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Features Live Action Movies

The Beast
(La Bête)
(2023)

Director – Bertrand Bonello – 2023 – France – Cert. 15 – 146m

*****

Required to expunge her emotions by the ruling AI of 2044, a woman with a sense of dread revisits her past lives in 1910 and 2014 and their incarnations of the love of her life – curious mix of art house movie and science fiction is out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 31st

An actress (Léa Seydoux) against green screen rehearses a scene in a house – the director’s voice tells her where the stairs and other features are in relation to her position and marks on the floor. With these minimal visuals but with the addition of music and full sound effects, she works through the scene up to the point where she sees the terrifying shadow of the Beast on a wall and screams. Consciously or unconsciously, this echoes the screen test on the boat of Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) in King Kong (Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933) as she is required to scream at an unseen, gargantuan monster for the camera.

As in Kong, this scene anticipates one that will play out later in the film. However, Bonello plays it as a curious introduction to the whole, rather than part of the story proper.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Beast
(La Bête)
(2023)

A Fatal Belief

The Beast
Directed by Bertrand Bonello
Certificate 15, 146 minutes
Released 31 May

As satisfying as it is infuriating, this French genre-bender is part science fiction, part period costume drama and part literary adaptation. It’s based on Henry James’ 1903 novella The Beast in the Jungle, in which a man refuses to marry the woman he loves to spare her from the attack he believes will be perpetrated upon him at some point by a horrible beast.

About a third is, as you might expect, a period costume drama, sumptuously shot on film. However, the co-writer and director Bonello introduces two more separate timelines set in 2014 and 2044 and shot on harsher digital technology for a more modern feel.

He also switches the gender roles round, so that… [Read the full review in Reform]

[Read my longer review on this site]

Trailer:

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Your Mother’s Son
(Anak Ka Ng Ina Mo)

Director – Jun Robles Lana – 2023 – Philippines – Cert. none – 100m

****

An intense cocktail of two uneasy, polyamorous relationships erupts into jealousy, betrayal and violence – sexually explicit political allegory of nepotism in Filipino politics plays in the spirit of the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

A candidate’s electoral vans belts out loud-hailer exhortations to secure votes in an upcoming election, but no-one in the poor rural locality through which they pass pays any attention. Everyone is struggling to make ends meet. Middle-aged Sarah (Sue Prado) puts all her efforts into both running a laundry business, providing ad hoc employment for much younger Amy (Elora Españo) who lives nearby, and teaching students online. Sarah’s son Emman (Kokoy De Santos) has just lost his job at a restaurant because it closed down. He doesn’t seem to share her work ethic, and would rather lounge around in bed all day than actually have to do anything of an employed nature.

Or, at least, that’s how things appear outwardly.

When his mother finally prises Emman from his bed so that he can go out looking for work – which might include a contact she has who may, possibly, be able to help him – he instead hangs out at the house of Amy who, like his mother, has a strong work ethic, to have sex with her at every opportunity, and do drugs.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Breaking The Waves

Director – Lars von Trier – 1996 – Denmark, Sweden, France, Norway, Finland, Italy, Germany, US – Cert. 18 – 160m

*****

NSFW.

A mentally vulnerable, young woman in an austere Scots religious community marries an outsider only for her husband to be severely injured working on an oil rig – out in a 4K restoration in UK cinemas on Friday, Aug 4th

Divided into a series of chapter headings in which locked off camera shots are accompanied by popular 1970s rock songs which cut off or fade out before they reach their end, like much of von Trier’s work this is not a film for the faint-hearted.

Young woman Bess McNeill (Emily Watson) is questioned by the priest (Jonathan Hackett) of the local, austere Calvinist community before its elders as to her understanding of matrimony and warned against entering into that institution with an outsider. Nevertheless, she proceeds to marry non-religious oil rig worker Jan Nyman (Stellan Skarsgård). Their relationship is extremely carnal and she is deliriously happy until the time comes, as it must, for Jan to return to work on the rig. She finds his absence almost unbearable.

Then disaster strikes, with Jan seriously injured in a rig accident whilst trying to help an injured fellow worker.… Read the rest

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Art Documentary Exhibitions Features Live Action Movies

Exhibition on Screen:
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

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Animation Features Movies

No.7 Cherry Lane
(Jiyuantai Qihao,
繼園臺七號)

Director – Yonfan – 2019 – Hong Kong – Cert. 12A – 125m

*****

The tutor of an 18-year-old girl falls for her mother who hired him against the background of the 1967 protest marches in Hong Kong – 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

Insofar as this is like anything else – which it really isn’t – it’s like a reworking of The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967) filtered through In The Mood For Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000). Oh, and it’s 3D rendered then 2D animated. Broadly speaking, The Graduate is about a young man seduced by a much older, bored housewife before later becoming romantically involved with her daughter. In The Mood For Love is set in early 1960s Hong Kong and includes a sequence on a sloping pedestrian street where a man passes a women walking in the opposite direction, the whole thing charged with a sense of romantic longing. There;’s a similar scene in No.7 Cherry Lane, although it’s considerably less central to the plot than the one in In The Mood For Love.

Yonfan, here making his first film in ten years, would certainly agree that filmic and literary references abound in the film.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Deep Water
(2022)

Director – Adrian Lyne – 2022 – US – Cert. US-R – 115m

****

A man is jealous of the lovers of his beautiful but promiscuous wife who start mysteriously dying one by one – out on Prime Video in the UK on Friday, March 18th

Vic (Ben Affleck) is devoted to his wife Melinda (Ana de Armas from No Time To Die, 2021, Cary Joji Fukunaga) for whom he would do anything, including give her her freedom. Since she doesn’t like being tied down to just one man, this means the freedom to sleep with any man she wants. She drinks a lot too and often stays out all night, refusing to tell Vic where she’s been in the morning. The trouble is, some time ago she slept with a man named MacRae and he vanished. Disappeared. No-one knows what happened to him.

Then one night, at a party he’s hosting, Vic scares Melinda’s current lover Joel (Brendan C. Miller) by confessing to the crime, by way of a joke. Or is it? Joel is inclined to think Vic the murderer. After a job offer causes Joel to leave the area, Melinda starts meeting a piano teacher Charles (Jacob Elordi).… Read the rest