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Features Live Action Movies

The Collini Case (Der Fall Collini)

Director – Marco Kreutzpaintner – 2019 – Germany – Cert. 15 – 123m

Film ****

Film trailer * (because: spoilers)

An apparently cut and dried murder case, with a young public defender caught in a conflict of interests, turns out to be far more complex – out in cinemas on Friday, September 10th

Berlin. A man enters a top hotel, makes his way to one of the rooms, is let in and kills the occupant. Then he returns to the lobby trailing bloody footprints, collapses in a chair and is questioned by one of the staff. “He’s dead,” he says, “presidential suite.”

Young public defender Casper Leinen (Elyas M’barek) goes to Court and is introduced by the judge (Catrin Striebeck) to seasoned state prosecutor Dr. Reimers (Rainer Boch). The latter two think it’s an open and shut case: the defendant obviously committed murder. Fabrizio Collini (Franco Nero) was born in 1934 and has lived in Stuttgart for 30 years. His victim was Jean-Baptiste Meyer (Manfred Zapatka). They go down to the basement holding cell to meet Collini, who doesn’t say a word when Leinen questions him.

The victim turns out to be also known as Hans Meyer, the leading industrialist. Leinen is horrified to discover this, as Meyer mentored him growing up.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Art Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Escher: Journey Into Infinity (Escher: Het Oneindige Zoeken)

Director – Robin Lutz – 2018 – The Netherlands – Cert. PG – 81m

*****

The life and work of graphic artist M.C. Escher is explored through his own images and words (read by Stephen Fry) – out in cinemas on Friday, August 13th

Maurits Cornelius Escher’s words at the start of this film suggest a production doomed to fail: “I am afraid there is only one person in the world who could make a good film about my prints: me.” Sadly, since Escher passed away in 1972, we will never see that film. Happily, Robin Lutz has proved Escher wrong by making this one. And so too has his collaborator Stephen Fry whose voice-over for the English language version, recorded in under three hours at a London dubbing studio, is nothing short of inspired (of which more later). He must have done some serious preparation beforehand.

For the uninitiated, Escher (1898-1972) is the Dutch graphic artist whose prints famously include Ascending and Descending (March 1960), the impossible staircase which keeps going up and up, or down and down for people travelling in the opposite direction – as it goes round and round in a square. The concept was first developed by psychiatrist / mathematician Lionel Penrose and his mathematician son Roger Penrose, the latter credited as patron on the film.… Read the rest

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Documentary Features Live Action Movies

The Truffle Hunters

Directors – Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw – 2020 – US, Italy – Cert. 12a – 84m

*****

Italians carry out a trade their families have pursued for generations with their beloved, faithful and trained dogs – in cinemas from Friday, July 9th

Cinema is about many things. Among them, it’s about the camera, the eye, the ability to observe, to watch. This facet of the medium is immediately apparent as The Truffle Hunters opens with a long shot of a picturesque section of hillside forest, its foliage a cacophony of greens and yellows. We become aware of movement in the vegetation. Two dogs are moving around separately, purposefully, under the watchful eye of their human master, an old man. He – and his animal entourage – are truffle hunters, seekers after the delicacy that is the white truffle which has refused all attempts at systematic cultivation and grows only in Langhe, Piedmont, Northern Italy. For mysterious reasons on which no-one agrees.

These men (they’re all men) are now in their seventies and eighties. They all have their own, jealously guarded territories for hunting the truffles. We watch as a younger man tries to prize the whereabouts of likely truffle finds out of an older man, but he won’t have it.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The New Girlfriend (Une Nouvelle Amie)

Director – François Ozon – 2014 – France – Cert. 15 – 108m

*****

On BFI Player subscription from Monday, May 17th 2021

UK release date 22/05/2015

Spring

Spring

Directors – Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead – 2014 – US – Cert. 15 – 109m

*****

UK release date 22/05/2015

Both these films can easily be ruined by spoilers, so be wary of reading reviews or cinema blurb or even watching trailers before you see them. That said, the following is spoiler free. Now read on.

