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Features Live Action Movies

Jackdaw

Director – Jamie Childs – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 97m

**

When ex-British army mercenary Jack Dawson – a.k.a. Jackdaw – retrieves a package from the North Sea for a client, things go horribly wrong, forcing him to go through the North East in search of answers – British action thriller is out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 26th

Jackdaw is the nickname for Jack Dawson (Oliver Jackson-Cohen from Emily Frances O’Connor, 2022; The Lost Daughter, Maggie Gyllenhaal, 2021; The Invisible Man, Leigh Whannel, 2020), an ex-army mercenary who looks after his down syndrome brother Simon (Leon Harrop). A call comes in to his answering machine for what appears to be a routine job picking up a package from the coastal waters of the North Sea, and it pays well, so might provide the much-needed opportunity for the two brothers to improve their lot. Jack is good at what he does, but the job proves to be far less routine than stated, as he finds himself first the quarry of a pursuit then discovers his brother has been kidnapped. In search of answers, he sets off on visiting a trail of contacts across the underworld of the North of England.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Silence

Director – Martin Scorsese – 2016 – US – Cert. 15 – 161m

*****

Scorsese questions and tests the unwavering faith of the hidden Christians of Japan, and our allegiance to the director remains just as steadfast – read our verdict on the director’s latest movie, out on New Year’s Day

Religion is a subject capable of arousing great emotion among both believers and non-believers. Martin Scorsese’s Silence is essentially concerned with adherents of one religion attempting to proselytise in a foreign land where the predominant religious system is so utterly alien as to be almost unassailable. To the point where even the incoming missionaries might have to abandon the faith which they seek to spread.

That land is 17th century Japan, where Christianity has been outlawed and believers practise their faith in secret as Kakure Kirishitan (“hidden” Christians). Two Jesuit priests, Father Garupe (Adam Driver) and Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) are smuggled into the country in order to find the older Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) who is rumoured to have denounced his faith. After spending time with local believers, they are captured by the authorities who proceed to torture the Japanese Christians and make the priests watch, thereby encouraging them to renounce the Jesus they adore and serve.… Read the rest

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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

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Features Live Action Movies

Enys Men

Director – Mark Jenkin – 2022 – UK – Cert. 15 – 96m

*****

A lady environmentalist working on an uninhabited island off the Cornish coast becomes subject to powerful, localised forces from the area’s past – out on UK Blu-ray/DVD combi and on BFI Player on Monday, May 8th

NB The title is pronounced “Enys Main”, the eponymous “Men” being as in “menhir”.

A radio receiver. A bird. An island. A woman in a red coat (Mary Woodvine). A flower. Jenkin seems to love the process of putting little bits of film together to make a whole that’s altogether larger than the sum of its constructed parts. If that same process was evident in his earlier, equally Cornish if less fantastical and black and white Bait (2019), his new film is radically different and, moreover, it’s in colour.

Enys Men is being touted as a horror film – presumably with Jenkin’s blessing if the trailer is any indication – but I’m not sure that’s exactly what this film is. Some horror fans may well come away wondering while they bothered, while viewers put off by the term ‘horror’ may well respond positively to Jenkin’s latest – provided they can be persuaded into the cinema to see it.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Fortune Favours
Lady Nikuko
(Gyoko No
Nikuko-chan,
漁港の肉子ちゃん)

Director – Ayumu Watanabe – 2021 – Japan – Cert. PG – 97m

*****

A large, single parent mum continues to make bad relationship choices as her daughter tries to make her way in the Northern Japanese coastal village where they currently live– out in UK cinemas on Wednesday, August 10th

Charging in its opening minutes in rapid-fire, riotously paced colour through the love life of large lady Nikuko (voice: Shinobu Otake) – whose name given by her daughter translates roughly as Meat-lady, a reference to her size and resultant huge appetite – this details her poor, serial, romantic choices via which the various men for whom she falls scam her for money and cheat on her one after the other. Eventually, she falls for The Novelist, who is at least faithful and comes with the added bonus that he’s always spending money on books (not that he’s generating any money himself) which engenders in the story’s voice-over narrator, but not in the woman herself who doesn’t bother with books, a lifelong love of books and reading. But, one day, he unexpectedly leaves, so Nikuko follows his path up north, fails to find him and settles in a small, coastal fishing town.… Read the rest

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Art Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Eric Ravilious:
Drawn To War

Director – Margy Kinmonth – 2022 – UK – Cert. PG – 87m

***1/2

The career of the British watercolour artist tragically killed while serving as an official war artist in World War Two – now available to watch online following UK cinema release on Friday, July 1st 2022

The first official war artist to be commissioned in World War Two, Eric Ravilious was on an aircraft which set out from Iceland in 1942 and never came back. There is no exact record of what took place, covered by the phrase “missing in action”, but in all likelihood the plane went down in the sea. Kinmonth finds simple images to convey the incident, which appears in both her opening introduction to Ravilious’ life and her closing reel representing his passing – a warplane descending, our viewpoint falling towards the surface of the sea, an indistinct body moving in water filled with bubbles. At the end, the cold blue of the water contrasts with the gentler, rural green of the family house and surroundings back home.

