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The Shop Around The Corner

Director – Ernst Lubitsch – 1940 – US – Cert. PG – 99m

*****

Two store employees argue constantly, unaware they are perfect for one another – out in cinemas on Friday, December 3rd

It’s quite a shock to see an old Hollywood classic for the first time and realise that you’re seeing one of the greats of which you’ve somehow never heard, but that’s exactly what happened to me watching this extraordinarily charming film which is likely to appeal to anyone who loves the much more familiar It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946). Both have stories that culminate at Christmas, both star American everyman James Stewart, and both give off what you might call a generosity of spirit. But in other ways, they’re two very different films.

For a start, this is not set anywhere in the US but rather in Europe, specifically the Hungarian capital Budapest. And then, its subject is not so much a town and the people who live there as a department store and the people who work there. There are no rich people dubiously making money by exploiting the poor: certainly there are bosses and workers, but the former treats the latter well and might reasonably be described as benevolent.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Lucky Chan-sil (Chansilineun Bokdo Manhji, 찬실이는 복도 많지)

Director – Kim Cho-hee – 2019 – South Korea – 95m

****

When a film director she’s worked for over several years dies, his film producer has to rethink her life – currently streaming on MUBI as part of their New South Korean Cinema season

Director Ji (Seo Sang-won), his fortysomething producer Lee Chan-sil (Kang Mal-geum) and three or four others are drinking Soju round a table after a hard day’s work on the set. Suddenly, Ji slumps forward. Everyone thinks he’s kidding. He’s not. He’s dead. Unexpectedly dead. Ji makes little independent films in his own highly idiosyncratic style. If he’s no longer there, then the film, too, is dead. And Chan-sil, who has only worked with him, is suddenly out of a job.

With her regular income gone, she downsizes and moves into a cheap flat owned by an ageing live-in landlady (Youn Yuh-jung). It’s near the top of a hill, so other members of the abandoned film production help her carry stuff up there. She sees a lot of her flighty actress friend Sophie (Yeung Soon-ah) for whom she now goes to work as a cleaner. These changes of circumstance give her the both the space and the opportunity to reassess her life.… Read the rest

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Cry Macho

Director – Clint Eastwood – 2021 – US – Cert. 12 – 104m

***1/2

A rodeo star and horse trainer well past his prime is sent to bring his boss’ son back to Texas from his “abusive” mother in Mexico – out in cinemas on Friday, November 12th

1979. Mike Milo (Clint Eastwood) is late for work. Again. His boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam) ticks him off. Milo verbally lays into him. Gets fired. Newsreel footage from back in the day shows Mike’s rodeo accident, when a horse threw him and he landed on his back. He’s never been the same since.

They go back a long way, though, and that isn’t the end of their relationship. Howard phones Mike for a favour. Howard hasn’t seen his son since the boy was six. He’s now 13 and living with his mother, Howard’s estranged ex, down in Mexico. Howard has heard is son is being abused, although he doesn’t clarify. He wants Mike to go down to Mexico and bring the boy back.

Mike is unsure but agrees. His attempt to complete this task will form the body of the movie. He finds the mother’s house easily enough. She turns out the sort who hosts a party a night and has plain clothes security people on her property; also the kind of person who considers it a personal insult if she asks you to drink with her or sleep with her and you refuse.… Read the rest

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Live Action Movies Shorts

Ladies Of The Forest (San-na-mul Cheo-nyeo, 산나물처녀)

Director – Kim Cho-hee – 2016 – South Korea – 29m

*****

A woman descends from the heavens in search of a mate, but lands in a forest where the pickings are slim – part of a strand of films celebrating actress Youn Yuh-jung at LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival which runs in cinemas from Thursday, November 4th to Friday, November 19th

The source of this plot is a folk tale known as The Fairy And The Woodcutter or The Heavenly Maiden And The Woodcutter. There seem to be a number of variants of the story – a good, much longer summation can be found here – but, broadly speaking, it concerns a woodcutter so poor that no woman will marry him. He lives alone with his mother. One day, he hides a deer from a hunter and in return, the deer offers to grant him a wish. He wishes to be married. The deer tells him of a pool to which beautiful maidens descend from the heavens to bathe. If he steals the clothes of one, she’ll be unable to return and he’ll be able to make her his wife. He must not, however, return her clothes until she has birthed three children, otherwise she will use her clothes to fly back to the heavens.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

My Missing Valentine (Xiao Shi De Qing Ren Jie, 消失的情人節)

Director – Chen Yu-Hsun – 2020 – Taiwan – Cert. – 119m

*****

A woman unexpectedly finds she’s both missed Valentine’s Day and become mysteriously sunburned – charming and hilarious comedy from the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF), on now

A woman enter a police station to report an incident. She went to bed and woke up, but and somehow skipped a day. Also, she is mysteriously sunburned. Does it really matter?, asks the somewhat baffled officer. From her demeanour, it clearly does.

Yang Hsaio-chi (Patty Lee Pei-yu) has always lived life that little bit ahead, that little bit faster than anybody else. One day, she runs into her dad as he’s on his way out to buy some tofu pudding, and she talks him into buying one for her too. It’s the last time she or any of her family see him. He just vanished.

