Animation Features Movies

Belle (Ryu to Sobakasu no Hime, 竜とそばかすの姫)

Director – Mamoru Hosoda – 2021 – Japan – Cert. PG tbc – 121m


A bereaved, teenage girl starts to emerge from her shell when she signs up for a virtual world on her smartphone – out on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday, June 27th and 4K UHD Blu-ray including the soundtrack from Thursday, July 7th

‘U’ is an internet, virtual world of high tech, futuristic architecture. When you sign up, you receive your own personalised avatar built from your biometrics. You have the chance to start over in a new world.

Teenager Suzu (voice: Kaho Nakamura) could do with that chance. She lives with her dad (voice: Koji Yakusho from Mirai, Mamoru Hosoda, 2018; The Third Murder, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2017; Pulse, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001; Shall We Dance, Masayuki Suo, 1996; Tampopo, Juzo Itami, 1985) in a small town somewhere in the East of Japan. She doesn’t really communicate with people at her school – not Luka (Tina Tamashiro), the sax player in the school band, not Kamishin (Shota Sometani from To The Ends Of The Earth, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2019; First Love, Takashi Miike, 2019; Foreboding, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2017; The Boy And The Beast, Mamoru Hosoda, 2015; Himizu, Sion Sono, 2011) who set up the canoe club but hasn’t been able to attract any members, not Shinobu (Ryo Narita) who proposed to her – well, told her he wanted to protect her – when she was six.… Read the rest

Features Live Action Movies

Little Joe

Director – Jessica Hausner – 2019 – UK – Cert.12A – 105m


Available on Blu-ray from Monday, June 15th.

Currently streaming on BFI Player, iTunes, Amazon Prime and Curzon Home Cinema.

A scientific explanation follows a vertiginous shot circling over rows of plants in a high tech, white, laboratory nursery against an eerily unearthly electronic score. Alice (Emily Beecham) and Chris (Ben Whishaw) have genetically engineered a plant which in return for being looked after, watered regularly and talked to emits a scent which will make its carer/owner happy.

Outside of work, single mum Alice confides in her psychologist (Lindsay Duncan) her worries that she doesn’t give her young son Joe (Kit Connor) enough of her time. We sense that Alice is a control freak concerned that her “handling the unpredictable” job may include elements she can’t manage. Then she crosses a line by bringing one of the happiness plants home for Joe to nurture, naming it Little Joe. In caring for the plant, he sniffs its scent. As he becomes more and more occupied with the plant’s welfare, he neglects other things, including his hitherto beloved mother.

Over at I review Little Joe on its UK theatrical release.