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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

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

àma GLORIA

Director – Marie Amachoukeli – Co-Director (Animation) – Pierre Emmanuel-Lyet – 2023 – France – Cert. 12a – 84m

Live Action **** / Animation *****

After her beloved nanny returns to Cape Verde, six-year-old Cléo visits her for the Summer – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th and on BFI Player from Monday, July 22nd

Six-year-old Cléo (six-year-old Louise Mauroy-Panzani) lives with her dad (Arnaud Rebotini) in France, but is mostly cared for by her nanny Gloria (Ilça Moreno Zego). One day, Gloria gets a phone call informing her that her mum has died, so she has to return to her home island in Cape Verde. Cléo is distraught, and makes Gloria promise that they will see each other again.

Gloria makes arrangements for the little girl to spend the Summer with her on her island. She meets the family from whom Gloria was separated by being in France – the pregnant Fernanda (Abnara Gomes Varela), the alienated ten-year-old César (Fredy Gomes Tavares) and, in due course, Fernanda’s baby Santiago. Gloria spends some considerable amount of time mothering the newly-born Santiago, causing Cléo to experience extreme sibling rivalry for Gloria’s attentions. Eventually, these emotions come to a head in the little girl…

This is one of those sadly all too rare films which in the process of telling a story from a child’s point of view completely gets inside their head.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The End We Start From

Director – Mahalia Belo – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 102m

***1/2

As parts of the UK are flooded and submerged by an ecological disaster, a woman births a baby she must then bring up – on Digital from Monday, March 4th following its release in UK cinemas on Friday, January 19th

On the one hand, this starts off with a woman (Jodie Comer) giving birth and then experiencing the process of being a new mother, with all the joys and stresses that entails. On the other, this shows the UK being overtaken and flooded by an eco-disaster, and how people respond to that situation both individually and en masse. The second scenario is reminiscent of any number of disaster and / or science fiction movies about flooding, apocalypse or dystopia (When Worlds Collide, Rudolph Maté, 1951; Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarón, 2006; Waterworld, Kevin Reynolds, 1995): if you approach this movie expecting something like that, you’re going to be disappointed, because although that element is very much present in the film, it’s little more than the backdrop.

It plays more like a road movie, in which the heroine – the husband having dropped out of the narrative towards the end of the first reel – meets a series of people on her travels, each of whom offer their own individual insight into the state of things and how the new mother might move forward.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Chicken Run:
Dawn of the Nugget

Director – Sam Fell – Co-Director – Jeff Newitt – 2023 – UK – Cert. PG – 101m

****

Which came first – the chicken or the egg? Having escaped the farm for an island paradise, the chickens must break into and wreck a food processing factory masquerading as a holiday camp to lure unwitting chickens to their doom – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 8th and on Netflix from Friday, December 15th

More than two decades after the original Chicken Run (Nick Park, Peter Lord, 2000), its poultry return. They can hardly escape from the farm again, having established themselves on a secluded island in a lake well away from human beings. So the original’s co-screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick, a veteran of The Rescuers Down Under (1990), James And The Giant Peach (1996), The Little Vampire (2000), Charlotte’s Web (2006), makes use of a number of very clever tricks to have the chickens break in to a facility that endangers chicken lives rather than break out of one.

He effectively redeploys the escapees from the original, but it being over two decades since its production, he races through what would be just over a decade in chicken years if their lifespans were comparable to humans and has the hero Rocky (voice: Zachary Levi) and the heroine Ginger (voice: Thandiwe Newton) get together and produce a family in the form of a daughter, Molly (voice: Bella Ramsey) , who in the opening minutes’ montage grows into a teenager.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Wonka

Director – Paul King – 2023 – US – Cert. PG – 112m

Movie ****

Hugh Grant as an Oompa Loompa when he eventually appears*****

How the youthful Willy Wonka became the world’s most celebrated maker of chocolate – musical based on one of Roald Dahl’s best-known characters is out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 8th

Willy Wonka is familiar to generations of children through both the book in which he first appeared, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964) and its two film adaptations Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart, 1971) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tim Burton, 2005). Rather than remake the novel a third time, Warner Bros. have taken the bold step of creating a Willy Wonka origin story. Who was Wonka before he became the innovative and eccentric chocolate factory owner that book and movie audiences know and love? It’s a great idea for a film.

