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Features Live Action Movies

American Fiction

Director – Cord Jefferson – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 117m

*****

A black, American college Literature professor, unexpectedly finds celebrity via an anonymous alter-ego when he writes a cliché-ridden book about ‘the black experience’ – out in UK cinemas on Friday, February 2nd

College professor Thelonius ‘Monk’ Ellison (Jeffrey Wright) is a black academic at a white university. He teaches literature. While he’s teaching a class on the literature of the American South, a young, white, female student objects to the “N-word”, walks out of the class, and – in due course – gets him put on an unpaid Sabbatical. He’s a published novelist who hasn’t had anything published for years, including a manuscript currently doing the rounds through his agent Arthur, whereas other, white, faculty members publish work he considers beneath him yet which also sell in volume in airports.

His Sabbatical ties in with the fact of his going to a Literature Festival in his home city of Boston, where he finds his seminar poorly attended because it’s up against one by rising publishing sensation Sintara Golden (Issa Rae), author of We’s Lives in Da Ghetto, which, when he investigates her session, turns out to be what he considers pandering to black stereotypes of living in poverty, crime and misery.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Old Man
And The Land

Director – Nicholas Parish – 2023 – UK – Cert. none – 100m

*****

As he works on the land, an aging farmer hears his two adult children argue about the future of the family farm – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Movies. You think everything’s been done, then along comes something you’ve never seen before. Or, in this case, seen or heard before.

The Old Man in question is an English farmer (Roger Marten) whose family have worked the land for generations. He’s getting on in years, so won’t be around forever. His wife died a while ago, so he’s now running the farm on his own. He has two children who have long since grown up and left home: a son (voice: Rory Kinnear) and a daughter (voice: Emily Beecham), and the big question is, when he dies, will they take over – or will they get rid of the farm?

In recent years, the UK has produced a number of rural movies that stand in stark contrast to the urban- (Often London-) based films produced. Quite a few of these have been about farms or farmers (e.g.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Open The Door
(Opeun Deo Do-eo,
오픈 더 도어)

Director – Chang Hang-jun – 2022 – US, South Korea – Cert. 15 – 72m

*****

Serial bad decisions in five reverse chronology episodes of a New Jersey, Korean migrant family’s life suggest terrible consequences – from LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival 2023 which runs in cinemas from Thursday, November 2nd to Thursday, November 16th

Chi-hoon (Seo Young-joo from The Age Of Shadows, Kim Ji-Woon, 2016; Moebius, Kim Ki-duk, 2013) drives over to the house of his sister and brother-in-law Moon-suk (Lee Soon-won). Moon-suk is alone, and invites him in, digging out a bottle of whiskey and the best food that can be eaten with it, kimchi. In the ensuing conversation, as the pair get more and more inebriated, various unpleasant family truths emerge. Their mother has severe health issues, the couple are in financial trouble, and Moon-suk casts doubt on his wife’s character, suggesting that she’s not the good person her brother believes her to be and accusing her of wanting to murder their mum.

However, Chi-hoon has a different agenda: he wants to know why Moon-suk has been regularly hitting his sister. At one point, Moon-suk goes into the bedroom, retrieves a revolver and hides it on his person.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

A Normal Family
(Bo-tong-ui Ga-jog,
보통의 가족)

Director – Hur Jin-ho – 2023 – South Korea – Cert. – 116m

***

Lacking any moral sense of right and wrong, the teenage children of two brothers, a lawyer and a doctor, kick a homeless man to death – from LKFF, the London Korean Film Festival 2023 which runs in cinemas from Thursday, November 2nd to Thursday, November 16th

After a road rage incident in which an out of order, rich twentysomething wilfully runs down an irate baseball player who objects to his driving, and puts the baseball player’s young daughter in a coma, the twentysomething hires defence lawyer Jae-wan (Sol Kyung-gu from The Boys; Chung Ji-young, 2022; 1987: When That Day Comes, Jang Joon-Hwan, 2017; Memoir Of A Murderer, Won Shin-yeon, 2017; Peppermint Candy, Lee Chang-dong, 2000) who is motivated not by justice but by doing everything he can to get his client off scot-free. Jae-wan has a new, young wife Ji-su (Claudia Kim from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, David Yates, 2018; The Dark Tower, Nikolaj Arsel, 2017; Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Joss Whedon, 2015) with a small baby and a teenage daughter Hye-yoon (Hong Yi-ji) by his late first wife.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Killers
Of The Flower Moon

Director – Martin Scorsese – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 206m

*****

A returning WW1 veteran marries into Oklahoma’s Osage Indian tribe at the time of the Osage Indian Murders – plays the 2023 London Film Festival which runs from Wednesday, October 4th until Sunday, October 15th, and will be out in UK cinemas on Friday, October 20th

At slightly over 80 years of age, Martin Scorsese has now been making movies for over 60 years. Like his last, fictional, narrative feature The Irishman (2019), this one is pushing three and a half hours. I always have issues with films that long: the vast majority are that way due to director’s ego and / or inability to tell a story concisely. Some of them might have been better suited to a TV mini-series ( a medium in which, incidentally, Scorsese also works). Yet if you try and imagine Killers Of The Flower Moon cut down in length, it’s difficult. Maybe you could take out the frame story – the performance of a crime drama on the radio on the subject of the Osage Indian Murders – but that sets the scene nicely at the start and takes you back out of the movie equally nicely at the end, so it would be a shame to do so.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

