Categories
Features Live Action Movies

In Broad Daylight
(Bak Yat Ji Ha,
白日之下)

Director – Lawrence Kwan Chun Kan – 2023 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 106m

***1/2

A woman uncovers a catalogue of abuse visited upon the residents of the Hong Kong care home in which her grandfather lives – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 19th

This opens and closes to the strains of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ and images of Hong Kong buildings reaching towards the sky.

Ling Hu Kay (Jennifer Wu from The Shadows, Glenn Chan, 2020; Tracey, Li Jun, 2018) enters the Rainbow Bridge Care Home in search of her grandfather Chow Kin-Tong (David Chiang from Election, Johnnie To, 2005; The Adventurers, Ringo Lam, 1995; Once Upon a Time in China II, Tsui Hark, 1992; Yes, Madam!, Corey Yuen, 1985; Shaolin Temple, Chang Cheh, Wu Ma, 1976) who she hasn’t visited for a while as she’s been abroad in Canada. He doesn’t remember her. Chow’s roommate is the amiable Shui (Woo Fung). Shocked at finding a dead rat in their room, she finds the manager Cheung Kim-wah (a memorable Bowie Lam The Crossing, 2014; Hard Boiled, 1992, both John Woo) who informs her both that while they are always understaffed, the place is like a family where everyone pitches in.… 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 Features Movies

Epic Tails
(Pattie
Et La Colère
De Poséidon)

Director – David Alaux, Eric Tosti, Jean-François Tosti – 2022 – France – Cert. U – 95m – English language dubbed version

****

The adventurous mouse Pattie and her cautious, adoptive parent cat Sam help an ageing Jason and his skeletal Argonaut crew in a voyage to save the city of Yolcos from the wrath of Poseidon – out in UK cinemas in an English language dubbed version on Friday, February 10th

In Greek myth, forever immortalised in the cinema in Jason And The Argonauts (1963, Stop-Frame Animation & FX: Ray Harryhausen), the heroic Jason brings the Golden Fleece to his home city of Yolcos which then enjoys the protection of the Zeus against the unruly antics of the rest of the Gods in Mount Olympus. This French, animated children’s film, in which the two lead characters are anthropomorphised animals and which is released in the UK in an English language dubbed version, begins in that city around half a century later when Jason has reached a ripe old age and all his faithful Argonauts have died.

All the voice credits in the following review refer to the English language voice cast. Animation is different from live action, where dubbing can generally ruin actors’ performances in films, since in animation, voices and visual are created separately then married together.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Lightyear

Director – Angus MacLane – 2022 – US – Cert. PG – 107m

**1/2

Stranded on a hostile planet, Buzz Lightyear sets out on a series of missions which eventually lead to his first confrontation with the evil Emperor Zurg – plays in the Annecy Animation Festival 2022 which is taking place in a 100% on-site edition this year right now as a Screening Event on Friday, June 17th, and opens in UK cinemas the same day.

A caption at the start explains that this was the favourite film of child protagonist Andy (from Pixar’s Toy Story franchise) and the reason he got a Buzz Lightyear toy in the first place. Other than that, though, this is a completely separate and self-enclosed film.

As the literal meaning of its title implies, Lightyear delivers a narrative that races through vast periods of time at a stretch, so that we and ace space pilot Buzz Lightyear (voice: Chris Evans) and his colleague Alisha Hawthorne (voice: Uzo Aduba) land their spaceship on an unexplored planet which turns out to be populated with hostile life-forms, specifically (1) plant tendrils which burst out of the planet’s surface and try to drag anything they can back under the ground and (2) giant, flying bugs.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Il Buco

Director – Michelangelo Frammartino – 2021 – Italy – Cert. U – 93m

**1/2

A Calabrian cowherd nears the end of his life while a group of explorers journey down a deep hole to find out how deep into the ground it descends – out in cinemas on Friday, June 10th

Literally, ‘The Hole’. Frammartino again brings to the cinema the style that made his earlier Le Quattro Volte (2010) so special. He sets up the camera, often at a great distance from the action, then leaves it there to record whatever happens. The narrative of Il Buco is actually pretty simple, a recreation of an expedition by a group of young, amateur speleologists into a hole in the ground in Calabria. (Speleology is the branch of science involved in mapping and measuring the interiors of caves, natural underground systems, and the like.)

It’s 1961. We’re first introduced to the place in a shot looking out of the ground at the edge of the hole as, eventually, the heads of two bulls come into view over the ridge. An elderly cowherd watches over the grazing cattle from a position halfway up a forty degree incline hillside. As the bus leaves the rich, urban developments of Northern Italy for the still unspoiled Southern region of Calabria, we watch it slowly make its way along rounds, through a small rural town where the party stops for the night to bed down in sleeping bags in the local, Catholic Church alongside statues of monks and the crucified Christ lying on his back, across open country until it arrives at the vast plain where the explorers will set up camp.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Vortex

Director – Gaspar Noé – 2021 – France – Cert. 15 – 142m

*****

An elderly man struggles to care for his ailing wife who has dementia – out in cinemas on Friday, May 13th

Discounting the lengthy titles detailing among other things the various film clips and images used, this throws us a series of images in a pillarboxed 4:3 format with curved corners at the edges (suggesting a projected slide show or physical, analogue photographs mounted in an album) then the young Françoise Hardy singing “Mon Amie La Rose” loads irony into the proceedings: the rose is fresh and speaks to us of love, the singer young and yet to be ravaged by the passage of time. (It’s not mentioned here, but last year, Hardy announced she could no longer sing as a result of cancer treatments, which lends the video a certain poignancy today – even more so in the context of this film.)

