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Features Live Action Movies

Mondays:
See You ‘This’ Week!
(Mondays/
Kono Taimu Ruupu,
Joshi ni Kizukasenaito Owaranai,
MONDAYS/
このタイムループ、
上司に気づかせないと
終わらない)

Director – Ryo Takebayashi – 2022 – Japan – Cert. – 82m

****

A comedy in which a group of office workers must find a way to escape the week-long time loop in which they find themselves trapped – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2024 between Friday, 2nd February and Sunday, 31st March

A dream. A Friday night conversation with the client she’s always wanted to work for and with whom she starts a job next Monday. Monday, October 25th. Akemi Yoshikawa (Wan Marui) wakes up in the office where she and advertising her co-workers have just pulled an all-nighter to get the presentations done for the client. They are exhausted, necks in travel pillows as they kip on the floor. A hapless bird strikes the window. Their middle-aged boss Mr. Nagahisa (Sports Makita) saunters in after a restful weekend.

Now Yoshiwaka must get working on that Miso Soup Soda Tablet product launch that the client wants to sound like something out of the ordinary. But then, the two guys at the next desk try to tell her that they are trapped in a time loop. They, as in, everyone in the office. She doesn’t really have the time to listen.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies Shorts

The Picks that spoiled our film critic!

Jeremy Clarke returns to the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in order to cover the Critics’ Picks section (which is now on its second year); he encounters what’s probably the strongest section of the event

Some people have a fear of flying. I don’t, but dislike of all the bureaucratic paraphernalia that surrounds airports. Not to mention London’s transport system, which is good most of the time, but not so much when it goes wrong. Coming home from the Festival last year, I got caught up in a tube strike. That didn’t happen this year. Indeed, the travel to and from the airport worked better for a number of reasons.

One was that the Festival’s hospitality team were kind enough to book my flights to and from Heathrow. This meant I could use the Elizabeth Line to travel to and from the airport. I currently live on the Victoria Line, which connects directly with three major rail terminals (Kings Cross, Euston, Victoria) but not the Elizabeth Line. The Elizabeth was all a bit too new last year, but Londoners who frequently travel into the centre of town as I do have got rather more used to it, and the Oxford Circus (Victoria Line) to Bond Street (Central Line) to Heathrow (Elizabeth Line) is reasonably easy to navigate.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Elemental

Director – Peter Sohn – 2023 – US – Cert. PG – 109m

*****

Can a romance between a girl of fire and a boy of water succeed in a city populated by beings of earth, air, fire and water where entrenched separate ethnic identities run deep? – latest Pixar / Disney animation is out in UK cinemas on Friday, July 7th

In search of a better life, a young fire people couple Bernie (voice: Ronnie Del Carmen) and Cinder (voice: Shila Ommi) move to Element City, which is populated by not only fire people but also earth people, air people and water people. The couple find a cheap, rundown place to rent and Bernie turns it into The Fireplace, a store selling all manner of fire products from the fire people’s culture. Cinder gives birth to a girl Ember who grows into a twentysomething (voice: Leah Lewis). The plan is that when Ember is ready, she should take over the running of the store and let Bernie peacefully retire. Managing shop customers can be challenging, however, and while Ember is good at most aspects of the job, she has one flaw that lets her down – her fiery temper: she loses it with the most difficult customers.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Plan 75

Director – Chie Hayakawa – 2022 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 113m

**1/2

Dystopian drama Plan 75 posits a plan whereby Japanese people can voluntarily have themselves terminated after age 75 and examines some of the resultant social fallout – out in UK cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, May 12th

Sedate classical piano music is playing on the soundtrack. The image – out of focus, could be looking down a corridor. After a long wait, a man in a T-shirt and jeans walks, in focus, into picture foreground. There appears to be blood on his arm and he is carrying a shotgun. Ahead of him, as it now comes into focus, the corridor floor is sparsely scattered with objects: a cup and a bowl, an old person’s walking stick with four legs, something else which we can’t quite make out. He washes at the sink. Another corridor – a fallen walking stick, a pair of slippers, an abandoned bathrobe or perhaps a towel, a collapsed, half-folded wheelchair, wheel still spinning. T-shirt and jeans with shotgun descends the stairs. After a contentious voice over, T-shirt and jeans waits a long while, then points the barrel of the shotgun at his head and uses his feet to pull the trigger.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Under
The Open Sky
(Subarashiki Sekai,
すばらしき世界)

Director – Miwa Nishikawa – 2020 – Japan – 126m

***1/2

A former yakuza killer having served his sentence for murder comes out of prison and attempts to go straight – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2023 between Friday, 3rd February and Friday, 31st March

Masao Mikami (Koji Yakusho) completes his prison sentence and comes out on good terms with the prison staff, who helpfully advise him, in an almost friendly manner, of not returning to his former ways. While it is indeed the convict’s intention to live within the law from here on in, there remains a gulf between him and those charged with guarding him. He thinks the courts should have given him a lesser sentence for the killing he committed, i.e. manslaughter motivated by self-defence not murder. However, he doesn’t appear to bear grudges about this. He seems to have a problem with losing his temper and controlling his anger, something he’s going to have to work on if he is to survive as a law-abiding citizen.

