Categories
Animation Features Movies

Puss In Boots: The Last Wish

Directors – Joel Crawford, Januel Mercado – 2022 – US – Cert. PG – 102m

***

As he and others search for the legendary Wishing Star, the eponymous fairy tale character fears for his own mortality after losing eight of his nine lives – out in UK cinemas on Friday, February 5th

It’s been almost two decades since Dreamworks’ Shrek (Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jensen, 2001) turned the animated fairy tale on its head, upending convention to hilarious effect. However, this trick is near impossible to repeat and in animated Hollywood, the success of such a film inevitably engenders a demand for more. Shrek 2 (Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon, 2004) introduced Puss In Boots (voice: Antonio Banderas) and the character was given its own spin-off Puss In Boots (Chris Miller, 2011). Over a decade later, here’s the Puss In Boots sequel.

It starts off promisingly enough with Puss In Boots, voiced once again by Banderas, hosting a party for local townsfolk at his mansion. Only it isn’t his: in a nod to Robin Hood by way of Anti-Capitalism, he’s co-opted the lavish home of the local landowner for the people, and when the landowner turns up, he’s understandably annoyed – cue an hilarious dialogue exchange about “Su casa, mi casa”) – but no match for Puss’ skill with a rapier.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

Directors – Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson – 2022 – US – Cert. PG – 114m

*****

Created as a puppet by a bereaved, religious woodcarver father, a little wooden boy must make his way in a world of ruthless show business, Fascism and war – stop-frame puppet movie is out on Netflix on Friday, December 9th

Co-helmed by Will Vinton alumnus Gustafson, del Toro’s Carlo Collodi adaptation sees him return to the theme of the Catholic Church collaborating with Fascism that he previously explored in Pan’s Labyrinth (2006). The story roughly follows the familiar template of Disney’s Pinocchio (1940), even down to punctuating the action with songs, but with the loosely defined place and time of a fairytale shifted to a very specific Italy before (briefly) and during World War II, with Pleasure Island replaced by a boys’ military training camp. The emphasis has shifted, too, from the notion of the narrator cricket character as conscience to coming to terms with mortality, although the idea that just because things appear to be fun they may not necessarily be good is knocking around in there too.

A narrator who will later identify himself as Sebastian J. Cricket (voice: Ewan McGregor) introduces us to churchgoing woodcarver Gepetto (voice: David Bradley), who is working on a statue of Jesus Christ crucified for the local church, raising dutiful son Carlo (voice: Gregory Mann), an equally religious child with a true sense of wonder at the world around him, including planes in the sky.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Decision To Leave (Heojil Kyolshim, 헤어질 결심)

Director – Park Chan-wook – 2022 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 138m

*****

A married detective investigating the death of a climber becomes obsessed with the victim’s wife, who looks increasingly like the murderer – on MUBI from Friday, 9th December

Any sexual or romantic energy that once existed between city-based detective Hae-joon (Park Hae-il from Heaven: To The Land Of Happiness, Im Sang-soo, 2021, The Fortress, Hwang Dong-hyuk, 2017, The Host, 2006, Memories Of Murder, 2003, both Bong Joon ho) and seaside town-based wife (Jung Yi-seo, bit parts in Samjin Company English Class, Lee Jong-pil, 2020; Parasite, Bong Joon ho, 2019) has long since evaporated.

Investigating the fatal fall of skilled amateur climber Ki Do-soo (Yoo Seung-mok from The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil, Lee Won-Tae, 2019, also The Host, Memories Of Murder) where the man’s Chinese-born wife Seo-rye (Tang Wei, from Lust, Caution, Ang Lee, 2007) is a murder suspect, he falls for her…
[Read the full review at Dmovies.org]

Trailer:

Decision To Leave is on MUBI from Friday, 9th December.

Categories
Animation Art Features Live Action Movies

Hilma

Director – Lasse Hallström – 2022 – Sweden – Cert. 12a – 119m

****

Late in her life, Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, today considered the world’s first abstract painter, remembers her life – out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 28th

As Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (Lena Olin) takes a tram journey, she remembers key events and moments within it: she is haunted by the memory of her little sister Hermina (Emmi Tjernström), who tragically died when Hilma (Tora Hallström) was 18 and with whom she often played hide and seek.

