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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Diplodocus
(Smok Diplodok)

Director – Wojtek Wawszczyk – 20234 – Poland – 84m

****

A young diplodocus must save the comic book in which he lives from being erased by the artist who created – from the 2024 Annecy International Animation Festival in the Annecy Presents section

Animation. A bookworm (English voice: Wayne Greyson; Polish voice: Tadeusz Baranowski) appears, a “respected devourer of picture stories”. His function is not exactly that of a Greek chorus, more like a comic interlude who occasionally wanders into the narrative as light relief, to leaven the whole. Not that this likeable romp, is any need of leavening, but it’s a nice touch which nicely sets the tone for the whole piece. It’s about characters in a comic book whose very existence is threatened by the originating artist’s run-in with his commercially driven but artistically clueless lady publisher.

Beyond a vast, bubbling, primeval swamp in a crater, an inventive and adventurous, male diplodocus child (English voice: Julian Wanderer; Polish voice: Mikołaj Wachowski), Diplodocus as the credits calls him, nicks snails off a frog to use as climbing suckers. A butterfly flies past. Diplodocus gets sent to his room by his essentially conservative parents (English voices: Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, Marc Thompson; Polish voices: Monica Pikuła, Grzegorz Pawlak) for wanting a life of adventure.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Big Banana Feet

Director – Murray Grigor – 1976 – UK – Cert. 12 – 77m

****1/2

The camera follows comedian Billy Connolly to Dublin and Belfast for the final dates of his 1975 tour – 2K restoration is out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 10th, and on BFI Blu-ray/DVD (Dual Format Edition) and digital from Monday, May 20th

This played the Scala Cinema a few times back in the day. I always thought there must be a reason why, and now, with its release in a restored form by the BFI, I get to find out. I must admit to mixed feelings prior to viewing – I’m not someone who particularly enjoys stand-up comedy; indeed, watching videos of comedians doing their material onstage has been known to bore me to tears, even as it enthralls fans.

Although this has clips of Billy Connolly performing on stage – comic routines, songs with banjo and guitar – it’s essentially a fly-on-the-wall piece that captures his personality as he, with the help of his seemingly tireless road manager Billy Johnson, plays dates in Dublin and Belfast on the final leg of his 1975 tour. Watching it, you feel you get to know Connolly well, at least at the period of his career being filmed.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Yannick
(Yannick)

Director – Quentin Dupieux – 2023 – France – Cert. – 67m

*****

An audience member, unhappy with the play currently being performed, hijacks it with a gun to write something more entertaining himself – on Mubi UK from Friday, April 5th

NSFW. Absolutely worth seeing.

A play, The Cuckold, is being performed at a two-thirds empty Paris theatre. In the play, the husband (Marmaï Pio from Daaaaaali!, Quentin Dupieux, 2023) had learned from his wife (Blanche Gardin from Smoking Causes Coughing, Quentin Dupieux, 2022) that she is seeing another man. Couldn’t she wait until the weekend to tell him?

Worse, the man is ill, having picked up some sort of stomach bug from Kenya. Finally, the man – Bruno (Sébastien Chassagne from Mars Express, Jérémie Périn, 2023; The Truth, Hirokzu Kore’eda, 2019; Eden, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2014) – comes back from the lavatory. The wife wants to leave with Bruno. The husband tries to talk him into staying. Perhaps a bite from the fridge? The wife doesn’t want him to open the fridge.

At this point, audience member Yannick (Raphaël Quenard from Jeanne du Barry, Maïwenn, 2023; Smoking Causes Coughing) stands up.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Lavender Hill Mob

Director – Charles Crichton – 1951 – UK – Cert. U – 78m

*****

A Bank of England employee stumbles upon the perfect means to rob his employer of the gold bullion he transports there on a daily basis– classic Ealing comedy is back out in a new 4k restoration in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

Holland (Alec Guinness) has a lowly job at the Bank of England supervising the transfer of recently minted bars of gold bullion to the bank’s secure vault by security van., He rides in the back and is forever asking the harried driver to check round the corner for suspected cars lying in wait to ambush the van. He is considered an honest nobody, an appearance he has cultivated for the best part of two decades. He has a mind to rob the van, if only he could work out how to smuggle the bullion out of the country.

Fate intervenes in the form of a newly arrived tenant at the downmarket Balmoral Guest House in Lavender Hill, where he lodges. Pendlebury (Stanley Holloway) runs a business selling tourist tat, including lead models of the Eiffel Tour for selling at that Parisian monument. He melts the lead down on his London premises to cast it into the models.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Ghostbusters
Frozen Empire

Director – Gil Kenan – 2023 – US – Cert. 12a – 115m

****

Back in New York, running the family Ghostbusters business out of the old fire station, the Spenglers must thwart an evil entity who possesses the power to freeze things – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 22nd

This sequel to Ghostbusters Afterlife (Jason Reitman, 2021), written by the same three-man writing team of father and son Ivan and Jason Reitman and Ghostbusters geek Gil Kenan, picks up and runs with some of the strengths of its predecessor even as it dispenses with others. One thing it dumps is the previous entry’s completely out-there originality; instead, it follows the time-honoured principle of Hollywood movie sequels: go out and make the first movie again.

