Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Holdovers

Director – Alexander Payne – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 133m

*****

A teenage pupil must remain at school in the care of his strict and widely despised Ancient History teacher over the 1970 Christmas holidays – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 19th

A school movie with a difference: this takes place not in term time, but in the holidays. Specifically, a New England boys’ boarding school in the 1970 Christmas holidays, when, for various reasons, five pupils – three teenage, two younger – are unable to go home for the seasonal break, so must instead be looked after by a member of staff at the school. That task falls to ancient history teacher Paul Hunham (Paul Giamatti), who is filling in for the member of staff who made up a story about a difficult family health situation to get out of being lumbered with the task. Paul is put upon for jobs like this because he’s the guy who can’t say no; he’s also a stickler for hard work and discipline who is disliked by fellow teaching staff and pupils alike.

Once the other staff and students have left, one other person remains on the premises: the head cook Mary Lamb (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) who has a connection to the institution beyond her employment.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Bolan’s Shoes

Director – Ian Puleston-Davies – 2022 – UK – Cert. 15 – 97m

****

Two traumatised siblings reconnect as adults years after a childhood coach crash coming back from a Liverpudlian orphanage trip to a T.Rex gig in the 1970s – out in UK cinemas on Friday, September 15th

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

Picture black. A radio DJ dedication to Bob and Sally. T.Rex’s Calling All Destroyers blasts out on the soundtrack against a sudden image of a coach travelling through the English countryside. On board: excited orphanage kids with the trip organiser Simon (Louis Emerick) plus their local vicar (Andrew Lancel) and his daughter Penny (Eden Beach). Sadie (Amelia Rose Smith) nuts Tommo (Alfie Donnahey) for, as she swearily and excitedly explains to Penny, picking on her older brother Jimmy (Isaac Lancel-Watkinson). There is blood. To the consternation of Simon, who isn’t going to let the incident get in the way of the day’s enjoyment. “You’ll thank me in later years,” he says. “You’ll be able to say, I was there.”

After the gig, Simon has fixed up a trip backstage for the kids to meet founding T.Rex member Marc Bolan, getting them past other fans waiting outside for a glimpse of their hero.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Breaking The Waves

Director – Lars von Trier – 1996 – Denmark, Sweden, France, Norway, Finland, Italy, Germany, US – Cert. 18 – 160m

*****

NSFW.

A mentally vulnerable, young woman in an austere Scots religious community marries an outsider only for her husband to be severely injured working on an oil rig – out in a 4K restoration in UK cinemas on Friday, Aug 4th

Divided into a series of chapter headings in which locked off camera shots are accompanied by popular 1970s rock songs which cut off or fade out before they reach their end, like much of von Trier’s work this is not a film for the faint-hearted.

Young woman Bess McNeill (Emily Watson) is questioned by the priest (Jonathan Hackett) of the local, austere Calvinist community before its elders as to her understanding of matrimony and warned against entering into that institution with an outsider. Nevertheless, she proceeds to marry non-religious oil rig worker Jan Nyman (Stellan Skarsgård). Their relationship is extremely carnal and she is deliriously happy until the time comes, as it must, for Jan to return to work on the rig. She finds his absence almost unbearable.

Then disaster strikes, with Jan seriously injured in a rig accident whilst trying to help an injured fellow worker.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

The Tunnel
To Summer,
The Exit
Of Goodbyes
(Natsu
E No Tunnel,
Sayonara
No Deguchi,
夏へのトンネル、
さよならの出口)

Director – Tomohisa Taguchi – 2022 – Japan – Cert. – 83m

****

Damaged boy meets damaged girl one summer to discover a tunnel in which time passes much faster and innermost desires are fulfilled – from the 2023 Annecy International Animation Festival in the Official Competition section and out in UK cinemas on Friday, July 14th

A rural railway platform in the rain. Puddles on the platform. The tannoy states that the train is delayed by half an hour because it has collided with a deer. The standing boy explains to the sitting girl who isn’t from around these parts that that often happens in this region and offers her his umbrella. At first, she refuses thinking him a bit of a creep, but then comes round. They swap names and numbers on their phones so that she can return his umbrella. They read each other’s names out loud: she reads Tano Kaoru; he reads Hanashiro Anzu.