The First
Slam Dunk

Director – Takehiko Inoue – 2022 – Japan – Cert. 12a tbc – 124m

*****

A high school basketball team sets out to defeat the seemingly unstoppable league champions – plays Annecy International Animation Festival from Wednesday, June 14th: Edinburgh Film Festival from Wednesday, August 22nd-23rd; out in UK and Ireland cinemas on Wednesday, August 30th

The coastal town of Shohoku. 11-year-old Ryota Miyagi (voice: Miyuri Shimabukuro) lives in the shadow of his 14-year-old, elder brother and school basketball star Sota (voice: Gakuto Kajiwara). One evening, Sota takes his younger sibling out for a practice at the local court, playing as hard as he can to push Ryota, which makes the youngster want to push himself harder still. Sota then alienates Ryota by going on a fishing trip with his peer group rather than respond to Ryota’s demand to extend their practice session. When his elder brother is tragically killed at sea, Ryota must both step into both the role of man of the house and prove himself in the school basketball team.

By the time Ryota is 17 (voice: Shugo Nakamura), he is one of the players on the Shohoku school basketball team which itself faces challenges: specifically, if it is to win the national championships, it must defeat the the seemingly unstoppable reigning champions the Sannoh school basketball club and their star player Masashi Kawata (voice: Mitsuaki Kanuka), Ryota’s opposite number (both wear their team’s no.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Puffin Rock
And The
New Friends

Director – Jeremy Purcell – 2022 – US, UK, Ireland, China – Cert. U – 92m

***1/2

The puffin and animal community of Puffin Rock is thrown into crisis by the arrival of a few refugees, the disappearance of a puffin egg and a terrible storm – spinoff feature from preschool children’s animated TV series out in UK cinemas on Friday, August 11th

Irish animation house Cartoon Saloon’s Puffin Rock TV series (2015-2016) has deservedly won awards in the world of preschool children’s television. Narrated by Chris O’Dowd, who acts as a running commentary and offers guidance to the two main characters, it centres around two preschool puffins Oona and her younger brother Baba who live on the isolated, human-free island of Puffin Rock with their kind, protective and loving parents. Through O’Dowd’s voiceover and the introduction of other animal characters, episodes deliver simple facts about natural history in a friendly and informative manner. While this educational is never allowed to get in the way of the storytelling, it’s a welcome extra. The programmes are around six minutes in length. (The series can be found on Netflix in the UK, where three six minute episodes are gathered into twenty minute batches comprising three episodes.)… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Name Me Lawand

Language for the deaf

Name Me Lawand
Directed by Edward Lovelace
Certificate PG, 91 minutes
Released 7 July

Lawand, a young Iraqi boy, has been written off. He is different, he apparently doesn’t want to communicate with others. No one in his home country can help him. And that’s that.

Except, his parents don’t believe it. They are sure something can be done for their son, just not in Iraq. So, although all their friends and family are there, they leave the country believing it has nothing whatsoever to offer their son. And they move to the UK and settle in Derby.

Lawand’s issue is that he is completely deaf, and therefore can’t be taught in a school set up for those with functioning hearing. As such, he has no way of learning language from those who can hear. A different approach is required to enable him to develop basic language skills.

This documentary… [Read the rest at Reform magazine]

[Read my longer review on this site]

Name Me Lawand is out in UK and Irish cinemas on Friday, July 7th.

Trailer:

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Name Me Lawand

Director – Edward Lovelace – 2022 – UK – Cert. PG – 91m

**** 1/2

A family leave Iraq for the UK where their deaf son can receive education appropriate to his needs, only to find themselves falling foul of the UK’s anti-immigration policies out in UK and Irish cinemas on Friday, July 7th, with previews in Refugee Week – Monday, June 19th to Sunday, June 25th

As a Saturn V space rocket rises into the atmosphere, we hear a voice struggling to complete a word (and read it in the accompanying subtitles, which is at once weird, because this is a documentary film and in real life, you don’t get subtitles, and helpful, because without them most viewers, that is to say those viewers with fully functioning hearing capability, would have no idea as to what is going on. First come the letters… S… P… E… Then, slowly, the single words. SPECIAL. PLACE. NEED. NEED. “I think my brother was born in the wrong place,” comments Lawand’s older brother Rawa.

The soundtrack’s conversation by the hearing-abled moves on to skim over the story of how and why Lawand’s family came to the city of Derby in England, something it doesn’t cover at any great depth, instead showing us images from somewhere inside a car of travelling across Europe, then images familiar to any English person of moving past telegraph wires atop green fields seen from a train window.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Transformers:
Rise
Of The
Beasts

Director – Steven Caple Jr. – 2022 – US – Cert. 12a – 127m

*

A giant, planet-eating entity comes to earth in search of a mysterious key which the Transformers must prevent him from obtaining – out in UK cinemas on Thursday, June 8th

The posters for this latest Transformers instalment promised something a little different: a group of animal robots made up, like the original Transformers, of disparate parts. What was their purpose? Would they transform into vehicles? Well, the answer is, no, they just run around like big robotic animals and never transform into cars or anything else. Why bother?, you might ask. According to the press handouts, they convert from less conspicuous animals, but if that occurred in the film, I must have missed it.

These robotic animals, who include the gorilla Optimal Prime (voice: Ron Perlman), whose name echoes that of series regular Transformer Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen, who has voiced this character through all the movies and the original TV series), the eagle Airazor (voice: Michelle Yeoh) and the cheetah Cheetor (voice: Tongayi Chirisa)…

…belong to a race whose planet is threatened by the villain of the piece, a larger than planet-sized Transformer villain named Unicron (voice: Colman Domingo) – does he transform into anything?… Read the rest