Paul King, who previously breathed cinematic life into another well-known figure from British children’s literature in his two Paddington movies (2017 and 2014), has, together with Paddington 2 co-screenwriter Simon Farnaby, come up with an original story which feels like a Dahl adaptation – although it isn’t.… 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

“i know
where i’m going!”
(IKWIG)

Producers-Writers-Directors – The Archers (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) – 1945 – UK – Cert. PG – 92m

*****

A London banker’s daughter’s determined to marry her wealthy fiancé on an Hebridean island has reckoned without the weather and other local factors preventing her from doing so – engaging romantic drama is out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 20th while major season Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds Of Powell + Pressburger opens Monday, October 16th at BFI Southbank and on BFI Player

You wouldn’t expect a film which is essentially a romantic comedy to open with its leading lady at age one, but that’s exactly what The Archers do here. Joan crawls, going (as the male voice over would have it) neither right nor left but straight on. By age five the male voice has her asking Santa for silk stockings (real, not artificial, a request that will have chimed with austerity-pressed, British audiences in 1945 after six years of war), by 12 she’s the one schoolgirl getting a lift home in the milk van. She’s accustomed to getting her own way and by her mid-twenties Joan (Wendy Hiller) is surprising her banker father, who she has wrapped around her little finger, with the news that she is going to marry the lucrative Consolidated Chemical Industries, specifically their ageing owner Sir Robert Bellinger.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Wicker Man:
The Final Cut

Director – Robin Hardy – 1973 – UK – Cert. 15 – 94m

*****

A Christian police sergeant investigating a missing child on a remote Scottish island meets a terrible fateout as a Collector’s Edition UHD / Blu-ray /DVD from Monday, September 25th following its release in UK cinemas in a 4K restoration from Wednesday, June 21st, 2023

(Originally reviewed for cinema release in a 2K restoration on Friday, September 27th, 2013)

Originally released forty years ago in the UK in a cut down version its director disliked, The Wicker Man now reaches our cinema screens in a longer, restored version which he says fulfils his original vision. Its plot is deceptively simple. A Christian police sergeant flies to a remote Scottish island in response to a letter about a missing child. But when he arrives on Summerisle, no-one seems to have heard of that child. It gradually emerges that the policeman has stumbled into an intricate web of lies and deceit wherein a terrible fate awaits him….

Using material from a recently discovered, longer US release print – rechristened The Final Cut by Hardy who assembled this cut in 1979 – it’s a provocative work on a number of levels.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Jurassic Park

(Review originally published in Third Way, May 1993.)

Director – Steven Spielberg – 1993 – US – PG – 127m

*****

A wealthy philanthropist brings dinosaurs to life from preserved fragments of their DNA to populate his island theme park – in cinemas from 16th July 1993 and back out again on Friday, September 1st 2023

“God creates dinosaurs.

God kills dinosaurs.

God creates man.

Man kills God.

Man creates dinosaurs.”

– Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum), chaos theoretician.

“Dinosaurs kill man.

Women take over the world.”

– Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), palaeobotanist.

“Creation is an act of will: next time, it’ll be flawless.”

– John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), creator of Jurassic Park.

Set to become the biggest grossing movie of all time (if it hasn’t already done so by the time you read this), Steven Spielberg’s latest offering concerns rich industrialist John Hammond’s (Richard Attenborough) theme park built around his dream to delight children with wonders come to life. The wonders are dinosaurs, cloned from dino DNA ingested by prehistoric insects subsequently drowned and preserved in amber. For more on this aspect of the story, read co-screenwriter Michael Crichton’s original (and best-selling) novel; Spielberg, who races through small chunks of plot as quickly as he can, isn’t interested in them half as much as he is in dinosaurs.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Puffin Rock
And The
New Friends

Director – Jeremy Purcell – 2022 – US, UK, Ireland, China – Cert. U – 92m

***1/2

The puffin and animal community of Puffin Rock is thrown into crisis by the arrival of a few refugees, the disappearance of a puffin egg and a terrible storm – spinoff feature from preschool children’s animated TV series out in UK cinemas on Friday, August 11th

Irish animation house Cartoon Saloon’s Puffin Rock TV series (2015-2016) has deservedly won awards in the world of preschool children’s television. Narrated by Chris O’Dowd, who acts as a running commentary and offers guidance to the two main characters, it centres around two preschool puffins Oona and her younger brother Baba who live on the isolated, human-free island of Puffin Rock with their kind, protective and loving parents. Through O’Dowd’s voiceover and the introduction of other animal characters, episodes deliver simple facts about natural history in a friendly and informative manner. While this educational is never allowed to get in the way of the storytelling, it’s a welcome extra. The programmes are around six minutes in length. (The series can be found on Netflix in the UK, where three six minute episodes are gathered into twenty minute batches comprising three episodes.)… Read the rest