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Mondays:
See You ‘This’ Week!
(Mondays/
Kono Taimu Ruupu,
Joshi ni Kizukasenaito Owaranai,
MONDAYS/
このタイムループ、
上司に気づかせないと
終わらない)

Director – Ryo Takebayashi – 2022 – Japan – Cert. – 82m

****

A comedy in which a group of office workers must find a way to escape the week-long time loop in which they find themselves trapped – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2024 between Friday, 2nd February and Sunday, 31st March

A dream. A Friday night conversation with the client she’s always wanted to work for and with whom she starts a job next Monday. Monday, October 25th. Akemi Yoshikawa (Wan Marui) wakes up in the office where she and advertising her co-workers have just pulled an all-nighter to get the presentations done for the client. They are exhausted, necks in travel pillows as they kip on the floor. A hapless bird strikes the window. Their middle-aged boss Mr. Nagahisa (Sports Makita) saunters in after a restful weekend.

Now Yoshiwaka must get working on that Miso Soup Soda Tablet product launch that the client wants to sound like something out of the ordinary. But then, the two guys at the next desk try to tell her that they are trapped in a time loop. They, as in, everyone in the office. She doesn’t really have the time to listen.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Dune
(2021)

Director – Denis Villeneuve – 2021 – US – Cert. 12a – 155m

*****

A powerful family is exiled to a desert planet populated with giant sandworms as part of an interplanetary conspiracy to end their dynasty – back out in cinemas from Friday, February 8th 2024

Frank Herbert’s sprawling novel Dune (1965) was read in the late 1960s and 1970s by any teenage boy with the slightest interest in science fiction and fantasy. It had (a little) space travel but more significantly it had alien worlds, notably the desert planet Arrakis on which 95% of the action takes place, and so ticked the SF box.

Then it had a whole ecology involving the planet’s occupants the Fremen, a drug known as ‘the Spice’, and giant sandworms, so it also ticked the fantasy box.

On top of this, it pitted dynasties – ‘Houses’ – against each other in a tale of interplanetary political intrigue.

The plot was unbelievably convoluted, spawning a lengthy series of sequels. I gave up around the fifth or sixth book. And yet, the first book possessed an almost mythic quality that my diminishing interest in the later volumes was unable to dispel.

The sheer quantity of plot was always going to be a challenge for a standalone movie.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

All of Us Strangers

Director – Andrew Haigh – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 105m

*****

A gay Londoner travels by train to visit his parents in Sanderstead, following their deaths in a car crash when he was 12 years old – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 26th

He (Andrew Scott) lives alone in a London tower block. Not only is he the single occupant of his flat, there’s almost no-one else in the building. When he goes outside for a breath of fresh air, he sees a guy in the window of one of the other apartments. Later, there’s a knock at his door. It’s the guy (Paul Mescal), who is slightly drunk, comes on strong and tries to get himself invited in. The visitor’s name is Harry. The occupant introduces himself as Adam, but doesn’t let Harry in.

By day, Adam writes screenplays. But he’s got stuck, so after perusing some personal effects, he takes the train to Sanderstead. There, he watches a boy in a window. He follows a man across an area of parkland. Coming out of a shop, the man spots him and asks him to come over. You think it might be a pickup – but no, it’s his dad (Jamie Bell).… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Eraserhead

Director – David Lynch – 1977 – US – Cert. 15 – 89 mins

*****

A look at where Eraserhead came from – and where its weirdness led. First published in 1996.

The current vogue for Special Editions and Director’s Cuts prompts David Lynch to rerelease Eraserhead with a Dolby Stereo sound remix.

The pre-existing gem of a soundtrack was textured by Lynch and collaborating sound designer Alan Splet to incorporate a host of industrial noises alongside such unforgettable effects as the hero’s girlfriend’s mother gargling during a dinner table fit. Eraserhead remains arguably the most original and innovative vision the last twenty years of American cinema have produced.