The Shojis (Isao Hashizume and Meiko Kaji), a sympathetic couple of around his age, provide him with free bed and board until he can find a job and get back on his feet.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Crimes
Of The Future
(2022)

Director – David Cronenberg – 2022 – Canada – Cert. 18 – 107m

*****

Even as two performance artists enact bizarre public rituals exploring the unlikely boundaries between sex, surgery and mutation, a young boy who eats plastic is murdered by his mother – out in UK cinemas on Friday, September 9th

Back in 1970, underground filmmaker Cronenberg made a film called Crimes Of The Future, inspired by the title of an unseen poem in an art film he’d seen several years earlier. That 1970 film, consisting of a cast on a campus of modernist architecture shot in colour without sync sound and deploying a monologue voice-over alternating with blocks of weird, improvised sound effects, bears little relation to this new one, except that it likewise briefly and peripherally features a dancer. More significantly, it also features a character whose body produces new organs. We don’t see them in that film, we merely hear a verbal description.

Fast-forward to the present and Cronenberg has had a career from the late 1970s through the 1990s making cinema features packed with icky special effects about something called The New Flesh followed by a series of (arguably) more mainstream, arthouse movies. To those who know the whole body of work, they’re all of a piece; however, to the newcomer they can be overwhelming or potentially offensive.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Awoke
(Bogji Sigdang,
복지식당)

Directors – Jung Jae-ik, Seo Tae-soo – 2021 – South Korea – 97m

****

Recovering from an accident that’s left him disabled, an honest but naive man falls prey to both social welfare bureaucracy and scam artists – from LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival which runs in cinemas from Thursday, November 4th to Friday, November 19th

Jae-gi (Jo Min-sang) wakes up in hospital to discover that he’s lost the use of both his left arm and his body from the waist down. Much less disabled fellow patient Bong-su (Song Min-hyuck) assures him he’ll get level 1 or 2 social security assessment – Bong-su has got level 2. Watching his assessment interview, however, it’s clear Bong-su knows how to game the system in his favour, playing limbs as painful, so he can’t move them, not being able to walk even the occasional step. This contrasts with Jae-gi’s assessment, where he tries to be honest and shows everything he can do with maximum effort. This gets him assessed as a woefully inadequate level 5, which means in effect he can’t get the level of help he needs to live in a dignified manner.

His cousin Eun-ju (Han Tae-gyeong) is a single parent mum living in the flat Jae-gi’s mum left him.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Art Movies Shorts

Opera

Director – Erick Oh – 2020 – South Korea – 9m

*****

Compelling, Oscar-nominated schematic of a self-contained society’s infrastructure behaviour and movement of groups of people within it over a day and a night – from the Annecy 2021 Animation Festival in the Short Films In Competition section – Official 4

This feels like it ought to exist as an art exhibit in a gallery playing over and over again. Watching it online, I went back and immediately rewatched bits of it until I’d seen the whole thing about five times. It’s like a massive moving painting where the camera starts at the top and slowly works its way down to the bottom before slowly panning up again. It makes me wonder if an installation version exists without the panning where visitor can just watch the whole thing on repeat until they’ve taken it all in.

It’s a picture of a self-contained society with the ruler at the top (and a deity above him/her), an elite, the workers at the bottom and several strata in between. In the space of nine minutes, we watch the sun come up and the society go through its daily ritual from morning to night then daily renewal in the morning.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Fukushima 50
(フクシマ50)

Director – Setsuro Wakamatsu – 2020 – Japan – Cert. 12 – 122m

****

Historically-based, disaster movie cum drama in which workers struggle to limit the considerable damage to a nuclear power plant hit by an earthquake then a tsunami – on VoD from Monday, March 8th

March 11th, 2011. A powerful earthquake followed by a tsunami hit Japan. Situated near the epicentre of the earthquake on the coast where the tsunami hits is a nuclear power plant. The resultant nuclear disaster threatens to decimate Japan. Coming in at slightly over 9.0, it remains the most powerful earthquake the country has ever experienced.

The above is history. The title Fukushima 50 is the name given to from the crew of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant who at considerable cost to their own health stayed at the plant to limit the damage as much as they could and prevent an undoubtedly appalling situation becoming far worse.

To anyone not well-versed in the specific technical minutiae of how a nuclear power plant works (i.e. most of us) much of what happens in the film is bewildering. Not that it really matters, frankly, because if someone looks at a gauge, reads off a number in units of which you’ve never heard and exclaims that they’ve got to get the number down, you have a pretty good idea what’s going on.… Read the rest