Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Eileen

Director – William Oldroyd – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 97 m

***** Most of the film

* The last five minutes

NSFW

In the 1960s, the life of a young woman working in a Boston boys’ correctional facility is turned on its head by the arrival of a radical, young woman prison psychologist from New York – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 1st.

I don’t usually start with the ending of the film – and I’m not about to deliver a spoiler – but the ending of Oldroyd’s otherwise enthralling drama (if that’s the right term – I’m not sure it is) takes everything that has gone before which appeared to be building up to something and unceremoniously dumps it, as if there were another twenty minutes that had been written but not shot and an unsatisfactory ending had been tacked on.

There’s always that feeling with a truly extraordinary movie when you watch it for the first time that you don’t want the filmmakers to screw up and let go of whatever it is that’s working. Well, this one is extraordinary right up to the last five minutes, when it completely loses it. Prior to that, it starts out as one thing, turns into something else then swerves and moves about all over the place, taking the viewer with it on a strange, unpredictable journey.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Open The Door
(Opeun Deo Do-eo,
오픈 더 도어)

Director – Chang Hang-jun – 2022 – US, South Korea – Cert. 15 – 72m

*****

Serial bad decisions in five reverse chronology episodes of a New Jersey, Korean migrant family’s life suggest terrible consequences – from LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival 2023 which runs in cinemas from Thursday, November 2nd to Thursday, November 16th

Chi-hoon (Seo Young-joo from The Age Of Shadows, Kim Ji-Woon, 2016; Moebius, Kim Ki-duk, 2013) drives over to the house of his sister and brother-in-law Moon-suk (Lee Soon-won). Moon-suk is alone, and invites him in, digging out a bottle of whiskey and the best food that can be eaten with it, kimchi. In the ensuing conversation, as the pair get more and more inebriated, various unpleasant family truths emerge. Their mother has severe health issues, the couple are in financial trouble, and Moon-suk casts doubt on his wife’s character, suggesting that she’s not the good person her brother believes her to be and accusing her of wanting to murder their mum.

However, Chi-hoon has a different agenda: he wants to know why Moon-suk has been regularly hitting his sister. At one point, Moon-suk goes into the bedroom, retrieves a revolver and hides it on his person.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Road
To The Race Track
(Gyeongmajang
Ganeun Kil,
경마장 가는 길)

Director – Jang Sun-woo – 1991 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 138m

*****

An academic returns to Korea expecting to hook up with the woman student with whom he lived in Paris, and they meet up, but she now repulses his physical advances part of a strand of films celebrating actress Kang Soo-Yeon (1966-2022) from LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival which runs in cinemas from Thursday, November 3rd to Thursday, November 17th

As soon as R (Moon Sung-keun) arrives at the airport in Korea, he makes contact with J (Kang Soo-Yeon) and they get a room together, but she confounds his expectations by fending off his attempts at physical sex with her. This wasn’t what he was expecting, since she seemed willing enough when they lived together in Paris. He is desperate to have sex with her, but instead she offers to drive him first to the bus station and then to his home town, where he is reunited with his wife (Kim Bo-yeon), kids and extended family.

Whatever affection he once had for his wife has long since evaporated, and he callously repulses her attempts at intimacy in the bedroom. Brief scenes between the husband and wife punctuate the remaining narrative, the wife becoming increasingly hostile.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

In Front Of Your Face
(Dangsin Eolgul Ap-eseo,
당신얼굴 앞에서)

Director – Hong Sang Soo – 2021 – South Korea – Cert. 12a – 85m

*****

A Korean-born actress returns from the US to spend time with those close to her and attend a meeting with a director for a possible acting job – out in UK cinemas on Friday, September 23rd

A woman on a sofa. She gets up but can’t wake the woman sleeping in the bedroom. Later Sangok (Lee Hyeyoung, the sofa one) and Jeongok (Cho Yunhee, the bedroom one) talk – Jeongok had been having a really vivid dream – and go out for coffee and breakfast to a pleasant lakeside café, followed by a visit to the local café run by Jeongok’s son and his girlfriend. Sangok has a meeting with a director later at a restaurant to discuss a possible film project. Going there in the taxi, she gets a message from director Jaewon (Kwon Haehyo) on her phone that the venue changed, so changes the destination. Her admiring host makes her feel at home enough to explain her situation – and why she feels unable to do the film, which leaves him in a state of shock.