After his death, Ravilious’ art was largely ignored. Alan Bennett, an admirer of the artist’s work, puts this down to the work’s cheerful and unthreatening nature and a prevailing view that art should grapple with dark and foreboding subject matter.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Movies

The House
Of The Lost
On The Cape
(Misaki
No Mayoiga,
岬のマヨイガ)

Director – Shinya Kawatsura – 2021 – Japan – 100m

*****

Two children separated from their respective parents are taken in by an old woman in a benevolent, magical house with a malevolent monster nearby – plays in the Annecy Animation Festival 2022 which is taking place in a 100% on-site edition this year right now in the Official Competition section

A younger girl and an older girl find themselves at Kitsunezaki (Fox Cape) Bus Station that’s been wrecked in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. An old lady appears and takes them under her wing. They walk through forests, then up a hill, until eventually they arrive at a huge bungalow with a thatched roof which is to be the girls’ home. Kiwa, the old lady, claims to be their granny.

There’s something odd about the house, though. The older girl Yui accidentally makes a hole when she puts a finger through a paper wall. Later, the hole has mysteriously vanished. Then there are the drinks which appear out of nowhere when Yui says she’d like such and such a drink. At night, outside, strange turtle spirits (kappa) gather.

The younger girl Hiyori never speaks. This appears to be the result of some sort of trauma.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Heaven:
To The Land
Of Happiness
(Hebeun:
Haengbokeui Nararo,
행복의 나라로)

Director – Im Sang-soo – 2021 – South Korea – 101m

*****

A meds thief on the verge of arrest and an escaped convict inadvertently steal money from gangsters closing gala with a director Q&A as part of a strand of films celebrating actress Youn Yuh-jung at LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival which ran in cinemas from Thursday, November 4th to Friday, November 19th

The sexual frankness of director Im’s earlier A Good Lawyer’s Wife (2003) and The Housemaid (2010) is absent from his latest, a producer-suggested project more lightweight than his usual fare which nevertheless achieves a degree of poignancy. Its template is the German film Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Thomas Jahn, 1997) in which two terminally ill men steal a car so that one of them can visit the sea before he dies, the car unfortunately belonging to a gangster and carrying a quantity of cash in the boot.

Writing his own script around this loose premise, Im makes the man who wants to see the sea a convict, inmate 203 (Choi Min-sik from The Tiger, Park Hoon-jung, 2015; Lucy, Luc Besson, 2014; New World, Park Hoon-jung, 2013; Lady Vengeance, Park Chan Wook, 2005), sent to the hospital for an MRI scan where it’s discovered he has a brain tumour and two weeks to live.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Martyr

Director – Mazen Khaled – 2017 – UK – Cert. 18 – 84m

***

Hounded by his parents to find work, a young man hangs out with friends and dives off the Beirut balustrade into the sea… and his death – in cinemas and on VoD from Friday, March 12th

A young man Hassane lives in Beirut with his parents. He can barely drag himself out of bed in the morning. They want him to go out and look for work and because he’s not yet found any, his father has a friend he’ll talk to too see if a suitable job can be found. To get his parents off his back, he promises he’ll look for work today.

He finds living at home with his parents to be a stifling experience. Masturbation in the shower might provide some respite were it not for his father beating on the door to shout the he’s taking too much time and using up the family’s water allowance.

Once he goes out on his moped, rather than look for work he joins his best mate Hmeid and other friends down at the promenade overlooking the Mediterranean, a popular diving spot. They hang out, chat for a while, then he mounts the balustrade to dive into the sea and… doesn’t come up.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Ieoh Island
(Iodo,
이어도)

Director – Kim Ki-young – 1977 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 110m

*****

An acquitted murder suspect visits the island birthplace of his alleged victim to learn about the latter’s life and the strange, ritualistic, matriarchal society that still exists there – from the London Korean Film Festival 2019

Environmental journalist Chun Nam-seok (Choi Yoon-seok) is sent by his editor on a boat trip junket. Both men are unaware that it’s promoting a proposed Ieoh Island hotel. Chun Nam-seok was born and raised on Parang-do island, off the coast of Jeju island. On Parang-do, Ieoh Island was regarded with a terrible awe owing to the water spirits alleged to live there and believed to take the fishermen from their boats during storms at sea. The island is populated by women who mostly work as divers and their children, the men having been lost at sea on fishing vessels or having left the island for other reasons.

Aware of Chun Nam-seok’s environmentalist credentials, but not of his past associations with the island, company man Sun Woo-hyun (Kim Jong-cheol), whose brainchild the proposed Ieoh Island hotel is, expresses a desire to colleagues to get rid of him and engages with a drinking contest with the man on deck during which Chun Nam-seok goes missing, presumed drowned.… Read the rest