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Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Eternal You

Directors – Hans Block, Moritz Reisewieke – 2024 – US – Cert. – 87m

*****

People deal with bereavement with the help of interactive versions of their deceased, loved ones recreated by AI – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 28th

In a rare visual shot in this mostly verbally based documentary, an aerial shot of a graveyard, with light creating lots of little blocks of shadow as it falls on the ranks of gravestones, resembles a slice of internal computer electronics. It’s a pertinent pictorial moment that stands out from almost everything else here.

“Is there some reason you wouldn’t believe me?,” a woman asks her boyfriend. “You died,” comes the sceptical reply. Joshua, from Ontario, Canada, had to endure the trauma of watching the life support machines that were keeping her alive being switched off. After she died, about two weeks short of high school graduation which she was expected to pass, he got the school to graduate her. He later explains this by written chat to her interactive AI.

Psychiatrist Sherry Turkle talks about the problems people face coping with grief in the modern world, where they often live on their own following the death of a partner and don’t have an extended network of family around them like they would have done in former times.… Read the rest

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the G

Director – Karl R. Hearne – 2023 – Canada – Cert. 15 – 106m

*****

A 72-year-old conned out of her home and assets calls up someone from her past to exact revenge – gripping thriller is out in UK and Ireland cinemas on Friday, June 21st

After a brief opening in which two men complete the task of burying a third alive, this switches to a hospital appointment of Mrs. Hunter (Dale Dickey from Hell or High Water, David MacKenzie, 2016; Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik, 2010), 72 years old and gruffly describing herself as “socialite, retired”. She is accompanied by her grown-up granddaughter (Romane Denis), photogenic legs in tight shorts, and giving the middle finger to men who come on to her. The elder drives the younger home, deliberately missing the turn-off so they can spend more time together talking in the car.

Then Hunter returns to her condo to care for her bedridden partner Chip (Greg Ellwand from February, Oz Perkins, 2015), hit a bottle of vodka and perch precariously on a stepladder on her balcony to fix a dicky light. She is watched by a man from a car parked in the street. Next morning, there’s a knock at the door, and men including “your legal guardian Rivera” (Bruce Ramsay) and his assistant (Jonathan Koensgen) come into the apartment bearing a court order to move the couple to a facility.… Read the rest

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Maria Full of Grace

Director – Joshua Marston – 2004 – US, Colombia – Cert. 15 – 101m

Reviewed for Third Way magazine to coincide with UK release date 25/03/2004.

Life’s options are limited for 17-year-old Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino Moreno). She would rather climb old ruined buildings in the open air than succumb to her parochially-minded boyfriend’s constant demands for sex, but that doesn’t stop him getting her pregnant. When he offers to marry her for no other reason than because that’s what you’re supposed to do; she dumps him. She hasn’t told anyone else about this yet. Warned she can’t use the lavatory on work time by the foreman at the rose-stripping factory where both she and her best friend Blanca (Yenny Paola Vega) works, she quits. She’s also fed up with being asked to contribute money to support her sister’s baby. What’s a good Catholic, Columbian girl to do? She visits the church to pray about it.

Travelling to Bogotá ostensibly in pursuit of a possible lead on work as a maid, Maria runs into carefree, leather-jacketed Franklin (Jhon Alex Toro) and the word “mule”. Suckered in by his confidence and the promise of $5 000, she agrees to bodily transport Heroin pellets to the US despite the terrible stories she’s heard of people being arrested for the offence.… Read the rest

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Twilight of the Warriors
Walled in
(Jiu Long Cheng
Zhai·Wei Cheng,
九龙城寨之围城)

Director – Soi Cheang – 2023 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 126m

*****

A refugee steals money from a Hong Kong triad then hides out in Kowloon Walled City, a place as dangerous as the triads pursuing him – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 24th

Never entered by those outside, an uneasy peace has reigned in Kowloon Walled City a.k.a. the City of Darkness since Cyclone defeated ‘Dragon Head’ Liu and his warlord partner Jim. It’s Hong Kong in the 1980s, when refugees were flooding into the territory. In a nightclub where women dance to Cantopop, one such refugee (Raymond Lam) wins a fist fight competition then is conned by gang boss (Sammo Hung) into paying for a shoddily made fake ID card, which he refuses to accept when he calls to collect it two weeks later. Leaving the ensuing argument, he snatches a bag from the villain’s drug warehouse and runs hell for leather into the Walled City, where the gangsters won’t follow.

Inside, he discovers to his horror that he’s snatched not a bag of banknotes as he supposed but a bag of drugs. Trying to sell it, he finds himself fighting local gangsters, who don’t want him selling drugs on their turf.… Read the rest

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The Teachers’ Lounge
(Das Lehrerzimmer)

Director – Ilker Çatak – 2023 – Germany – Cert. 12a – 98m

**** 1/2

A new teacher at a school where petty thefts have been taking place for some time makes some bad decisions which put her in a very difficult place – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 12th

Schoolboy Lukas (Okar Mats Zickur) is being questioned about recent thefts in the school. Does he have any suspicions as to which of the pupils might be doing this? A girl sits beside him, a class representative, to make sure everything is being done properly. “You don’t have to speak if you don’t want to”, teacher Carla Nowak (Leonie Bedesh) assures him. Nevertheless, her male colleague pressurises the boy. First, he gives him a printed list of names with checkboxes and asks the child to tick any relevant boxes. When that doesn’t work, he goes down the list with his finger and asks the boy simply to nod at any suspicious name. He gets a nod.

