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Features Live Action Movies

All of Us Strangers

Director – Andrew Haigh – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 105m

*****

A gay Londoner travels by train to visit his parents in Sanderstead, following their deaths in a car crash when he was 12 years old – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 26th

He (Andrew Scott) lives alone in a London tower block. Not only is he the single occupant of his flat, there’s almost no-one else in the building. When he goes outside for a breath of fresh air, he sees a guy in the window of one of the other apartments. Later, there’s a knock at his door. It’s the guy (Paul Mescal), who is slightly drunk, comes on strong and tries to get himself invited in. The visitor’s name is Harry. The occupant introduces himself as Adam, but doesn’t let Harry in.

By day, Adam writes screenplays. But he’s got stuck, so after perusing some personal effects, he takes the train to Sanderstead. There, he watches a boy in a window. He follows a man across an area of parkland. Coming out of a shop, the man spots him and asks him to come over. You think it might be a pickup – but no, it’s his dad (Jamie Bell).… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Godzilla Minus One
(Gojira -1.0,
ゴジラ -1.0)

Director – Takashi Yamazaki – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 124m

*****

Japan, defeated and demoralised after World War Two, must somehow defeat the seemingly unstoppable menace of Godzilla when it rises from the depths of the ocean – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 15th

World War Two, Pacific theatre. Unwilling Kamikaze pilot Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) feigns engine trouble and lands on an island for aircraft maintenance, where he is grounded. While there, he notices deep sea fish curiously floating on the surface of the surrounding ocean: they presage the arrival of a huge monster, named Godzilla by the locals. With Koichi failing to fire his 20mm aircraft guns at the creature to kill it, almost everyone else on the small island is killed. (Whether his guns would have had any effect in halting the creature’s advance is debatable. They probably wouldn’t have had any effect whatsoever.) The only other survivor, who had previously congratulated Koichi for a near impossible landing on a tiny runway, blames him for the multiple deaths because he didn’t pull the trigger.

In 1945, in the ruins of post-war Tokyo, Shikishima is accused by a survivor – a woman whose children have died – of being a disgrace.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Chicken Run:
Dawn of the Nugget

Director – Sam Fell – Co-Director – Jeff Newitt – 2023 – UK – Cert. PG – 101m

****

Which came first – the chicken or the egg? Having escaped the farm for an island paradise, the chickens must break into and wreck a food processing factory masquerading as a holiday camp to lure unwitting chickens to their doom – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 8th and on Netflix from Friday, December 15th

More than two decades after the original Chicken Run (Nick Park, Peter Lord, 2000), its poultry return. They can hardly escape from the farm again, having established themselves on a secluded island in a lake well away from human beings. So the original’s co-screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick, a veteran of The Rescuers Down Under (1990), James And The Giant Peach (1996), The Little Vampire (2000), Charlotte’s Web (2006), makes use of a number of very clever tricks to have the chickens break in to a facility that endangers chicken lives rather than break out of one.

He effectively redeploys the escapees from the original, but it being over two decades since its production, he races through what would be just over a decade in chicken years if their lifespans were comparable to humans and has the hero Rocky (voice: Zachary Levi) and the heroine Ginger (voice: Thandiwe Newton) get together and produce a family in the form of a daughter, Molly (voice: Bella Ramsey) , who in the opening minutes’ montage grows into a teenager.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Old Man
And The Land

Director – Nicholas Parish – 2023 – UK – Cert. none – 100m

*****

As he works on the land, an aging farmer hears his two adult children argue about the future of the family farm – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Movies. You think everything’s been done, then along comes something you’ve never seen before. Or, in this case, seen or heard before.

The Old Man in question is an English farmer (Roger Marten) whose family have worked the land for generations. He’s getting on in years, so won’t be around forever. His wife died a while ago, so he’s now running the farm on his own. He has two children who have long since grown up and left home: a son (voice: Rory Kinnear) and a daughter (voice: Emily Beecham), and the big question is, when he dies, will they take over – or will they get rid of the farm?

In recent years, the UK has produced a number of rural movies that stand in stark contrast to the urban- (Often London-) based films produced. Quite a few of these have been about farms or farmers (e.g.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Lessons of Tolerance
(Uroky Tolerantnosti)

Director – Arkadii Nepytaliuk – 2023 – Ukraine – Cert. none – 95m

*****

To help pay off her family’s debt with the accompanying grant, an exasperated teacher enlists her sceptical family in a state LGBT+ awareness training course – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition in the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

NSFW. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

A typical older family with debt problems in Ukraine. The mother Nadia (Olena Uzlyuk) is the one member of the family keeping everything together, holding down a job as a teacher. From what we see of her at home, we would imagine she’s very good at it, too. Alas, the same can’t be said for the rest of the family. Husband Zenyk (Oleksandr Yarema) has always wanted his own garage, but has no head for running a business. He spends his evenings sitting around drinking beer and being waited on hand and foot by his wife and daughter, because that’s what women are supposed to do. Then he complains in bed because his wife is not interested in sex these days.

