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the G

Director – Karl R. Hearne – 2023 – Canada – Cert. 15 – 106m

*****

A 72-year-old conned out of her home and assets calls up someone from her past to exact revenge – gripping thriller is out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 21st

After a brief opening in which two men complete the task of burying a third alive, this switches to a hospital appointment of Mrs. Hunter (Dale Dickey from Hell or High Water, David MacKenzie, 2016; Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik, 2010), 72 years old and gruffly describing herself as “socialite, retired”. She is accompanied by her grown-up granddaughter (Romane Denis), photogenic legs in tight shorts, and giving the middle finger to men who come on to her. The elder drives the younger home, deliberately missing the turn-off so they can spend more time together talking in the car.

Then Hunter returns to her condo to care for her bedridden partner Chip (Greg Ellwand from February, Oz Perkins, 2015), hit a bottle of vodka and perch precariously on a stepladder on her balcony to fix a dicky light. She is watched by a man from a car parked in the street. Next morning, there’s a knock at the door, and men including “your legal guardian Rivera” (Bruce Ramsay) and his assistant (Jonathan Koensgen) come into the apartment bearing a court order to move the couple to a facility.… Read the rest

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Animation Art Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Exhibition on Screen:
My National Gallery

Director – Phil Grabsky, Ali Ray – 2024 – UK – Cert. U – 98m

*****

Employees, punters and celebrities choose their favourite painting in London’s National Gallery – out in UK cinemas from Tuesday, June 4th

There have been documentary films about the UK’s National Gallery before, notably the wonderful, three-hour-long National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman, 2014), so, in a way, it’s a brave subject for the Exhibition on Screen people to take on. And yet, as a British production company making movies about art in art galleries, it was inevitable that they would tackle the subject sooner or later. Their version commences with a likeable enough establishing montage of what one might call ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘footfall’ – shots of various National Gallery employees at work opening the door, looking after various aspects of the art housed in the gallery and even putting out tasty-looking croissants in the cafeteria.

There are satisfying little touches throughout. A shot of The Feast Day of Saint Roch, Canaletto, with out of focus people passing in front of it, makes it feel like you’re really there in the scene depicted.

Alan Allison, security officer and gallery assistant (pictured on the front of the trailer, below) wears black clothing with a striking, patterned blue tie.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

IF

Director – John Krasinski – 2024 – US – Cert. U – 104m

****

A 12-year-old staying with her grandma in New York meets many imaginary friends forgotten by the adults who befriended them as children – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 17th

This follows the time-worn children’s story template of a child whose father in hospital and is worried that they might not ever come home. In this instance, the child’s fear is grounded in her previous experience of this happening to her mother, who went into hospital and never came out.

Thus, 12-year-old Bea (Cailey Fleming) is sent to stay with her grandmother (Fiona Shaw) in New York while her single-parent dad (John Krasinski) goes to the hospital for what he assures Bea will be a routine operation. Dad is an inveterate practical joker of a gentle sort, performing impromptu song and dance routines with his treatment drip on a stand or staging a tableau of his escape out of the window via a rope made of knotted bedsheets. As you can probably tell, director Krasinski is clearly having a lot of fun playing this role, and fortunately for us that fun translates onto the screen. As a bonus, likeable child actor Alan Kim (Minari, Lee Isaac Chung, 2020) plays the patient in a nearby ward.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

20,000 Species
Of Bees
(20.000 Especies
De Abejas)

Director – Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren – 2023 – Spain – Cert. 12a –128m

**

An eight-year-old assigned male at birth struggles with their gender identity while mum struggles with her artistic identity as a sculptress – plays the 2023 London Film Festival which runs from Wednesday, October 4th until Sunday, October 15th, and will be out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 27th

This is one of those films that’s picked up lots of prizes at various international film festivals, which means that lots of people rated some aspect of the film highly or possibly that it was the best of a bad lot (although if a film wins awards over a number of festivals, that latter scenario is less likely).

