Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Master Gardener

Director – Paul Schrader – 2022 – US – Cert. 15 – 107m

****

Order and chaos. A man works bringing horticultural order to his employer’s garden estate, but the disorder of his past threatens to catch up with him and wreak havoc upon it

Or. A man engaged in sexual relations with his female employer becomes involved with her grandniece, to whom his employer may one day leave her inheritance

Or. A man orders his employer’s garden estate until she ejects him for sleeping with her grandniece, leaving the pair to survive in the tough world beyond – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 26th

This appears to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it concerns a man (the central character, the eponymous master gardener) imposing order, but he is a man coming from chaos and at some point that chaos may undo what he has achieved there. On the other, it concerns two women – one his monied, controlling, matriarchal employer, the other her grandniece, from the wrong side of the tracks, who the employer wants to learn the business. The man is initially the lover of the first and, later, becomes the lover of the second, for which the first fires him.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

First Cow

Director – Kelly Reichardt – 2019 – US – Cert. N/C 15+ – 122m

***1/2

Western (set in Oregon!) in which a drifter and an immigrant join forces to surreptitiously milk a rich man’s first cow and better their lot – in UK cinemas from Friday, May 28th

A woman with a dog (Alia Shawcat) discovers two human corpses in the present day Oregon woods. Flashback to the nineteenth century. Cookie (John Magaro), a drifter, is the cook attached to a party of trappers travelling through the woodlands. He’s a poor scavenger for food and as a result, they are starving – with much acrimony directed towards him. As soon as they find a small settlement, he departs company and lets the trappers go on their way without him. He watches a rich local take delivery of his first cow with plans for buying a mate and breeding a herd later on.

Cookie falls in with Chinese immigrant King-Lu (Orion Lee) who has a hut nearby. They bond over a bottle of wine at King-Lu’s shack in the woods and become friends. Finding the cow wandering near their dwelling, they hatch a plan to milk it secretly at night (cookie milks while King-Lu keeps watch from a nearby tree) and use the milk as an ingredient in oily cakes, which they start selling at the settlement and which become a huge success overnight.… 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

Parasite
(Gisaengchung,
기생충)
(Black & White Edition)

Director – Bong Joon Ho – 2019 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 132m

*****

Opens in UK Cinemas (hooray!) exclusively for a week at Curzon Mayfair from Friday, July 24th. Also available on Curzon Home Cinema.

Read my reviews of the colour version of Parasite in All The Anime and Reform too.

It’s a safe bet that as anyone going to see the black & white edition of Parasite has already seen the colour version. Possibly several times, as it seems to be a movie in which you see new things with each viewing. In my case, I’ve already reviewed it twice (for two different publications). This review assumes you’ve already seen the colour version. If you haven’t, start with one of those reviews then see the colour version first.

So the big question is, is the black & white edition a waste of space where you’re watching the film drained of its colour and wondering why you bothered? Or does it add something to viewing the film?

The answer happily is the latter. 

I must admit I struggled with the opening scenes in the Kims’ basement flat. The street seen through the window seemed to emphasise length and distance more, but somehow watching black & white takes you back to an earlier period, say film noir in the fifties, and to see the son Kim Ki-woo hunting around for a hackable wi-fi signal with his mobile held aloft jarred with that.… Read the rest

Categories
Art Features Live Action Movies

Snowpiercer
(Seolgungnyeolcha,
설국열차)

Director – Bong Joon Ho – 2013 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 126m

South Korean director Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer (2013), which never had a theatrical release in the UK during its original, international run, finally appears in the UK on home video. Described as “High Rise on a train” by Mark Kermode, it’s an uncompromising dystopian vision, and we can safely attribute its appearance on Blu-ray to a double whammy – Bong’s Oscar-winning box-office hit Parasite, and the broadcast this month of the long-delayed Snowpiercer TV series.

An ecological catastrophe has turned the Earth into a frozen wasteland. The only people still alive are those on a train annually circling the globe. Some are there because they’re rich, others because they were lucky enough to get on board. The rich live in luxury at the front while the poor are kept in squalor at the back. Two members of the lower orders lead a revolt, travelling the length of the train to eventually confront the train’s wealthy industrialist creator. Like the more complex Parasite, it pits ordinary people against wealthy elites.

I review Snowpiercer for All The Anime.

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Parasite
(Gisaengchung,
기생충)

Director – Bong Joon Ho – 2019 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 132m

*****

With Parasite (Black & White Edition) due out, I review the colour version for All The Anime. Read my Reform review too.

Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-sik) strikes it lucky when he hears of the rich Park family, whose teenage daughter Da-hye (Jung Ziso) needs extra tuition. Sensing Mrs Park (Jo Yeo-jeong) will be a push-over, he convinces her he is the man for the job, thanks to credentials forged by his sister Ki-jung (Park So-dam). Having successfully nailed down this position, Ki-woo sets about securing similarly lucrative openings for his family, without letting on that they are blood relatives.

He first recommends his sister as the perfect tutor for the tormented and allegedly artistic Park son (Jung Hyun-jun), a job she secures by inventing bogus pop psychology theories to establish her academic credentials. Before long, the cunning Kims have framed the chauffeur and the house-keeper to nab jobs for themselves, unaware of other secrets harboured by the Parks. [Read the rest…]

Above review: All The Anime.

More reviews: Reform, Black & White Edition.

Trailer (colour) here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=135&v=tBfgTZsBeFM&feature=emb_logo
Read the rest
Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Parasite
(Gisaengchung,
기생충)

With Parasite (Black & White Edition) due out, I reviewed the colour version for Reform. Read my All The Anime review too.

Poor family, rich family

Parasite
Directed by Bong Joon Ho
Certificate 15, 132 minutes
Released 7 February

With income inequality on the rise in the UK, this Oscar-winning, edge-of-the seat thriller from South Korea couldn’t be more pertinent. A poor family struggling to survive at the bottom of the country’s economic food chain stumbles on an opportunity to work for an obscenely rich family who pay very well. The poor family secure themselves this work through a series of deceits and scams, stealing existing positions from the family’s chauffeur and housekeeper in the process.

The characters are engaging. The poor family fervently want to better their economic lot and leave no stone unturned to do so. Their resourcefulness is impressive, their morality less so – and yet we find ourselves liking them. The rich family are likeable too, with no suggestion whatsoever that their income has derived from dishonest or dubious sources.

With Parasite (Black & White Edition) due out, I reviewed the colour version for Reform. Read my All The Anime review too.

Winner of Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 (92nd) Oscars.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Wrath Of Silence
(Bao Lie Wu Sheng,
暴裂无声)

Director – Xin Yukun – 2017 – China – 120m

***

Fist of parental fury: mute villager fights hard to find his missing son in rural China, in a film teeming with extraordinary social commentary and… fighting!!! From the BFI London Film Festival 2017

The young boy Zhang Liu tends sheep on a hillside in Northern China not far from a mine where lorries come and go. One day he doesn’t come home. His mother, already in debt for various medical treatments for her swollen legs, is at her wits’ end. The boy’s mute father, the miner Zhang Baomin (Song Yang), has a way of solving problems. Fisticuffs. He beats up people in the local mine. In the village restaurant he plunges a broken meat bone into the eye of the local organiser of signatures to sign away the village mining rights for which he’s holding out but everyone else in the village has signed. He goes around showing a picture of the missing Liu in the hope that someone has seen the boy.

This takes him to a local mining site where he’s inside eating with the foreman when thugs turn up in vans and jeeps to tell the miners a new company has bought out the mine and their service are no longer required.… Read the rest