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Animation Features Movies

Belle (Ryu to Sobakasu no Hime, 竜とそばかすの姫)

Director – Mamoru Hosoda – 2021 – Japan – Cert. PG tbc – 121m

*****

A bereaved, teenage girl starts to emerge from her shell when she signs up for a virtual world on her smartphone – out in cinemas on Friday, February 4th; Digital IMAX version plays in the Anime season April / May 2022 at BFI Southbank

‘U’ is an internet, virtual world of high tech, futuristic architecture. When you sign up, you receive your own personalised avatar built from your biometrics. You have the chance to start over in a new world.

Teenager Suzu (voice: Kaho Nakamura) could do with that chance. She lives with her dad (voice: Koji Yakusho from Mirai, Mamoru Hosoda, 2018; The Third Murder, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2017; Pulse, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001; Shall We Dance, Masayuki Suo, 1996; Tampopo, Juzo Itami, 1985) in a small town somewhere in the East of Japan. She doesn’t really communicate with people at her school – not Luka (Tina Tamashiro), the sax player in the school band, not Kamishin (Shota Sometani from To The Ends Of The Earth, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2019; First Love, Takashi Miike, 2019; Foreboding, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2017; The Boy And The Beast, Mamoru Hosoda, 2015; Himizu, Sion Sono, 2011) who set up the canoe club but hasn’t been able to attract any members, not Shinobu (Ryo Narita) who proposed to her – well, told her he wanted to protect her – when she was six.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Master Cheng (Mestari Cheng)

Director – Mika Kaurismäki – 2019 – Finland – Cert. PG – 114m

*****

A Chinese chef turns up at a restaurant in a remote Finnish village and impresses the locals with his cooking – charming romantic drama is out in cinemas on Friday, March 11th

A restaurant in a remote part of the Finnish countryside. Cheng (Chu Pak Hong from My Prince Edward, Norris Wang, 2019) and small boy Niu Niu (Lucas Hsuan) walk into the local restaurant where the former asks for Fongtron. The owner Sirkka (Anna-Maija Tuokko) hasn’t heard of Fongtron and can’t help. He asks customers the same question, but they don’t know either. Cheng barely speaks Finnish, which scarcely helps. He doesn’t look like he’s going away, and when he asks if there’s a hotel, Sirkka points him towards a room that’s available. She attempts to feed the pair before closing up, but the mobile phone-obsessed Niu Niu won’t touch her Finnish sausage and mash.

And he’s not the only one: When a day or so later, a coachload of Chinese tourists turn up, they’re not very interested either. Cheng, sitting at a table, immediately springs to Sirkka’s aid and parleys with the Chinese.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Yes, God, YES

A plea for honesty

Yes, God, YES
Directed by Karen Maine
Certificate 15, 77 minutes
Released digitally on 17 August

Despite its provocative title suggesting a racy sex comedy about religion, this is actually a gentle independent film exploring the everyday inadequacies of American teenagers growing up within a conservative Catholic tradition. Essential life issues, including sex, truth telling, lying and religion, come up.

There’s a rumour going round Alice’s Catholic high school that she (Natalie Dyer) has been “salad tossing”. Having no idea what this means, she spends much of the film trying to find out. Impressed that Nina (Alisha Boe) has been on a four-day camp and seems to have her life together, Alice signs up.

The camp takes place at a Catholic retreat centre staffed by a nun and Father Murphy (Timothy Simons). Alice is immediately attracted to Chris (Wolfgang Novogratz), the camp leader and school football team captain. When Nina asks Alice to surrender her watch and mobile phone “because you’re on Jesus’ time”, Alice keeps her phone hidden to play games on it… [Read the rest]

I review Yes, God, YES for Reform.

Available to view on Amazon Prime and iTunes.

Trailer:

Categories
Animation Features Movies

The Old Man – The Movie (Vanamehe film)

Directors – Oskar Lehemaa, Mikk Mägi – 2019 – Estonia – 88m

***

From Fantasia Film Festival 2020 virtual edition and Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival.

