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Twilight Cinema Blues
(Ginpei-cho Cinema Blues,
銀平町シネマブルース)

Director – Hideo Jojo – 2022 – Japan – 99m

*****

Two homeless men find a new spiritual home at a run-down, local cinema which, like them, is struggling to survive – plays UK cinemas in the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2024 between Friday, 2nd February and Sunday, 31st March

Down on his luck in his home town of Ginpei-cho, Takeshi Kondo (Keisuke Koide fromShin Godzilla, Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi, 2016) is napping by the riverside in daylight. Along comes another tramp Sato (Shohei Uno from A Far Shore, Masaaki Kudo, 2022; 37 Seconds, Hikari, 2019) to sell him a flier for money and, when Kondo is distracted by the arrival of his old friend Kumika, to steal his bag. After Kondo tracks Sato down and retrieves his bag – “sorry, it’s a habit”, says Sato – the two tramps respond to an ad claiming it can help them play the system and receive welfare payments. Sadly, the people behind the scheme will turn out to be, as a fellow tramp vocally suspects, crooks with a whole other moneymaking agenda.

Kondo attends welfare-claiming training sessions with Sato, but his heart isn’t in it.… Read the rest

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All of Us Strangers

Director – Andrew Haigh – 2023 – UK – Cert. 15 – 105m

*****

A gay Londoner travels by train to visit his parents in Sanderstead, following their deaths in a car crash when he was 12 years old – out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 26th

He (Andrew Scott) lives alone in a London tower block. Not only is he the single occupant of his flat, there’s almost no-one else in the building. When he goes outside for a breath of fresh air, he sees a guy in the window of one of the other apartments. Later, there’s a knock at his door. It’s the guy (Paul Mescal), who is slightly drunk, comes on strong and tries to get himself invited in. The visitor’s name is Harry. The occupant introduces himself as Adam, but doesn’t let Harry in.

By day, Adam writes screenplays. But he’s got stuck, so after perusing some personal effects, he takes the train to Sanderstead. There, he watches a boy in a window. He follows a man across an area of parkland. Coming out of a shop, the man spots him and asks him to come over. You think it might be a pickup – but no, it’s his dad (Jamie Bell).… Read the rest

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Mind-Set

Director – Mikey Murray – 2022 – UK – Cert. 18 – 90m

***1/2

A woman seeks her way out of a relationship crisis via an affair with a new work colleague – drama masked as deadpan comedy is out in UK cinemas and on demand on Friday, October 6th

NSFW

Lucy (Eilis Cahill) and Paul (Steve Oram) have grown tired of one another. She works days at an uninspiring office job, bringing in the bread and butter money. He works from home as a screenwriter, with one filmed script to his credit. The film received poor reviews because, as she charitably says, the director did a poor job. Paul is now working on another screenplay, about “a space cadet coming to terms with his sexuality”, and there is a possibility that Nick (Jason Isaacs) might just make it happen.

Hosting a party, the couple give a tour of the premises. Paul opines about the virtues of the bidet in the bathroom – it can wash your cock or your vag if, say, you were at a party – while Luce notices the new bloke from work Daniel (Peter Bankolé) has turned up, presumably invited by one of her work colleagues.… Read the rest

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Contempt
(Le Mépris)

Director – Jean-Luc Godard – 1963 – France – Cert. 15 – 103m

*****

Review originally published in What’s On In London when the film was reissued in 1996 – out in cinemas in a 4K remaster from Friday, 2nd June and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD & digital from Monday, 26th June 2023

Made back in 1963 in the latter days of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt (Le Mépris) anticipates J.G. Ballard’s seminal, 1973 novel Crash, subsequently and controversially filmed by David Cronenberg in 1996. Alongside a director in a film studio (Godard casts the great Fritz Lang, who famously made the silent classic Metropolis at UFA in 1926 before a subsequent career in Hollywood on westerns and crime thrillers), Contempt boasts a central protagonist obsessed by his wife’s sexual peccadilloes, not to mention bleak, domestic, modernist architecture and mythical car crash aftermaths.

The camera lingers lovingly over the latter to George Delerue’s unforgettable and heavily romantic score, but pays little attention to the actual moment of impact (even less than in Cronenberg’s Crash).

It’s one of Godard’s best films and possibly his most accessible. Director Lang struggles to film The Odyssey at CineCitta with unsympathetic producer Jeremiah Prokosh (a towering Jack Palance) who waxes lyrical about life and art while seducing Camille (a stunningly contemptuous Brigitte Bardot), wife of hired screenwriter Michel Piccoli.… Read the rest

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Bergman Island

Director – Mia Hansen-Løve – 2021 – France, Belgium, Germany – Cert. 15 – 112m

First half *****

Second half **

A working, filmmaking couple spend time on the island where celebrated director Ingmar Berman lived, now a niche tourist attraction based around his life and movies – out exclusively on MUBI from Friday, July 22nd

Two writer-directors who are also a couple Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth) fly in to spend time and write at the Bergman Estate on Fårö Island in the Baltic Sea, just off the coast of Sweden. This is the site that legendary Swedish film and theatre director Ingmar Bergman left as a legacy to the world, where people could apply for residencies to help in their creative or academic work, watch his films on 35mm and browse his personal audio, video and book library. Chris and Tony thus find themselves alone in Bergman’s private viewing theatre watching Cries And Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972).

Both are involved with screenplays: when he’s over at the Bergman Centre, she sneaks a look in his large notebook entitled ‘F’ which contains extensive notes and erotic drawings veering towards the sadomasochistic. On a later occasion, she stands him up by not joining the Bergman Safari coach tour around the island, complete with a tour guide describing the site where Through A Glass Darkly (Ingmar Bergman, 1961) plays on a screen.… Read the rest

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Blithe Spirit

Director – Edward Hall – 2020 – UK – Cert. PG – 95m

***

Adaptation of Noël Coward’s supernatural comedy in which a remarried man is tormented by the ghost of his late, first wife – on VoD from Friday, January 15th

Noël Coward’s original play has always been something of an audience pleaser with its slightly loopy medium Madame Arcati who materialises the late wife or a remarried man who then finds he’s stuck with the unwelcome ghost and his second wife at the same time. The likeable if lightweight property has been filmed numerous times over the years and you might wonder, does the world really need another version?

Anyway, here it is. Edward Hall has had the good sense to cast Judi Dench as Arcati and she clearly has a lot of fun playing the role, just as the audience will enjoy her playing it. The screenplay takes liberties with Coward’s text, but they’re quite smart liberties. It turns main protagonist Charles Condomine (the appropriately sprightly Dan Stevens) into a screenwriter struggling to write a film for his producer. His late and recently rematerialised first wife Elvira (Leslie Mann) all but wrote the series of novels which made his name as a writer and which still living second wife Ruth (Isla Fisher) believes he himself wrote.… Read the rest