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Art Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Eno

Director – Gary Hustwit – 2023 – UK – 83m

**** (on this occasion)

Musician, artist and activist Brian Eno has been at the cutting edge of creativity for 50 years, and this generative, AI-programmed film plays in a different version every time it is shown – out in UK cinemas on Friday, July 12th

Disclaimer: This film is being touted as a film that’s different every time it screens: thus, I need to declare that I saw the version shown to press in London on 03.07.2024 (which was prepared as a file for viewing on 26.04.2024). Things included in that version might or might not be in the one you see. So, in a sense, you have to take this review with a pinch of salt. The version I saw ran 83 minutes. Officially, it’s supposed to be 90, so that exact running length may vary too. Or not. I really don’t know.

Brian Eno hasn’t made the film himself, yet clearly he’s the perfect subject for it. He talks about “accidentally” getting involved with Roxy Music after being asked by band member Andy Mackay to help them record (as in, do the work required to record them at a recording studio) some pieces and realising that recording and performing with the band would help him pursue his interest in exploring emerging new technologies and their creative possibilities.… Read the rest

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Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Wilding

Director – David Allen – 2023 – UK – Cert. PG – 75m

*****

How Isabella Tree and Charlie Burrell closed down their failing farm and instead let nature run wild to regenerate the land’s depleted biodiversity – inspiring documentary is out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th

Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree (Lady Burrell) inherited the Knepp farm in West Sussex from his parents in the early 1980s. They kept it going for some 17 years. However, by the late 1990s, they were in debt to the tune of one and a half million pounds. Realising that agro-chemical pesticides and contemporary industrial farming practices were destroying the topsoil necessary for biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem, the couple then took the bold decision to stop farming and, with a little initial, minor tinkering, set about rewilding the land (i.e. letting nature take its course) and, hopefully, repair the damage done. They faced considerable opposition from the local farming community for the first five years or so. Then things began to happen which brought public opinion onto their side. In 2018, Isabella Tree wrote a book about the whole experience: Wilding: the return of nature to a British farm.

This documentary feature adaptation of Isabella’s eponymous 2018 book about their experience was shot during the pandemic and uses actors to portray the couple’s younger selves, so seamlessly cast that you actually don’t notice.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Sasquatch Sunset

Director – David & Nathan Zellner – 2024 – US – Cert. 15 – 88m

****

As recreated by actors wearing primate suits, a family of Sasquatches are photographed in the wild over the course of a year – special previews from Monday, June 10th, before releasing across UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th.

In the US and Canada, the Bigfoot or Sasquatch is a staple of American folklore; a primate alleged to live in various American woodlands habitats, an assertion supported by such dubious artefacts as the Patterson-Gimlin film, amateur footage of a Bigfoot female walking through a forest. It’s far from conclusive, and could well be a man in an ape suit.

There is, however, no doubt whatsoever that the four Sasquatches in Sasquatch Sunset are human beings wearing ape suits. The film doesn’t try to pass itself off as anything other than actors playing a family of the creatures, and uses no narration voice-over to tell the audience what to think. Rather, it follows its creatures through a year of their existence in the wild, from Spring through Winter. It isn’t attempting to prove the existence of these creatures one way or the other; rather, it’s an attempt to imagine what they might look like and how they might behave if they were (or are) real.… Read the rest

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Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Wilding

Good Stewardship

Wilding

Directed by David Allen

Certificate PG, 75 minutes

Released 14 June

After they inherited the Knepp farm in West Sussex from his parents in the early 1980s, Charlie Burrell and Isabella Tree (Lady Burrell) kept it going for some 17 years until the late 1990s, when they were one and a half million pounds in debt. The agro-chemical pesticides and industrial farming practices that they and other UK farmers use were destroying the land. The pair decided to stop running the estate as a farm and to see if there was a way of repairing or regenerating the depleted land. [Read the rest at Reform magazine.]

[Read my longer, alternative review for this site.]

Trailer:

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Kingdom of the
Planet of the Apes

Director – Wes Ball – 2024 – US – Cert. 12a – 145m

*****

The fourth entry in the current franchise reboot takes place several generations after the previous three films when apes live in scattered communities and humans have lost the power of speech – out in UK cinemas on Thursday, May 9th

Noa (Owen Teague) has deep-seated feelings of failure. His father is the head of the Eagle Clan, a tribe of chimps who live in symbiosis with trained eagles, and Noa thinks nothing of scaling the highest local rock face to steal his own eagle egg for later bird rearing. He goes on such quests with his two loyal friends, the male Anaya (Travis Jeffery) and the female Soona (Lydia Peckham). He also values the wisdom of Raka (Peter Macon), an orangutan with considerable knowledge of the generations-old teachings of Ceasar.

Noa spots a human girl (Freya Allan) sneaking around the village and environs. A short while later, all hell breaks loose as a cavalry of masked apes attack and burn the village. Noa resolves to leave the safety of the local valley and venture into the land beyond on horseback, accompanied by Raka. They soon realise the non-speaking girl is following on foot, and no sooner have they coax her into joining their quest than they run into first a herd of humans at a small forest pool, then the mounted masked gorillas from whom they must rescue the silent girl.… Read the rest

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Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Fungi Web of Life
laser digital IMAX 3D

Director – Joseph Nizeti – Co-directors – Gisela Kaufmann, Paul Phelan – 2023 – Australia – Cert. U – 40m

*****

The amazing world of fungi, its place in the ecosystem and how it may be able to help solve some environmental issues; narrated by Björk, presented by Merlin Sheldrake – out at the BFI Waterloo IMAX on Friday, February 9th

Think of fungi and most of us immediately think of mushrooms or toadstools, but those are merely its above ground manifestation. In fact, the wood wide web (a phrase easily misheard as the more familiar World Wide Web) extends through forests which are, as this notes in passing, disappearing at an alarming rate through deforestation, when the mostly slow paced and marvellous imagery and peaceful sounds and music on offer are briefly interrupted by a close up of the huge drive wheel of a mechanical digger and grating sounds of machinery to match.