Then the man we’ll call the father (Dario Argento, director of such Italian gialli as Suspiria, 1977; Tenebrae, 1982) waves through windows across a courtyard at the woman we’ll call the mother (Françoise Lebrun from The Mother And The Whore, Jean Eustache, 1973) and they meet up for a glass of wine on their balcony.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

The Weald
(Somaudo Monogatari,
杣人物語)

Director – Naomi Kawase – 1997 – Japan – 73m

***

Serial elderly residents of Japan’s Yoshino Mountains go about their daily business and talk about life’s joys and hardships – online in the UK as part of Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (YIDFF) from Monday, January 17th to Sunday, February 6th, 2022.

Prior to making such features as The Mourning Forest (2007), Sweet Bean (2015) and Japan’s 2021 International Oscar entry True Mothers (2020), independent Japanese film maker Kawase cut her teeth on intensely personal, low budget documentaries, first shorts then both shorts and features.

For this her third feature length documentary, Kawase took her camera up the Yoshino Mountains at the Southern end of Japan’s two island mainland to shoot the lives of elderly locals recording them and presenting her footage as a series of straightforward portraits. There’s no attempt to impose any narrative or outside agenda; rather, her camera gives space to these people to talk, reminisce and, ultimately, simply to be.

A woman who has spent her entire life farming a small plot of land keeps herself to herself, claims she isn’t lonely and that she likes being at home. “How much longer can I do this,” she asks the camera as she walks up a woodland slope.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Bacchus Lady
(Jug-yeo-ju-neun
Yeo-ja,
죽여주는 여자)

Director – Lee Je-Yong – 2016 – South Korea – 111m

****

An elderly prostitute takes in the child of a woman in trouble with the law – on MUBI as part of their New South Korean Cinema season

After visiting the doctor to discover, not entirely unexpectedly, that she has gonorrhea, elderly woman So-young (Youn Yuh-jung) witnesses his being stabbed by a woman claiming he’s her child’s father. In the ensuing chaos as the woman is taken away by police, she tells her son Min-ho (Choi Hyun-jun) to get away. Taking pity on him, So-young helps the boy evade the police and decides to look after him.

Her condition directly affects her work: prostitution. As she cheerfully tells upstairs landlady Tina (An A-zu), “no work today – the product is out of order.” However, that doesn’t stop her soliciting for blow jobs. The Bacchus of the title refers to an energy supplement, the supply of which is her cover for working at the oldest profession.

What does get in the way, though, is having to look after Min-ho. Sometimes she can get Tina to babysit, sometimes fellow tenant Do-Hoon (Yoon Kye-Sang), sometimes she must take him with her, leaving him on street corners or cheap hotel lobbies while she entertains clients.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Sweet Bean (
An,
あん)

Director – Naomi Kawase – 2015 – Japan – Cert. PG – 113m

****

Currently on BFI Player as part of 21st Century Japan.

A chef (Masatoshi Nagase) carefully pours just the right amounts of pancake mixture onto a hotplate to make dorayaki – two small, burger bun sized pancakes with a filling of sweet bean paste in the middle. An old lady (Kirin Kiki) asks if his part-time post is still vacant. To get rid of her he offers an outrageously low hourly rate. She proposes to work for half that. He makes excuses as to why it won’t work. “Thanks,” she says, “I’ll come again,” and disappears. Thus begins director Naomi Kawase’s Sweet Bean, a bittersweet tale of suburban life across the generations… [Read the rest]

Currently on BFI Player as part of 21st Century Japan.

Full review at All The Anime.

Trailer:

2020

Monday, September 12th: MUBI

2016

August: Eureka! cinema then BD/DVD release

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Mourning Forest
(Mogari
No Mori,
殯の森)

Director – Naomi Kawase – 2017 – Japan – Cert. 12 – 97m

****

Currently on BFI Player as part of 21st Century Japan.

Wind. Trees. Tall grass. A road barely discernible but for the occasional top of a hedge. A fluttering, white banner of a funeral procession moves imperceptibly across the landscape, a futile ritual for an unknown person.

A room’s corner between two windows. Beyond them: wind and trees. Against the corner leans the sleeping Mr Shigeki (Shigeki Uda). The boss of this old people’s home Wakako (Makiko Watanabe) is showing new care worker Machiko (Machiko Ono) the ropes. “There are no rules here”, she tells her. Machiko is in emotional free-fall. At home, a candle beside a photograph of a young boy. Berated by her husband for letting go of her child’s hand, Machiko has never got over the incident.

Kawase is a master of understatement… [Read the rest]

Currently on BFI Player as part of 21st Century Japan.

Full review at All The Anime.

Trailer:

2020

Monday, August 24th: MUBI

2017

August: Eureka! Video released the film on BD/DVD