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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Hundreds
of Beavers

Director – Mike Cheslik – 2022 – US – Cert. 12 – 108m

***1/2

A ruined drinks purveyor reduced to hunting beavers (played by actors in onesies) attempts to kill the amount required to buy a trader’s daughter’s hand in marriage – visually astonishing slapstick comedy is out in UK and Ireland cinemas on Tuesday, July 9th

Opening with what is essentially a music video extolling the bibulous virtues of the booming, farm home of Jean Kayak’s Acme Applejack, this shows a simplistic caricature of a prosperous nineteenth century business when the wooden supports of one of Kayak’s gigantic barrels of beverage is nibbled by a beaver causing it to roll down a hill on which it’s situated into his house at the bottom of the hill, causing it to burn down his hillside apple orchard.

Leaving aside such questions as, why store the huge barrel on top of a hill above your house? – the answer, so it can roll down a hill, catch fire and burn down your orchard to get the plot going, proving less than satisfactory – this leaves the ruined Jean Kayak (co-writer Ryland Brickson Cole Tews) homeless in midwinter and forced to survive by hunting animals.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Kill

Director – Nikhil Nagesh Bhat – 2023 – India – Cert. 18 – 105m

***1/2

Trying to prevent the love of his life from becoming trapped in an arranged marriage, a commando finds himself on a train fighting a violent gang of bandits – out in UK cinemas on Friday, July 5th

Commando Amrit (Lakshya aka Laksh Lalwani) returns from active duty for a clandestine meeting with his true love Tulika (Tanya Maniktala), who is being forcibly engaged to another man by her family. Her father owns the railway, and her family take her on board the sleeper train for New Delhi where her arranged marriage to her fiancé is to take place, unaware that also on board the train are a party of bandits who plan to rob all the passengers.

The bandits are equally unaware that also on board the train are Amrit and his friend and fellow commando Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan) who intend to remove Tulika and take her away from her family’s plans which threaten Amrit and Tulika’s love. Among the bandits, firebrand Fani (Raghav Juyal) has an unfortunate tendency to kill the wrong opponent or prisoner at the wrong time…

The boy / girl romance element is fairly syrupy and over the top, and features heavily in Amrit’s motivation, especially once Tulika and her beloved younger sister Aahna (Adrija Sinha) are taken prisoner.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Meet the Feebles

Director – Peter Jackson – 1989 – New Zealand – Cert. 18 – 97m

**

Offbeat special effects puppet movie proves a let-down despite inventive filmmaking – review originally published in What’s On in London, March 1992.

Walrus producer Bletch (voice: Peter Vere Jones) wants to take his crummy stage show Meet the Feebles onto syndicated television. Unfortunately, he’s switched amorous attentions from leading lady Heidi the Hippo (Danny Mulheron; voice: Mark Hadlow) to Samantha the Siamese Cat (voice: Donna Akersten) – only Heidi hasn’t got the message yet.

Robert the Hedgehog (voice: Mark Hadlow) arrives from method acting school eager to sample this glamorous backstage world; through rose-tinted vision, he falls in love with chorus girl Lucille the dog (voice: Mark Wright). Bletch’s P.A. Trevor the Rat (voice: Brian Sergent) shoots porno movies in the basement and has other plans for her. [His leading lady Daisy the Cow (voice: Stuart Devenie) is on her last udders.]

By now, you’re probably starting to get the idea. The effect is not dissimilar to watching The Muppets reconceived in terms of excessive sex and violence.

The brains (if that’s the right word) behind this dubious enterprise is New Zealand’s amazingly talented Peter Jackson, whose Bad Taste deservedly achieved cult status.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Dead Don’t Hurt

Director – Viggo Mortensen – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 129m

***1/2

An independently-minded woman whose partner is away fighting a war struggles to survive in the Old West – out in UK and Ireland cinemas on Friday, June 7th

While there is much to admire in this Western, it suffers from unclear flashbacks and parallel editing. Both the trailer (below) and the UK press handouts circumvent this problem by describing a straightforward, chronological narrative (and a fascinating narrative at that). For anyone who doesn’t try to follow plot, this may not be a problem. For those who do, it most definitely is.

Two things happen at the start. One is a shoot out in which Weston Jeffries (Solly McLeod), a nasty bit of work with scant disregard for either decency or law and order, rides away into the evening after shooting various people inside and outside the town’s saloon, including the deputy sheriff. The town is apparently called Elk Flats, Nevada – something I gleaned not from the film (where, if that information is there, it’s easy to miss, and I missed it) but from the production notes.

This is indicative of a problem with the film overall: there are certain key bits of information it needs to tell the audience, which it fails to deliver in a clear, comprehensible way.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Beast
(La Bête)
(2023)

Director – Bertrand Bonello – 2023 – France – Cert. 15 – 146m

*****

Required to expunge her emotions by the ruling AI of 2044, a woman with a sense of dread revisits her past lives in 1910 and 2014 and their incarnations of the love of her life – curious mix of art house movie and science fiction is out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 31st

An actress (Léa Seydoux) against green screen rehearses a scene in a house – the director’s voice tells her where the stairs and other features are in relation to her position and marks on the floor. With these minimal visuals but with the addition of music and full sound effects, she works through the scene up to the point where she sees the terrifying shadow of the Beast on a wall and screams. Consciously or unconsciously, this echoes the screen test on the boat of Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) in King Kong (Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933) as she is required to scream at an unseen, gargantuan monster for the camera.

