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Features Live Action Movies

Nobody Leaves Alive
(Ninguém Sai Vivo Daqui)

Director – André Ristum – 2023 – Brazil – Cert. none – 86m

****

After a woman is incarcerated in Brazil’s notorious Colonia psychiatric hospital simply because she is pregnant outside of marriage, her hold on reality starts to disintegrate – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Lovingly shot in a stylish black and white that both makes the whole thing feel like a dream and detracts from any sense of reality, this opens with a young woman being bundled by two men into what looks like a cattle truck. Inside the truck are other people, and the group is clearly being sent somewhere specific.

Once off the train they are frogmarched down a country track, through some wrought metal gates of late 19th / early 20th Century design and into a hallway where they are separated into men and women and the women (since it is one woman’s story we are following here) are taken to a large, tiled room and hosed down by two women, the younger of whom is Laura.

Then the woman we are following is taken for interview with a man who denies he’s a doctor. Her name is Elisa, and she explains there’s been some sort of mix-up.… Read the rest

Categories
Art Documentary Exhibitions Features Live Action Movies

Tokyo Stories

Director – David Bickerstaff – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 90m

*****

Japan generally and Tokyo specifically are viewed through that city’s art and photography – out in UK, Irish and worldwide cinemas on Tuesday, May 23rd

The refreshing thing about this latest entry in producer Phil Grabsky’s excellent Exhibition On Screen series is that it breaks the mould. Like Vermeer The Greatest Exhibition (David Bickerstaff, 2023), it is centred around a particular art exhibition, in this instance 2022’s Tokyo: Art + Photography show at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum. That event sought to give a perspective on the country of Japan generally and the city of Tokyo specifically through its art, both historical and contemporary. The Ashmolean is well-placed to do this, given that it already houses a wide-ranging, historical Japanese collection. Sadly, it means that if this film whets your appetite and makes you want to visit the exhibition, you can’t then do so because it’s been and gone. In a way, though, that’s not so dissimilar from the Vermeer exhibition, which had sold out before the documentary about it appeared.

While the film is swift to acknowledge areas of Japanese culture as diverse as manga (one of the first shots of Tokyo features a giant image of manga and anime favourites Dirty Pair) and traditional Japanese music (a stringed and a woodwind instrument are shown being played by musicians without any explanation or even naming of the instruments), such elements remain largely in the background.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Plan 75

Director – Chie Hayakawa – 2022 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 113m

**1/2

Dystopian drama Plan 75 posits a plan whereby Japanese people can voluntarily have themselves terminated after age 75 and examines some of the resultant social fallout – out in UK cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, May 12th

Sedate classical piano music is playing on the soundtrack. The image – out of focus, could be looking down a corridor. After a long wait, a man in a T-shirt and jeans walks, in focus, into picture foreground. There appears to be blood on his arm and he is carrying a shotgun. Ahead of him, as it now comes into focus, the corridor floor is sparsely scattered with objects: a cup and a bowl, an old person’s walking stick with four legs, something else which we can’t quite make out. He washes at the sink. Another corridor – a fallen walking stick, a pair of slippers, an abandoned bathrobe or perhaps a towel, a collapsed, half-folded wheelchair, wheel still spinning. T-shirt and jeans with shotgun descends the stairs. After a contentious voice over, T-shirt and jeans waits a long while, then points the barrel of the shotgun at his head and uses his feet to pull the trigger.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Kurt Vonnegut:
Unstuck In Time

Directors – Robert B. Weide, Dan Argott – 2021 – US – Cert. 15 – 127m

*****

A warm and compelling look at the life of writer Kurt Vonnegut, the influence upon him of the bombing of Dresden, and his decades-long friendship with director Weide – out in cinemas and on digital platforms from Friday, July 22nd, BFI Player Rental from Monday, August 22nd

Read my shorter review for Reform magazine.

The documentary Weide eventually made about Vonnegut took him the best part of four decades to complete. Weide opens with a statement about Vonnegut walking in the woods, feeling a tree and seeing the bombing of Dresden before it occurred. There seems no reason to doubt Vonnegut. He was unstuck in time, jumping around the years and decades. Weide first contacted him in 1982, never imagining that it would take him anything like as long to complete the film as it did. He starts looking at interviews of himself (“who wants to see a documentary in which a filmmaker appears as himself?”, he asks) – defined by where they were shot or what shirt Weide was wearing at the time.

Whatever else Vonnegut and his writing are, they are not conventional.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Kurt Vonnegut:
Unstuck In Time

Transformed by an atrocity

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time
Directed by Robert B. Weide, Dan Argott
Certificate 15
Released 22 July (cinemas and digital platforms)

Full review published in Reform magazine.

The late Kurt Vonnegut claims that after touching a tree trunk he saw the bombing of Dresden before it actually happened, and it’s easy to believe him. His whole life, he says, has been unstuck in time. Born in Indianapolis in 1922, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and was shipped off as a POW to Dresden, a bustling metropolis unlike anything he’d previously seen. He survived the Allied bombing of that city inside an underground meat locker and emerged to see it razed to the ground. The Germans had him and fellow prisoners search for bodies amongst the ruins.

Back in the States… [Read the rest at Reform magazine]

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time is out in cinemas and on Altitude Film digital platform in the UK from Friday, July 22nd.

Read my longer review.

Adaptation of Vonnegut’s Mother Night (writer-producer Robert B. Weide, 1996) – review.

Never Look Away (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2018) also covers the bombing of Dresden – review.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Sound Of Nomad:
Koryo Arirang

Director – Kim So-young (as Kim Jeong) – 2017 – South Korea – 87m

****

How an indigenous theatre company kept the culture of the Koryo people alive after they were deported by the Soviet authorities from Far East Russia to Kazakhstan in 1937 – in the documentary season: Korean Film Nights: In Transit presented by LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival

The Beijing Treaty (of 1860 although the date isn’t mentioned) ceded to Russia the so-called Maritime Province – an area of land stretching down to Vladivostock. The territory bordered on the Northwestern tip of Choson (Joseon), today’s Korea, and Chosons stated migrating into the Maritime Province, calling themselves the Koryo people. In late 1937, the Soviet authorities decided that the Koryos could potentially be Japanese spies and deported them in boarded up trains to Ushtobei, Kazakhstan, Central Asia.

The journey took two days and many children died, their corpses thrown unceremoniously out of the train at night. After the journey, the deportees faced a harsh winter, the eventual death toll rising to 40 000.

This story has been documented in Korea, but little else about the Koryos has. The first Kazakhstan Koryo settlement in Ushtobei is today marked by a memorial.… Read the rest