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Features Live Action Movies

A Quiet Place
Day One

Director – Michael Sarnoski – 2024 – US – Cert. 15 – 100m

*****

A terminally ill woman returns to the New York of her childhood as hostile aliens land and start wreaking havoc – franchise prequel is out in UK and Ireland cinemas on Friday, June 28th

Another attempt to duplicate the success of A Quiet Place (John Krasinski, 2018), this time by showing us the first day of the alien invasion in New York City, the sort of thing that couldn’t be done on the small budget of the original. Which sounds like more of the same – and on one level, that’s exactly what this is (so admirers of the original – among whom I number myself – wanting more aliens who hunt by sound, and more terrifying games of hide and seek with them, should find themselves more than satisfied).

There’s a curious attempt by the Studio’s marketing department to offer the chance to find out “why the world went quiet”, which is a great idea but bears no relation whatsoever to this film. Once you know that the aliens hunt by sound, so you must keep quiet to survive – revealed in the original film – this new film offers no further explanation as to why the world went quiet.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Eternal You

Directors – Hans Block, Moritz Reisewieke – 2024 – US – Cert. – 87m

*****

People deal with bereavement with the help of interactive versions of their deceased, loved ones recreated by AI – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 28th

In a rare visual shot in this mostly verbally based documentary, an aerial shot of a graveyard, with light creating lots of little blocks of shadow as it falls on the ranks of gravestones, resembles a slice of internal computer electronics. It’s a pertinent pictorial moment that stands out from almost everything else here.

“Is there some reason you wouldn’t believe me?,” a woman asks her boyfriend. “You died,” comes the sceptical reply. Joshua, from Ontario, Canada, had to endure the trauma of watching the life support machines that were keeping her alive being switched off. After she died, about two weeks short of high school graduation which she was expected to pass, he got the school to graduate her. He later explains this by written chat to her interactive AI.

Psychiatrist Sherry Turkle talks about the problems people face coping with grief in the modern world, where they often live on their own following the death of a partner and don’t have an extended network of family around them like they would have done in former times.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Freud’s Last Session

Director – Matthew Brown – 2023 – UK – Cert. 12a – 108m

****

Celebrated psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud is visited in the last month of his life, living in Britain, by young Oxford don and Christian apologist CS Lewis – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th

September 1939. Chamberlain has issued his ultimatum to Hitler, and Britain waits to find out whether it will shortly be at war with Germany. Celebrated psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (Anthony Hopkins), recently moved to Britain from Vienna to escape the Nazis, keeps turning the radio on and off in the hope of an update from the BBC. He is also expecting a visit from a young Oxford don, CS Lewis (Matthew Goode), “the Christian apologist”, with whose views he profoundly disagrees. 

Lewis has written books including a parody of Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress called The Pilgrim’s Regress, which is mentioned here, and the first book in his science fiction trilogy Out of the Silent Planet, which isn’t. He has however yet to either give his BBC broadcasts about the Christian faith, which will later form the basis of his most celebrated apologetic work Mere Christianity, or write his Narnia children’s fantasy novels.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

The Matrix

Directors – Larry and Andy Wachowski – 1999 – US – Cert.15 – 136 mins

*****

The Matrix combines tropes of Japanese animation with live action Hong Kong stunt choreography and groundbreaking ‘bullet time’ special effects.

25th Anniversary UK rerelease (4k remaster): Friday, June 8th, 2024;

UK release: June 11th 1999;

Article originally published in Manga Max, Number 8, July 1999.

1999. The Matrix is about to E.X.P.L.O.D.E.

Technically, a matrix is a multidimensional array of locations, with each cell uniquely addressable. Contents not specified. Back in late April, when Hollywood blockbuster The Matrix was first screened for UK press, Warners’ line beneath the film’s title on the publicity flier ran, Blockbusting futuristic thriller with ground-breaking special effects. Perhaps it should have read, Blockbusting futuristic thriller with ground-breaking special effects and Hong Kong styled action. Or even, Blockbusting futuristic thriller with ground-breaking special effects and Hong Kong styled action reconceived in terms of anime. Okay, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but it’s closer to the truth.