I didn’t know any of that going in, and I didn’t like the film very much coming out – I found it difficult to follow who was who, a problem scarcely helped by the fact that one of the main characters is initially called by one name, then by a nickname they don’t like very much, then finally by the name by which they wish to be known. The film credits the eight-year-old character played by Sofia Otero as Lucía, but at the start of the film, they are called by their given name Aitor, although the character uses the nickname Cocó.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

A Light
Never Goes Out
(Deng Huo Lan Shan,
Dang Fo Laan Saan,
燈火闌珊,
lit. Waning Light)

Director – Anastasia Tsang – 2022 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 103m

****

The widow of a Hong Kong neon sign maker attempts to fulfil his last wish in constructing a specific neon sign, despite new regulations outlawing them – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 12th #ALightNeverGoesOut

Mei-heung (Sylvia Chang) hangs around an amusement arcade coming to terms with the loss of her husband Bill (Simon Yam) who died just six weeks ago. He believed in luck and wishes coming true, and once won on a machine she thought a scam by inserting a coin whilst facing away from the machine. In their younger days, he proposed to her by fixing various neon lights on timers so that every time she’d make a wish, a switched off neon street sign would light up. Discovering her hard-nosed, go-getter daughter Prism (Cecilia Choi from Detention, John Hsu, 2019) has dumped Bill’s effects at the local communal recycle bin, she tries to retrieve them, falling foul of a cop more interested in enforcing rules than community spirit.

Bill was a much better craftsman than businessman, and packed in his business ten years ago so as to obtain a university grant for Prism.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Minari

Director – Lee Isaac Chung – 2020 – US – Cert. 12a – 120m

***1/2

The Korean immigrant experience in the US as a nuclear family set up a farm in Arkansas – on VoD from Friday, April 2nd, in drive-in cinemas from Monday, April 12th and cinemas from Monday, May 17th

Jacob (Steven YeunBurning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018; Okja, Bong Joon Ho, 2017), Monica (Yeri Han) and their two kids Anne (Noel Kate Cho) and David, 7 (Alan S. Kim), drive out to their new home in Arkansas. She is a little horrified that the home is a trailer on wheels supported by a basic frame, but he is thrilled that they have land with the best dirt (i.e. for growing things) America has to offer. They are surrounded by a vast area of countryside and woodlands. They speak mostly Korean, but are fluent in English and occasionally use it.

Eschewing the advice of a local water diviner, Jacob builds a well in some low ground where trees are nearby, reasoning that there must be water there. “Never pay for anything you can get for free,” he tells the attentive David, reminding him that in California, where they’ve moved from, they had nothing.… Read the rest

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Lucky Grandma

Director – Sasie Sealy – 2019 – US – Cert. 15 – 87m

***1/2

An old woman in New York’s Chinatown happens upon a bag of mob money and hires a bodyguard from a rival gang to protect herself – on VoD including BFI Player from Monday, November 9th

Grandma Wong (Tsai Chin) goes to have her fortune read. “Carps jumping over the Dragon’s Gate”, says the lady fortune teller. “So auspicious”. But Grandma’s life doesn’t feel that way. Fiercely independent, she lives in a small flat in New York’s Chinatown. Yes, she wins the occasional bag of rice as the 88th customer of the bank. And she goes on a day trip with a bunch of like-minded old people to the casino, where she does okay.

And then, on the three hour coach journey back, she sits next to a man who quietly dies in his sleep, leaving a bag of money. Ignoring the dragon tattoo on his neck, she surreptitiously takes the bag home.

From then on, two Red Dragon gangsters Little Handsome and Pock-mark start showing up to ask about the money. So she approaches the rival Zhongliang Gang to hire a bodyguard, beating the boss down from $8 000 to first $5 000 then $2 000 for the services of gentle giant Big Pong (Ha Hsaio-yuan).… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Shoplifters
(Manbiki Kazoku,
万引き家族)

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2018 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 121m – Palme d’Or winner

*****

Sleight of hand. A family of small-time criminals takes a little girl into their care – now out on VoD

The nuclear family. Dad Osamu (Lily Franky) takes son Shota (Jyo Kairi) shoplifting at a local convenience store. Mum Nobuyo (Sakura Ando), a former sex worker, dispenses advice to her younger sister Aki (Mayu Matsuoka). Grandma (Kirin Kiki) lives with the family, making a total of five persons in one small living space.

Father and son spot a little girl (Miyu Sasaki) sitting on the street. She’s hungry, so they take to theirs and give her a meal. Taking her home, it’s clear that neither father nor mother wants the child currently nor ever did. So the family decides to take Yuri in as its newest member.

Shota takes Yuri on a shoplifting trip but it doesn’t go so well… [Read the rest]

Out on Thunderbird Video. Also currently on Amazon Prime, BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema (all rental). This review originally appeared in DMovies.org.

Trailer: