Categories
Animation Art Features Movies

Snotty Boy (Rotzbub)

Directors – Santiago Lopez Jover, Marcus H. Rosenmüller – 2021 – Germany, Austria – 95m

*****

A young artist with a predilection for large ladies with large breasts finds himself in confrontation with closet Nazi racists – from the Annecy 2021 Animation Festival in the Official Competition section

1968, the small, rural German town of Siegheilkirchen. Teenage schoolboy Snotty Boy (voice: Markus Freistätter) is obsessed with members of the opposite sex. He is equally obsessed with drawing. He combines the two passions in making a flick book of newly arrived in town, large-breasted girl next door Trude (Katharina Straßer) in her underwear so he can watch her remove her bra whenever he wants.

Two boys at school, the enterpreneurial and duplicitous Spotface (Mario Canedo) and his side-kick Grasberger (Maurice Ernst) discover the book and befriend him so he can draw them pictures for sale to the town’s boys. Class swot and tell-tale Fridolin shows a purchased Trude drawing to his mother and gets Snotty Boy in trouble.

Such activities run counter to the way the authorities would have things. The school is run by a repressive priest (Juergen Maurer) who is first seen teaching his bored class of boys St. Paul’s admonition against fornication.… Read the rest

Categories
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 plays Glasgow Film Festival Wednesday, March 3rd to Saturday, March 6th

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.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Daughter Of Shanghai

Directors – Michelle Chen Miao, Hilla Medalia – 2019 – China – Cert. N/C 15+ – 90m

****1/2

A chronicle of the life and on-off career of Chinese-born, RADA-trained actress and screen legend Tsai Chin – available to rent online until Wednesday, May 12th in the UK & Ireland in the Chinese Cinema Season 2021 as part of the Approaching Reality documentary strand

“I was born in a trunk when my parents were on tour in Tianjin.” The daughter of legendary Peking Opera star Zhou Xinfang, Tsai Chin came to London towards the end of her  seventeenth year when she was the first Chinese person to be accepted at RADA where she found herself alongside the likes of high-born, Welsh socialite Elizabeth Rees-Williams who in footage alongside her now husband Jonathan Aitken is one of the main interview subjects here. As well as a recent interview with Tsai Chin herself, the other main interviewee is the late lawyer Carlo Colombotti, a personal friend and a wealthy lawyer who moved in the same London circles in the sixties.

Her story, although it contains specific international and cross-cultural reference points, is, basically, an actor’s life: early success on stage and screen through the fifties and sixties, followed by a period in the seventies and eighties in relative obscurity and a later period when her rediscovery by Hollywood in the nineties restarted her career.… Read the rest

Categories
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

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies Music

White Riot

Director – Rubika Shah – 2019 – UK – Cert. 15 – 80m

***1/2

Documentary charts the rise of the UK’s Rock Against Racism movement of the late 1970s and features among others The Clash, Steel Pulse and Tom Robinson – in cinemas and on BFI Player and Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, September 18th

Curiously prescient for our own time, the late nineteen seventies saw the rise of the far right movement in Britain characterised by the National Front and its desire to send all non-white British residents “back where they came from”. One of the other things that happened at that time in the UK was in the seemingly unrelated area of music: punk rock. Something clicked for photographer Red Saunders when the NME dispatched him to shoot Punk Night at London’s ICA venue. He saw an immediacy and an energy to what was going on, with bands the The Clash singing about social issues such as unemployment.

Fuelled by some ill-advised, vaguely Teutonic sentiments from David Bowie and, more specifically, a gig where guitarist Eric Clapton encouraged people to go and vote for racist MP Enoch Powell and everything he represented, Saunders set up the Rock Against Racism (RAR) movement to bring together youth from the UK’s various different ethnic backgrounds.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Black And Blue

Director – Director – Deon Taylor – 2019 – US – Cert. 15 – 108m

Now available to view online : scroll down for details.

Right at the start of this, Naomie Harris is walking along a New Orleans street when she’s stopped and harassed by two cops. For no reason. Well, there is a reason: she’s black and the cops are white. Except that, as she points out, she herself is a cop too. She’s blue. So reluctantly they have to let her go.

