Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Sleep
(Jam, 잠)

Director – Jason Yu – 2023 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 95m

***1/2

A pregnant woman becomes convinced that her husband is possessed when he starts sleepwalking and otherwise behaving oddly in his sleep at night – out in UK cinemas on Friday, July 12th

One night, a wife wakes up and looks at her husband. He’s sitting on the end of the bed and says, calmly, “someone’s inside”. She hears banging. She gets up, and we see she is pregnant. Fearing an intruder, she goes into the next room, household drill in hand. It’s the door to the verandah banging, wedged open with his flip-flop. She finds their dog, Pepper, a Pomeranian, hiding behind the box container with the laundry liquid. Returning to the bedroom, she sees him wearing one flip-flop.

Sleep is a horror thriller about both a sleep disorder and intermittent possession by a ghost. The wife Soo-jin (Jung Yu-mi) is a former film executive, the husband Hyun-Su (Lee Sun-kyun) a struggling actor in whose career she believes. On their wall, a wooden plaque proclaims, “Together, we can overcome anything”. Their new downstairs neighbour Min-jung (Kim Guk-hee), who moved in after the difficult old man who used to complain to the couple about the noise moved out, pops round to say hello and complain about the banging that’s been going on for the last week.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

A Greyhound
of a Girl

Director – Enzo d’Alò – 2023 – Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, UK, Latvia, Estonia, Germany – Cert. U – 88m

****1/2

A young, cookery-obsessed girl with a fear of dogs must come to terms with the fact that her beloved granny is dying – animated feature is out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 28th

Ireland. Faced with an unsympathetic interview panel for the Ballymaloe Cooking School when she unwisely makes a tatty tart with bananas, young girl Mary (voice: Mia O’Connor) finds she has an ally in her granny (voice: Rosaleen Linehan) who gives the judges a friendly talking to when they reject her granddaughter. The girl can always come back next time. She and granny are driving home on a minor coastal road and granny is refusing to talk about her own childhood – apparently there was an incident involving a dog and a well – when granny swerves to avoid a dog and dents the car. Mary doesn’t like dogs, although she’s a caring child who stopped granny accidentally running over a hedgehog earlier.

Granny has been coughing all day. With the news that Mary’s bestie Ava (voice: Amelie Metacalf) is soon be leaving as her dad has got a job in England, it’s not a great time for the young girl, and it gets worse, when she discovers her gran has a fever and her mum calls an ambulance.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Kinds of Kindness

Director – Yorgos Lanthimos – 2023 – UK – Cert. 18 – 144m

***

A triptych of stories from rising star cult director Lanthimos performed by the same intimate, ensemble cast – baffling auteur exercise is out in UK and Ireland cinemas on Friday, June 28th

Beyond a description of its structure – three separate stories performed by the same ensemble cast directed by one of today’s more idiosyncratic directors – Kinds of Kindness is not an easy film to synopsize. If the term ‘kindness’ in the title is meant to relate to the stories, it’s not immediately obvious as to how that should be (unless kindness is being used in the sense of “type of category” as the stories seem to function, on one level at least, as exploration of categories of transgressive behaviour). In terms of actors giving performances, the film is a masterclass; in terms of technical achievement – camera, editing, sand so on – it’s top of the line stuff; yet, in terms of what the film is about, the point of it, why anyone would want to make this film, you may find yourself completely baffled.

The main cast comprises Emma Stone, Jesse Plemons, Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley with support from Hong Chau, Joe Alwyn, Mamoudou Athie and Hunter Schafer.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

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 and Ireland 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

Categories
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

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Catching Fire:
The Story of
Anita Pallenberg

Directors – Alexis Bloom, Svetlana Zill – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 113m

***1/2

The chaotic life of the archetypal rock chick, told through her own words and those of her children – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 17th

After her death in 2017, Anita Pallenberg’s two surviving children Marlon and Angela discovered a manuscript; she had written an autobiography. Marlon worked his way through it as part of his bereavement process and was so taken with the articulate text that he sought out producers to turn it into a film. (He is one of the film’s executive producers himself, while both directors are credited as among the producers). Numerous clips from an interview with him are used in this resultant documentary, along with excerpts from Anita’s manuscript voiced by an actress, along with interview footage with Angela and verbal audio from Rolling Stones band member Keith Richards, Anita’s partner for a decade and the father of her children.

