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Love Lies Bleeding
(2024)

Director – Rose Glass – 2024 – US – Cert. 15 – 104m

****

A small town member of staff at a gym falls hard for a bodybuilding drifter, both unaware that each has baggage which will cause the other considerable grief – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 3rd

The 1980s. New Mexico. Night. Rising up from a crack in the Earth. Towards the stars. And looking out over the small town, over the Crater Gym. We follow a woman inside. (Who is she? We never find out.) Bodybuilders work out. As Lou (Kristen Stewart) works to unclog a lavatory blocked with something resembling small human body parts (!), she is hassled by Daisy (Anna Baryshnikov) who appears to have been sexually close to her at some time, and possibly still is now only Lou doesn’t care.

Elsewhere in the night, a couple are having sex in a car. He (Dave Franco) is definitely enjoying it; she (Katy O’Brian), it’s hard to tell. She wants to know if she’ll get that job now. He says he’ll sort it. He warns her to be careful where she sleeps; this is a dangerous town. She finds a place at the side of a bridge; in the morning, it’s hot and sunny, she gets up and does her exercises using the edge of the bridge for pull-ups.… Read the rest

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Evil Does Not Exist
(Aku wa Sonzai Shinai,
悪は存在しない)

Director – Ryosuke Hamaguchi – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 106m

**

A small, unspoiled village community is visited by two representatives of a company planning to set up a glamping facility – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 5th

This starts and ends with a journey on foot through a forest with a viewpoint looking up at the branches of trees as quiet, meditative and arresting music by Eiko Ishibashi plays on the soundtrack.

A young girl of about eight (was it her viewpoint?) wanders through the woods.

A man chainsaws chopped tree trunks into small logs, then takes them near to his house to chop them for firewood. He puts several big, plastic cans in his car boot and drives out to a stream to fill them with water. Kazuo drops by to help the man load the filled bottles into his car. They hear gunshots, which the first man remarks he heard they were hunting in Kunihara.

At this point the first man Takumi (Hitoshi Omika) realises he’s forgotten to pick up his daughter from daycare, and drives over there to discover she’s given up waiting and walked home along. He finds her in the forest and gives Hana (Ryo Nishikawa), for that is her name, a piggyback home.… Read the rest

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Melancholia
(2011)

Director – Lars von Trier – 2011 – Denmark, France, Germany, Sweden – Cert. 15 – 135m

*****

End of the world drama concerns two sisters who must confront unspeakable disaster – original UK release date Friday, September 9th 2011 and back out again on Friday, September 1st 2023 as part of the season: Enduring Provocations: The Films Of Lars Von Trier.

There have been end of the world movies before, but this one, by Danish enfant terrible Lars von Trier, breaks the mould. It comes in three parts: a prelude of apocalyptic imagery including a view of the planet Melancholia crashing into and obliterating the planet Earth, followed by two lengthy sections concerning two sisters.

The first section has the newly-wed Justine (Kirsten Dunst) making a mess of her lavishly planned, obscenely expensive wedding party at the house of her sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and Claire’s wealthy husband John (Kiefer Sutherland).

The second has Claire, John, their pre-teen son Leo (Cameron Spurr) and Justine awaiting what may turn out to be either the close passing by of Melancholia to the Earth or the fatal collision of the larger planet with the smaller. Depending on whether the prelude’s pictured events are actually going to happen or merely an imagined worst case scenario.… Read the rest

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Infernal Affairs II
(Mou Gaan Dou II,
無間道II)

Directors Andrew Lau, Alan Mak – 2003 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 119m

***

Prequel in which a cop begins undercover in the triads and a triad undercover in the cops – reviewed for What’s On In London to coincide with UK cinema release, Friday, August 6th 2004

Set mostly in 2002, Infernal Affairs detailed the power struggle between undercover triad member Ming (Andy Lau) in the police and undercover cop Yan (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) in the triads. Neither star appears second time round, younger versions of their characters played instead by Edison Chen (Ming) and Shawn Yue (Yan). This strategy’s success is debatable since neither is as watchable.

More successfully, Eric Tsang and Anthony Wong reprise their roles as police inspector Wong and triad member Sam, with the original’s directors Andrew Lau and Alan Mak wisely placing these two rather than the youngsters centre stage. Hong Kong buffs will recognise worthwhile bit parts from Carina Lau (Days Of Being Wild, Wong Kar-wai, 1990) and Roy Cheung (City On Fire, Ringo Lam, 1987).

On one level, the film plays out as a buddy movie between honest, good-natured gangster (really) Sam and driven law enforcer Wong.… Read the rest

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Infernal Affairs
(Mou Gaan Dou,
無間道)

Directors Andrew Lau, Alan Mak – 2002 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 98m

*****

Two moles: a cop undercover in the triads and a triad undercover in the cops – reviewed for What’s On In London to coincide with UK cinema release, Friday, February 27th 2004

Hong Kong thrillers are known less for clarity of plot than for bravura action sequences popularised by The Matrix (Larry and Andy Wachowski, 1999). But this latest cops and triads entry manages an interesting twist on the theme of the undercover operative. Or rather, in this case, two undercover operatives.

Ming (Fulltime Killer’s Andy Lau) is a triad member commanded at age 18 by Triad boss Sam (Eric Tsang) to become a mole on the police force. The latter’s tip-offs about rival gangs have over a decade taken Ming’s career through Criminal Intelligence Bureau sergeant to possible head of Internal Affairs investigating… informational leaks to the Triads. Himself!

