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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

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Features Live Action Movies

The Creator

Director – Gareth Edwards – 2023 – US – Cert. 12a – 133m

****

A widower finds himself protecting an AI in the form of a child as anti-AI North American forces wage a war on the Asian-Pacific countries where people have integrated with AI robots – out in UK cinemas on Thursday, September 28th

Over a decade ago, I was blown away by Gareth Edwards’ little indie British film marvel Monsters (2010) which broke all the accepted wisdom of film production. Based around a deceptively simple script concept, it was shot by a four-man crew and a two-man cast (plus anyone else who was around at the time) with lots of post-production VFX work added by the director himself.

That got him an agent and two big budget Hollywood franchise FX movies – the Godzilla reboot (2014) and the Star Wars movie Rogue One (2016). The former isn’t bad for a Hollywood movie, although I personally far prefer the Japanese-made Shin Godzilla (Hideaki Anno, 2016), while the latter is one of the better Star Wars films. However, neither quite possessed the quality that had got me so excited about Monsters.

I suspect Edwards feels the same way, because whilst he clearly relishes the chance to work with the palette of a huge Hollywood FX budget, on this his fourth film, as with Monsters, he has once again broken the rules – this time within a huge Hollywood FX budget film.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Blue Jean

Director – Georgia Oakley – 2022 – UK – Cert. 15 – 97m

*****

A woman attempts to keep her LGBTQ lifestyle and her day job as a PE teacher separate, but has reckoned without the widespread anti-gay prejudice of late 1980s Thatcherite Britain – previews in UK cinemas from Monday, February 6thprior to release on Friday, February 10th

“Everything is political”, says her out and proud girlfriend Viv (Kerrie Hayes) to Jean (Rosy McEwen), an LGBTQ woman who has to date managed to compartmentalise her existence so that work and private life are kept separate. She’d like to keep it that way too, because in her job as a teacher there’s an underlying assumption that heterosexuality is the norm. Which is fine if you happen to fit that model, less so if you don’t. Which Jean doesn’t. And a couple of factors are about to break down those carefully constructed compartments of her life.

It’s the late 1980s in Britain, and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government is trying to push through Parliament what will eventually become the Local Government Act (1988). Section 28 (or Clause 28) of that Act prohibits councils in England, Wales and Scotland from promoting homosexuality, seen as a deviant behaviour which can be cured.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

A Childless Village (Sonsuz)

Director – Reza Jamali – 2022 – Iran – Cert. – 81m

****

A village’s documentary filmmaker returns to the subject of local infertility for which the village’s women beat him up two decades ago – gentle comedy premieres in the 26th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

20 years ago, Kazem made a film about his village’s women being unable to bear children. As a result, they beat him up. And many of the men in the village divorced them only to feel guilty and remarry them some three times. Now he wants to make another film because the problem may lie not with the women, but the men. Who, reckons the narrator, are equally likely to beat him up. A visiting lady doctor, generally referred to by the locals as Miss Doctor, hopes to run tests on the villagers and establish the cause of childlessness.

Moslem, who is also the narrator, wants to learn how to be a director – and to just be in the film. He claims that all the women in the village are related to him, so he’ll have no problem getting them to talk on camera. But, of course, it doesn’t work out that way.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Bad Luck Banging
or Loony Porn
(Babardeală
Cu Bucluc
Sau Porno
Balamuc)

Director – Radu Jude – 2021 – Romania – Cert. 18 – 106m

*****

A teacher becomes the subject of controversy after her husband’s private sex tape is posted online – on BFI Player Subscription from Friday, April 1st

Park your prejudices at the door! The opening three or so minutes of this will surprise or possibly even shock you – basically, hard core, live action genital sex images of a man and a woman, no holds barred. Real, not simulated. And real in other senses too – banging… knocking… (oh God, double entendres, can’t see how to avoid them here) on the door as our couple go at it… Her mother, one imagines, heard through the wall… “Emi, are you asleep” – Emi’s reply, “please leave us alone” – her mother again, “the little one hasn’t sanitised”…

Yes, it’s the world of immediate, post-lockdown pandemic, with people wearing masks and social distancing (or not, if they don’t get it). That wasn’t in the script but when director Jude was shooting in Bucharest: Romania was coming out of lockdown, and he decided to incorporate that into his film. Most contemporary films pretend we’re in a world where Covid-19 never happened or isn’t happening, so we just carry on as normal.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Limbo

Director – Ben Sharrock – 2020 – UK – Cert. N/C 15+ – 103m

****1/2

Immigrants are holed up in a rundown house on a bleak Scottish island as they await letters granting their requests for asylum in the UK on MUBI from Thursday, September 23rd

A smiley chalked on a blackboard. A woman’s austere face suggesting exactly the opposite. Instructors Helga (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Boris (Kenneth Collard) are demonstrating how a man should behave towards a woman dancing to pop music. Helga’s top looks far too proper and her skirt both far too formal and long for a good night out, as if she were dressed for work in an office. Boris is admonished for first resting his head on Helga’s clothed breast then putting his hands on her bottom. “Now, can anyone tell me what Boris did wrong,” she asks the group of stunned men watching, seated.