Next day, Kaoru (voice: Ouji Suzuka) takes the train to high school where the class is introduced to a new girl: it’s Anzu (voice: Marie Iitoyo). Like her initial coldness towards Kaoru, she ignores various girls attempts to be sociable and has a run in with the girl class bully Kawasaki (voice: Arisa Komiya), punching the latter in the face and causing a nosebleed when Kawasaki “accidentally” drops the old manga in which Anzu is engrossed onto the floor.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Shazam!
Fury Of The Gods

Director – David F. Sandberg – 2023 – US – Cert. – 130m

***1/2

Three Daughters of Atlas enter present day Philadelphia to repossess a staff which contains power that has been stolen from them; immature teenager recast as adult superhero Shazam! and his six superhero companions must stop them – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 17th

Something of an oddity in the DC Comics canon, Shazam! concerns Philadelphia teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who inadvertently absorbs superpower energy which enables him to transform into the adult superhero Shazam! (Zachary Levi) by merely uttering the word “Shazam!” However, despite the adult physique, he still thinks like a teenager. Outside of superhero life, he is one of seven orphans who, since the end of the original Shazam! (David F. Sandberg, 2019), have had the same thing happen to them. So, seven children, seven superheroes. And their two put-upon foster parents, Rosa and Victor Vásquez (Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews).

To be honest, I could take or leave the title character (as played by teenager Angel and adult Levi) but the other kids are likeable enough at least to the extent that their characters are fleshed out here… and some are fleshed out far more than others in the narrative.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Brian And Charles

Director – Jim Archer – 2022 – UK – Cert. PG – 91m

***1/2

In rural Wales, an eccentric inventor builds a robot companion out of odds and ends, contends with the local bully and finds love – out in cinemas on Friday, July 8th, previews from Wednesday, July 6th

Welcome to the reclusive world of Brian (David Earl), an inventor in rural Wales who builds things in his shed. Scouring the area for piles of discarded junk, he repurposes bits and pieces in such objects as a flying cuckoo clock – if you’re wondering what the time is, you just look up in the sky and it tells you – which has wings, is powered by a bicycle and looks like it’ll never actually fly. June (Cara Chase), the friendly owner of the local store, is perturbed to see him trailing nets behind shoes.

Finding a mannequin head, he combines it with a washing machine for a body to create an ungainly, seven foot tall robot, Charles (Chris Hayward). Charles has an insatiable habit to finding out things about the world around him, and would ideally like to go travelling. Brian doesn’t think this is a good idea because the world isn’t a nice place.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

House Of Hummingbird
(Beol-Sae,
벌새)

Director – Kim Bora – 2018 – South Korea – 138m

***1/2

A teenage girl in Seoul, Korea, 1994, comes to terms with life on a number of levels – personal, family, social, political – plays in Korean Film Nights (KFN) Summer Nights at the Korean Cultural Centre (KCCUK) on Saturday, June 11th

Seoul, South Korea, 1994. Less than ten years since South Korea has become a democracy. The year of the Winter Olympics, the death of North Korean leader Kim Il-sung and the Seongsu Bridge collapse. The latter incident will leave its mark on some characters here.

Teenager Eun-hee’s mum and dad (Jung In-gi and Lee Seung-yeon) run a small food store, sourcing “only the finest ingredients”. On occasion, they deliver to other suppliers and the whole family is roped in to make sure the orders are prepped and sent out on time. They are fiercely proud parents who want only the best for their kids. The best, as they understand it, is doing well in the school and university system, presumably with the idea of getting a well-paid job afterwards.

This message is reinforced by her school. A male teacher has the girls chant, “I will go to / Seoul National University / instead of karaoke”.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

County Lines

Gang life

County Lines
Directed by Henry Blake
Certificate 15, 90 minutes
Released 4 December

*****

‘Do you know what an acceptable loss is?’, a voice asks a teenage boy. ‘In your business, you’re the acceptable loss.’ County Lines may be this year’s hardest hitting movie, a British drama about a vulnerable boy groomed into working for county lines drug networks. A tough film to watch that deserves to be widely seen, not least by teenagers, it’s an uncompromising look at a pressing social issue… [Read more]

Read the full review in Reform.

In cinemas and on VoD platforms including BFI Player, Curzon Home Cinema and IFI Online.

Also available as a Blu-ray / DVD combi pack.

Trailer:

Categories
Art Features Live Action Movies

Blue Spring
(Aoi Haru,
青い春)

Director – Toshiaki Toyoda – 2001 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 83m

*****

Dual format Blu-ray/DVD available at Arrow Video’s Third Window Films site.

Teenage high school movie Blue Spring (2001) centres on the leader of a violent boys’ gang in their final year. The nonchalant Kujo (Ryuhei Matsuda) has befriended Aoki (Hirofumi Arai in his debut role) since the latter first joined his class in their infancy: these days Aoki is Kujo’s number two. The gang now comprises eight boys and periodically re-stages a terrifying ritual. In the opening scene, four of the boys chicken out while the other four including Kujo and Aoki take part.

Their flat school roof has a one storey tower accessible by metal fire escape type stairs. On the roof’s edge is a metal railing overlooking the open ground in front of the school building. The four boys climb over the railing so that their backs are facing the several storey drop below and hold on to the railing with their hands… [Read more]

I reviewed Blue Spring for All The Anime on its 2019 Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format release.