Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Godzilla Minus One
(Gojira -1.0,
ゴジラ -1.0)

Director – Takashi Yamazaki – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 124m

*****

Japan, defeated and demoralised after World War Two, must somehow defeat the seemingly unstoppable menace of Godzilla when it rises from the depths of the ocean – out on Netflix from Sunday, June 1st

World War Two, Pacific theatre. Unwilling Kamikaze pilot Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) feigns engine trouble and lands on an island for aircraft maintenance, where he is grounded. While there, he notices deep sea fish curiously floating on the surface of the surrounding ocean: they presage the arrival of a huge monster, named Godzilla by the locals. With Koichi failing to fire his 20mm aircraft guns at the creature to kill it, almost everyone else on the small island is killed. (Whether his guns would have had any effect in halting the creature’s advance is debatable. They probably wouldn’t have had any effect whatsoever.) The only other survivor, who had previously congratulated Koichi for a near impossible landing on a tiny runway, blames him for the multiple deaths because he didn’t pull the trigger.

In 1945, in the ruins of post-war Tokyo, Shikishima is accused by a survivor – a woman whose children have died – of being a disgrace.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

My Extinction

Director – Josh Appignanesi – 2022 – UK – Cert. 15 – 80m

***

In which director Appignanesi chronicles both his unease at the climate crisis and what happens when he joins Extinction Rebellion to do something about it – world premiere on Thursday, June 29th at the Curzon Mayfair, out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 30th

As well as making small British narrative features (Female Human Animal, 2018; The Infidel, 2010), Aappignasi makes little diary films about his life. The previous two, in which his wife, the author and academic Devorah Baum, is credited as co-director, chart impending parenthood (The New Man, 2016) and their relationship (Husband, 2022). This third entry sees Josh hit a professional lull after a planned feature film falls apart and he wonders if his career as a film maker is over. Actually, he reiterates variants of this question at various points throughout the film.

At the same time, environmental activists Extinction Rebellion (XR) are on the TV news for bringing parts of London to a standstill. Cue a title sequence montage of collapsing ice shelf, burning tar sands, gridlocked London traffic, industrial pollution, a bewildered kangaroo with outback ablaze behind it, a flooded street with parked cars, a polar bear stranded on an ice floe, the UK government declaring a climate emergency in response to XR and Greta Thunberg’s “I want you to… act as if your house was on fire” speech.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Student
(Uchenik,
Учени́к)

Director – Kirill Serebrennikov – 2016 – Russia – Cert. 15 – 118m

****

An obsession with the Bible drives a Russian secondary school student towards dark designs in a film with both religious and political ramifications – out in cinemas on Friday, March 3rd 2017

Late teenager Venya (Pyotr Skvortsov) needs something to believe in. Both the State and its lackey the Orthodox Church have failed him. He spends much of his time either thumbing through his dog-eared pocket Bible or reading aloud from it to those around him. His lone parent mum (Yuliya Aug) initially thinks it’s a joke but comes to realise that her son’s rebellion is grounded in something she doesn’t really know or understand.

Most of his classmates are more interested in sex and larking about. Venya skips swimming lessons where he objects to the girls’ immodest bikinis. Later in an empty classroom he pushes away Lidia (Aleksandra Revenko) when she removes her top and throws herself at him. He spends time with bullied and disabled fellow student Grigoriy (Aleksandr Gorchilin) whose leg he promises to heal.

For the most part his school’s principal, teachers and even its Orthodox priest (who he dismisses as compromised and Mercedes-driving) can’t handle Venya.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Mauritanian

Director – Kevin Macdonald – 2021 – UK – Cert. 15 – 129m

****

A pro bono lawyer defends a post-9/11 terrorist suspect in Guantánamo Bay against his US Army prosecutor – plays Curzon Home Cinema rental from Monday, October 4th

Based on a true story, this kicks off in Mauritania, North West Africa in November 2001 – as a title tells us, two months after 9/11. Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim) walks on a beach then attends a Muslim wedding in Mauritania, to which he’s returned after living in abroad in Germany. During the celebrations, two local cops turn up and want him to come for questioning about his brother, whose current whereabouts he reminds them he doesn’t know. “The Americans are going crazy since the attacks two months ago,” they tell him. Momentarily alone, changing out of celebratory robes into something more casual, he erases his mobile phone contacts before agreeing to go with them.

Three years later, New Mexico law firm partner Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) learns of his disappearance and that the story has just broken in Der Spiegel that Slahi is currently allegedly being detained in Guantánamo Bay as “one of the organisers of 9/11”. The US government has recently stated that inmates have the right of ‘habeas corpus’ – if the evidence against them isn’t deemed sufficient to hold them in detention, they should be released.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Wendy

Director – Benh Zeitlin – 2021 – US – Cert. 12a – 111m

*****

A bold re-imagining of Peter Pan told through the eyes of Wendy which is unlike any other version of the story you’re likely to see – out in cinemas on Friday, August 13th

Her mother runs a fast and furious restaurant. Wendy (Tommie Lynn Milazzo) crawls along the long tables.

Boys play on trains on the nearby tracks outside.

Her brothers James (Gavin Naquin) and Douglas (Gage Naquin) come out to play on the jukebox, but quickly get thrown out for causing disruption. Through the night the goods trains pass. There’s a spark. Wendy, slightly older now (Devin France) sees something atop a train. A boy. She runs outside to chase the train. Her mother’s voice calls her back in.

The fast trains pass. One day she is on one, riding the rails. The boy (Dwight Henry) is in the freight car. He tells them to stand close to the open boxcar door. The train crosses a bridge over water. He pushes them out. They’re in the water.

Then they’re all in the boat, crossing the ocean to the island, Mother. They land. Beach. Forest. Geysers erupt.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Apostasy

Disfellowshipped

Apostasy
Written and Directed by Dan Kokotajlo
Certificate PG, 96 minutes
Released 27 July (Cinemas and On Demand)

First published in Reform magazine. Now on Amazon, BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema.

In Dan Kokotajlo’s debut feature film Apostasy, student sisters Alex (Molly Wright) and Luisa (Sacha Parkinson) and their working mum Ivanna (Siobhan Finneran) are Jehovah’s Witnesses in Manchester waiting for the New System, when Christ will return and paradise will be restored on earth. Alex has a blood condition and is only alive because a hospital nurse gave her a transfusion after birth before her mum and the elders were aware of it: now she’s 18 and must decide for herself whether she will allow transfusion in the event of a life-threatening emergency. She’s a model Witness, attending Urdu Bible classes in order to take the Word to the local ethnic minority community.

Luisa, in contrast, gets pregnant. Read the rest

First published in Reform magazine. Now on Amazon, BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema.

Trailer: