Categories
Animation Features Movies

Belle (Ryu to Sobakasu no Hime, 竜とそばかすの姫)

Director – Mamoru Hosoda – 2021 – Japan – Cert. PG tbc – 121m

*****

A bereaved, teenage girl starts to emerge from her shell when she signs up for a virtual world on her smartphone – out in cinemas on Friday, February 4th; Digital IMAX version plays in the Anime season April / May 2022 at BFI Southbank

‘U’ is an internet, virtual world of high tech, futuristic architecture. When you sign up, you receive your own personalised avatar built from your biometrics. You have the chance to start over in a new world.

Teenager Suzu (voice: Kaho Nakamura) could do with that chance. She lives with her dad (voice: Koji Yakusho from Mirai, Mamoru Hosoda, 2018; The Third Murder, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2017; Pulse, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001; Shall We Dance, Masayuki Suo, 1996; Tampopo, Juzo Itami, 1985) in a small town somewhere in the East of Japan. She doesn’t really communicate with people at her school – not Luka (Tina Tamashiro), the sax player in the school band, not Kamishin (Shota Sometani from To The Ends Of The Earth, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2019; First Love, Takashi Miike, 2019; Foreboding, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2017; The Boy And The Beast, Mamoru Hosoda, 2015; Himizu, Sion Sono, 2011) who set up the canoe club but hasn’t been able to attract any members, not Shinobu (Ryo Narita) who proposed to her – well, told her he wanted to protect her – when she was six.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Cam

Director – Daniel Goldhaber – 2018 – US – Cert. 15 – 94m

***1/2

An erotic webcam performer discovers to her horror that her online presence has been hacked by an unknown rival, in a film conceived by a real-life cam artist– from the 62nd BFI London Film Festival and on Netflix from Friday, November 16th 2018

Alice (Madeline Brewer) is in charge of her destiny, or so it seems. From a secret and self-contained, fluffy pink studio set up in her apartment, she promotes herself as her online persona Lola who hosts her own live online erotic shows where enthusiastic fans can encourage her to do specific things by sending her virtual currency. Her goal is to become number one on the site which hosts her and many thousands of other hopefuls, but she seems to have got stuck somewhere around the rank of 60th. What’s a camgirl to do in order to boost her ratings?

Clearly, spicing the sex up with a little violence is a winner, so when one of her admirers encourages her to use a knife, while others egg her on and other still try to talk her out of it, Lola cuts her throat online.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Roujin-Z (老人Z)

Director – Hiroyuki Kitakubo – 1991 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 80m

***1/2

Robot beds deal with the major Japanese social problem of caring for their burgeoning elderly populous – in cinemas

Touted as manga artist / anime director Katsuhiro Otomo’s follow up to the phenomenally successful Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988), Roujin Z was actually directed by one Hiroyuki Kitakubo. Otomo’s contribution runs to no more than original story credit and machine design. Ostensibly it’s a different type of tale which deals with the major Japanese social problem of caring for their burgeoning elderly populous.

Young, female nurse Haruko is alarmed when suits arrive to remove her aged, barely conscious and incontinent patient Mr.Takazawa from his home. Designated first subject of the government’s new ‘Roujin Z’ (Old Man Z) project – Takazawa is wired by his nerve endings into a computer-driven, mechanised bed designed to meet his every need, from vigorous walking exercise, bathing and urinating to communicating with his peers via TV screens (which also run regular network programmes) and playing Go or Chess with the computer.

Before long, Haruko starts to pick up “help” messages on her terminal sent from the Z-incarcerated Takazawa – and tries to talk back with the help of elderly hospitalized hackers using a photo of Takazawa’s late wife.… Read the rest