Innovative Icelandic musician Björk, who has referred to her 2022 album Fossora as her ‘mushroom album’, lends her voice to the English language narration here. This gives the piece a strange, unearthly feeling that’s somehow perfect for its subject matter. Also on hand is biologist, writer and speaker Merlin Sheldrake, who wanders through the proceedings to visit Kew Gardens and assorted natural areas of forest around the planet to point out pertinent items and features.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

How To
Blow Up
A Pipeline

Collaborators – Daniel Goldhaber, Ariela Barer, Jordan Sjol, Daniel Garber – 2022 – US – Cert. 15 – 103m

****

An eco-terrorism thriller based on the manifesto by Andreas Malm – out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, April 21st.

Credited as a film by its four main collaborators (its three writer-producers and its editor) rather than (as is the usual industry practice) merely its director Goldhaber (Cam, 2018), this is based on climate change activism apologist Andreas Malm’s non-fiction treatise which argues for the destruction of property e.g. fossil fuel industry infrastructure as part of the fight against the fossil fuel industry which is causing climate change. What the book doesn’t do is tell the reader the techniques and specifics that would enable them to actually blow up a pipeline.

Likewise, this movie doesn’t provide the viewer with the knowledge and technical wherewithal that would enable them to blow up pipelines after watching it. Like Malm, it offers moral justification(s) for the act. It shows a committed group of young people who have between them carried out extensive research into everything necessary for their planned act and reached a point of moral choice where they feel they have no other option than to carry out such an action.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Burning Sea
(Nordsjøen)

Director – John Andreas Andersen – 2022 – Norway – Cert. 12 – 104m

***

An underwater technician attempts to rescue her lover who is trapped and probably dead on an oil rig amidst impending ecological disaster – out on digital on Monday, May 30th

The Norwegian title translates literally as North Sea, so renaming the film The Burning Sea makes it sound more dramatic and ups the ante considerably. That increased selling point comes at a price, though. Instead of an oil rig disaster movie, you’re now expecting a sea on fire movie which doesn’t happen ’til the last reel. Still, director Andersen’s films include the impressive disaster movie The Quake (2018) while the writing team of Harald Rosenløw-Eeg (The Quake, 2018; The Wave, Roar Uthaug, 2015) and Lars Gudmestad (Headhunters, Morten Tyldum, 2011) looks promising enough. Unlike those films, however, this one lapses fairly quickly into cliché.

It spends its first 10 minutes largely on romantic drama with Sofia (Kristine Kujath Thorp from the wonderful Ninjababy, Yngvild Sve Flikke, 2021) content to be living her life with lover Stian (Henrik Bjelland) and his pre-teen son Odin (Nils Elias Olsen) at a distance rather than living together permanently with them.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Movies

Boonie Bears
Back To Earth
(Xiong Chu Mo
Chong Fan
Di Qiu,
熊出沒·重返地球)

Director – Lin Huida – 2022 – China – Cert. PG – 100m

****

The latest movie in this long-running, animated Chinese franchise, hugely successful at the Chinese (and therefore global) box office, is the first to get a UK cinema release in a dubbed format for family audiences – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 27th

Urban bear superhero Bramble (voiced in the English language version by Joseph S. Lambert) successfully battles and defeats a monster formed from the garbage that people in the city have failed to properly throw away, lapping up the ensuing admiration from local child and cute animal residents until rudely awakened from his urban daydream by the human Vick (voice: Paul ‘Maxx’ Rinehart), who wants him to clean up the litter in the rest area of the Pine Tree Mountain forest / national park where they live.

Motivated by the promise of an ice cream on completion, Bramble speedily undertakes the task by racing around gathering the detritus in his arms only to come a cropper at the very end, spilling all the collected rubbish at its allotted bins. Although he has the best intentions and tries hard, Bramble is not the smartest bear in the woodlands.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Worst Person
In The World
(Verdens Verste
Menneske)

Director – Joachim Trier – 2021 – Norway – Cert. 15 – 128m

*****

A young woman learns about both herself and life through two personal relationships – twice Oscar-nominated film is on MUBI from Friday, May 13th

Trying to reinvent herself, Julie (Renate Reinsve) spends her student days moving from medicine into psychology (believing she’s more interested in what’s inside than skin and bones) then photography as she decides she’s a visual person. Suddenly the world opens up to her, she’s meeting new people and before long she’s moved in with popular comic book artist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie from 22 July, Paul Greengrass, 2018; Personal Shopper, Oliver Assayas, 2016). He is 15 years older than her and wants to have kids (he’s the only one in his family who hasn’t yet done so). She isn’t currently ready for that.

One night, after being pictured standing on an Oslo balcony in a repeat of the shot that opens the film, she leaves early from Aksel’s latest book launch and walking home gatecrashes a wedding party where she meets Elvind (Herbert Nodrum), their conversation gets very deep very quickly and they agree that neither of them will cheat on their respective partners, but then, as Julie says, where do you draw the line?… Read the rest