Rookie cop Alicia West (Harris) joined the police at the same time as officers are being required to wear body cams and thinks these a good idea. However she underestimates the levels of violence between police and members of the public. Covering a night shift for her cop partner, she is shocked to see grizzled veteran Deacon Brown (James Moses Black) use what she thinks is excessive force on a man outside a nightclub. It turns out, however, that the man had a gun and wouldn’t have hesitated to use it on her.

I review Black And Blue for DMovies.org.

Watch on Amazon, Amazon 4K UHD, Netflix or Starz.

Categories
Animation Movies Shorts

Black Barbie

Director – Comfort Arthur – 2016 – Ghana – 3m 36s

*****

This is structured around a reading of a poem by a girl whose mother gives her a Black Barbie doll for her birthday. She hates it – “I want the white one”. Using a variety of 2D animation styles and the occasional bit of human pixilation, Arthur produces simple, arresting images of black girls alienated from the physical basics of their existence by a society that constantly tells them white skin colour is significant and black skin and curly hair is something to deny. The film maker lifts all this above the level of mere polemic by making her images, some of which are no more complex than animated child’s drawings, constantly arresting, doing both her cause and the medium in which she’s expressing it proud.

Black Barbie is the seventh of 13 Original Short Films in the Annecy Festival 2020’s selection for We Are One: A Global Film Festival. This film is not suitable for children.

Donations to UN Foundation (UNF) to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts.

Festivals

2020

Annecy Animation Festival special online edition:

Monday, June 15th to Tuesday, June 30th.

Festival trailer:

Categories
Animation Documentary Live Action Movies Shorts

The Uncertain Kingdom

Twenty shorts

The Uncertain Kingdom
Various UK directors
Certificate 15, 20 x ten minutes approximately
Released online from 1 June:
Amazon, BFI Player, Curzon Home Cinema, Google Play, and iTunes.

Why watch one film when you can watch 20?

The Uncertain Kingdom is an amazing collection of shorts covering various aspects of contemporary UK life before the Covid-19 crisis. Most are around ten minutes, with the shortest under three and the longest just over 20. There’s not one duff film in there. The films’ separate stories span such art forms as animation, dance, documentary and drama and such issues as colonialism, healing, heritage and class.

I review The Uncertain Kingdom for Reform.

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Hurricane

Director – David Blair – 2018 – Poland, UK – Cert. 15 – 107m

****

In cinemas from Friday 7th September

Review originally published in DMovies.org

It’s too easy to take most British WW2 movies (e.g. Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan, 2017) and claim they bolster the idea of Brexit – Britain alone against the world, defeating the dastardly Germans and so on. Hurricane is different. Its Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots are refugees from the Polish Air Force, wiped out by the Luftwaffe in a mere three days and kept on ice by Britain’s xenophobic War Office following their arrival in England.

When they’re finally allowed into the air, these Poles turn out to be much better fighter pilots than the majority of Brits who are being slaughtered by the enemy at an alarming rate. Indeed, it’s the Polish pilots that turn the Battle of Britain around.

Hurricane is named after the RAF’s most widely used fighter aircraft…

Full review at DMovies.org.

Trailer:

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Pelle The Conqueror (Pelle Erobreren)

Director – Billie August – 1987 – Denmark – Cert. 15 – 157m

***1/2

Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 1988 (61st) Oscars

Babette’s Feast (Babettes gæstebud)

****

Director – Gabriel Axel – 1987 – Denmark – Cert. U – 103m

Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 1987 (60th) Oscars.

This double review originally appeared in the Church Times.

JEREMY CLARKE ON VIDEO

Comments on Social and Religious Austerity.

Social hardship and religious severity have long been an artistic staple in Scandinavian films; two current video releases illustrate the point admirably. Pelle, the young lad of Pelle The Conqueror, is told he can conquer the whole world by his father (Max Von Sydow).

The turn of the century reality is less attractive, since the Swedish father and son are forced by economic necessity to migrate to neighbouring Denmark in search of farm labouring work. In Denmark, the boy boy struggles to keep his dreams alive despite local anti-Swede prejudice.

The tale and its setting strike a curious parallel with Babette’s Feast, in which Parisian refugee of the 1871 Communard uprising Babette (Stephan Audran) arrives in the Jutland Danish coastal region to seek refuge.… Read the rest