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Luminous Woman
(Hikaru Onna,
光る女)

Director – Shinji Somai – 1987 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 118m

*****

A Hokkaido farmer comes to Tokyo in search of his vanished fiancée but finds a world he has not expected – on Blu-ray from Monday, Monday, May 20th

At a rubbish tip on the outskirts of Tokyo, a barefoot man (Takeiji Muto) in cheap trousers and top encounters a suave-looking sophisticate (Kei Suma) and a woman opera singer (Michiru Akiyoshi), the latter performing gracefully atop the rubbish heap. The woman is dependent on the sophisticate. The barefoot man has travelled from Hokkaido to find his fiancée Kuriko Sakura, who was supposed to return after studying accounting to help him run a farm.

The sophisticate knows someone of that name, and drives the barefoot man into the city. In his nightclub, he offers the outsider a deal – if he’ll fight the club’s pro-wrestler for ¥100 000, the other will tell him where to find Kuriko. However, she may not be the person he seeks. Out of her boss’ earshot, the woman warns the outsider that the wrestling may be to the death.

In the club she plays the piano while another woman sings opera and, on the circular dias bordered by a water pool, a challenger fights the incumbent wrestler and loses.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Are You
There God?
It’s Me,
Margaret.

Director – Kelly Fremon Craig – 2023 – US – Cert. PG – 105m

****

An 11-year-old girl navigates the difficult waters of religion and womanhood, talking privately to God as she does so – bestselling novel adaptation is out on digital Tuesday, July 18th and on Blu-ray & DVD Monday, August 7th

Is God there, can you talk to God, and does doing so make any difference? 11-year-old Margaret Simon (Abby Ryder Fortson) talks to God, beginning with the “Are You There?” question and then continuing to talk to God as if God’s presence were real. Whether God is real or not, the practice of talking with God has a history in certain Christian traditions, and probably in other religious traditions with which I’m less familiar too. It does not, of itself, prove the existence or non-existence of God one way or the other.

In terms of organised religion, Margaret finds herself in a confusing place. She is the sole child of Jewish father Herb (Benny Safdie) and Christian mother Barbara (Rachel McAdams) Simon. It’s a good marriage and the Simons are a very happy family, living in a cramped New York apartment with his Jewish mother Sylvia Simon (an hilariously dour yet joyous Kathy Bates).… Read the rest

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Return to Seoul
(Retour à Séoul)

Director – Davy Chou – 2022 – France, Belgium, Germany, South Korea – Cert. 15 – 118m

****1/2

A woman born in South Korea and fostered by parents in France unexpectedly returns to the land of her birth – on MUBI from Friday, July 7th

Although it looks at first glance like a South Korean movie, this is actually a predominantly European production, and within that, predominantly French. Its central character is South Korean by birth, but adopted at a very young age and raised by foster parents in France, who she considers her parents. She also may look Korean, but considers herself French. She speaks French, and English too, pretty well, but no Korean. (In South Korea, English appears to function as the go-to language for communicating with foreigners.) She feels French. The film takes place in South Korea, and most (but not all) of the characters are South Korean.

Freddie aka Frédérique Benoît (Park Ji-min) sits chatting in the restaurant of the Francophile guest house with her new-found friends Tena (Guka Han) and Dongwan (Son Seung-beom). They explain you don’t pour yourself soju – you wait for your friends to pour it, because if they don’t keep you supplied, what kind of friends would they be?… Read the rest

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Nocturnal

Director – Natalie Biancheri – 2019 – UK – Cert. 15 – 84m

***

A man becomes obsessed with a schoolgirl and starts spending more and more time with her at night – in cinemas and on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, September18th

A Yorkshire seaside town. Teenage schoolgirl Laurie (Lauren Coe) is training to be a sprinter and spends much of her time training at the school track. She’s spotted by odd job painter and decorator Pete (Cosmo Jarvis) whose regular girlfriend has just moved out of his apartment. Pete starts to take an interest in Laurie, eventually driving her out to a club then talking with her for hours in his flat.

From Laurie’s life at home with her mother Jean (Sadie Frost), it’s clear that they’ve only recently moved into the area. The girl has a healthy distrust of the older man who starts stalking her. She points out that he might be a serial killer, which he turns into a running joke. His interest seems pretty creepy though, so you do wonder if there’s any truth behind this banter. She’s a teenager playing at being an adult. When he takes her to a bar and they drink shots of whiskey, she is being sick soon after.… Read the rest

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Lucid

Director – Adam Morse – 2018 – UK – Cert. 15 – 86m

***

Available on Sky, Virgin, iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, PlayStation, Microsoft from Monday, September 7th

After his clearly well-heeled mother (Sadie Frost) gives Zel (Laurie Calvert) a thick envelope of notes for the last time, he goes out and gets himself a job as car park attendant at an exclusive members club. This involves sitting in a small booth with a window and making the monied customers feel welcome as they drive in in their flash cars. It also involves putting up with smart-suited but boorish boss Theo (Cristian Solimeno) although the latter’s girlfriend Kat (Sophie Kennedy Clark) proves considerably more friendly.

Meanwhile, Zel has developed a crush on Jasmin (Felicity Gilbert), one of his fellow residents in the block in which his flat in one of the more upmarket bits of Central London is situated, but is too tongue tied to do anything about it. He makes the acquaintance of another neighbour Elliot (Billy Zane), a therapist who offers, for free, to coach him in lucid dreaming, i.e. dreams in which the dreamer is fully conscious. These provide the dreamer with a safe space, for example to talk to a member of the opposite sex they fancy.… Read the rest