Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Big Banana Feet

Director – Murray Grigor – 1976 – UK – Cert. 12 – 77m

****1/2

The camera follows comedian Billy Connolly to Dublin and Belfast for the final dates of his 1975 tour – 2K restoration is out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 10th, and on BFI Blu-ray/DVD (Dual Format Edition) and digital from Monday, May 20th

This played the Scala Cinema a few times back in the day. I always thought there must be a reason why, and now, with its release in a restored form by the BFI, I get to find out. I must admit to mixed feelings prior to viewing – I’m not someone who particularly enjoys stand-up comedy; indeed, watching videos of comedians doing their material onstage has been known to bore me to tears, even as it enthralls fans.

Although this has clips of Billy Connolly performing on stage – comic routines, songs with banjo and guitar – it’s essentially a fly-on-the-wall piece that captures his personality as he, with the help of his seemingly tireless road manager Billy Johnson, plays dates in Dublin and Belfast on the final leg of his 1975 tour. Watching it, you feel you get to know Connolly well, at least at the period of his career being filmed.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Monsters, Inc.

Directors – Pete Docter, David Silverman, Lee Unkrich – 2001 – US – Cert. U – 92m

The eponymous corporation employs one-eyed, green Mike Wazowski (voice: Billy Crystal) and big, all-over blue hairy James P. Sullivan (voice: John Goodman) to terrify kids, processing their screams into energy for use in the monster world’s power plants. Human touch being deadly to monsters, chaos ensues when little girl Boo (voice: Mary Gibbs) gets into monster world, exteriors of which owe much to New York.

The first Pixar feature to manage convincing hair has an opening minute recalling stop-frame short The Sandman (Paul Berry, 1991), a bar named Harryhausen’s, a fight with an invisible adversary straight out of Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, 1995) and a much better integrated interdimensional door plot device than anime Urusei Yatsura Video 1 Inaba the Dreammaker (Satoshi Dezaki, 1987). Minor details aside, the inventive and original narrative runs true to form, though the directorial team’s leanings prove unexpectedly closer to Disney’s fast-paced, gag-orientated The Emperor’s New Groove (Mark Dindal, 2000) than to Pixar’s heart-warming Toy Story (John Lasseter, 1995).

(Notes written at the time of release; previously unpublished.)

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

A Childless Village (Sonsuz)

Director – Reza Jamali – 2022 – Iran – Cert. – 81m

****

A village’s documentary filmmaker returns to the subject of local infertility for which the village’s women beat him up two decades ago – gentle comedy premieres in the 26th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

20 years ago, Kazem made a film about his village’s women being unable to bear children. As a result, they beat him up. And many of the men in the village divorced them only to feel guilty and remarry them some three times. Now he wants to make another film because the problem may lie not with the women, but the men. Who, reckons the narrator, are equally likely to beat him up. A visiting lady doctor, generally referred to by the locals as Miss Doctor, hopes to run tests on the villagers and establish the cause of childlessness.

Moslem, who is also the narrator, wants to learn how to be a director – and to just be in the film. He claims that all the women in the village are related to him, so he’ll have no problem getting them to talk on camera. But, of course, it doesn’t work out that way.… Read the rest