Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Kingdom of the
Planet of the Apes

Director – Wes Ball – 2024 – US – Cert. 12a – 145m

*****

The fourth entry in the current franchise reboot takes place several generations after the previous three films when apes live in scattered communities and humans have lost the power of speech – out in UK cinemas on Thursday, May 9th

Noa (Owen Teague) has deep-seated feelings of failure. His father is the head of the Eagle Clan, a tribe of chimps who live in symbiosis with trained eagles, and Noa thinks nothing of scaling the highest local rock face to steal his own eagle egg for later bird rearing. He goes on such quests with his two loyal friends, the male Anaya (Travis Jeffery) and the female Soona (Lydia Peckham). He also values the wisdom of Raka (Peter Macon), an orangutan with considerable knowledge of the generations-old teachings of Ceasar.

Noa spots a human girl (Freya Allan) sneaking around the village and environs. A short while later, all hell breaks loose as a cavalry of masked apes attack and burn the village. Noa resolves to leave the safety of the local valley and venture into the land beyond on horseback, accompanied by Raka. They soon realise the non-speaking girl is following on foot, and no sooner have they coax her into joining their quest than they run into first a herd of humans at a small forest pool, then the mounted masked gorillas from whom they must rescue the silent girl.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Sweet East

Director – Sean Price Williams – 2023 – US – Cert. 18 – 104m

****

Dumping her boyfriend, a South Carolina high school student skips a class trip to Washington, DC and falls in with a series of outsiders living in their own isolated visions of America – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

Although this starts off with heroine Lilian (Talia Ryder from West Side Story, Stephen Spielberg, 2021) in bed with her boyfriend Troy (Jack Irv), and a lot of visible flesh, it’s not so much a sex scene as a scene in which two people talk about the ending of the movie they watched last night. Soon after, the pair and their classmates are piled into a coach, complete with tour guide, driving them to Washington, DC. When Troy and others lark around in hotel corridors, she doesn’t really feel part of what’s going on.

At a restaurant, she meets activist and body-piercing enthusiast Caleb (Earl Cave from True History of the Kelly Gang, Justin Kurzel, 2019, Days of the Bagnold Summer, Simon Bird, 2019), who without sexual intent shows her the piercings and metal studs encrusting his penis. Going with him and his fellow commune members to an activists’ event, she finds herself at an outdoor radicals’ fair where she meets Laurence (Simon Rex from Red Rocket, Sean Baker, 2021) to whom she gives her name as Annabelle and who kindly offers her a place to stay – his place in Delaware, no strings attached.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Epic Tails
(Pattie
Et La Colère
De Poséidon)

Director – David Alaux, Eric Tosti, Jean-François Tosti – 2022 – France – Cert. U – 95m – English language dubbed version

****

The adventurous mouse Pattie and her cautious, adoptive parent cat Sam help an ageing Jason and his skeletal Argonaut crew in a voyage to save the city of Yolcos from the wrath of Poseidon – out in UK cinemas in an English language dubbed version on Friday, February 10th

In Greek myth, forever immortalised in the cinema in Jason And The Argonauts (1963, Stop-Frame Animation & FX: Ray Harryhausen), the heroic Jason brings the Golden Fleece to his home city of Yolcos which then enjoys the protection of the Zeus against the unruly antics of the rest of the Gods in Mount Olympus. This French, animated children’s film, in which the two lead characters are anthropomorphised animals and which is released in the UK in an English language dubbed version, begins in that city around half a century later when Jason has reached a ripe old age and all his faithful Argonauts have died.

All the voice credits in the following review refer to the English language voice cast. Animation is different from live action, where dubbing can generally ruin actors’ performances in films, since in animation, voices and visual are created separately then married together.… Read the rest

Categories
Art Documentary Exhibitions Features Live Action Movies

Exhibition on Screen:
Hopper:
an American Love Story

Director – Phil Grabsky – 2022 – UK – Cert. 12a – 94m

*****

The story of American painter Edward Hopper, and how his artistic career was facilitated by his fellow artist wife Jo – originally out in UK cinemas on Tuesday, October 18th 2022, now available on home video (see bottom of review)

The latest entry in Grabsky’s generally excellent Exhibition On Screen series about art and artists covers the career of Edward Hopper to tie in with a major Hopper exhibition (Edward Hopper’s New York) at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. The big (and most welcome) surprise is that it charts not just Hopper’s life and work but also that of fellow artist Josephine Nivison, later his wife Josephine Nivison Hopper, whose career was largely eclipsed by his during his lifetime. To be fair, it doesn’t really go into her life before the point at which she became involved in his.

