Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Crazy Family
Gyakufunsha Kazoku,
逆噴射家族)

Director – Sogo Ishii – 1984 – Japan – Cert. 18 – 105m

*****

After proudly moving into their first home as owner-occupiers, a family go berserk and destroy the building – out in selected New York cinemas from Friday, April 19th and selected UK cinemas from Friday, April 25th

This seemingly starts out as a conservative family drama. The family in question comprises father Katsukuni Kobayashi (Katsuya Kobayashi in his debut feature role), mother Saeko (Mitsuko Baisho who worked with directors Akira Kurosawa, Shohei Imamura and Kaneto Shindo), elder teenage son Masaki (Yoshiki Arizono from Ichi the Killer, The Happiness of the Katakuris, both Takashi Miike; Electric Dragon, 80,000 V, Sogo Ishii, all 2001) and younger teenage daughter Erika (Youki Kudoh from Typhoon Club, Shinji Somai, 1985; Mystery Train, Jim Jarmusch, 1989; Heaven’s Burning, Craig Lahiff, 1997). The Kobayashis move in to their first home as owner-occupiers which, although it’s a little on the small side, promises an idyllic existence. Father is the breadwinner with a nondescript office job, mother waters the plants and does the cooking and housework, the daughter wants to be an idol singer and the son is spending all his time studying for school and university in his room upstairs.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Opponent
(Motståndaren)

Director – Milad Alami – 2023 – Sweden, Norway – Cert. 15 – 119m

***1/2

Two asylum seekers – an Iranian pro-wrestler and his pianist wife – are confronted with inhospitable Scandiniavian hotel accommodation and state bureaucracy – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 12th.

An ominous pulsing, thumping soundtrack. Wearing training kit, an Iranian man runs until stopped in his tracks by the sight of men on the nearby road searching for someone. There is a man hiding from their sight behind a parked car. The first man goes down to the parked car and demands of him, why couldn’t you keep your mouth shut?

Hoping it will help him be seen as contributing positively to the cultural life of Sweden, thus enhancing his and the family’s chances as being accepted into citizenship, Imam joins a local wrestling team. He is clearly glad to be once again participating in the sport that was his life back in Iran, but his wife is less than happy to see him taking it up again, especially since he sometimes comes back to the hotel with a bloodied nose. Imam befriends Thomas (Björn Elgerd) at the club, who invites him out to parties where Imam spends the night rather than going home to his wife.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Yannick
(Yannick)

Director – Quentin Dupieux – 2023 – France – Cert. – 67m

*****

An audience member, unhappy with the play currently being performed, hijacks it with a gun to write something more entertaining himself – on Mubi UK from Friday, April 5th

NSFW. Absolutely worth seeing.

A play, The Cuckold, is being performed at a two-thirds empty Paris theatre. In the play, the husband (Marmaï Pio from Daaaaaali!, Quentin Dupieux, 2023) had learned from his wife (Blanche Gardin from Smoking Causes Coughing, Quentin Dupieux, 2022) that she is seeing another man. Couldn’t she wait until the weekend to tell him?

Worse, the man is ill, having picked up some sort of stomach bug from Kenya. Finally, the man – Bruno (Sébastien Chassagne from Mars Express, Jérémie Périn, 2023; The Truth, Hirokzu Kore’eda, 2019; Eden, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2014) – comes back from the lavatory. The wife wants to leave with Bruno. The husband tries to talk him into staying. Perhaps a bite from the fridge? The wife doesn’t want him to open the fridge.

At this point, audience member Yannick (Raphaël Quenard from Jeanne du Barry, Maïwenn, 2023; Smoking Causes Coughing) stands up.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Restore Point
(Bod Obnovy)

Director – Robert Hloz – 2023 – Czech Republic – Cert. 15 – 113m

*****

A detective investigates the murder of a couple, one of who helped create the technology for restoring people to life after they die – thought-provoking SF thriller is out UK on digital on Monday, April 1st

In essence this is a crime movie about corporate conspiracy and murder, but with a difference putting it into the real of science fiction – although given the speed at which current technological advances are taking place, it’s the sort of thing one can imagine being reality in a matter of years. It’s set in the not too distant future of Central Europe 2041, where technology has been developed to back up people to restore them to life should they die. This has been guaranteed by the State for anyone dying a violent, unnatural death following an increase in violent crime. This in turn is the result of growing social and economic inequality (an element not explored beyond an introductory intertitle on the screen).

This allows for fascinating plot variants to the crime genre. If someone is shot dead, they can be brought back to life within 48 hours – provided they have a backup and only so far as that backup is up-to-date.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Zone of Interest

Director – Jonathan Glazer – 2023 – UK, Poland – Cert. 12a – 106m

*****

A drama about the everyday, domestic lives of the Commandant of Auschwitz, his wife, and their family – out in UK cinemas on Friday, February 2nd

How do people sleep at night? If they do bad things? Well, some people who do bad things are tormented by them. They sleep badly. Their conscience, however repressed by them, disturbs them. The others? Well, they seem to sleep soundly.

