Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Sorcery (Brujería)

Director – Christopher Murray – 2023 – Chile, Mexico, Germany – Cert. 15 – 100m

*****

When the father of an indigenous Christian convert is murdered by her German Christian employer’s dogs, her thirst for justice leads her to employ occult folk magic against his family – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th

1881. Chiloé, the Northernmost island of an archipelago off the coast of Chile. Indigenous, 13-year-old Rosa (Valentina Véliz Caileo) works as a maid for German immigrant Stefan (Sebastian Hülk from All Quiet on the Western Front, Edward Berger, 2022; Little Joe, Jessica Hausner, 2019; The White Ribbon, Michael Haneke, 2009) who together with his wife (Annick Durán) runs a sheep farm. The couple have two young boys, Thorsten (Matías Bannister) and Franz (Iker Echevers). The family are Christians, and Rosa is a convert to that religion.

One day, Stefan’s sheep lie dead in his field, with woven garlands of vegetation round their necks. With tensions understandably high, Rosa’s father approaches Stefan holding a knife, and Stefan releases his two dogs upon him, killing the man. Rosa later places a makeshift cross of two sticks bound together on his basic grave, which she and Stefan’s family visit, Stefan’s wife pointing out that the man wasn’t a Christian.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Luminous Woman
(Hikaru Onna,
光る女)

Director – Shinji Somai – 1987 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 118m

*****

A Hokkaido farmer comes to Tokyo in search of his vanished fiancée but finds a world he has not expected – on Blu-ray from Monday, Monday, May 20th

At a rubbish tip on the outskirts of Tokyo, a barefoot man (Takeiji Muto) in cheap trousers and top encounters a suave-looking sophisticate (Kei Suma) and a woman opera singer (Michiru Akiyoshi), the latter performing gracefully atop the rubbish heap. The woman is dependent on the sophisticate. The barefoot man has travelled from Hokkaido to find his fiancée Kuriko Sakura, who was supposed to return after studying accounting to help him run a farm.

The sophisticate knows someone of that name, and drives the barefoot man into the city. In his nightclub, he offers the outsider a deal – if he’ll fight the club’s pro-wrestler for ¥100 000, the other will tell him where to find Kuriko. However, she may not be the person he seeks. Out of her boss’ earshot, the woman warns the outsider that the wrestling may be to the death.

In the club she plays the piano while another woman sings opera and, on the circular dias bordered by a water pool, a challenger fights the incumbent wrestler and loses.… Read the rest

Categories
Art Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Exhibition on Screen:
John Singer Sargent
Fashion & Swagger

Director – David Bickerstaff – 2024 – UK – Cert. U – 93m

****

Late nineteenth century society portrait painter John Singer Sargent was fascinated more by their clothing and the possibilities of paint than he was by the women he painted – documentary is out in UK cinemas for selected screenings from Tuesday, April 16th

Based on the exhibition first at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA) and now at Tate Britain, this opens with incidental music that conjures a contemporary dance floor, a soundtrack which provokes a strange tension with paintings hanging on walls and costumes displayed in glass cases as the camera moves through the physical spaces in which they are displayed. But then, the title suggests this might be a little different from Exhibition on Screen’s usual fare.

John Singer Sargent’s A Portrait of Miss Elsie Palmer (A Lady In White), 1889-90, shows the energy and intensity of his portraiture. The brushstrokes are arresting and like nothing else being done at the time. The paintings might be perfect, but the people within them most definitely are not: Sargent captures their imperfections in a most compelling way. He looked deeply at people, and some of his sitters were afraid to sit for him because of what he might see.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Concrete Utopia
(Konkeuriteu Yutopia,
콘크리트 유토피아)

Director – Eom Tae-hwa – 2023 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 130m

****1/2

A massive earthquake makes the residents of the sole Seoul apartment block still standing close their doors to survivors outside – out on UK digital platforms on Monday, April 1st

Concrete: a structural material made of aggregate, cement, and water. (Definition from Encyclopedia Britannica.) Harsh. Unyielding. Impenetrable. Opaque. Not alive. Commonly used in today’s world in the manufacture of buildings, and associated with Brutalist architecture.

Utopia: an ideal community whose inhabitants exist under seemingly perfect conditions. (Definition from Encyclopedia Britannica.) The English word derives from two Greek words, the compound meaning of which is nowhere. Hence, “seemingly”. Utopias tend to have some fatal flaw. If they didn’t, any story about them would lack dramatic conflict. Thus, the word carries within it a degree of irony.

The eponymous montage of these two words pits them against each other: an unyielding, dead physicality confronts the optimism of a better world. The title evokes JG Ballard’s novels Concrete Island (1974) and High-Rise (1975), the former about a stranded motorist struggling to survive on a spaghetti junction after a car accident, the latter about a newly built block of flats in which the residents descend through social breakdown towards a new order.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Silver Haze

Director – Sacha Polak – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 102m

*****

A young nurse – who seeks closure and revenge from being burned in a fire as a child – falls into a romantic attachment which may lead her towards a sense of community – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

This is the second collaboration between writer-director Polak and performer Vicky Knight, who in real life as a small child was burned in a fire and whose flesh is marked by the physical scars of that trauma. In Dirty God (2019), their first film together, Knight delivered a bravura performance as the victim of an acid attack.