Behind her on the blackboard are the words, “Cultural Awareness 101. Sex. Is a smile an invitation?”

Welcome (or maybe not) to the world of an asylum seeker from Syria placed on a remote Scots island. Welcome (or maybe not) to the UK’s Hostile Environment.

A rudimentary training centre.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Shorta
(US: Enforcement)

Directors – Anders Ølholm, Frederik Louis Hviid – 2020 – Denmark – Cert. 15 – 108m

****

As racial tensions simmer, two white cops become trapped on a vast, no-go housing estate – out in cinemas and on digital from Friday, September 3rd

‘Shorta’ is Arabic slang for ‘police’. An Arab suspect is interrogated and beaten in a Danish police cell, resulting in his hospitalisation. The story is all over the TV news. With tensions running high, and set to run even higher should the questioned man die as seems highly likely, the police are instructed not to enter the area of Svalegarden, a vast housing estate where many Arabs live.

With two officers under investigation for the treatment of the suspect, Jens Høyer (Simon Sears) is partnered with their trigger-happy buddy Mike Andersen (Jacob Hauberg Lohmann) with instructions from the captain to keep Mike on a leash during these difficult circumstances. In the course of their eight-hour shift, they pursue a car with Arab occupants which leads them into the forbidden Svalegarden estate, where after hassling the car’s occupants and getting nowhere, Mike pulls over a teenage boy Amos (Tarak Zayat) for no reason other than the colour of his skin and the way he looks at them.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Vast of Night

Director – Andrew Patterson – 2019 – US – Cert. 12 – 91m

*****

A radio DJ and a young switchboard operator discover strange noises in the ether which may possibly be of great significance to the small US town where they live in the fifties – on Amazon Prime since Friday, May 29th 2020

Bookended with a curious and somewhat redundant framing device which sets up an episode of black & white, fifties TV show Paradox Theater called The Vast of Night, to which the otherwise colour film periodically and pointless returns from time to time, this is an enigmatic little tale set in the small rural US town of Cayuga where the local high school is set to host a basketball team for a match.

Older teenager Everett (Jake Horowitz) is trying to sort out technical problems before the game gets under way: Sam reminds him that last time this happened, it was a squirrel that had chewed through a wire and the wire was still in its mouth. This story seems to crop up every few minutes as yet another character relates their own abridged telling of it. And 16-year-old Fay Crocker (Sierra McCormick) wants him to show her how the tape recorder she’s just bought works.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Movies

Mosley

Director – Kirby Atkins – 2019 – China, New Zealand – 97m

*****

From the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

Mosley (voiced by writer-director Kirby Atkins) is a thoriphant who lives on the small holdings farm of his owner Simon (Curt Cloniger) where he and Bera (Lucy Lawless) have a small boy Rue (voiced by director’s daughter Leah Atkins when little and Scarlett Sills in additional dialogue). The backbreaking work Mosley does for Simon is that of a plough horse. Simon is not a particularly bad man, but sees nothing wrong with pushing Mosley as far as he can with the result that Mosley is often completely exhausted by the end of the day.

He then has to contend with the hyperactive Rue leaping on him and demanding he come out and play. One evening, Rue wants dad to come and see his new hiding place and Bera insists it’s important. Rue talks about what he would do if he had hands, which takes Mosley back somewhat since thoriphants have hooved feet like horses or cows. A trip to Rue’s hideout reveals vast, underground cave paintings of thoriphants walking upright. And they have hands. There’s a long tunnel there too.

Mosley patiently explains that the uprights “are not real.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Keeper
(Trautmann)

Director – Marcus H. Rosenmüller – 2018 – Germany / Austria – Cert. 15 – 120m

*****

The (not-so-) beautiful game. A WW2 PoW who becomes Manchester City’s goalkeeper is faced with anti-German prejudice both on and off the pitch – in cinemas from Friday, April 5th 2019

Set in WW2 and its aftermath in Britain, this looks at first sight like a football movie. However, it becomes something else altogether by taking a long hard look at the plight of a person living in another country that’s heavily prejudiced against his own. Sadly one doesn’t have to look very far in present day, hostile environment Britain to see that such attitudes are currently very real and out in the open.

German infantryman Bert Trautmann (David Kross) is captured by the British and sent to a PoW camp just outside Manchester. Despite the presence of a few hardcore Nazis among the prisoners, most including Bert are ordinary Germans caught up in the conflict. Nevertheless, the English sergeant who runs the camp would have all of them shot were the decision his and makes their lives as difficult as possible.

However Bert has something specific in his favour: for as long as he can remember, he’s loved playing football… [read more]

Full review published in DMovies.orgRead the rest