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Features Live Action Movies

Samsara (2023)

Director – Lois Patiño – 2023 – South Korea, Spain – Cert. U –113m

*****

The story of two lives – an old woman dying in Laos and a goat born in Zanzibar and the connection between them – is out in cinemas in the UK in the new year on Friday, January 26th following its screening in the 2023 London Film Festival

You think you’ve seen everything there is to see in movies, and then along comes a movie that does something unexpected that completely breaks the mould. In the middle of this film, we are invited to close our eyes and not open them again until asked; if we follow this instruction, something extraordinary occurs.

The word Samsara is used in a number of Asian religious systems (notably Hinduism and Buddhism) to denote the idea of a constant cycle of reincarnation: you are born, you die, you are reborn in another form, you die, you are reborn in another form, an so on. This idea is contrary to that of the Judeo-Christian religions in which you are born, you die, once only, and you are judged.

What Samsara does so brilliantly is show us the first of these two systems, showing the end of one life and the beginning of another.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Anselm
(Anselm
– Das Rauschen
Der Zeit)

Director – Wim Wenders – 2023 – Germany – Cert. PG – 93m

****

An exploration of the work of German artist Anselm Kiefer and the influences which lie behind it – 3D documentary plays the 2023 London Film Festival which runs from Wednesday, October 4th until Sunday, October 15th, and will be out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 8th

Wim Wenders seems to step effortlessly between narrative and documentary feature films, and you never feel that he considers one or the other more important. To him, they are all movies. As with his earlier Pina (2011), similarly about an artist – the choreographer Pina Bausch – this is another portrait of an artist shot in 3D. Wenders’ subject here, again eponymously designated by Christian name, is Anselm Kiefer, a practitioner of the plastic rather than the performing arts.

From the outset, it’s clear that the film needs to be seen in 3D. Wenders’ camera moves deliberately and formally around maquettes that resemble life-sized women wearing dresses, but without the women in them so that they stand as empty objects, often with strange constructions in the space where you would expect their neck and heads to be. The forest setting in which Wenders films them seems almost as significant as the maquettes themselves as we slowly pass by an upright tree trunk between the sculpture and us.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies Shorts

Film Festivals

Click the links below for coverage of:

2023

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF)

London Korean Film Festival (LKFF)

London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF)

Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds Of Powell + Pressburger

BFI London Film Festival (LFF)

Annecy

Focus Hong Kong

Japan Foundation (JPF) Touring Film Programme

2022

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF)

London Korean Film Festival (LKFF)

London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF)

BFI London Film Festival (LFF)

Annecy

Focus Hong Kong Making Waves

BFI Anime 2022

Japan Foundation (JPF) Touring Film Programme

Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival (YIDFF)

Focus Hong Kong Chinese New Year

2021

BFI Japan 2021

MUBI New South Korean Cinema season

London Korean Film Festival (LKFF)

London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF)

BFI London Film Festival (LFF)

Scotland Loves Anime

Annecy

Japan Foundation (JPF) Touring Film Programme

Or click any of these tags:

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

20,000 Species
Of Bees
(20.000 Especies
De Abejas)

Director – Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren – 2023 – Spain – Cert. 12a –128m

**

An eight-year-old assigned male at birth struggles with their gender identity while mum struggles with her artistic identity as a sculptress – plays the 2023 London Film Festival which runs from Wednesday, October 4th until Sunday, October 15th, and will be out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 27th

This is one of those films that’s picked up lots of prizes at various international film festivals, which means that lots of people rated some aspect of the film highly or possibly that it was the best of a bad lot (although if a film wins awards over a number of festivals, that latter scenario is less likely).

I didn’t know any of that going in, and I didn’t like the film very much coming out – I found it difficult to follow who was who, a problem scarcely helped by the fact that one of the main characters is initially called by one name, then by a nickname they don’t like very much, then finally by the name by which they wish to be known. The film credits the eight-year-old character played by Sofia Otero as Lucía, but at the start of the film, they are called by their given name Aitor, although the character uses the nickname Cocó.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Robot Dreams

Director – Pablo Berger – 2023 – Spain – Cert. U tbc– 102m

*****

In need of a companion, Dog builds Robot – but then, disaster strikes – charming, dialogue-free 2D animation plays the 2023 London Film Festival which runs from Wednesday, October 4th until Sunday, October 15th, and will be out in UK cinemas sometime in the new year

The 1980s. Brooklyn. The East Village. Bored with endless, cook from frozen macaroni cheese meals from the fridge and channel hopping or playing both parts of computerised table tennis against himself, Dog longs for a companion. To this end, he buys a DIY self-assembly kit from which he builds Robot. For a short period, the pair are inseparable, walking and eating hot dogs together in Central Park, but then disaster strikes after Robot swims in the sea when the pair visit the beach. When it’s time to go home, his battery power is depleted and he can’t move.