Yan (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai from every other Hong Kong movie you’ve ever seen) is Ming’s nemesis: Sam’s enforcer and a Triad member since his teenage years. But Yan is actually an undercover cop, a fact known only to his recruiter Superintendent Wong (Hard Boiled’s Anthony Wong).… Read the rest

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After the Storm
(Umi Yori
Mo Mada Fukaku,
海よりもまだ深く,
lit. Even Deeper
Than The Sea)

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2016 – Japan – Cert. PG – 118m

***

Ryota Shinoda (Hiroshi Abe) juggles child-care issues as a divorced father working for a detective agency which spies on clients’ spouses. A published writer with a single, acclaimed novel to his name, he has a minor gambling problem. Like the wife in I Wish, his ex Kyoko (Yoko Maki) thinks he was too obsessed with his art to spend enough time doing a proper job to provide the wherewithal to look after their family. His gambling scarcely helps.… [Read the full review at All The Anime]

Originally reviewed for All The Anime as part of Arrow’s Family Values Blu-ray box set which includes I Wish (2011), Like Father, Like Son (2013) and After the Storm (2016). Also available to rent on Amazon UK, BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema.

Trailer – After the Storm (2016):

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Finding Angel
(Cheonsaneun Baileoseu,
천사는 바이러스)

Director – Kim Seong-jun – 2021 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 114m

****

Who is the mysterious so-called ‘Angel’ who every Christmas delivers a box containing a large sum of money to a needy local resident of a small, rural town? – out in cinemas on Friday, November 26th

For the last seventeen years at Christmas, the ‘Faceless Angel’ has visited the town of Rohsong in Jeonju City, South Korea to leave a box containing money for a local person in need. Last year, an old woman received the money she needed for a knee operation. Who this person might actually be has remained a mystery, but the locals are glad the Angel is there doing what he or she is doing.

Wishing to solve the mystery and with the journalist’s scent of a good story, newspaperman Kim Ji-hoon (Park Sung-il from Samjin Company English Class, Lee Jong-pil, 2020) arrives in the town in December as the temperature plummets. He makes enquiries at the town office but the girl on the front desk (Lee Ga-kyung) stonewalls him. His attempts at talking to the townspeople don’t get him very far until he talks to old Miss Ok-bun (Moon Sook) about renting a room and she promptly puts him up in her freezing upstairs bedroom.… Read the rest

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Voice Of Silence
(Sorido Eopsi,
소리도 없이)

Director – Hong Eui-jung – 2020 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 99m

****

Things go from bad to worse for a mute forced to look after an 11-year-old girl for her kidnapper when the latter disappears in this ostensible crime drama – screened as a teaser screening for the London Korean Film Festival

From its opening this appears a crime film, but somewhere along the line, while remaining a crime film about two men involved in executing a kidnap who are increasingly out of their depth, it turns into…well, it’s hard to say. A drama? A comedy? One of those films like The House Of Us (Yoon Ge-eun, 2019) where the children seem far more important than the adults?

Chang-bok (Yoo Jae-myung) and Tae-in (Yoo Ah-in from Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018; Default, Choi Kook-Hee, 2018) drive their lorry into town to sell their eggs to anyone who’ll buy. Then the pair dress for their other job. In cagoules. To project their clothing from the blood. They work as a clean-up crew for gangsters – putting protective sheeting on the floor, cleaning up the mess afterwards. Not, however, the actual dirty work of killing, of which they keep well clear.… Read the rest

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Adoration

Director – Fabrice du Welz – 2019 – Belgium – 107m

*****

Boy meets girl. Alas, girl is in a psychiatric hospital convinced that the world is out to get her… in this filthy genius Belgian movie – from the BFI London Film Festival and available on BFI Player from Friday, December 11th

Twelve-year-old Paul (Thomas Gioria, familiar here as the child in Custody (Xavier Legrand, 2017) likes caring for animals. Such as, for example, the fallen chaffinch he discovers at the bottom of the tree in which he’s building a treehouse. He’s used to foraging outside for food. He spends much time in the woods surrounding the mental institution where his single parent mum works and has their accommodation. One of her conditions of employment, stressed by her female boss Dr. Loisel (Gwendolyn Gourvenec), is that Paul not have any contact with any of the institution’s patients.

One day, his playing is interrupted by the arrival of a girl about his own age in a red dress. The staff are looking for Gloria (Fantine Harduin). Before they find her and take her back into their care, she and Paul have made friends. Aware of the rules, he has admonished her that the institution must not even so much as see them together.… Read the rest

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Melancholic
(メランコリック)

Melancholic

Director – Seiji Tanaka – 2018 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 114m

*****

Melancholic

Director – Seiji Tanaka – 2016 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 15m

*****

On Dual Format Blu-ray/DVD, rental on Apple TV and Amazon from Monday, September 7th

Quiet, unemployed Tokyo University graduate Kazuhiko (Yoji Minagawa, also the film’s producer) lives with his similarly introverted parents. When one night his mum prematurely empties the family hot tub, he pays his first visit to the local bathhouse where he runs into chirpy classmate Yuri (Mebuki Yoshida) who talks him into attending their upcoming high school reunion.

At that event, he’s a fish out of water while everyone else gathers around the nondescript student Tamura (Yuta Okubo) who has since made good as a businessman and investor. Then Yuri rescues Kazuhiko and the pair sit conversing deeply on the staircase ignored by everyone else. A series of dinner dates follows, romance blossoms and before you know it he’s staying overnight at her flat.

Encouraged by Yuri, Kazuhiko gets himself one of two attendants’ jobs at the bathhouse run by the genial Mr. Azuma (Makoto Hada). Kazuhiko never wanted to go to work for a top company like most graduates and the work suits his temperament.… Read the rest