Teaching in class, with a number of the kids stumped by the current algebra problem, star pupil Oskar Kuhn (Leonard Stettnisch) works through a proof on the blackboard, way in advance of the capabilities his age would suggest.… Read the rest

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Io Capitano
(Io Capitano)

Director – Matteo Garrone – 2023 – Italy – Cert. 12a – 121m

*****

Two teenage Senegalese boys set out on a journey to Europe and a better life – out in UK cinemas on Friday, April 5th

Garrone’s earlier features (Gomorrah, 2008; Tale of Tales, 2015; Dogman, 2018; Pinocchio, 2019) have a particular, muted look, making considerable use of browns and, to a lesser extent, greys or greyish colours. These were all films set in Garrone’s native Italy, featuring characters with an Italian perspective of one sort or another. This new film eschews all that and, while it’s recognisably the work of the same director, exhibits a completely different colour palette in accordance with its different location. It’s brighter and much less dingy.

The different look very much fits with the different intent. Garrone wanted to deal with migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe, but portray the journey from the migrants’ perspective rather than that of their destination countries. So this starts with two teenage, Senegalese boys who want to run away to Europe and is made in various African dialects, with the main one spoken by the two boys being recognisable as French.… Read the rest

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Typhoon Club
(Taifu Kurabu,
台風クラブ)

Director – Shinji Somai – 1985 – Japan – Cert. 18 – 115m

*****

A group of teenagers is trapped inside their school by a typhoon – screenings around the UK and Ireland from Wednesday, April 3rd; also available on Blu-ray from Third Window Films

A film about teenagers which uses tropical weather conditions – in this instance, an approaching and then all-encompassing typhoon – as a catalyst for exploring character. Its bravura visual style engages from the get-go, with a shot looking across a swimming pool between two ropes of a lane with a child swimmer.

Thursday. A bunch of girls in bathing costumes including Yasuko (Tomoko Aizawa) lark about outside in what is obviously hot and humid weather – one runs through a shallow pool and turns on a water spray to catch the others as they follow, but soon their tomfoolery looks like it may have dire consequences as they all but drown the boy pool swimmer Akira (Toshiyuki Matsunaga). Fortunately, Kyoichi Mikami (Yuichi Mikami), who turns up with his friend Ken (Shigeru Benibayashi) in tow, is able to sort the situation out by administering artificial respiration.

Later, Akira and Mikami, with Ken smoking between the pair of them, hang out on a bamboo scaffolding structure discussing girls, including Yasuko’s lesbian activities with another girl.… Read the rest

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Drift

Director – Anthony Chen – 2023 – Singapore, UK, France, US – Cert. 15 – 93m

****

A Liberian woman and former London student from a privileged background has lost everything and lives on her wits in a Greek holiday resort until she makes a connection with a tour guide – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

A T-shirt-clad back sits on the beach, facing away from us, looking out to a calm, blue sky and sea. A figure of indeterminate gender at this point. In an isolated, unpopulated landscape. However, as this young black woman (Cynthia Erivo) starts to make her way around the place, elements of both are gradually revealed to us. She travels on a bus with white tourists to a small, sleepy town where Greek lettering on the shop signs gives us some idea of where we are. Later, she takes the return journey and is back on the beach. She washes her underwear (she appears to only have the one pair) and T-shirt in the sea, letting them dry in the sun while she shelters in a cave. She momentarily panics at the sight of a coastguard vessel before realising it’s merely a small fishing skiff.… Read the rest

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The Sweet East

Director – Sean Price Williams – 2023 – US – Cert. 18 – 104m

****

Dumping her boyfriend, a South Carolina high school student skips a class trip to Washington, DC and falls in with a series of outsiders living in their own isolated visions of America – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 29th

Although this starts off with heroine Lilian (Talia Ryder from West Side Story, Stephen Spielberg, 2021) in bed with her boyfriend Troy (Jack Irv), and a lot of visible flesh, it’s not so much a sex scene as a scene in which two people talk about the ending of the movie they watched last night. Soon after, the pair and their classmates are piled into a coach, complete with tour guide, driving them to Washington, DC. When Troy and others lark around in hotel corridors, she doesn’t really feel part of what’s going on.

At a restaurant, she meets activist and body-piercing enthusiast Caleb (Earl Cave from True History of the Kelly Gang, Justin Kurzel, 2019, Days of the Bagnold Summer, Simon Bird, 2019), who without sexual intent shows her the piercings and metal studs encrusting his penis. Going with him and his fellow commune members to an activists’ event, she finds herself at an outdoor radicals’ fair where she meets Laurence (Simon Rex from Red Rocket, Sean Baker, 2021) to whom she gives her name as Annabelle and who kindly offers her a place to stay – his place in Delaware, no strings attached.… Read the rest

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Lost In The Stars
(Xiao Shi De Ta,
消失的她)

Directors – Cui Rui, Liu Xiang – 2022 – China – Cert. 15 – 121m

*****

A man’s wife vanishes and is replaced by an imposter; when no-one believes him, he hires a hotshot lawyer to find out what’s happening and get his real wife back – out in UK cinemas on Friday, July 14th

He Fei (Zhu Yilong) walks into a police station to ask for help with finding his wife Li Muzi, who has disappeared. The desk sergeant, who has clearly heard it all before, tells him there’s nothing they can do. Outside the station, in the pouring rain, he is approached by Officer Zheng (Du Jiang) who overheard and helpfully tries to calm him. The couple are holidaying in the island of Barlandia, outside of Chinese jurisdiction. He has recurring nightmares of her (Huang Ziqi) calling out his name for help and feels helpless in the face of them.

The next morning, events take a turn for the worse when He wakes up beside his wife Li Muzi (now played by Janice Man), who is not the real Li Muzi but an imposter he’s never seen before. Yet every piece of evidence he can think of to support his story seems to have changed to support hers– her passport seems genuine and shows that she entered the country at the same time as him, she can answer all manner of questions about the couple’s personal life, she has a scar on her upper thigh that no-one but the two of them know about.… Read the rest