Not that film or director came from the mainstream. Abandoning painting as an art student, Lynch began making animation / live action films with the brief loop Six Men Getting Sick (1967) with the four minute The Alphabet (1969) and the half hour The Grandmother (1970) funded by American Film Institute grants. The AFI then funded Eraserhead, which mushroomed to feature length and required completion finance from elsewhere. Reactions to the result vary between boredom, revulsion, or admiration (this writer aligns with the latter).

Invited to his girlfriend Mary’s (Charlotte Stewart) for dinner, “Printer – on vacation” Henry (Lynch regular Jack Nance) learns she is pregnant.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Movies

The Boy And The Heron
(Kimitachi Wa
Do Ikiru Ka,
君たちはど
う生きるか,
lit.
How Do You Live?)

Director – Hayao Miyazaki – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 124m

*****

During WorldWar Two, a boy bereaved of his mother moves to the countryside with his businessman father where a heron lures him into another dimension to rescue his vanished stepmother – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 26th

Directors, eh? They make their last film, then, some time later, they go and make another one. The Wind Rises (2013) was supposed to be Hayao Miyazaki’s last film, but three years later, he was working on his next one. And seven years further on, The Boy And The Heron hits cinemas. The Japanese title How Do You Live? comes from a popular children’s novel, a copy of which appears in the film, rather than the film being an adaptation of the novel.

Three years into World War Two, young boy Mahito (Japanese dub: Soma Santoki; English dub: Luca Padovan) loses his mother in a Tokyo hospital fire. Four years into the war, his father (Japanese dub: Takuya Kimura; English dub: Christian Bale) – a businessman who manufactures aircraft cockpits for the war effort – decides to move both his factory and his son out of Tokyo to the countryside where he plans to marry his late wife’s younger sister Natsuko (Japanese dub: Yoshino Kimura; English dub: Gemma Chan).… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Tetsuo:
The Iron Man
(Tetsuo,
鉄男)

Director – Shinya Tsukamoto – 1989 – Japan – Cert. 18 – 67m

*****

On Arrow Channel from Friday, September 22nd.

Previously on BFI Player as part of Japan 2020.

This review originally appeared in Manga Mania.

A metals fetishist (played by director Shinya Tsukamoto) inserts a metal tube into his leg and the resultant infection causes him to run through the streets where he’s run over by a car. A jazz sax score and the words “new world” accompany his passage into to what appears to be another dimension, from which he proceeds to terrorise an unfortunate woman on a subway platform, possessing her hand by metallicising it with spare parts.

The car’s driver, sitting next to her on the platform – who has already discovered a miniscule electronic component on his face while shaving – is pursued by the possessed woman. Later, the driver is sodomised by his girlfriend’s mechanical penis before his own penis develops into a lethal drill.

Flashbacks reveals the pair copulating in the park just after the hit and run accident. As he becomes more and more metallicised, he finds himself locked in combat with his crash victim, and the two eventually become fused into one, accompanying their birth into the New World.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Tetsuo II:
Body Hammer
(鉄男II
Body Hammer)

Director – Shinya Tsukamoto – 1992 – Japan – Cert. 18 – 83m

*****

The Iron Man Tetsuo is back… and this time, he’s got a wife and child – sequel to the cyberpunk classic was first released November 10th 1992, when this review appeared in Manga Mania.

On Arrow Channel from Friday, September 22nd.

Where Tetsuo: The Iron Man is shot in raw black and white, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer‘s bigger budget enables a thematic reworking with not only colour film stock but also vast improvements in special effects technique (although these retain the no-budget, hands-on quality that renders them so compelling). The sleazy sexual imagery is jettisoned, the terrorized salaryman (Tomoroh Taguchi again) paired with more respectable wife Kana (played by Nobu Kanaoka, Iron Man’s subway attacker) replacing the terminally randy girlfriend. The couple now have a young child.