In the latter part of his career, director Hong has honed his personal filmmaking style and vocabulary into a distinctive form uniquely his own.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Belle
(Ryu
To Sobakasu
No Hime,
竜とそばかすの姫)

Director – Mamoru Hosoda – 2021 – Japan – Cert. PG tbc – 121m

*****

A bereaved, teenage girl starts to emerge from her shell when she signs up for a virtual world on her smartphone – out on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday, June 27th and 4K UHD Blu-ray including the soundtrack from Thursday, July 7th

‘U’ is an internet, virtual world of high tech, futuristic architecture. When you sign up, you receive your own personalised avatar built from your biometrics. You have the chance to start over in a new world.

Teenager Suzu (voice: Kaho Nakamura) could do with that chance. She lives with her dad (voice: Koji Yakusho from Mirai, Mamoru Hosoda, 2018; The Third Murder, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2017; Pulse, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001; Shall We Dance, Masayuki Suo, 1996; Tampopo, Juzo Itami, 1985) in a small town somewhere in the East of Japan. She doesn’t really communicate with people at her school – not Luka (Tina Tamashiro), the sax player in the school band, not Kamishin (Shota Sometani from To The Ends Of The Earth, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2019; First Love, Takashi Miike, 2019; Foreboding, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2017; The Boy And The Beast, Mamoru Hosoda, 2015; Himizu, Sion Sono, 2011) who set up the canoe club but hasn’t been able to attract any members, not Shinobu (Ryo Narita) who proposed to her – well, told her he wanted to protect her – when she was six.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies Music

Annette

Director – Leos Carax – 2021 – France, US – Cert. 15 – 141m

****1/2

Musical conceived and composed by Sparks plays out as a very dark opera ending in tragedy – on MUBI from Friday, November 26th

Although billed as a musical, this may actually be closer to opera given that even though it starts as a story about two people deeply in love, it veers into very dark territory.

And yet framing all that, and underscoring it throughout, is the sheer pleasure of writing / composing songs… and, for that matter, performing them. The opening song is So May We Start while the closer, as the credits roll, is It’s The End. (For added enjoyment, watch 90% of the audience leave before the last song starts. Or in my case, 10% of my fellow critics.)

The former starts with the band, the brothers Mael (singer Russell and keyboard player / composer Ron, profiled in recent documentary The Sparks Brothers, Edgar Wright, 2021) and a backing band in a recording studio in an invitation for the proceedings to get going, swiftly joined by the film’s two leads, while the latter ends with seemingly the entire movie cast and crew walking through the countryside hoping we’ve enjoyed the show and asking us to tell our friends if we did so.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Killing
Of Two Lovers

Director – Robert Machoain – 2020 – UK – Cert. 15 – 84m

****1/2

A family man separated from his wife who has agreed they can each see other people is consumed with hate for the other man she is now seeing – in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, June 4th

Morning. She sleeps soundly, a man beside her in bed. A second man stands at the the foot of the bed pointing a revolver at her. The first two are unaware of this. Someone can be heard using the bathroom. The second man leaves through the bedroom window.

Small town America. Welcome to David’s world. He (Clayne Crawford) and wife Nikki (Sepideh Moafi) are experiencing marital problems. They have four kids, a teenage girl and three younger boys. As agreed, David has moved out to live with his infirm, widower dad a hundred yards down the road. The couple have agreed that, while they try and work things out between them, it’s okay for either of them to see other people.

However while David assents to this on an intellectual level, he doesn’t accept it at all on an emotional one. He has discovered his wife is seeing a man named Derek (Chris Coy) and is furious about it.… Read the rest