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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

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Features Live Action Movies

The Small Back Room

Directors – Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger – 1949 – UK – Cert. PG – 106m

*****

In London during World War Two, a back room boffin and bomb disposal man struggles with alcoholism – 4K restoration played at BFI Southbank on Tuesday, May 28th prior to release on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital on Monday, June 3rd

This black and white, post-war era drama isn’t the first film that comes to mind when people think about Powell and Pressburger – it was made immediately after what today are regarded as three of their best colour features – A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947) and their arguable masterpiece The Red Shoes (1948). And that was preceded by one of their finest black and white works, i know where i’m going!” (1945).

In many ways, The Small Back Room couldn’t be more different. There’s a marvellous sense of whimsy about those films, even if the later ones are intense and savage in places. Like Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes – and, for that matter, Powell’s late solo masterpiece Peeping Tom (1960), an intensity lies at the heart of The Small Back Room.

Gone are the light, airy spaces of the earlier films, their sense of the outdoors expanse (and, in The Red Shoes, the expanded landscapes of the eponymous ballet sequence within the film).… Read the rest

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Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Made in England:
The Films of
Powell and Pressburger

Director – David Hinton – 2023 – US – Cert. 12a – 129m

*****

Martin Scorsese talks about the seminal British filmmaking duo, and how they inspired his own movies – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 10th

As a child, Martin Scorsese suffered from asthma and would constantly find himself at home while other kids were outside playing. He often found himself sitting front of the black and white TV watching a show called Million Dollar Movie. This would show a movie a week, playing it several times, and it was at a time when US producers wouldn’t sell their movie rights to TV but British producers would. Consequently, he grew up watching black and white versions of old British movies.

The ones he particularly liked opened with an arrow hitting a target: “a production of the Archers. Written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.” When this logo and these names appeared, Scorsese always knew he was in good hands. He watched these movies over and over again whenever they were shown, and learned much of his filmmaking craft from them. The first of these films to which he thrilled didn’t have this logo: it was the Alexander Korda production of The Thief of Baghdad (Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, 1940) and parts of the film have the unmistakeable Powell visual stamp.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Teachers’ Lounge
(Das Lehrerzimmer)

Director – Ilker Çatak – 2023 – Germany – Cert. 12a – 98m

**** 1/2

A new teacher at a school where petty thefts have been taking place for some time makes some bad decisions which put her in a very difficult place – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 12th

Schoolboy Lukas (Okar Mats Zickur) is being questioned about recent thefts in the school. Does he have any suspicions as to which of the pupils might be doing this? A girl sits beside him, a class representative, to make sure everything is being done properly. “You don’t have to speak if you don’t want to”, teacher Carla Nowak (Leonie Bedesh) assures him. Nevertheless, her male colleague pressurises the boy. First, he gives him a printed list of names with checkboxes and asks the child to tick any relevant boxes. When that doesn’t work, he goes down the list with his finger and asks the boy simply to nod at any suspicious name. He gets a nod.

Teaching in class, with a number of the kids stumped by the current algebra problem, star pupil Oskar Kuhn (Leonard Stettnisch) works through a proof on the blackboard, way in advance of the capabilities his age would suggest.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Driving Mum
(Á Ferð Með Mömmu)

Director – Hilda Oddsson – 2023 – Iceland, Estonia – Cert. 12a – 112m

****1/2

After his mum dies, a man must honour her last wish by driving her to her final resting place… On the way, she talks to him… – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 1st

The 1980s. Jón (Þröstur Leó Gunnarsson) lives with his mother (Kristbjörg Kjeld) and his faithful dog Brezhnev in a remote part of rural Iceland. Days are spent sitting in the house knitting sweaters and listening to the radio – actually audio cassette recordings of the radio which run out in mid-sentence. These are periodically received in batches in boxes from a visiting trader in a boat in exchange for Jon and his mum’s home-knitted sweaters. Mum regrets never having been to Gullfoss, and Jon points out it’s unlikely to happen now. He is also a keen amateur photographer who operates his own darkroom. Rightly or wrongly, his mum worries about how he will survive after she’s gone.

One morning, he wakes to discover she has died in her sleep. He makes her corpse up as best he can, which leaves much to be desired, since her resultant look is somewhere between a clown and a zombie.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Sisu
(Sisu)

Director – Jalmari Helander – 2022 – Finland – Cert. 15 – 91m

****

A gold miner taking time out from WW2 must get past a Nazi unit in the Lapland wilderness in order to deposit his gold at the bank – entertaining but violent gorefest is out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 26th

1944. Lapland. A man (Jorma Tommila from director Helander’s Big Game, 2014; Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, 2010) has withdrawn from the war to search for gold in the wilderness. The retreating German army, meanwhile, is pursuing a ‘scorched earth’ policy, destroying everything in its path. The man digs. He finds a rich seam of gold. He fills his saddlebags. Now all he has to do is get them to the nearest bank in the nearest town.

He sets off with his horse and his dog. Between him and his destination is a Nazi unit with a ruthless, sadistic commander (Aksel Hennie from The Middle Man, Bent Hamer, 2021, The Martian, Ridley Scott, 2015; Pioneer, Erik Skjoldbjærg, 2013; Headhunters, Morten Tyldum, 2011), a tank and two lorries carrying German infantry and Finnish women prisoners respectively.

All this takes place in a world where everyone, Finns and Germans, speak English.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Keeper
(Trautmann)

Director – Marcus H. Rosenmüller – 2018 – Germany / Austria – Cert. 15 – 120m

*****

The (not-so-) beautiful game. A WW2 PoW who becomes Manchester City’s goalkeeper is faced with anti-German prejudice both on and off the pitch – in cinemas from Friday, April 5th 2019

Set in WW2 and its aftermath in Britain, this looks at first sight like a football movie. However, it becomes something else altogether by taking a long hard look at the plight of a person living in another country that’s heavily prejudiced against his own. Sadly one doesn’t have to look very far in present day, hostile environment Britain to see that such attitudes are currently very real and out in the open.

German infantryman Bert Trautmann (David Kross) is captured by the British and sent to a PoW camp just outside Manchester. Despite the presence of a few hardcore Nazis among the prisoners, most including Bert are ordinary Germans caught up in the conflict. Nevertheless, the English sergeant who runs the camp would have all of them shot were the decision his and makes their lives as difficult as possible.

However Bert has something specific in his favour: for as long as he can remember, he’s loved playing football… [read more]

Full review published in DMovies.orgRead the rest