They have two grown-up kids. Daughter Diana (Karolina Mruha) is an aspiring actress who is applying for drama school despite warnings that she may lack the necessary talent.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Love Life
(LOVE LIFE)

Director – Koji Fukada – 2022 – Japan, France – Cert. 12a – 123m

*****

A tragedy involving a woman’s six-year-old child, abandoned by his birth father, wreaks havoc on her already strained relationship with the husband she has recently married – on BFI Player from Monday, November 6th following its release in UK cinemas on Friday, September 15th

A terrific drama about family relationships.

Recently married, young couple Jiro (Kento Nagayama from Villain, Lee Sang-il, 2010) and Taeko (Fumino Kimura) have a six-year-old, deaf boy Keita (Tetta Shimada), a national champion at the board game Othello, which he plays constantly with his mother or with players online. Several of his trophies are displayed in the family’s typical, small, apartment. Jiro’s parents Makoto (Tomoro Taguchi from Fukushima 50, Setsuro Wakamatsu, 2020; Dead Or Alive, Takashi Miike, 1999; Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989) and Akie (Misuzu Kanno from 37 Seconds, Hikari, 2019) live in a nearby apartment five or so minutes away across a park and a car park.

Jiro and Taeko invite them over, ostensibly to celebrate Keita’s latest victory but actually for a surprise 65th birthday party for Makoto.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

A Normal Family
(Bo-tong-ui Ga-jog,
보통의 가족)

Director – Hur Jin-ho – 2023 – South Korea – Cert. – 116m

***

Lacking any moral sense of right and wrong, the teenage children of two brothers, a lawyer and a doctor, kick a homeless man to death – from LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival 2023 which runs in cinemas from Thursday, November 2nd to Thursday, November 16th

After a road rage incident in which an out of order, rich twentysomething wilfully runs down an irate baseball player who objects to his driving, and puts the baseball player’s young daughter in a coma, the twentysomething hires defence lawyer Jae-wan (Sol Kyung-gu from The Boys; Chung Ji-young, 2022; 1987: When That Day Comes, Jang Joon-Hwan, 2017; Memoir Of A Murderer, Won Shin-yeon, 2017; Peppermint Candy, Lee Chang-dong, 2000) who is motivated not by justice but by doing everything he can to get his client off scot-free. Jae-wan has a new, young wife Ji-su (Claudia Kim from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, David Yates, 2018; The Dark Tower, Nikolaj Arsel, 2017; Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Joss Whedon, 2015) with a small baby and a teenage daughter Hye-yoon (Hong Yi-ji) by his late first wife.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Beyond Utopia

Director – Madeleine Gavin – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 115m

*****

North Koreans flee their repressive country over the Chinese border and through several communist countries, where repatriation would mean imprisonment, torture and possibly death – heartstopping documentary is out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 27th

Whether you’re coming to the subject of North Korea cold or whether you already know a little about the subject from the documentary Camp 14: Total Control Zone (Marc Weise, 2012), the animated feature True North (Eiji Han Shimizu, 2020) or Korean War movies like Operation Chromite (John H. Lee, 2016) or Nambugan: North Korean Partisan In South Korea (Chung Ji-Young, 1990), this contemporary take on the North Korean refugee experience throws much fresh light on the subject.

To augment its twin central narratives – two entirely separate stories of North Koreans attempting to escape their country – director Gavin helpfully breaks them up with an intermittent primer on North Korea. Much of this comes from Hyeonseo Lee, who fled the country over 20 years ago and has subsequently talked about it in TED and other public speaking forums. Lee was the producer’s original intended subject for the film, which changed considerably as director Gavin began researching the subject.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Moebius
(Moebiuseu,
뫼비우스)

Director – Kim Ki-duk – 2013 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 99m

*****

An extreme film even by Korean enfant terrible Kim Ki-duk’s own standards, Moebius is an oedipal cocktail of sex and violence shot without dialogue. Traversing (among other things) castration and gang rape, it’s a character study involving a family: an adulterous father, a jealous mother and (from early in the first reel) a castrated son with the father and son becoming involved with the former’s otherwise unattached lover. An essay employing psychological archetype to great effect, it holds the viewer in its vice-like grip from start to finish. A key work from a master, highly recommended, although definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Capsule review for Film Review Annual.

Trailer:

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Tokyo Story
(Tokyo Monogatari,
東京物語)

Director – Yasujiro Ozu – 1953 – Japan – Cert. U – 136m

*****

Plays in the BFI Japan 2021 season October / November at BFI Southbank. Also currently streaming on BFI Player as part of the Japan programme alongside 24 other Ozu films together with a much wider selection of Japanese movies.

Elderly couple the Hirayamas (Chishu Ryu, Chieko Higashiyama) live in the seaside town of Onomichi, a day’s train ride from Tokyo at the time the film was made. Of their five children, Kyoko (Kyoko Kagawa) still lives at home with them and works locally as a primary school teacher, two live in Tokyo, one in Osaka and one went missing in action during the war, presumed dead. The son and daughter in Tokyo, Koichi (So Yamamura) and Shige (Haruko Sugimura), work as a doctor and a beauty parlour owner respectively. Both are married while the missing son has left behind a widow Noriko (Setsuko Hara). The fifth child is a son Keizo (Shiro Osaki) in Osaka which is on the train between Onomichi and Tokyo. The couple want to visit their offspring and see how they are doing for themselves.… Read the rest