood classic for the first time and realise that you’re seeing one of the greats of which you’ve somehow never heard, but that’s exactly what happened to me watching this extraordinarily charming film which is likely to appeal to anyone who loves the much more familiar It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946). Both have stories that culminate at Christmas, both star American everyman James Stewart, and both give off what you might call a generosity of spirit. But in other ways, they’re two very different films.

For a start, this is not set anywhere in the US but rather in Europe, specifically the Hungarian capital Budapest. And then, its subject is not so much a town and the people who live there as a department store and the people who work there. There are no rich people dubiously making money by exploiting the poor: certainly there are bosses and workers, but the former treats the latter well and might reasonably be described as benevolent.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

The Story Of Looking

Director – Mark Cousins – 2021 – UK – Cert. 15 – 87m

****

A highly personal film essay on the importance and significance of our visual senses – out in cinemas and on rental on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, September 17th

This opens with archive interview footage of musician Ray Charles, blind since losing his sight in childhood, asked about whether he’d like to have sight back. He says no – he’s already seen the things he needs to see and can picture them – the stars, his mother. And when he hears the news, there are a lot of things he frankly is glad he can’t see, and feels sorry for all the people who can. Pushed as to whether he’d like to be able to see for just one day, he’d less sure, responding with a guarded “maybe”.

This footage appears to be a touchstone for film-maker Cousins, who constantly refers back to it in this film essay. Another pertinent, recurring image is a man standing on a row of chimney pots. If we could see through his eyes, what would we see?

Cousins has spent a life looking at things, firstly as a human being with a visual leaning, then later on professionally as a film maker.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Shadows (殘影空間)

Director – Glenn Chan – 2020 – Hong Kong, China – 94m

*****

A forensic lady psychiatrist becomes convinced that a fellow psychiatrist’s treatment of his patients is encouraging them to commit murder – playing in the UK as part of the Chinese Visual Festival which runs until Sunday, July 25th

Award-winning social worker Chu kills his mother, wife and little girl before throwing himself out of a second floor window in a suicide attempt. Psychiatrist Dr. Tsui Ching (Stephy Tang from My Prince Edward, Norris Wong Yee-Lam, 2019; The Empty Hands, Chapman To, 2017) possesses the ability to see inside the subconscious mind of her patients, something she experiences like a vivid dream. She appears in a public talk before an audience alongside Dr.Yan. When he asks her view of humanity, she expresses her belief that people are inherently good. He thinks they are inherently bad, ascribing their motives to selfishness.

When Chu turns out to have been one of Dr.Yan’s patients, Tsui becomes convinced that by telling them to embrace their dark side rather than repress it, he is effectively encouraging them to commit murder. Advising Ho (Philip Keung – A Witness Out Of The Blue, Fung Chi-Keung, 2019; Tracey, Li Jun, 2018; Shock Wave, Herman Yau, 2017), the cop who is investigating the case, she persuades him without any admissable evidence to investigate all of Yan’s patients.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies Series Television

Black Cat Detective (Heimao Jingzhang, 黑猫警长)

Director – Dai Tielang – 2010 – China – Cert. N/C U – 76m

Parental Warning: Although this drawn animation has a (completely legitimate) recommended UK U certificate, it contains a lot of gun and knife violence and, in the subtitles, one swear word.

****

Black Cat Detective and his fellow police protect everyday citizens from nefarious criminal animals including a mouse mastermind – available to rent online in the UK & Ireland as part of the Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro in the Chinese Cinema Season 2021 from Friday, February 12th to Wednesday, May 12th

A purple mole proudly shows the children sacks of supplies stocked in his granary for the coming Winter. Unfortunately, an evil criminal mastermind mouse (backed by music with a stinger cue ripped off the opening of Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) has his eye on these stocks and breaks in with his gang who get drunk on red wine and oil before passing the sacks out of the granary window, which action alerts the mother mole whose attempt at stopping them is thwarted by their throwing enough sax onto her to pin her down.

The cops led by Black Cat Detective turn up to shoot at the mice, one of whom they hit, and arrest the mole children on the premises, quickly realising their mistake and releasing the latter.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Memory: The Origins Of Alien

Director – Alexandre O. Philippe – 2019 – US – Cert. 15 – 95m

**** 1/2

A detailed examination of the ideas and personalities behind Dan O’Bannon, H.R.Giger and Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 SF shocker Alien – in cinemas on Friday, August 30th 2019, and then on VoD the following Monday, September 2nd 2019

When Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) first came out, no one knew about its most notorious scene. These days it’s been so referenced in films, television and popular culture that everyone, it seems, does so. If you’ve never actually Alien, watch it before seeing this documentary or reading this review.

You’d be forgiven, as this new documentary starts, for thinking you’d wandered into a different film. Spiders on sun-drenched stone surfaces. Footage of Greek temples. But then, visuals clearly inspired by Alien show three Furies waking up on the floor of a spaceship interior and advancing towards camera. The voice-over invokes the myth of Clytemnestra and the Furies, although… [Read more…]

Memory: The Origins Of Alien is out in the UK on Friday, August 30th 2019, and then on VoD the following Monday, September 2nd 2019.

Review originally published in DMovies.org.

Trailer:

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

78/52

Director – Alexandre O. Philippe – 2017 – US – Cert. 15 – 91m

*****

Oh, mother, mother, what have you done??? Find out everything you ever wanted to know about the infamous shower scene, in this doc about Psycho – – in the London Film Festival on October 13th and 15th 2017, cinemas on Friday, November 3rd 2017, and then on DVD and BFI Player Rental in 2018

When Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock) first came out in 1960, no one knew about the shower scene. These days it’s been so referenced in films, television and popular culture that everyone, it seems, does so.

This documentary is called 78/52 after the shower scene’s number of set-ups (78) and cuts (52). Psycho was shot in four weeks; one of the four was dedicated to shooting that one scene.

In some ways, 78/52 doesn’t do what it says on the tin. It talks a lot about Psycho the cultural phenomenon before it eventually gets round to the shower scene… [Read the rest]

78/52 is on BFI Player. It played BFI London Film Festival 2017 prior to cinema and DVD release.

Full review: DMovies.org.

Trailer:

Psycho trailer:

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Detour

Director – Christopher Smith – 2016 – UK – Cert. 15 – 97m

****1/2

Should I stay or should I go? Smart thriller wherein a man’s life is literally split in two as he chooses between an ill-advised road trip to Vegas or staying at home with his hated stepfather – now on DVD and VoD

Opening with a lengthy, single locked off camera shot title sequence of a woman pole dancing, this then switches to law student Harper (Tye Sheridan – Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg, 2018) visiting his comatose mother in hospital. He’s convinced his stepfather is cheating on her using out of town business trips as a cover. Hitting a bar to drown his sorrows, he overhears a conversation in which Johnny Ray (Emory Cohen – Brooklyn, John Crowley, 2015) explains how his girlfriend Cherry shot a man who cut her face. Johnny Ray berates Harper for eavesdropping and drags him to the pole dancing joint where Cherry works and whisky gets Harper talking.

Brief echoes of Strangers On A Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951) are played up in the film’s trailer (at the bottom of this review) as Johnny Ray offers to take care of his stepdad at a price.… Read the rest