Categories
Animation Dance Features Live Action Movies Music

Coppelia

Directors – Jeff Tudor, Steven de Beul, Ben Tesseur – 2021 – Netherlands, Germany, Belgium – Cert. U – 82m

****

People in an idyllic town must thwart the nefarious plans of a mad scientist in this extraordinary amalgam of dance, live action performers and animation – out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, April 1st

This isn’t the first movie to combine live action with animation nor will it be the last and while it has numerous echoes of movies intentional or otherwise, it’s very much its own vision. First and foremost a dance piece but far from mere ‘filmed dance’, it will appeal as much to admirers of the twin arts of cinema and animation as to devotees of dance. Being entirely devoid of verbal language, it’ll attract lovers of silent cinema too. (One can imagine the film shown mute with a live orchestra playing the score.)

The lack of verbal language means that the characters are never named (just like in a ballet where you’d refer to a cast list in an accompanying programme) although tags for a number of them are obvious – several shop owners include a bicycle repair man (Daniel Camargo), a florist, a hairdresser (Jan Kooijman) and a baker of bread and cakes (Irek Mukhamedov) while a dance studio hosts a ballet teacher (Igoné de Jongh) and her child student troupe.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

South

Director – Frank Hurley – 1919, Restoration 2022 – UK – Cert. U – 81m

*****

One of the earliest documentaries ever made charts British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s disastrous expedition to the South Pole – out in cinemas on Friday, January 28th

Made over one hundred years ago, and one of the first feature documentaries, this record of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914 expedition to the South Pole on his ship The Endeavour proves fascinating on a number of levels. It comes from a time when the cinema was in its infancy: film stock was monochrome, sound film was still a decade away. A time when large parts of the world remained unexplored, when the new cinema audiences could be attracted by real life tales of faraway, unknown lands. A time when Britain still considered itself one of the great world powers, largely on account of its Empire and maritime achievements.

Taking a camera on an expedition to the South Pole perfectly fits these last two ideas. And because shooting film was at this point in history unencumbered by the additional equipment required to record sound, it could be as simple as one person such as Frank Hurley joining an expedition as a photographer or cinematographer.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Japan 2021 and Yasujiro Ozu

Full article: All The Anime.

So, Scotland Loves Anime is over (save a few stragglers at the Film House) and you’re wondering where you can see more Japanese movies. Today, the BFI finally kicks off its major Japan season originally scheduled for 2020 at London’s BFI Southbank. Originally intended to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics, the programmers rejigged the programme and put parts of it out online from May to September 2020 via the excellent BFI Player platform while Sight & Sound’s wonderful anime special was out on the shelves for around three months thanks to lockdown.

Alongside the BFI’s online coup of numerous Kurosawa movies including Seven Samurai (1954), reissued as a brand new print in UK cinemas from 29th October along with prints of Throne of Blood (1957) and Yojimbo (1961), comes a similar quantity of Yasujiro Ozu movies, a rare chance to get an overview of one of Japan’s most popular domestic talents. Ozu (1903-1963) is best known for Tokyo Story (1953, pictured)… [Read more]

I review the BFI’s Japan 2021 season and the films of Yasujiro Ozu for All The Anime.

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Mifune The Last Samurai

Director Steven Okazaki – 2015 – US – Cert. 12 – 80m

Currently streaming on BFI Player as part of Japan 2020.

Toshiro Mifune (1920-1997) is director Akira Kurosawa’s iconic star of his samurai movies Rashomon, Seven Samurai and Yojimbo. He’s the subject of three time Oscar-nominated documentary film maker Steven Okazaki’s useful documentary Mifune The Last Samurai (2015). As narrator Keanu Reeves says in voice-over, without Mifune there would have been no Magnificent Seven, Eastwood would not have had A Few Dollars More and Darth Vader would not have been a samurai.

The documentary spends a good twenty minutes on background Japanese history, early Japanese film and Mifune’s life before his career in movies began.

He got into movie acting by accident, having originally applied to work at Toho Studios as a camera assistant. Kurosawa spotted him there, immediately recognised a unique quality and decided he wanted to work with him as an actor. The pair would go on to make sixteen films together.

I review Mifune The Last Samurai for All The Anime.

You can watch the film on BFI Player as part of Japan 2020.

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

The Cheaters

Director – Paulette McDonagh – 1930 – Australia – 95m
***1/2

A criminal gang leader’s lifelong vow for revenge threatens the future happiness of his daughter in this beautifully restored and presented Australian silent -– free to watch on BFI Player as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2020 from 13.00 hrs Sunday, October 11th to 13.00 hrs Wednesday, October 14th

The first thing to say about this film is that it looks in remarkably good nick by any standards. Judging by the restoration trailer, this is an amazing testimony to today’s technology. Much of the footage before had deteriorated to near unwatchable. After the process, it looks fantastic.

As for the silent side of things, the current presentation on BFI Player shows the film windowboxed as you’d expect but then also the keyboard accompanist in locked off shot, keyboards and hands only, also windowboxed in a comparatively tiny image at the bottom left. This proves extremely effective and provides an excellent model for both future online screenings of silents and presentation on home video media such as Blu-ray or DVD.

The film medium has come a long way since 1929, so this film begs the question, is it any good?… Read the rest