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Next Sohee
(Da-eum So-hee,
다음 소희)

Director – July Jung – 2022 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 134m

*****

A schoolgirl on an internship is appallingly exploited by her employers, and a police detective is called in to investigate – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th

Here’s a film which presents a real problem for reviewers. Something monumental happens in the middle of the film which entirely changes it. It’s a little bit like the shift from the traumatic drama to the police manhunt in High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) and a bit like the infamous shower scene in the middle of Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). And yet, the film is like neither of those classics in any other way (except, perhaps, the fact that it’s a remarkable film that will leave you with an indelible impression afterwards). Still, how much can a reviewer give away without ruining the film for audiences?

It’s very much a film of two halves. The first half centres around Sohee (Kim Se-eun), a star pupil at an average secondary school. She is obsessed with dancing, specifically the kind of dance moves associated with K-pop girl- and boy-bands. Among her friends are another former intern from her school who dropped out of her intern position and now spends her evenings getting paralytically drunk.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Movies

Max Beyond

Director – Hasraf Dullul – 2024 – UK – Cert. 15 – 88m

****

Leon fails to rescue his adoptive brother Max from a corporate, experimental facility, so Max starts to move around the multiverse to find the world in which he succeeds – animated SF thriller is out on digital from Monday, April 22nd in the UK and Tuesday, April 23rd in the US

Facing very specific health challenges, eight-year-old Max (mo-cap/voice: Cade Tropeano) has been signed over to the Axion corporation and is living inside their high-tech, tower block complex where he is undergoing complicated, experimental, medical treatment under the supervision of Dr. Ava Johnson (mo-cap/voice: Jane Perry). Max’s elder brother Leon (mo-cap/voice: Dave Fennoy), a dishonourably discharged war veteran, is none too happy about this and, as protesters hold placards denouncing Axion outside the building, takes it upon himself to enter the premises, find his brother and rescue him from his oppressors, as he believes them to be.

Despite warnings from Dr. Ava over the intercom that there is no way out for Leon, he at first appears to be in control of the situation, a one-man army flooring all comers, but as his corporate security adversaries, culminating a sword-wielding man or robot (it’s never clear which) called The Sync, become increasingly impossible to defeat, it becomes clear that Ava’s predicted warning is accurate.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

The Lyricist Wannabe
(Tin4 Ci4 L,
填詞L,
lit. Lyrics Nerd / Dickhead)

Director – Norris Wong – 2023 – Hong Kong – Cert. 12a – 112m

****

A girl pursues her dream of becoming a Cantopop lyricist – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 15th

The movies are full of rags-to-riches stories in which someone dreams of becoming a star, works hard to achieve that, and it ultimately all comes true. While that can happen, because in real life there are clearly stars out there, in most cases it doesn’t. This film follows a similar path: a girl gives her all to achieve her chosen dream but ultimately doesn’t make it, which is probably a far more common occurrence than the one in which the aspirant succeeds.

Law Wing Sze (Chung Suet-Ying) is a student at a church school run by nuns. She doesn’t read music, but is obsessed by Cantopop and wants to write lyrics, spending much time rewriting lyrics of old Cantopop songs such as Infernal Affairs which she rewrites as Student Affairs. For this endeavour she is summoned to Sister Che’s office where the nun / teacher helpfully gives her a crit session and suggests she change certain words to more accurately express what she’s trying to say without unintended double entendres.… Read the rest

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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 on digital from Tuesday, March 12th

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

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Features Live Action Movies

The End We Start From

Director – Mahalia Belo – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 102m

***1/2

As parts of the UK are flooded and submerged by an ecological disaster, a woman births a baby she must then bring up – on Digital from Monday, March 4th following its release in UK cinemas on Friday, January 19th

On the one hand, this starts off with a woman (Jodie Comer) giving birth and then experiencing the process of being a new mother, with all the joys and stresses that entails. On the other, this shows the UK being overtaken and flooded by an eco-disaster, and how people respond to that situation both individually and en masse. The second scenario is reminiscent of any number of disaster and / or science fiction movies about flooding, apocalypse or dystopia (When Worlds Collide, Rudolph Maté, 1951; Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarón, 2006; Waterworld, Kevin Reynolds, 1995): if you approach this movie expecting something like that, you’re going to be disappointed, because although that element is very much present in the film, it’s little more than the backdrop.