Spring

The married, female protagonist of French maverick Ozon’s The New Girlfriend – based on a book by Ruth Rendell who passed away last month – suffers serious emotional trauma then becomes involved with a man who is not all that he seems. The single, male protagonist of US indie Spring suffers serious emotional trauma then becomes involved with a woman who is not all that she seems. In both films, the question is: can their relationship survive?

The New Girlfriend‘s Claire (Anaïs Demoustier) is distraught when friend since childhood Laura (Isild Le Besco) dies leaving behind a husband David (Romain Duris) and child. Having promised to look after David should Laura die, she sets about doing so…and makes an unexpected discovery.… Read the rest

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Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies Top Ten

Top Ten Movies (and more) 2020

Work in progress – subject to change.

Top Ten (UK theatrical + online movie releases 2020)

All films received either a theatrical or an online release in the UK between 01/01/20 and 31/01/20. I’ve never previously included online releases (well, maybe the odd on or two as a special case) but this year the film distribution business has been turned upside down by COVID-19. How 2021 and beyond will look is anyone’s guess.

Please click on titles to see reviews. (Some links yet to be added.)

1. Parasite (S.Korea) reviews one and two

2. Coup 53 (UK)

3. A Hidden Life (US/Austria/Germany)

4. Akira (1988, IMAX reissue) (Japan)

5. The Eight Hundred (China)

6. Possessor (Canada) reviews one and introductory link to two

7. Misbehaviour (UK)

8. Dick Johnson Is Dead (US)

9. Away (Latvia, no dialogue!)

10. Snowpiercer
(2013, Eng lang, S.Korea, UK theatrical release in 2020 – finally!)

11. Run (UK)

12. Sócrates (Brazil)

13. County Lines (UK)

14. First Love (Japan)

15. Parasite (Black & White) (S.Korea)

16. The Vast Of Night (US)

17. I’m Thinking Of Ending Things (US)

18. Over The Moon (US/China)

19. WolfWalkers (Ireland) reviews one and two

20. Sheep Without A Shepherd (China)

21.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Pinocchio

Director – Matteo Garrone – 2019 – Italy – Cert. PG – 125m

*****

In cinemas from Friday, August 14th, on BFI Player rental from Monday, December 14th

Impoverished woodcarver Geppetto (Roberto Benigni) decides to make the greatest puppet the world has ever seen, tour the world with it and make his fortune. A wood merchant lets him have a log because it seems to have a life of its own. Unaware of its animate properties, Geppetto begins carving his puppet, a life-sized representation of the son he’s never had.

After he starts talking to it as its “Babba”, he is surprised when the puppet (nine year old Frederico Ielapi) talks back. Geppetto names him Pinocchio. No sooner has he carved the feet than Pinocchio runs out of Geppetto’s workshop to discover the world. In many ways, that defines the character and the story to come. The innocent Pinocchio is forever in pursuit of his own gratification, prey to the perils of the world around him and initially devoid of any sense of morality, something he struggles to learn throughout the course of the story in his quest to become a real boy.

There have been numerous versions of Pinocchio in film, television and theatre since it first appeared as a written serial in an Italian newspaper in 1881.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Intimate Strangers (Wanbyeokhan tain, 완벽한 타인)

Director – Lee Jae-kyoo – 2018 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 115m

****

Four couples attend a dinner party where a game with mobile phones threatens to revel all their intimate secrets – online from 2pm Friday, November 6th to 2pm Monday, November 9th, book here, from the Special Focus: Friends and Family strand of the London Korean Film Festival (LKFF) taking place right now

A group of male friends since childhood and their wives and girlfriends meet for a house-warming of one of their number. One of the wives suggests a game. Why don’t they all put their mobile phones on the table and share any call, text, email or data that comes in?

Actually, it turns out there are some very good reasons why not – as they will all discover during the course of the evening. Indeed, the film’s final five minutes or so (and, strangely, this is not a spoiler) shows the couples driving home separately and contentedly after a pleasant evening where they wisely declined to play the game. All’s right with the world.