As in Kong, this scene anticipates one that will play out later in the film. However, Bonello plays it as a curious introduction to the whole, rather than part of the story proper.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Stopmotion

Director – Robert Morgan – 2023 – UK – Cert. 18 – 93m

***1/2

The bereaved daughter of a stop-frame animator attempts to complete her late mother’s last film – out on Shudder UK, Ireland, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand from Friday, May 31st

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: this is not what it says on the tin. Anyone expecting another Mad God (Phil Tippett, 1987-2021, and a long-standing Shudder favourite) or Junk Head (Takahide Hori, 2021) is going to be disappointed. This is not a stop-motion film; it’s a stop-motion / live action combination film, with the physical stop-motion component of the production forming maybe a tenth of the whole.

Unless, of course, you’re looking only at story or script. In which case, this film is all about stop-motion animation and obsession. But executed in live action. Because, after all, who would want to spend all their time moving a puppet a bit, then shooting a frame, then moving it a bit more, and taking another frame, and so on when you can shoot live action and capture a shot of whatever length on film? (The answer is, anyone who loves animation generally and stop-motion animation in particular.)… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Beast
(La Bête)
(2023)

A Fatal Belief

The Beast
Directed by Bertrand Bonello
Certificate 15, 146 minutes
Released 31 May

As satisfying as it is infuriating, this French genre-bender is part science fiction, part period costume drama and part literary adaptation. It’s based on Henry James’ 1903 novella The Beast in the Jungle, in which a man refuses to marry the woman he loves to spare her from the attack he believes will be perpetrated upon him at some point by a horrible beast.

About a third is, as you might expect, a period costume drama, sumptuously shot on film. However, the co-writer and director Bonello introduces two more separate timelines set in 2014 and 2044 and shot on harsher digital technology for a more modern feel.

He also switches the gender roles round, so that… [Read the full review in Reform]

[Read my longer review on this site]

Trailer:

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Features Live Action Movies

The Fall Guy
(2024)

Director – David Leitch – 2024 – US – Cert. 12a – 126m

*1/2

A stuntman, who retired from the movies are sustaining an injury on set, is hired to trace the vanished star of the movie being directed by his former camera operator and girlfriend – out in UK cinemas on Thursday, May 2nd

Colt Seavers (Ryan Gosling) is a stunt double for big star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who allegedly does his own stunts. Retakes are common – for instance, if Colt is showing too much face, and it can be seen in the take that it’s him, not the star. Colt is fine with that – it’s just part of the business.

Gail Meyer (Hannah Waddingham) is Tom’s regular producer and has managed his career so that his many bad habits never appear on the screen or where they can be seen by the public. He is currently the world’s most bankable action star.

Jody Moreno (Emily Blunt) is a camera assistant. Colt and Jody are a couple, although they try not to make it obvious on the set.

Colt’s work requires all sorts of safety protocols be followed. On one occasion, someone behind the scenes messes up, and Colt falls from a great height and breaks his back. … Read the rest

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Love Lies Bleeding
(2024)

Director – Rose Glass – 2024 – US – Cert. 15 – 104m

****

A small town member of staff at a gym falls hard for a bodybuilding drifter, both unaware that each has baggage which will cause the other considerable grief – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 3rd

The 1980s. New Mexico. Night. Rising up from a crack in the Earth. Towards the stars. And looking out over the small town, over the Crater Gym. We follow a woman inside. (Who is she? We never find out.) Bodybuilders work out. As Lou (Kristen Stewart) works to unclog a lavatory blocked with something resembling small human body parts (!), she is hassled by Daisy (Anna Baryshnikov) who appears to have been sexually close to her at some time, and possibly still is now only Lou doesn’t care.

Elsewhere in the night, a couple are having sex in a car. He (Dave Franco) is definitely enjoying it; she (Katy O’Brian), it’s hard to tell. She wants to know if she’ll get that job now. He says he’ll sort it. He warns her to be careful where she sleeps; this is a dangerous town. She finds a place at the side of a bridge; in the morning, it’s hot and sunny, she gets up and does her exercises using the edge of the bridge for pull-ups.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Cape Fear
(1991)

Director – Martin Scorsese – 1991 – US – Cert. 18 – 128m

*****

A vicious ex-con seeks revenge on the family of the lawyer he sees responsible for his incarceration in prison – review from Strait – the Greenbelt Newspaper, March 1992.

Directed by Martin Scorsese with characteristic and frenetic energy, Cape Fear is his best movie in years. It ranks not so much alongside The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, file under embarrassing personal projects along with Until the End of the World, Wim Wenders, 1991) but rather as a companion piece to early collaborations with actor Robert De Niro like Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976) and Raging Bull (1980).

Here, the actor is first glimpsed from behind as a muscled torso tattooed with the Scales of Justice and numerous biblical verses. It’s a foretaste of things to come.

While the original Cape Fear (J. Lee Thompson, 1962) had Robert Mitchum as ex-con Max Cady who terrorises the lawyer (and his wife and daughter) responsible for his prosecution, Scorsese’s remake borrows religious elements from another Mitchum-as-villain vehicle, Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955), in which his character justifies his actions in fundamentalist Christian terminology.

De Niro’s Cady is specifically a self-designated vessel of judgement upon the lawyer and his kin.… Read the rest