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Come Come Come Upward (Aje Aje Bara Aje, 아제 아제 바라 아제)

Director – Im Kwon-taek – 1989 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 121m

***1/2

As a young woman attempts to live as a Buddhist monk, she embarks on a series of increasingly physical sexual relationshipspart of a strand of films celebrating actress Kang Soo-Yeon (1966-2022) from LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival which runs in cinemas from Thursday, November 3rd to Thursday, November 17th

Soon Nyeo (Kang Soo-yeon) enters a monastery as a novice. She reflects on her earlier life. Alienated from her mother, who she accuses of living off the interest of money made exploiting poor people, she develops a habit of following men on their travels. First up is a monk who knew her father who suggests that the latter failed as a monk. After she’s walked with him a while, he deliberately puts her back on a train.

As a student, she becomes fascinated by her class’ teacher Hyeon Jong, 29, (Chon Yoo-in) who, she learns later, lost his wife when she was killed in the Gwangju uprising while eight months pregnant. Uninvited, Soon accompanies Hyeon in his train travels around the country investigating sites of historical interest relating to a peasant uprising having promised his late wife he would one day write about this for her.… Read the rest

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Underground (Souterrain)

Director – Sophie Dupuis – 2020 – Canada – Cert. 15 – 97m

**

A tale of friendship, loss and regret plays out against the working lives of miners – out in cinemas and on Virtual Cinemas and VoD from Friday, August 20th

A vast, modern, industrial mine in the French-speaking part of Canada. An explosion is heard, so a rescue team is put together to go and extract the trapped workers. Max, full name Maxime (Joakim Robillard) is one of the youngest team members and has a disagreement with the leader Catherine (Catherine Trudeau). They have two men on stretchers and need to get them out to safety. Protocol insists they should not go and rescue anyone else as it would endanger not only the two they are ready to take to safety but also the rescue crew members.

However, the headstrong Max wants to go down and save the remaining trapped miners. He seems incapable of following either protocol or orders.

We flash back two months and get to know Max’s life. He and his partner Andrée-Anne (Lauren Hartley) have for some time been trying to start a family using in vitro fertilisation, but when she miscarries, she decides she can’t go on with the process any more.… Read the rest

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The Human Condition Trilogy (Ningen no joken, 人間の條件)

The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (Ningen no joken: Dai 1 hen)

Director – Masaki Kobayashi – 1959 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 208m

The Human Condition II: Road To Eternity (Ningen no joken: Dai 2 hen)

Director – Masaki Kobayashi – 1959 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 181m

The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (Ningen no jôken: Kanketsu hen)

Director – Masaki Kobayashi – 1961 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 190m

*****

The following review originally appeared in Funimation UK.

Jeremy Clarke on a live action Japanese classic.

The main reason Masaki Kobayashi’s extraordinary trilogy The Human Condition has been scarcely seen in the West is its daunting nine hours plus length. That’s no longer the case thanks to its UK release on DVD and Blu-ray.

The trilogy’s three constituent films released two in 1959 and one in 1961 clock in at over three hours apiece which makes it long by any standard. Ostensibly three films spread over three discs in the new release it is to all intents and purposes one very long movie helpfully broken into six numbered parts of roughly equal length. This big screen cinema release viewed on a home cinema platform today stands up well alongside many contemporary TV mini-series.… Read the rest