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House Of Gucci

Director – Ridley Scott – 2021 – US – Cert. 15 – 157m

*****

A woman marries into the wealthy Gucci family and inadvertently brings about its downfall – out in cinemas on Friday, November 26th

First impressions.

A beautiful day. A well-dressed man (Adam Driver) relaxes at the café, pays his bill, cycles through the streets. Life is good. He reaches his destination. As he approaches the door, a voice asks, “Mr. Gucci?”

Milan, 1978. Another beautiful day. A woman dressed and moving like a goddess (Lady Gaga) walks past trucks and workers to her father’s transportation business office where she works as his assistant. Later, a friend asks her to a costume party. She dances. She looks incredible. She goes for a drink. The barman (Driver) turns out not to be not the barman. He makes her a drink anyway. He’s Maurizio. Gucci. He knows the host. She’s Patrizia Reggiani. She doesn’t. He tells her he can’t dance. She drags him onto the dance floor and makes him look good even though he does nothing. He leaves at midnight, worried he’ll turn into a frog. It’s a pumpkin, she calls after him.

She stalks him, ‘accidentally’ bumping into him at a bookshop where he’s buying armfuls of legal books (he’s studying to be a lawyer).… Read the rest

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Dune

Director – Denis Villeneuve – 2021 – UK – Cert. 12a – 155m

*****

A powerful family is exiled to a desert planet populated with giant sandworms as part of an interplanetary conspiracy to end their dynasty – out in cinemas on Friday, October 22nd

Frank Herbert’s sprawling novel Dune (1965) was read in the late 1960s and 1970s by any teenage boy with the slightest interest in science fiction and fantasy. It had (a little) space travel but more significantly it had alien worlds, notably the desert planet Arrakis on which 95% of the action takes place, and so ticked the SF box.

Then it had a whole ecology involving the planet’s occupants the Fremen, a drug known as ‘the Spice’, and giant sandworms, so it also ticked the fantasy box.

On top of this, it pitted dynasties – ‘Houses’ – against each other in a tale of interplanetary political intrigue.

The plot was unbelievably convoluted, spawning a lengthy series of sequels. I gave up around the fifth or sixth book. And yet, the first book possessed an almost mythic quality that my diminishing interest in the later volumes was unable to dispel.

The sheer quantity of plot was always going to be a challenge for a standalone movie.… Read the rest

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Get The Hell Out (Tao Chu Li Fa Yuan, 逃出立法院)

Director – Wang I-Fan – 2020 – Taiwan – 96m

**1/2

The Taiwanese Parliament must contain a zombie outbreak caused by a rabies outbreak at a chemical plant (!) – playing in the UK as part of the Chinese Visual Festival which runs until Sunday, July 25th

Hsiung Ying Ying (Megan Lai) got into the Taiwanese Parliament as an MP to fight gangster politician Li Kuo-Chung (Chung-Huang Wang) over an environmentally unfriendly chemical plant where she lives which she wants to shut down. And now it’s spawned a rabies outbreak which infected the President on an official visit. Things are already pretty heated in the Parliament building when the President goes full zombie and the infection spreads rapidly throughout the large meeting room which is promptly sealed with those people inside.

In a six months earlier flashback, the hot-tempered Ying Ying gets into a fight with a security guard Wang You-wei (Bruce Ho) on the premises while the media’s cameras are present. As a result, she is forced to resign and a by-election held. Wishing to retain the power of an MP, she persuades the basically honest but naive Wang who is secretly in love with her to stand as her ‘puppet’ to support her fight against the plant.… Read the rest

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Eunuch (Naesi)

Director – Shin Sang-ok – 1968 – South Korea – 95m

****

Free to view in the Korean Film Archive as part of

Korean Film Nights Online: Trapped! The Cinema of Confinement

(Friday, July 17th – Thursday, August 27th)

Viewing links at bottom of review.

Away from his main palace, a prince keeps numerous maids in a separate palace at Geumjung. These concubines are for the prince alone, to help him produce an heir, and to ensure that no-one else impregnates them before him the palace is staffed with eunuchs. Every night he chooses a maid to sleep with, usually by picking a token off a tray. He has a pretty low view of women – they’re all the same, he complains.

The women have nothing to do with themselves except wait around to be picked and gossip about who has been lucky enough to be chosen. They have no power whatsoever – there’s a story about a girl who refused to remove her skirt in the prince’s bedchamber and was executed for disobedience. With no sexually functioning men around other than the prince, some of the women turn to each other for fulfilment.

Thus, one night Min sneaks into the room of the sleeping Kim Ja-ok (Yun Jeong-hie) only to be repulsed when the latter wakes up, understandably startled.… Read the rest

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The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (Extended Edition)

Director – Peter Jackson – 2003 (2002) – New Zealand – Cert. 12a – 225m

*****

(NB Extended Edition, in cinemas from Monday, July 27th 2020, 235m in cinemas due to extended frame rate = 225m version released on DVD 2004. Original theatrical cut: 199m)

This always had the problem that it’s the second film in a trilogy. If you think you might want to watch all three, you’ll watch the first movie. If you want to see how the story ends up, you might possibly jump straight in at the last movie (although to be honest, you’d be better watching the first movie The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring and then if you like it the other two as well.)

That said, both this second movie The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers and the third film The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King deal with the problem of opening the film admirably, in both cases doing so in creative ways. This one leaps back to Gandalf being dragged down a chasm by a Balrog in FOTR and then, once we think we’re getting closer to finding out what happened, has Frodo waken from a dream.… Read the rest

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The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (Extended Edition)

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (Extended Edition)

Director – Peter Jackson – 2002 (2001) – New Zealand – Cert. PG – 229m

*****

(NB Extended Edition, in cinemas from Monday, July 24th 2020, 227m in cinemas due to extended frame rate = 218m version released on DVD 2004. Original theatrical cut: 178m)

It’s a very different thing writing about a new movie which you’re watching for the first time and an old movie with which you’re familiar. Even stranger when the movie concerned is an adaptation of a book with which you’re equally familiar. Odder still when the property exists in its original form (which was actually a side project of something else, Professor J.R.R.Tolkien’s Middle-earth project) but also in a highly regarded 13 x 1 hour BBC radio adaptation skilfully adapted by Brian Sibley.

Although it’s Tolkien’s material, for me it’s as if The Lord Of The Rings existed somewhere out there and Tolkien wrote it down in book form (Where does artistic creativity come from? Discuss) after which Sibley successfully wrote it down in radio drama form and Jackson and his two screenwriting collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens turned it into a movie trilogy.… Read the rest