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Features Live Action Movies

Sasquatch Sunset

Director – David & Nathan Zellner – 2024 – US – Cert. 15 – 88m

****

As recreated by actors wearing primate suits, a family of Sasquatches are photographed in the wild over the course of a year – special previews from Monday, June 10th, before releasing across UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th.

In the US and Canada, the Bigfoot or Sasquatch is a staple of American folklore; a primate alleged to live in various American woodlands habitats, an assertion supported by such dubious artefacts as the Patterson-Gimlin film, amateur footage of a Bigfoot female walking through a forest. It’s far from conclusive, and could well be a man in an ape suit.

There is, however, no doubt whatsoever that the four Sasquatches in Sasquatch Sunset are human beings wearing ape suits. The film doesn’t try to pass itself off as anything other than actors playing a family of the creatures, and uses no narration voice-over to tell the audience what to think. Rather, it follows its creatures through a year of their existence in the wild, from Spring through Winter. It isn’t attempting to prove the existence of these creatures one way or the other; rather, it’s an attempt to imagine what they might look like and how they might behave if they were (or are) real.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Furiosa
A Mad Max Saga

Director – George Miller – 2024 – Australia – Cert. 15 – 148m

*****

Kidnapped by a biker gang she attacks, young Furiosa must make her way in the desert wasteland populated by despots, bikers, and gas truck drivers – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 124h

In the forest where fruit is plentiful near her home, young Furiosa (Alyla Browne, the lead in the upcoming Sting, LINK, Kiah Roache-Turner, 2023) spots a group of bikers who capture her as she tries to cut their bikes’ fuel lines. Her mother Mary Jabasa (Charlee Fraser) sets off across the desert in pursuit, stealing a bike from one of their number, only to be captured and crucified. Furiosa is taken to the biker’s despotic and nomadic leader Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), later escaping and falling in with gas truck driver Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke). Furiosa becomes a young woman (Anya Taylor-Joy) who as Jack’s protégé learns everything he knows.

The desert economy, where gasoline is the most precious commodity, consists of a wasteland in which are situated three strongholds: Gas Town, The Citadel and The Bullet Farm.

This prequel to Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015) was essentially written at the same time as that film as part of the process of understanding the backstory of Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron).… Read the rest

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Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Made in England:
The Films of
Powell and Pressburger

Director – David Hinton – 2023 – US – Cert. 12a – 129m

*****

Martin Scorsese talks about the seminal British filmmaking duo, and how they inspired his own movies – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 10th

As a child, Martin Scorsese suffered from asthma and would constantly find himself at home while other kids were outside playing. He often found himself sitting front of the black and white TV watching a show called Million Dollar Movie. This would show a movie a week, playing it several times, and it was at a time when US producers wouldn’t sell their movie rights to TV but British producers would. Consequently, he grew up watching black and white versions of old British movies.

The ones he particularly liked opened with an arrow hitting a target: “a production of the Archers. Written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.” When this logo and these names appeared, Scorsese always knew he was in good hands. He watched these movies over and over again whenever they were shown, and learned much of his filmmaking craft from them. The first of these films to which he thrilled didn’t have this logo: it was the Alexander Korda production of The Thief of Baghdad (Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, 1940) and parts of the film have the unmistakeable Powell visual stamp.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Boy Kills World

Director – Moritz Mohr – 2023 – Germany, US, South Africa – Cert. 18 – 111m

***1/2

Relentless, non-stop action via a deaf-mute, orphaned kid, schooled in martial arts, returning to the city as a grown man to wreak vengeance on those who killed his family – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 26th

Elite family the Van Der Koys have taken control of the city and instigated an annual ceremony known as The Culling, a physical contest staged for television in a vast arena in which anyone who opposes the Van Der Koys and the way they run the place is killed. This was of little concern to Boy, who as a child (twins Nicholas and Cameron Crovetti from TV series Big Little Lies, 2017-19) grew up in a carefree existence eating Frosty Pops cereal every morning with his sister Mina (Quinn Copeland) and, the pair naively making insulting hand gestures at publicly displayed Van Der Koy statues during the day which gets their family onto the list of candidates for The Culling. And so his parents and sister are despatched in the ceremony, leaving Boy a traumatised deaf-mute.

All of the above comes out early on in a mixture of flashback and over-the-top interior monologue (hilariously voiced by H.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Love Life
(LOVE LIFE)

Director – Koji Fukada – 2022 – Japan, France – Cert. 12a – 123m

*****

A tragedy involving a woman’s six-year-old child, abandoned by his birth father, wreaks havoc on her already strained relationship with the husband she has recently married – on BFI Player from Monday, November 6th following its release in UK cinemas on Friday, September 15th

A terrific drama about family relationships.

Recently married, young couple Jiro (Kento Nagayama from Villain, Lee Sang-il, 2010) and Taeko (Fumino Kimura) have a six-year-old, deaf boy Keita (Tetta Shimada), a national champion at the board game Othello, which he plays constantly with his mother or with players online. Several of his trophies are displayed in the family’s typical, small, apartment. Jiro’s parents Makoto (Tomoro Taguchi from Fukushima 50, Setsuro Wakamatsu, 2020; Dead Or Alive, Takashi Miike, 1999; Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989) and Akie (Misuzu Kanno from 37 Seconds, Hikari, 2019) live in a nearby apartment five or so minutes away across a park and a car park.