Tetsuo II thus launches its attack on nuclear family rather than single salaryman, with the infant kidnapped (and subsequently rent asunder) before his eyes early on in the proceedings by muscle-bound heavies hailing from the local smelting factory (occasioning much imagery of both high fetishist body building and equally high temperature molten metal varieties). Once again, Tsukamoto himself plays one of the salaryman’s opponents, on both occasions wearing a vest marked with an “X”.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

A Chinese
Ghost Story
(Sien Lui Yau Wan,
倩女幽魂)

Director – Ching Siu Tung – 1987 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 95m

*****

Some of the most seminal offerings of the commercial Hong Kong cinema are the product of creative wizard Tsui Hark. The producer who first gave John Woo his niche as bullet strewn action director on A Better Tomorrow (1986) also ensured director Ching Sui Tung’s place in fantasy film’s Hall of Fame with this stunning little offering.

The Hong Kong supernatural, fantasy genre is itself defined almost single-handedly by Tsui’s groundbreaking epic Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain (1983). CGS both typifies the genre and proves one of its finest examples. CGS spawned two sequels for what Tsui describes as “sentimental reasons – when the ghost died at the end, we want her to come back pretty badly.” He admits the sequels weren’t as good, though.

CGS opens in a downpour as a rain sodden Leslie Cheung (known to Western audiences from such diverse fare as A Better Tomorrow and art house hit Farewell My Concubine, Chen Kaige, 1993) watches a grim, head lopping argument between two bandits as he does his cowardly best to look inconspicuous. His work as a debt gatherer suffers something of a setback as he discovers the ink in his books has run with the damp, so once he arrives in the nearby town he’s unable to collect the payments he’d expected.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Mavka
The Forest Song
(Mavka.
Lisova Pisnya,
Мавка.
Лісова пісня)

Directors – Oleh Malamuzh, Oleksandra Ruban – 2022 – Ukraine – Cert. PG – 99m

Ukrainian language dubbed version with English subtitles ****1/2

English language dubbed version ****

#Mavka

Can the love of a brave and essentially honest youth for Mavka the forest spirit succeed in the face of the enmity between humans and nature? – Ukrainian animation is out in UK cinemas on Friday, July 28th

Long ago, events flared into a terrible winter war between the Guardian (voice in Ukrainian: Nazar Zadniprovskyi; in English: Marc Thompson) of the forest beyond the Dark Mountain and a sawmill owner who initially wanted to obtain one drop of the Source of Life to heal his sick daughter but then became greedy and brought an army to seize the rest of the Source of Life for himself. Seeing the terrible devastation wrought upon the forest in the conflict, the Guardian decreed that no human should ever again set foot in the forest.

Many years later, as young forest spirit Mavka (voice in Ukrainian: Natalka Denysenko; in English: Laurie Hymes) awakens from her winter sleep to spread the new life of Spring, in the nearby village where flautist Lucas (voice in Ukrainian: Artem Pyvovarov; in English: Eddy Lee) is performing with fellow musicians, the late sawmill owner’s daughter Kilina (voice in Ukrainian: Olena Kravets; in English: Sarah Natochenny) returns promising well paid work.… Read the rest

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Medusa
(Medusa)

Director – Anita Rocha de Silveira – 2021 – Brazil – Cert. 15 – 127m

***

Pro-purity, fundamentalist, Christian church girl band singer indoors by day; slut-shaming, Evangelical, vigilante group member outdoors by night… a woman is haunted by a facially disfigured figure from the past – out in UK cinemas also available on PVOD and ESVOD on Friday, July 14th, and to rent on BFI Player from Friday, July 21st

Night. An exotic dancer, bent over backwards so both hands and feet touch the floor. Writhing.

A young woman, watching this on her smartphone on the bus at night. She reaches her stop, gets off and starts walking. A gang of white masked, female vigilantes on the prowl, suddenly, behind her. She walks faster, they catch her, surround her, slut-shame her, call her a homewrecker, threaten her into “serving the Lord”. Afterwards, the female vigilantes walk off in a line across the road. On the wall, posters depicting a fist and a snake.

To better herself, another young woman Clarissa (Bruna G.) is taken our of an ordinary school and sent by her aunt to an up-market, fundamentalist, evangelical Christian church school where she’s quite nervous about fitting in: but Clarissa needn’t worry – she’s soon befriended by Mariana aka Mari (Mariana Oliveira) who takes the newcomer under her wing.… Read the rest