Interested in drawing and painting from nature as a form of scientific inquiry – at her art school interview panel she lists mathematics, geometry, biology and astronomy as interests other than flowers – she meets up with other women studying technical painting and drawing in Stockholm, among them the wealthy Anna Cassel (Catherine Chalk) who becomes her lover and finances her as an artist – and becomes part of their group of five women artists interested in spiritism. She also studies the Theosophical writings of Madame Blavatsky and makes a particular connection to the Anthroposophist ideas of Rudolf Steiner.

Acknowledging these interests, the film infuriatingly refuses to explore them at any great depth, perhaps because it fears such ideas might prove controversial and perhaps because they might prove boring to a contemporary audience, it’s impossible to tell.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Emergency Declaration (Bisang Seoneon, 비상선언)

Director – Han Jae-rim – 2021 – South Korea – 147m

*****

A rogue biochemist smuggles a deadly virus onto a commerical flight and releases it, leaving those on board fighting for survival– from the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) which runs in cinemas from Wednesday, October 19th to Sunday, October 30th

At the same time as his wife has had enough and decides to fly off to Hawaii on her own for a break, Police Sgt. Koo (Song Kang-ho from Parasite, 1019; Snowpiercer, 2013; Memories Of Murder, 2003; all Bong Joon ho) finds himself investigating an upload to the internet which is probably a hoax in which a man threatens a terrorist attack on a plane. He tracks this man to his apartment from which the open door emits the smell of putrefaction. A search of the premises reveals a corpse sealed in polythene who has died of burst blood vessels caused by a virus.

Meanwhile at Incheon Airport, the man, Ryu Jin-seok (Yim Si-wan, singer of huge K-pop band KZ-A) has a run in with a booking agent who won’t tell him what the busiest route is, insulting her. Next, he enters the toilets to open and insert a phal into his armpit but is spotted from a cubicle by young girl Soo-min (Kim Bo-min) using the wrong toilets.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Inu-Oh (Inu-Oh, 犬王)

Director – Masaaki Yuasa – 2021 – Japan – Cert. – 98m

***1/2

In fourteenth century Japan, a blind musician and a deformed, masked dancer shake up the culturally staid world of Noh theatre by forming a hugely popular rock band – out in UK cinemas on Wednesday, September 28th

You never quite know what you’re going to get with an animated feature by Masaaki Yuasa (Ride Your Wave,2019; Lu Over the Wall, 2017; Mind Game, 2004) as he has a tendency to break with tradition. Here, he takes on periods of Japanese history but rather than go with power struggles as to who rules Japan, he focuses on two outcasts, an orphaned musician and a deformed dancer, who join together to form a rock band with an emphasis on theatrical showmanship to upend the artistic conventions of the day and become an overnight sensation until the ascendant ruler, determined to control the historical narrative, has the musician killed, and the dancer emasculated, forbidden to perform anything but state-approved material, and that only in the Imperial court.

It’s a triptych, one long story split into three sections. In the first section, after a prologue detailing the decisive Battle of Dan-No-Ura towards the end of the twelfth century, in which the Heiji clan were defeated by the Genji and the formers warriors threw themselves into the sea and perished, two centuries later in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, Northern would be Kyoto-based, shogunate emperor Ashitaka decides that the power to rule demands he acquire three sacred treasures, one of which is a sword buried in the lake at Dan-No-Ura.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Funny Pages

Director – Owen Kline – 2022 – US – Cert. US-R – 86m

***

A young, New Jersey comic book artist wannabe’s life becomes increasingly surreal when he leaves school and home to realise his desired career – out in UK cinemas on Friday, September 16th

Guided by his art teacher Mr. Katano (Stephen Adly Guirgis), New Jersey high school student Robert (Daniel Zolghadri) is developing his voice as a comic artist, constantly comparing notes with fellow student / aspiring comic artist Miles (Miles Emanuel). Following Mr. Katano’s tragic and untimely death, Robert finds himself in court following his breaking and entering Katano’s classroom in an attempt to rescue as much of the man’s artwork as he can salvage before its otherwise inevitable, imminent destruction.