Jiro and Taeko invite them over, ostensibly to celebrate Keita’s latest victory but actually for a surprise 65th birthday party for Makoto.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Wicker Man:
The Final Cut

Director – Robin Hardy – 1973 – UK – Cert. 15 – 94m

*****

A Christian police sergeant investigating a missing child on a remote Scottish island meets a terrible fateout as a Collector’s Edition UHD / Blu-ray /DVD from Monday, September 25th following its release in UK cinemas in a 4K restoration from Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

(Originally reviewed for cinema release in a 2K restoration on Friday, September 27th, 2013)

Originally released forty years ago in the UK in a cut down version its director disliked, The Wicker Man now reaches our cinema screens in a longer, restored version which he says fulfils his original vision. Its plot is deceptively simple. A Christian police sergeant flies to a remote Scottish island in response to a letter about a missing child. But when he arrives on Summerisle, no-one seems to have heard of that child. It gradually emerges that the policeman has stumbled into an intricate web of lies and deceit wherein a terrible fate awaits him….

Using material from a recently discovered, longer US release print – rechristened The Final Cut by Hardy who assembled this cut in 1979 – it’s a provocative work on a number of levels.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Vampire
Vs
Vampire
(Yi Mei Dao Ren,
一眉道人)

Director – Lam Ching-ying – 1989 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 87m

***1/2

A Taoist priest must defeat various supernatural forces including a Western-style vampire occupying a coffin in an old church – out on Blu-ray in the UK on Monday, May 22nd as part of Eureka! Video’s Hopping Mad: The Mr. Vampire Sequels

Turned into a star by playing the Taoist priest who fights off jiangshi (hopping corpses) in the Mr. Vampire films, Lam went on to play similar characters in films and TV for the rest of his career until his death at age 44 in 1997. He directed this particular film himself, and while it sits easily alongside the ‘official’ Mr. Vampire entries, it’s a little bit different.

Once again, Lam’s Taoist priest and two bumbling assistants Hoh (Chin Siu-ho) and Fong (Lui Fong) battle with ghosts and other supernatural forces. First up is a ghost made up of excrement and teeth which escapes from imprisonment in a jar exposed to too much moonlight, which trope inverts Western vampire lore about burning up in sunlight.

Given directorial reins, Lam shows surprisingly little interest in jiangshi, their presence consisting of one friendly child (Lam Jing-wang) inspired by Mr.Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Mr. Vampire III
(Ling Wan
Sin Sang,
靈幻先生)

Director – Ricky Lau – 1987 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 88m
***1/2
Stunt-filled action comedy in which a travelling con-artist in cahoots with ghosts helps a Taoist priest fight a gang of horse thieves led by an evil sorceress – out on Blu-ray in the UK on Monday, May 22nd as part of Eureka! Video’s Hopping Mad: The Mr. Vampire Sequels

The third ‘official’ Mr. Vampire film (i.e. to be made by Sammo Hung / Leonard Ho’s Bo Ho Films company).

Set in the early twentieth century of the original Mr. Vampire, this once again takes the constituent parts of the original and shakes everything up a bit to come up with something at once different yet recognisably the same.

Taoist priest Ming (Richard Ng) is not terribly good at the job, so is getting by as a con artist going from village to village banishing ghosts for anyone who’ll pay him, the con element being that he has two ghost assistants, the adult Big Pao (David Lui Fong) and the small boy Small Pao (Hoh Kin-wai from Mr. Vampire II) who act out the part of being banished. Real ghosts with a nasty habit of appearing and messing things up force him to move on.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Mr. Vampire II
(Geung See
Ga Zuk,
殭屍家族)

Director – Ricky Lau – 1986 – Hong Kong – Cert. 12 – 89m

*****

After a professor unearths a family of undead corpses, the child befriends a little girl and the parents go looking for it – out on Blu-ray in the UK on Monday, May 22nd as part of Eureka! Video’s Hopping Mad: The Mr. Vampire Sequels

The second ‘official’ Mr. Vampire film (i.e. to be made by Sammo Hung / Leonard Ho’s Bo Ho Films company).

A professor (Fat Chung) leads his two hapless assistants Chicken (Billy Lau) and Sashimi (Lau Chau-sang) on an archaeological dig, sending them into a cave where they find a family of corpses (father, mother, small boy played by Cheung Wing-cheung, Pauline Wong and Hoh Kin-wai respectively) immobilised by talismans on their foreheads, and take them back to the professor’s workshop. As the professor and Sashimi are driving the child corpse, the talisman comes off, and it comes to life, later escaping to a house where it is found and befriended by a little girl Chia-Chia (Hon Kin-yu), who keeps it hidden in her room from her widowed father Mr. Hu (Woo Fung). She introduces it to her brother (Choi Man-kam) and later to four of their friends.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Movies

Guillermo del Toro’s
Pinocchio

Directors – Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson – 2022 – US – Cert. PG – 114m

*****

Created as a puppet by a bereaved, religious woodcarver father, a little wooden boy must make his way in a world of ruthless show business, Fascism and war – stop-frame puppet movie is out on Netflix on Friday, December 9th

Co-helmed by Will Vinton alumnus Gustafson, del Toro’s Carlo Collodi adaptation sees him return to the theme of the Catholic Church collaborating with Fascism that he previously explored in Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). The story roughly follows the familiar template of Disney’s Pinocchio (1940), even down to punctuating the action with songs, but with the loosely defined place and time of a fairytale shifted to a very specific Italy before (briefly) and during World War II, with Pleasure Island replaced by a boys’ military training camp. The emphasis has shifted, too, from the notion of the narrator cricket character as conscience to coming to terms with mortality, although the idea that just because things appear to be fun they may not necessarily be good is knocking around in there too.

A narrator who will later identify himself as Sebastian J. Cricket (voice: Ewan McGregor) introduces us to churchgoing woodcarver Gepetto (voice: David Bradley), who is working on a statue of Jesus Christ crucified for the local church, raising dutiful son Carlo (voice: Gregory Mann), an equally religious child with a true sense of wonder at the world around him, including planes in the sky.… Read the rest