Ostensibly a megabudget Joel Silver (Lethal Weapon / Die Hard / Predator / Speed / Road House / Assassins) SF actioner well beyond the extremities of this magazine’s remit, directed by the Wachowski Brothers (writer‑directors of Bound, screenwriters for Assassins), The Matrix opens with an incredible sequence wherein Trinity (Carrie‑Anne Moss, who looks for all the world like a Westernised version of a Hong Kong starlet in cat burglar get up… Black Cat’s Jade Leung or Irma Vep’s Maggie Cheung, perhaps?)… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Art Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Exhibition on Screen:
My National Gallery

Director – Phil Grabsky, Ali Ray – 2024 – UK – Cert. U – 98m

*****

Employees, punters and celebrities choose their favourite painting in London’s National Gallery – out in UK cinemas from Tuesday, June 4th

There have been documentary films about the UK’s National Gallery before, notably the wonderful, three-hour-long National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman, 2014), so, in a way, it’s a brave subject for the Exhibition on Screen people to take on. And yet, as a British production company making movies about art in art galleries, it was inevitable that they would tackle the subject sooner or later. Their version commences with a likeable enough establishing montage of what one might call ‘behind the scenes’ and ‘footfall’ – shots of various National Gallery employees at work opening the door, looking after various aspects of the art housed in the gallery and even putting out tasty-looking croissants in the cafeteria.

There are satisfying little touches throughout. A shot of The Feast Day of Saint Roch, Canaletto, with out of focus people passing in front of it, makes it feel like you’re really there in the scene depicted.

Alan Allison, security officer and gallery assistant (pictured on the front of the trailer, below) wears black clothing with a striking, patterned blue tie.… Read the rest

Categories
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

Categories
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:

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Black Mask
(Hak Hap,
黑俠)

Director – Daniel Lee – 1996 – Hong Kong – Cert. 18 – 99m

*****

An experimentally created supersoldier without feelings revolts against his creators, even as they attempt to take control of Hong Kong’s drugs trade – on Blu-ray from Monday, April 22nd in the UK and Tuesday, April 23rd in the US and Canada

Removing the ability of human beings to feel produce an elite force of warriors known as the 701 Squad has gone horribly wrong, and the members of 701 are to be shut down. Their leader, adopting the name Tsui Chik (Jet Li), escapes to live undercover working in a library where he learns all he can by reading books. His unlucky in love co-worker Tracy (Karen Mok) is convinced by other staff members to date him.

However, Tsui is more interested in hanging out with his best friend, the policeman Inspector Shek (Lau Ching Wan) who is tracking the elimination of all the major Hong Kong drugs dealers. The reason, unbeknown to him, is that the other surviving members of the 701 Squad, under the leadership of the Commander (Patrick Lung), are trying to wipe out the gangs including the last surviving gang leader King Kau (Anthony Wong) and take control of the drugs trade themselves to gain financial security.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies Shorts

Tsukamoto

Killing
(Zan, 斬、)

Haze
(ヘイズ)

The Adventures
of Denchu Kozo
(Denchu Kozou
no Boken,
電柱小僧の冒険)

Killing (Sawamura)

Director – Shinya Tsukamoto – 2018 – Japan – Cert. 18 – 79m

***

[Update: The Adventures of Denchu Kozo streams on the Arrow Channel from Friday, May 3rd 2024.]

The Adventures of Denchu Kozo (Denchu kozo no boken)

Director – Shinya Tsukamoto – 1987 – Japan – 45m

****

Haze

Director – Shinya Tsukamoto – 2005 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 48m

*****

Shinya Tsukamoto’s latest feature, the samurai movie Killing comes to UK Blu-ray in a two-disc edition, along with two fascinating shorts: the Super-8 epic The Adventures of Denchu Kozo and the later masterpiece Haze. All three feature informative audio commentaries by Tom Mes, author of Iron Man: The Cinema of Shinya Tsukamoto (2005). The director is probably best known for cyberpunk epics Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) and its sequel/reboot Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992) which concern the fusion of flesh and metal into a new evolutionary human weapon form. His new film similarly explores the samurai and his metal blade becoming as one in a deadly human fighting machine. Read the rest…

Review published in All The Anime.

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Max Beyond

Director – Hasraf Dullul – 2024 – UK – Cert. 15 – 88m

****

Leon fails to rescue his adoptive brother Max from a corporate, experimental facility, so Max starts to move around the multiverse to find the world in which he succeeds – animated SF thriller is out on digital from Monday, April 22nd in the UK and Tuesday, April 23rd in the US

Facing very specific health challenges, eight-year-old Max (mo-cap/voice: Cade Tropeano) has been signed over to the Axion corporation and is living inside their high-tech, tower block complex where he is undergoing complicated, experimental, medical treatment under the supervision of Dr. Ava Johnson (mo-cap/voice: Jane Perry). Max’s elder brother Leon (mo-cap/voice: Dave Fennoy), a dishonourably discharged war veteran, is none too happy about this and, as protesters hold placards denouncing Axion outside the building, takes it upon himself to enter the premises, find his brother and rescue him from his oppressors, as he believes them to be.

Despite warnings from Dr. Ava over the intercom that there is no way out for Leon, he at first appears to be in control of the situation, a one-man army flooring all comers, but as his corporate security adversaries, culminating a sword-wielding man or robot (it’s never clear which) called The Sync, become increasingly impossible to defeat, it becomes clear that Ava’s predicted warning is accurate.… Read the rest