He alienates his middle class father Lewis (Josh Pais) by rejecting the offer of a lawyer friend to be his counsel, instead getting a state defendant Cheryl (Marcia DeBonis) who successfully gets the case dismissed. He gets on well with Cheryl and after the case is over, goes to work for her as an assistant.

Responding to an accommodation advert, Robert rents half a bedroom from Barry (Michael Townsend Wright), who lives in the sleazy basement of a well-to-do house in Trenton, sharing the room with established occupant Steven (Cleveland Thomas Jr.).… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Beyond The Mask

Directors – Jane Harris, Jimmy Edmonds – 2021 – UK – 60m

****

People talk about their experiences of bereavement in the light of the COVID-19 lockdown – now free to watch (donation suggested)

In March 2020, the unthinkable happened as the world entered a global pandemic. In the ensuing year or so many people lost their lives while many more felt and indeed still feel a sense of loss for the ’normal’ life that existed beforehand. Directors Harris and Edmonds are no strangers to bereavement having lost their son unexpectedly at age 22 while he was travelling abroad in 2013 and part of their process of dealing with it was to make the excellent documentary A Love That Never Dies (Jane Harris, Jimmy Edmonds, 2018) in which bereaved parents talk about their different experiences of losing children.

Not everyone has suffered the misfortune of losing a child, but if you’re reading this you will invariably have lived through the COVID-19 pandemic, at least thus far. This latter condition is universal. So, what does the experience of bereavement have to say to our current situation of the pandemic – or, for that matter, what does our current situation of the pandemic have to say to our experience of bereavement?… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Swan Song

Director – Todd Stephens – 2021 – US – Cert. – 105m

***1/2

Tasked with creating an open casket hairdo for his deceased, former best client, a hairdresser worn down by care home institutionalism escapes to reinvent himself – out in cinemas on Friday, June 10th

A glamourous star on a stage playing to an audience of empty chairs, Pat Pitsenbarger (Udo Kier) wakes up to the boring reality that he’s living on social security checks and wearing an old T-shirt and sweat pants in a care home in his small town of Sandusky, Ohio.

Still, he takes his pleasures where he can find them: stealing napkins from the dining room and obsessively folding them into squares a quarter of their original size, smoking ladies’ More brand cigars. The latter he lights two at once after turning the wheelchair of Gertie (Annie Kitral) – left out in the corridor – to face the window before giving her the second cigar, something in which she clearly takes pleasure despite near total paralysis.

Otherwise, though, he battles with his nurse Shaundell (Roshon Thomas) over adjusting his armchair cushion and, worse, smoking, a pleasure she forbids. He swallows a cigar to conceal the activity; she finds out and confiscates his stash.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Top Gun: Maverick

Director – Joseph Kosinski – 2022 – US – Cert. 12a – 131m

****

The eponymous Maverick (Tom Cruise) returns to the Navy pilot Top Gun school to train a dozen new recruits to fly an impossible bombing mission and come back alive– out in cinemas on Wednesday, May 25th

Welcome back to the world of US Navy aviation where pilots all have their own self-given flying nicknames. While his contemporaries such as Tom ‘Iceman’ Kazansky (Val Kilmer), now an admiral in charge of the Pacific fleet, have advanced in ranks, Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell (Tom Cruise) has remained a captain in order to stay on active service in the field. He’s now a test pilot and loves his job.

However, Maverick has got into trouble one too many times, most recently by disobeying orders when he went ahead with a Mojave Desert test flight on a programme which a rear admiral (Ed Harris) wanted shut down. In doing this, and proving that the plane in question can fly not just at the untried Mach 9 but also at Mach 10…10.1… 10.2… Maverick sees himself safeguarding the jobs of all those working on the programme. The Navy, however, sees it as insubordination and want him grounded.… Read the rest