However, in between that coda and the opening, 34 years earlier prologue in which the four men’s childhood selves catch fish through a hole in the ice of a frozen river then spend the evening together round a camp fire in the dark, the four couples do indeed play this game at the present day house-warming.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Art Movies Shorts

The Battle Of San Romano

Director – Georges Schwizgebel – 2017 – Switzerland – 2m 26s

*****

The Battle Of San Romano is the fourth of 13 Original Short Films in the Annecy Festival 2020’s selection for We Are One: A Global Film Festival.

This film is based on the eponymous painting by Paulo Uccello in London’s National Gallery which has produced this helpful filmed talk about it. The painting’s subject matter is a 1432 battle between two regional Italian armies. The camera as we know it today didn’t exist at that time and had it done so, Uccello might anyway not have been very interested in using it to record an historical record as such. He seems to be more interested in constructing representational images, forms, and the illusion of three dimensional space.

What interests Schwizgebel is not so much the subject of the painting but the painting itself. It’s a study of the painting in much the same way that painters make studies of subjects with a view to exploring them, perhaps for use in a larger composition. Whether he is employing animation in quite the right medium is debatable. When I say medium, I mean that of the short film.

This short feels less like a film with a beginning, middle and end and more like a cycling loop of images which could go on for ever, so much so that I’ve found myself going back to it and re-watching in whole or in part.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Spring

Directors – Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead – 2014 – US – Cert. 15 – 109m

*****

UK release date 22/05/2015

The New Girlfriend

The New Girlfriend (Une Nouvelle Amie)

Director – François Ozon – 2014 – France – Cert. 15 – 108m

*****

UK release date 22/05/2015

Both these films can easily be ruined by spoilers, so be wary of reading reviews or cinema blurb or even watching trailers before you see them. That said, the following is spoiler free. Now read on.

Spring

The single, male protagonist of US indie Spring suffers serious emotional trauma then becomes involved with a woman who is not all that she seems. The married, female protagonist of French maverick Ozon’s The New Girlfriend – based on a book by Ruth Rendell who passed away last month – suffers serious emotional trauma then becomes involved with a man who is not all that he seems. In both films, the question is: can their relationship survive?

Spring

Spring‘s Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) witnesses the death of his bedridden mother. Distraught, he heads to the local bar, gets into drunken fight which ends up with his leaving the US to evade the police. He heads to Italy where he meets a bunch of Brit backpackers and indulges in more binge drinking, but everything changes when he meets and falls for the mysterious Louise (Nadia Hilker)… (This reviewer confesses that by this point – about ten minutes into the film – he wasn’t feeling much sympathy for the character – or, indeed, liking the film very much at all – but Evan’s subsequent relationship with Louise had him hooked.)… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Luzhin Defence

Director – Marleen Gorris – 2000 – UK – Cert. 12 – 109m

****

An unscrupulous teacher tracks a grown-up, former child Chess prodigy to Italy and attempts to exploit him for further gain – in cinemas from Friday, September 8th 2000

Adapted from the novel by Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita), this is ostensibly set for the most part in and around a Chess tournament in Northern Italy in 1929. Ostensibly because parallel plot strands flash back in time to the childhood of one of the contestants, Russian Master Alexander Luzhin (an unkempt, shambling and top form John Turturro).

The boy Alexander (Alexander Hunting) fares badly at school and suffers terribly as an all-round failure until it’s realised that he’s good at Chess. And not just good – his world-class genius is soon being exploited for financial gain by unscrupulous schoolteacher Valentinov (Stuart Wilson) only to be dumped the moment he stops winning. Valentinov has tracked Luzhin down to the 1929 tournament, determine to trample upon his former charge’s independently achieved fame and success.

However, he’s reckoned without the is young and marriageable aristocrat Natalia (Emily Watson, also on top form) who, instead of being wooed as intended for eligible bachelor Stassard (Christopher Thompson), is swept off her feet by the socially clumsy and clearly unsuitable Luzhin.… Read the rest