The Zone of Interest is about people who, as part of their daily routine, do or at least consent to, even inaugurate, unspeakable things. These people are a respectable married couple and their extended family. The focus here is on the ordinary, everyday activities they pursue rather than the unspeakable activities. A nice bathing trip to the river; a later panic when there might be an infection in the river and family members are bathing in it. (The bad stuff seeps into the everyday, routine, speakable stuff, it seems.) Mum taking the little one round the garden and telling her the names of the flowers. Mum running an efficient household, with an army of servants. Mum trying on a second-hand, fur coat.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

The Peasants
(Chłopi)

Directors – DK Welchman, Hugo Welchman – 2023 – Poland, Serbia, Lithuania – Cert. 15 – 114m

****1/2

A rural drama of romance, adultery and inheritance is expressed through the remarkable, foot-in-two-camps medium of live action filmmaking turned into animated painting – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 8th

A small rural village in the early 20th Century. Young woman Jagna Paczesiówna (Kamila Urzędowska) is in love with Antek Boryna (Robert Gulaczyk). Unfortunately, not only is Antek already married to Hanka (Sonia Mietielica), who is fed up with his philandering, but also the latter’s father Maciej (Mirosław Baka), who is the richest person in the village, is widowed and wants Jagda to marry him – against her will but in line with that of her parents, who know a good thing when they see it. Alas, after the marriage, she carries on with Antek and things slowly go from bad to worse.

It’s gripping if harrowing stuff and would probably work well enough in live action, although it might not look that dissimilar to many other period costume dramas. It can occasionally be hard to keep track of who’s who, which I suspect is down to the script, an adaptation of a 1906 novel originally written as four volumes covering one year through the seasons Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer, a trajectory also followed by the screenplay.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Wish

Directors – Chris Buck, Fawn Veerasunthorn – 2023 – US – Cert. U – 95m

**

The ruler of a kingdom where wishes can come true, undone by assuming the role of gatekeeper, morphs into a tyrant – latest Disney animated feature is out in UK cinemas on Friday, November 24th

A believer in the idea that wishes can come true, a man trains himself in the art of sorcery and, with his wise and faithful wife at his side, sets himself up as King Magnifico (voice: Chris Pine) of the Mediterranean island of Rosas with his wife Queen Amaya (voice: Angelique Cabral). The king wants to create a land where wishes truly can come true, and to that end he has his subjects hand over their most heartfelt wish for safekeeping on their 18th birthday, after which the wish is erased from the wisher’s mind. He examines the wishes for himself, decides which ones would benefit society, and periodically has ceremonies where a citizen is granted their wish.

It’s a heavy workload, though, and now he’s advertising for a new assistant. Soon to be 18 teenager Asha (voice: Ariana DeBose) applies, although the King is rumoured to be difficult to work with.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Your Mother’s Son
(Anak Ka Ng Ina Mo)

Director – Jun Robles Lana – 2023 – Philippines – Cert. none – 100m

****

An intense cocktail of two uneasy, polyamorous relationships erupts into jealousy, betrayal and violence – sexually explicit political allegory of nepotism in Filipino politics plays in the spirit of the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

A candidate’s electoral vans belts out loud-hailer exhortations to secure votes in an upcoming election, but no-one in the poor rural locality through which they pass pays any attention. Everyone is struggling to make ends meet. Middle-aged Sarah (Sue Prado) puts all her efforts into both running a laundry business, providing ad hoc employment for much younger Amy (Elora Españo) who lives nearby, and teaching students online. Sarah’s son Emman (Kokoy De Santos) has just lost his job at a restaurant because it closed down. He doesn’t seem to share her work ethic, and would rather lounge around in bed all day than actually have to do anything of an employed nature.

Or, at least, that’s how things appear outwardly.

When his mother finally prises Emman from his bed so that he can go out looking for work – which might include a contact she has who may, possibly, be able to help him – he instead hangs out at the house of Amy who, like his mother, has a strong work ethic, to have sex with her at every opportunity, and do drugs.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Kalman’s Day (Kálmán-nap)

Director – Szabolcs Hajdu – 2023 – Hungary, Slovakia, US – Cert. none – 72m

*****

In Kálmán and his wife’s house, another couple gather to celebrate his birthday in what turns out to be a devastating drama about relationships falling apart and coming to an end – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

NSFW. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is adapted from a stage play, never a great selling point for your current scribe because it can lead so easily to stagebound cinema, but inventive camerawork ensures that doesn’t happen here.

The setting is a couple’s home in the woods, and it starts off with housewife Olga (Orsi Tóth) on the phone to a woman Zita (Nóra Földeáki) so in love with the sound of her own voice that at one point Olga leaves the room (and the screen) and drifts out of earshot, only to return some while later, and we realise that although we have missed a huge amount of verbiage, we have missed absolutely nothing in terms of significant content. To cut a long story short, Zita and her husband are coming over today as planned for Olga’s husband Kálmán’s birthday and wants him wants to sign a form saying she and her family live at the house Olga and Kálmán occupy because they want to get one of their kids into a school in its catchment area.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Lessons of Tolerance
(Uroky Tolerantnosti)

Director – Arkadii Nepytaliuk – 2023 – Ukraine – Cert. none – 95m

*****

To help pay off her family’s debt with the accompanying grant, an exasperated teacher enlists her sceptical family in a state LGBT+ awareness training course – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition in the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

NSFW. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

A typical older family with debt problems in Ukraine. The mother Nadia (Olena Uzlyuk) is the one member of the family keeping everything together, holding down a job as a teacher. From what we see of her at home, we would imagine she’s very good at it, too. Alas, the same can’t be said for the rest of the family. Husband Zenyk (Oleksandr Yarema) has always wanted his own garage, but has no head for running a business. He spends his evenings sitting around drinking beer and being waited on hand and foot by his wife and daughter, because that’s what women are supposed to do. Then he complains in bed because his wife is not interested in sex these days.

They have two grown-up kids. Daughter Diana (Karolina Mruha) is an aspiring actress who is applying for drama school despite warnings that she may lack the necessary talent.… Read the rest