Hsaio-chi works at a post office counter. She and her colleague are familiar with the different types of customer. There are the wife hunters, mothers who bring their sons in so they can eye up the marriage potential. There’s the weird guy who turns up like clockwork at about the same time every day to post a letter to the same P.O.… Read the rest

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A Moment Of Romance (Tin Joek Yau Ching, 天若有情)

Director – Benny Chan – 1990 – Hong Kong – Cert.18 – 92m

***1/2

When a biker and gang member on the lam from a jewel heist takes a well-to-do girl hostage then falls for her, their romance is doomed – from the London East Asia Film Festival (LEAFF), on now

Gang member Wah (Andy Lau) is the archetypal bad boy who, in the opening sequence, speeds through a narrow gap between two lorries and wilfully breaks a wing mirror on a stationary police vehicle as he rides past. Director Chan keeps up the mayhem with a sequence of two competing lorries on a makeshift racing circuit, each with a pretty girl standing on top – until one of them crashes into a stationery car sending the falling girl through its windscreen and scattering the onlookers as the police approach.

Ascendant gang member Trumpet seems to have it in for Wah and puts him on getaway car duty for a jewel heist. Wah must improvise when cops happen by chance to turn up outside the building while the crime is in progress and during the ensuing pursuit by car, in which he gets the robbers successfully away from the scene, and on foot, his only way of escaping the cops is to take an innocent bystander hostage.… Read the rest

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Moving On (Nam-mae-wui Yeo-reum-bam, 남매의 여름밤)

Director – Yoon Dan-bi – 2019 – South Korea – Cert. 15 – 105m

***1/2

A father takes his teenage daughter and her younger brother to stay with their ageing grandfather for the Summer – plays on MUBI as part of their New South Korean Cinema season

It’s the Summer, so dad (Yang Heung-joo) takes his two kids, teenage daughter Okju (Choi Jun-un) and smaller son Dongju (Park Seung-jun) off to stay with Grandpa (Kim Sang-dong). Moving location is no problem work-wise since he makes a living selling tennis shoes out of his small van on the street. It’s a precarious existence – at one point, he asks a man who runs a fabric shop whether he makes good money in that trade. And when Okju tries to sell some herself, she comes up against a buyer who has realised that the shoes are knock-offs.

There’s quite a bit of sibling rivalry – immediately on moving in, Okju refguses to let Dongju sleep in the room she has nabbed for herself after setting up her mosquito net. But as their aunt Mijung (Park Hyun-young) is later heard to remark, although the pair argue they actually get on with each other quite well.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Ninjababy

Director – Ingvild Sve Flikke – 2021 – Norway – Cert. 15 tbc – 103m

*****

An artist draws constantly, her life punctuated with animated inserts, as she finds she is pregnant with a ninjababy – out in cinemas and on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, September 10th

Rakel (Kristine Kujath Thorp) is the messy one, Ingrid (Tora Christine Dietrichson) is the tidy one. They share a flat. All this is apparent from Rakel’s simple, sketched black lines on white background, animated plan of their flat. That opens this essentially live action film, which is thereafter punctuated by animation either in similar inserts or apparently drawn into the moving live action images e.g. on light areas of wall (this may be a special effect, but it’s an extremely low tech one).

Ingrid thinks something is up with Rakel – the larger breasts, the vast quantities of fruit drink consumed – could Rakel be pregnant? Do a test. Positive. To the abortion clinic. Sorry, 26 weeks and the legal limit is 12. That’s Mos-Aikido (Nader Khademi) off the hook, the sex with him (and it was good) was more recent. The father can only be the self-centred Dick Jesus (Arthur Burning), her one sex partner who didn’t use a condom in that time period.… Read the rest

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Jumbo

Director – Zoé Wittock – 2020 – France – Cert. 15 – 93m

*****

A young woman working at a fairground falls in love with one of the rides, a machine named Move It, which she renames Jumbo – out in cinemas and virtually via Modern Films Virtual Player on Friday, July 9th and streaming on Arrow from Wednesday, September 1st

When her single parent mother Margarette (Emmanuelle Bercot) drops Jeanne Tantois (Noémie Merlant) off for her first day of employment at the local amusement part Jeanne has known all her life, her mother makes a passing remark about Jeanne’s father: “if only he could have been my vibrator”. While that comment is never (ahem) touched on again, the idea is central to the film.

Whatever she says, it isn’t an idea that Margarette can live by. An outgoing bartender, shortly into the narrative she strikes up a relationship with Hubert (Sam Louwick), moving him pretty swiftly into the family home. Jeanne doesn’t seem to like or dislike him much either way as a step-dad… She’s not really interested.

Margarette would like her daughter to bed a nice boy. Someone like her young manager at the fairground Marc (Bastien Bouillon) who both encourages her to enter for the Employee Of The Year contest and is drawn to her physically.… Read the rest

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Now, Voyager

Director – Irving Rapper – 1942 – US – Cert. PG – 117m

*****

A woman must overcome mental illness caused by her overbearing mother – out in cinemas on Friday, August 6th

The wealthy Vale family from Boston invites Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) to meet their youngest daughter Charlotte (Bette Davis) to see if he can do anything with her. Failing to get matriarch Mrs. Henry Vale (Gladys Cooper) to introduce him without his title, he presses Charlotte to show him round the house, including her room. There, she keeps a library in which are hidden forbidden books, smokes illicitly and makes ornate boxes with ivory decoration. Years of living with her domineering mother have given Charlotte a problem with her own self-image.

Jaquith has Charlotte stay at his rest home, then instead of returning to Boston has her take the place of her sister Lisa (Ilka Chase) on a cruise to Rio de Janeiro on which she meets and falls for married man Jeremiah ‘Jerry’ Durrance known to his friends as JD (Paul Heinreid), whose absent wife dominates one of his daughters Tina back home much as Charlotte’s mother dominated her. The pair spend time together in Brazil during which they are involved in a car accident in which no-one is injured. … Read the rest