It plays more like a road movie, in which the heroine – the husband having dropped out of the narrative towards the end of the first reel – meets a series of people on her travels, each of whom offer their own individual insight into the state of things and how the new mother might move forward.… Read the rest

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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

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Features Live Action Movies

Paris Memories
(Revoir Paris)

Director – Alice Winocour – 2022 – France – Cert. 15 – 105m

****

A woman tries to recall her memories of a Paris terrorist attack – out in UK cinemas on Friday, Aug 4th

Were it not for a singularly unconvincing sex scene (as in, why are these two characters having sex?) about ten minutes before the end, this might have been one of my films of the year. That knocks it down from ***** to ****. That gaffe aside – and it’s a monumentally huge one – this is, otherwise, most impressive.

It starts off with Mia (Virginie Efira) in her Paris flat, feeding the cat, dropping and clearing up a glass, and talking with her partner Vincent (Grégoire Colin), a surgeon who heads up a hospital department. She rides her motorbike to her radio station workplace, where she has a gig as a Russian-French translator. Afterwards, in the evening, she meets Vincent in a restaurant for a meal, but he gets a call from the hospital and has to go back in. After a bit, she heads for home, but it’s raining heavily, so she stops off at another restaurant to have a drink and wait out the rain.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Mr. Vampire III
(Ling Wan
Sin Sang,
靈幻先生)

Director – Ricky Lau – 1987 – Hong Kong – Cert. 15 – 88m
***1/2
Stunt-filled action comedy in which a travelling con-artist in cahoots with ghosts helps a Taoist priest fight a gang of horse thieves led by an evil sorceress – out on Blu-ray in the UK on Monday, May 22nd as part of Eureka! Video’s Hopping Mad: The Mr. Vampire Sequels

The third ‘official’ Mr. Vampire film (i.e. to be made by Sammo Hung / Leonard Ho’s Bo Ho Films company).

Set in the early twentieth century of the original Mr. Vampire, this once again takes the constituent parts of the original and shakes everything up a bit to come up with something at once different yet recognisably the same.

Taoist priest Ming (Richard Ng) is not terribly good at the job, so is getting by as a con artist going from village to village banishing ghosts for anyone who’ll pay him, the con element being that he has two ghost assistants, the adult Big Pao (David Lui Fong) and the small boy Small Pao (Hoh Kin-wai from Mr. Vampire II) who act out the part of being banished. Real ghosts with a nasty habit of appearing and messing things up force him to move on.… Read the rest

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Mr. Vampire II
(Geung See
Ga Zuk,
殭屍家族)

Director – Ricky Lau – 1986 – Hong Kong – Cert. 12 – 89m

*****

After a professor unearths a family of undead corpses, the child befriends a little girl and the parents go looking for it – out on Blu-ray in the UK on Monday, May 22nd as part of Eureka! Video’s Hopping Mad: The Mr. Vampire Sequels

The second ‘official’ Mr. Vampire film (i.e. to be made by Sammo Hung / Leonard Ho’s Bo Ho Films company).

A professor (Fat Chung) leads his two hapless assistants Chicken (Billy Lau) and Sashimi (Lau Chau-sang) on an archaeological dig, sending them into a cave where they find a family of corpses (father, mother, small boy played by Cheung Wing-cheung, Pauline Wong and Hoh Kin-wai respectively) immobilised by talismans on their foreheads, and take them back to the professor’s workshop. As the professor and Sashimi are driving the child corpse, the talisman comes off, and it comes to life, later escaping to a house where it is found and befriended by a little girl Chia-Chia (Hon Kin-yu), who keeps it hidden in her room from her widowed father Mr. Hu (Woo Fung). She introduces it to her brother (Choi Man-kam) and later to four of their friends.… Read the rest

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Still Walking
(Aruitemo Aruitemo,
歩いても 歩いても)

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2008 – Japan – Cert. U – 115m

*****

A more conventional if highly personal family drama taking place within 24 hours as Ryota (Abe Hiroshi), his wife and stepson visit his ageing parents Toshiko and Kyohei (Kirin Kiki and Yoshio Harada). Ryota is their second son, placed in the role of the first following the death of his older sibling Junpei many years before, something with which his parents have never fully come to terms…

Read the rest at All The Anime where I covered this title as part of the BFI’s Flesh And Blood Blu-ray box set which includes Maborosi (1995), After Life (1998), Nobody Knows (2004) and Still Walking (2008). Also available on BFI Player subscription and to rent on Amazon UK and Curzon Home Cinema.

Trailer (Still Walking – Criterion):