Estonia’s answer to Britain’s Shaun The Sheep, this feature spin off from long running, popular, puppet animation TV comedy series Vanamehe Multikas (Old Man Cartoon) shows Estonian sensibilities to be very different from those of the British. This is aimed at not as you might expect children but rather the young adult market – it’s stuffed full of sexual innuendo and toilet or other bodily function humour. Since I can imagine it being an uproarious experience with the right audience, it’s a shame to have seen this online rather than in a packed movie theatre owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bookended by black and white newsreel of Old Milker’s disastrous failure to stop a cow’s unmilked udders exploding into a lactopolypse complete with milk mushroom cloud, the plot has three kids sent to stay with their grandpa on his farm for the summer. Their family car back seat introduction shows us teenage boy Priidik and girl Aino constantly on their mobile phones while their pre-teen boy sibling Mart has built an incredible, fully functioning, miniature robot cow for grandpa.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Parasite (Gisaengchung, 기생충) (Black & White Edition)

Director – Bong Joon Ho – 2019 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 132m

*****

Opens in UK Cinemas (hooray!) exclusively for a week at Curzon Mayfair from Friday, July 24th. Also available on Curzon Home Cinema.

Read my reviews of the colour version of Parasite in All The Anime and Reform too.

It’s a safe bet that as anyone going to see the black & white edition of Parasite has already seen the colour version. Possibly several times, as it seems to be a movie in which you see new things with each viewing. In my case, I’ve already reviewed it twice (for two different publications). This review assumes you’ve already seen the colour version. If you haven’t, start with one of those reviews then see the colour version first.

So the big question is, is the black & white edition a waste of space where you’re watching the film drained of its colour and wondering why you bothered? Or does it add something to viewing the film?

The answer happily is the latter. 

I must admit I struggled with the opening scenes in the Kims’ basement flat. The street seen through the window seemed to emphasise length and distance more, but somehow watching black & white takes you back to an earlier period, say film noir in the fifties, and to see the son Kim Ki-woo hunting around for a hackable wi-fi signal with his mobile held aloft jarred with that.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The House Of Us (Woori-Jip, 우리집)

Director – Yoon Ge-eun – 2019 – South Korea – 92m

***1/2

Prepubescent girl forms a surrogate family, as she watches the relationship between her parents collapse – from the BFI London Film Festival and the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) 2019

Eleven-year-old Lee Hana (Kim Na-yeon) watches her mum and dad argue. The family should be having breakfast, but instead mum finds ways to berate dad every time he opens his mouth. She has a brother, but doesn’t get on with him especially well. When she gets to school, Hana is as surprised as anyone else that she’s won the Good Classmate Award. Her dad is really pleased. But what she really wants is for her parents to get their relationship back on track. To this end, throughout the narrative, she keeps proposing a family trip to the seaside. But her mum is way too busy with her demanding job to spare a weekend any time soon.

One day in the supermarket, Hana observes nine-year-old Yoo-mi (Kim Shi-a) and her seven-year-old younger sister Yoo-jin (Joo Ye-rim). They seem to be happy as sisters: perhaps their family life is better than hers. A short time after, she runs into Yoo-jin again when the younger girl has lost her sister.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Wet Season (热带雨)

Director – Anthony Chen – 2019 – Singapore – 103m

****1/2

A Singaporean schoolboy becomes obsessed with his Mandarin language teacher – from the BFI London Film Festival and the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF) 2019.

It seems to be constantly raining in urban Singapore. Ling (Yeo Yann Yann) is forever sitting in her parked car injecting insulin. She has a job teaching Mandarin to a class in a local boys secondary school. Half a dozen of them are such poor students that she sets up a remedial class after hours to get them up to speed, but while they’re made to attend, they really aren’t interested. With one exception.

Wei-lun (Koh Jia Ler) will be in trouble with his parents if he doesn’t do well in Mandarin. As the other boys bunk off the remedial class with the slightest excuse, it pretty quickly develops into Ling teaching Wei-lun on a one-on-one basis. He doesn’t live that far from her home, so she often gives him a ride home in the car afterwards, unaware that behind her back he has for a long time been taking pictures of her with his mobile phone in class.

Ling has been trying to have a baby with her husband Andrew (Christopher Lee Ming-Shun) for some eight years.… Read the rest