In addition to her being compelling on the screen in that film, Knight apparently enjoyed the whole process of making and promoting it, and Polak wanted to do a further film with her, writing a twenty-page fictional treatment and then leaping into a shoot without fully knowing what she was doing. Her backers misunderstood her to be making a documentary about Knight, yet this is a work of fiction, using created characters to explore the effect of Knight’s real life trauma. If the scars are clearly visible on Knight’s body, what draws you in is something altogether beyond that, the trauma playing out in her interior life.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Monster
(Kaibutsu,
怪物)

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 126m

****

The mother of a school pupil believes her son is being abused by his teacher, who in turn protests his own innocence, yet the truth is more complex – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 15th

A movie at once spellbinding and infuriating, as a seemingly straightforward narrative is retold from different points of view and shifts subtly as further details emerge. It’s not a film to see if you’re tired, as it requires considerable attention on the part of the audience.

It starts off with a child’s feet walking along a patch of wasteland at night, sirens in the distance and then a blazing urban building which his single-parent mother Saori Mugino (Sakura Ando from Godzilla Minus One, 2023; Shoplifters, 2018 and Love Exposure, 2008) summons her son Minato (Soya Kurokawa) out onto their flat’s balcony to watch. Overheard conversation later suggests that not only was there a hostess bar on the third floor of the burning building, but that Minato’s teacher Mr. Hori (Eita Nagayama from Toshiaki Toyoda’s 9 Souls, 2003 and Blue Spring, 2001) used to go there.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Movies Shorts

Pachyderm
(Pachyderme)

Director – Stéphanie Clément – 2022 – France – 11m

*****

A nine-year-old struggles with the trauma that befalls her at her grandpa’s – nominated for Best Animated Short at the 2024 Academy Awards, VoD details below review

She’s nine (voice-over: Christa Theret), and in the Summer she goes to stay with granny and grandpa. She plays on a swing, missing mum and dad, she watches a cabbage white butterfly in the garden. The house is tidy, ordered, perhaps obsessively so. It smells of polish; the kitchen smells of bleach. Tomorrow, grandpa will take her to the lake, where he likes to fish. To get to her bedroom, she must pass the big, intimidating horn mounted at the top of the stairs, a hunting trophy from a pachyderm. In her room, she can see eyes watching her from the wood grain of the ceiling timbers. She doesn’t sleep by counting sheep; she kills monsters. As the floorboards creak outside her door, she hides in the wallpaper, in the flowers, in sleep. After all, as grandma says, what could happen?

Before the trip, she accidentally pricks a finger on one of grandpa’s fishing hooks – lures, as they call them – but grandpa kisses the cut better with the kiss that heals all things.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Silver Haze

Scarred for life

Silver Haze
Directed by Sacha Polak
Certificate 15, 102 minutes
Released 29 March

As a small child in real life, the actor Vicky Knight was burned in a fire. Today, her body still bears the physical scars of the trauma she suffered. In Dirty God (2019), her first film with the director Sacha Polak, Knight delivered a bravura performance as the victim of an acid attack.

Polak wanted to further explore Knight’s trauma. The scars are clearly visible on Knight’s body, but what draws you in in Silver Haze is something deeper, her trauma playing out in her interior life. Knight is a gifted and talented actress; one hopes that Polak and other directors can find more roles for her in the future, not necessarily related to her bodily scars.

Knight plays Franky, a 23-year-old East London nurse who never got over the fire in which she was trapped as a child. The incident, discussed but never shown, has left much of her body scarred by severe burns. Her father was having an affair with a woman who, Franky has convinced herself, started the fire. [Read the rest at Reform magazine…]

Silver Haze is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, March 29th.… Read the rest

Categories
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

Categories
Art Documentary Features Live Action Movies Music

Squaring The Circle:
(The Story Of
Hipgnosis)

Director – Anton Corbijn – 2022 – UK – Cert. – 101m

*****

The story of the visual creatives behind album sleeves, for Pink Floyd and others, who revolutionised the field from the late 1960s and through the 1970snow out on Blu-ray/DVD combo and various streaming services plus BFI Player following its release in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on Friday, July 14th

Everyone who bought LP records from the late 1960s through to the very end of the 1970s knows the name Hipgnosis. As one interviewee points out, you would go in to the centre of your town to buy the latest album and mull over all the written information on the sleeve on the bus coming home to find out who played on it and who was responsible for the cover. Many of the most memorable sleeves were designed by Hipgnosis, the name coming from ‘hip’, meaning ‘cool’, and ‘gnosis’ meaning ‘secret wisdom’.

Director Corbijn made his name in black and white photography and album sleeves for such bands as U2 and Depeche Mode in the 1980s, so has a background in the album cover world in a later decade. He is therefore extremely well placed to tackle the subject and chooses to film many of his interviewees in trademark black and white.… Read the rest