It’s basically a rehash of the original Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984) with the younger generation of Spenglers standing in for the old, and with Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), Ray Stantz (Dan Ackroyd), Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) and Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) from the original helping the newer characters out. There is not, perhaps, as much of Bill Murray as one would like, and his heart doesn’t seem to be in it. Otherwise, though, fans of the franchise will probably be happy.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Driving Mum
(Á Ferð Með Mömmu)

Director – Hilda Oddsson – 2023 – Iceland, Estonia – Cert. 12a – 112m

****1/2

After his mum dies, a man must honour her last wish by driving her to her final resting place… On the way, she talks to him… – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 1st

The 1980s. Jón (Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson) lives with his mother (Kristbjörg Kjeld) and his faithful dog Brezhnev in a remote part of rural Iceland. Days are spent sitting in the house knitting sweaters and listening to the radio – actually audio cassette recordings of the radio which run out in mid-sentence. These are periodically received in batches in boxes from a visiting trader in a boat in exchange for Jon and his mum’s home-knitted sweaters. Mum regrets never having been to Gullfoss, and Jon points out it’s unlikely to happen now. He is also a keen amateur photographer who operates his own darkroom. Rightly or wrongly, his mum worries about how he will survive after she’s gone.

One morning, he wakes to discover she has died in her sleep. He makes her corpse up as best he can, which leaves much to be desired, since her resultant look is somewhere between a clown and a zombie.… Read the rest

Categories
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
Features Live Action Movies

Mean Girls (2024)

Directors – Samantha Jayne, Arturo Perez Jr. – 2024 – US – Cert. 12a – 112m

**

A reimagining as a musical of the eponymous, 2004 US High School movie in which the new girl finds herself up against a girl clique – out in UK cinemas on Friday, Wednesday, January 17th

Raised and homeschooled on the open plains of Kenya, 16-year-old Cady Heron (Angourie Rice) is in for a shock when her mum suddenly decides the family is moving back to the US. The shock comes specifically in terms of High School, which she swiftly discovers to be a hostile world of exclusive cliques.

Two outsiders Janis (Auli’i Cravalho) and Damian (Jaquel Spivey) take it upon themselves to explain who’s who and against their advice, she falls in with the Plastics: Regina George (Reneé Rapp), Gretchen (Bebe Wood), and Karen (Avantika), a group of three rich, bitchy and style-obsessed girls who regard themselves as superior to everyone else.

Cady swiftly puts a foot wrong by falling head over heels for Regina’s boyfriend Aaron Samuels (Christopher Briney), and the narrative swiftly develops into a conflict between her and the other three Plastics, particularly Regina. It’s a musical, too: cue song and dance numbers.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Chicken Run

Producer-Directors: Nick Park, Peter Lord – Producer – David Sproxton – 2000 – UK – Cert. PG – 84m

*****

Which came first – the chicken or the egg? Plasticene stop-frame animation house Aardman Animations’ debut feature film reconceives The Great Escape with chickens – review originally published in year 2000

Aardman Animations’ A Close Shave (1995), the third half-hour outing for Nick Park’s popular Wallace & Gromit duo, exhibited several danger signs – specifically its close resemblance to brilliant, immediate precursor The Wrong Trousers (1993). Clearly aware of such pitfalls, Park and founding Aards Sproxton and Lord shrewdly signed a five-picture deal with Dreamworks but refused to rush into a first feature. Their caution has paid dividends: this first full length Aardmovie proves an unexpectedly wondrous odyssey.

It’s The Great Escape reconceived with chickens: familiar WW2 prison camp is reconfigured as North of England chicken coop with impenetrable fencing, rows of huts and a motley assortment of portly hen inmates. Ginger (voice: Julia Sawalha) wants to escape, but several disastrous attempts lead to solitary confinement (where she bounces a ball off the wall Steve McQueen style). Other chickens can’t see a problem – Bunty (voice: Imelda Staunton) simply keeps on laying eggs, while Babs (Horrocks) busies herself with constant knitting.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

There’s Something
in the Barn

Director – Magnus Martens – 2023 – Norway – Cert. 15 – 100m

*

An American family immigrates to Norway where a relative has died and left them a farmhouse with a barn… and there’s something in the barn – badly misjudged horror comedy is out in UK cinemas and on digital download from Friday, December 1st

I have watched this film so that you don’t have to.

Incidentally, it has some of the best film stills I’ve ever seen. They are truly great. Don’t let that fool you: it’s a rotten movie.

One year after the unpleasant death of their Norwegian relative, the Californian nuclear family of dad, step-mum, son and daughter arrive at his farmhouse and barn in Norway which they’ve inherited. The unpleasant death is intriguing and workable if unoriginal horror fare; there is indeed something in the barn, and it’s not happy. So not happy, that it kills the relative.

But once the Californian family appear, the film undergoes a huge shift of tone from straight horror to pretty embarrassing comedy. Or, more accurately, alleged comedy because the laughs (or laugh – I think I may have laughed once) are (is) few and far between. Dad Bill (Martin Starr) is a happy-go-lucky, irritating, nerdy caricature; his new wife – and therefore step-mum to his kids – Carol (Amrita Acharia) is an equally annoying, former self-help guru.… Read the rest