Hopper was born in 1882 and raised in the Nyack, New York house his parents had built (an enviable state, indicative of their and his time, which must surely influence one’s outlook on life). Religion and church were important to the Hoppers, but theirs was the brand of Christianity unafraid to engage with the outside world which at that time meant vast quantities of books and periodicals; the young Edward acquired a love of books from his avid reader father.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Vortex

Director – Gaspar Noé – 2021 – France – Cert. 15 – 142m

*****

An elderly man struggles to care for his ailing wife who has dementia – out in cinemas on Friday, May 13th

Discounting the lengthy titles detailing among other things the various film clips and images used, this throws us a series of images in a pillarboxed 4:3 format with curved corners at the edges (suggesting a projected slide show or physical, analogue photographs mounted in an album) then the young Françoise Hardy singing “Mon Amie La Rose” loads irony into the proceedings: the rose is fresh and speaks to us of love, the singer young and yet to be ravaged by the passage of time. (It’s not mentioned here, but last year, Hardy announced she could no longer sing as a result of cancer treatments, which lends the video a certain poignancy today – even more so in the context of this film.)

Then the man we’ll call the father (Dario Argento, director of such Italian gialli as Suspiria, 1977; Tenebrae, 1982) waves through windows across a courtyard at the woman we’ll call the mother (Françoise Lebrun from The Mother And The Whore, Jean Eustache, 1973) and they meet up for a glass of wine on their balcony.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Detention
(Fanxiao,
返校)

Director – John Hsu – 2019 – Taiwan – 12A – 103m

****

Two Taiwanese students find themselves trapped in their school overnight under that country’s White Terror regime in 1962 – on Shudder (US, Canada) from Monday, February 21st

This is a real oddity: an adaptation of a video game set in a specific historic period of political turmoil. That period is Taiwan’s White Terror (1949-87) under which, among other things, numerous books were banned by the ruling Kuomintang party on the grounds of promoting left-wing or Communist ideas. Merely reading some of these books could provide grounds for execution.

Like the video game, the film is set in the Greenwood High School. It’s 1962 and boy and girl students Fang Ray-shin (Gingle Wang) and Wei Chong-ting (Tseng Jing-Hua) find themselves trapped overnight in the school building after flood waters destroy the access road to the school. What follows isn’t particularly linear in terms of its narrative as school corridors, walkways, rooms and halls are visited by various supernatural beings and become scenes of terror, torture and execution.

The elliptical and sometimes repetitive nature of the storytelling and its component images mean that the film isn’t always that easy to follow, at least not to Western audiences familiar with mainstream Hollywood narrative.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Justine

Director – Jamie Patterson – 2021 – UK – Cert. 15 – 82m

***1/2

LGBQT romance. Fiercely intelligent, young woman living in Brighton with no prospects falls for a student teacher – out exclusively on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, February 5th

A young woman with a bruised lip soaks in the bath. Her landlord pounds on the door of the flat demanding rent. She gets out of the bath – in wet clothes, and answers, putting him off ’til another day.

Welcome to the world of Justine (Tallulah Haddon) – young, intelligent, in good health and damaged. She fills a plastic water bottle with vodka and swigs from it regularly. She hangs out and goes shoplifting with her best mate (Xavien Russell) who has his own problems – his mother has a new boyfriend who’s all over her and he can’t bear to be in the house. Regular meetings with her probation officer (Sian Reese-Williams) suggest a young woman closed in on herself, desperate for love and affection. No educational qualifications. No job. Lacking hope or ambition for anything. Except, perhaps, death or oblivion.

And yet, she loves to read. And one day browsing and lifting in a bookshop she spots a young woman.… Read the rest