Like many of the young generation who rose meteorically to cultural prominence in the swinging sixties, Anita Pallenberg was a war baby. Her first years were accompanied by the sound of falling bombs; as she puts it, she didn’t learn to walk, but to run.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Nightwatch:
Demons Are Forever
(Nattevagten –
Dæmoner Går i Arv)

Director – Ole Bornedal – 2023 – Denmark – 110m

****1/2

A law student’s daughter takes on his old morgue nightwatchman’s job to find out about the killer who traumatised her parents – out on Shudder UK from Friday, May 17th

WARNING: don’t watch this sequel until you’ve seen the original Nightwatch (1994). That’s easy enough to do, since both films are currently on Shudder.

SPOILER ALERT: if you’ve not (yet) seen the original, watch that before reading this review.

Almost thirty years on, Bornedal’s sequel is almost a retread of his original film. Almost, but not quite. Martin (Nikolaj Coster Waldau) has never totally got over his wife Kalinka’s suicide, caused by the fear of arrested killer Peter Wörmer. Several times a week, in scenes described but never shown, Martin visits the summerhouse where she hanged herself and talks to her. Martin’s friend Jens has long since disappeared to Thailand, while his girlfriend Lotte (played by a different actress, Vibeke Hastrup) still works as a vicar. Martin hasn’t heard from either of them in years.

Mental patient Bent (Casper Kjær Jensen) is a likewise incarcerated killer, a copycat. Later on, both he and Wörmer will escape their hospitals.

Martin lives with his med student daughter Emma (Fanny Leander Bornedal, the director’s daughter who is terrific here) who wants to find out exactly what happened to her parents.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Full Time
(À Plein Temps)

Director – Eric Gravel – 2021 – France – Cert. 12a – 87m

*****

A single mum with two young kids struggles to hold her working life together in a Paris where the transport network in and out of the city is paralysed by strikes – on BBC iPlayer until end 2024 following its release in UK cinemas on Friday, May 26th 2023

The brief moment of calm at the start gives little indication of the relentless nature of what is to follow. Julie Roy (Laure Calamy) sleeps deeply, a figure at rest, as we watch parts of her face in close-ups. Suddenly, this tranquillity is shattered by the aural violation of the quiet by an alarm clock. As she gets the kids up, the radio blares out something about an increase in working hours and something else about the welfare state. The impression is of the microcosm of her life and the macrocosm of the wider world (France) in a state of crisis. She bundles her kids off to the child-minder’s and boards a pre-dawn train to Paris. The train is terminated because of an unwell passenger, so she has to switch to a bus to get to St. Lazare, and as she is trying to get to The Churchill, the luxury hotel where she works as a head chambermaid, she must fend off a mobile phone call about her mortgage repayments.… 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
Features Live Action Movies

Observing
(Opazovanje)

Director – Janez Burger – 2023 – Slovenia, Italy, Croatia, North Macedonia – Cert. none – 83m

*****

A paramedic must deal with the aftermath of a man being kicked unconscious after people watch the incident on social media livestreaming – plays in the spirit of the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

The sounds of a man (Vito Weiss) being beaten up by others. No images. Mercifully.

If you lived in Slovenia, you’d be familiar with a news story about a man who was beaten up by others who livestreamed the event over social media, picking up an audience of 20 000, out of whom only a negligible number, maybe a handful, thought to call the police. That incident was the starting point for this film, which is an attempt to come to term with such events.

It’s a drama based around the three-person ambulance detail who find themselves picking up the victim of the livestreamed attack. He’s in a bad way and winds up in intensive care. Most of the ambulance pickups either die on the way to or in hospital, or they make a full recovery; this man, however, remains stable but unconscious in the ICU with no sign of either recovery or lapse.… Read the rest