So Dog has to leave incapacitated Robot there. He buys books on robots from the local bookstore to work out how to repair his friend. Alas, on arrival at the beach, he discovers it’s closed since yesterday was the last day of the Summer season.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Killers
Of The Flower Moon

Director – Martin Scorsese – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 206m

*****

A returning WW1 veteran marries into Oklahoma’s Osage Indian tribe at the time of the Osage Indian Murders – plays the 2023 London Film Festival which runs from Wednesday, October 4th until Sunday, October 15th, and will be out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 20th

At slightly over 80 years of age, Martin Scorsese has now been making movies for over 60 years. Like his last, fictional, narrative feature The Irishman (2019), this one is pushing three and a half hours. I always have issues with films that long: the vast majority are that way due to director’s ego and / or inability to tell a story concisely. Some of them might have been better suited to a TV mini-series ( a medium in which, incidentally, Scorsese also works). Yet if you try and imagine Killers Of The Flower Moon cut down in length, it’s difficult. Maybe you could take out the frame story – the performance of a crime drama on the radio on the subject of the Osage Indian Murders – but that sets the scene nicely at the start and takes you back out of the movie equally nicely at the end, so it would be a shame to do so.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Godland
(Vanskabte Land)

Director – Hlynur Pálmason – 2022 – Denmark, Iceland – Cert. 12a – 138m

***1/2

Winter is coming. In the late nineteenth century, a Danish priest who is also an amateur photographer travels to an Icelandic island to oversee the construction of a church before Winter comes – out to rent on Amazon Video, Sky Store, Chili, Rakuten TV, BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, May 5th

The late nineteenth century. Lutheran priest Lucas (Elliott Crosset Hove) meets with his Church of Denmark bishop regarding his forthcoming ministry to a remote village in Iceland where he is to oversee the construction of a church building before the harsh winter sets in. While that’s his official, designated task, the young man being something of an enthusiast for the newly emerging art of photography decides to take a camera and tripod with him to document his journey, and to this end, rather than take the simplest, safest and quickest route to his destination, he resolves to travel cross-country. (Although the film is a work of fiction, it was inspired by an actual series of photographs taken on a similar journey around this period.) He is allocated an Icelandic guide Ragnar (Ingvar Sigurðsson) to accompany him.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Rodeo
(Rodéo)

Director – Lola Quivoron – 2022 – France – Cert. 15 – 105m

***

Le Fast et la Furieuse. A young woman bike thief makes her mark on a group of bikers living in a bike repair shop run from a prison by its incarcerated owner – out in UK cinemas and exclusively on Curzon Hone Cinema on Friday, April 28th following its appearance in the BFI London Film Festival 2022

Julia (Julie Ledru) loves motorbikes. She loves riding them. And she loves stealing them. At various points in the narrative, she follows up ‘bike for sale’ ads, goes to see the seller, impresses them with her considerable knowledge, persuades them to let her test drive the bike by riding it alone for a certain distance then rides off with it. She’s also poor and living on a rundown housing estate, an environment beloved of a certain strata of French cinema (e.g. Two Of Three Things I Know About Her, Jean-Luc Godard, 1967, La Haine, Mathieu Kassovitz, 1995; District 13, Pierre Morel, 2004). Not that you see much of this environment after the opening reel. She represents a very French form of anti-hero, and if you don’t have any problem with her sense of entitlement and the fact that she sees nothing wrong with stealing, this is a rollicking good yarn.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

No Bears
(Khers Nist,
خرس نیست)

Director – Jafar Panahi – 2022 – Iran – Cert. 12a – 106m

*****

An Iranian film director banned from leaving his country rents a house close to the border with Turkey, in which country he is remotely directing a film – available on the following rental streaming services from Monday, March 27th: Amazon Prime, Google Play Movies, YouTube (all £3.49), Apple TV (£4.49), BFI Player (£4.50), and Curzon (£4.99)

In a busy, metropolitian street somewhere in Iran, woman restaurateur Zara (Mina Kavani) is greeted by her partner Bakhtiar (Bakhtiar Panjei), who has secured a fake passport for her. She has only three days to use it before the passport, stolen from a tourist, is stopped. But she doesn’t want to travel outside the country without him: he is the only thing that makes her life bearable.

Then we realise we are watching a movie shoot not in Iran but in neighbouring Turkey. The director is Jafar Panahi (playing himself) and he is not allowed out of Iran, so he is renting a room in an Iranian village not far from the Turkish border and watching the shoot remotely via his computer. He’s been assured that the local internet reception is good, but it isn’t and keeps cutting out, making his job all but impossible, although his first assistant director, cast and crew are doing a good job of getting the shots in the can even when they don’t hear from him.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Son

Director – Florian Zeller – 2022 – UK – Cert. 15 – 123m

****1/2

A man and his wife must deal with the mental illness of his son by a previous marriage when he moves in with them – in cinemas from Friday, February 17th

Peter (Hugh Jackman) is a successful New York lawyer with a wife Beth (Vanessa Kirby) and a small child Theo. One day, his ex-wife Kate (Laura Dern) turns up at his apartment door to inform him that, as she’s just found out, their teenage son Nicholas (Zen McGrath) has not been to school for one month. She has tried to talk to the boy but got no sense out of him. When Peter goes to visit them, the boy insists he’d like to come and live with his dad.

New mum Beth is understandably hesitant, but nevertheless the couple agree to have Nicholas stay. It quickly becomes apparent that he has grievances against his father and step-mother for leaving his mother and becoming involved with his married father respectively. While Nicholas has never got over his parents’ break-up, Peter has continued in a career which leaves him increasingly less time for family. That looks like getting worse, too, because he has the chance of being part of the team of an electoral candidate.… Read the rest