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Eileen

Director – William Oldroyd – 2023 – US – Cert. 15 – 97 m

***** Most of the film

* The last five minutes

NSFW

In the 1960s, the life of a young woman working in a Boston boys’ correctional facility is turned on its head by the arrival of a radical, young woman prison psychologist from New York – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 1st.

I don’t usually start with the ending of the film – and I’m not about to deliver a spoiler – but the ending of Oldroyd’s otherwise enthralling drama (if that’s the right term – I’m not sure it is) takes everything that has gone before which appeared to be building up to something and unceremoniously dumps it, as if there were another twenty minutes that had been written but not shot and an unsatisfactory ending had been tacked on.

There’s always that feeling with a truly extraordinary movie when you watch it for the first time that you don’t want the filmmakers to screw up and let go of whatever it is that’s working. Well, this one is extraordinary right up to the last five minutes, when it completely loses it. Prior to that, it starts out as one thing, turns into something else then swerves and moves about all over the place, taking the viewer with it on a strange, unpredictable journey.… Read the rest

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The Middle Man

Director – Bent Hamer – 2021 – Norway, Denmark, Canada, UK, Germany, Switzerland – Cert. 15 – 95m

****

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but… A man in a heartland American town becomes a middle man, whose job it is to convey bad news to local people – out in UK cinemas on Friday, March 10th

Curiously for an English language film set in a small American town, this one was funded by a variety of European countries and Canada. While its visuals clearly owe much to the films of David Lynch, particularly Blue Velvet (1986) and Lost Highway (1997) with their heavy night time interiors filled with dark, impenetrable black spaces, it eschews the over the top moments of sex and violence with which Lynch peppers these films with something much less jocular and more deadpan. Like Lynch it feels distinctly odd, yet in a completely different way. Unlike those films, it’s adapted from (part of) a novel.

Opening images. Factories in a town belch smoke. A small, industrial town on a river. This is Karmack, USA.

Frank Farrelli (Pål Sverre Hagen) is the second interviewee by the three person panel (the local sheriff, pastor and doctor played respectively by Paul Gross, Nicholas Bro and Canadian regular Don McKellar) for the town’s job of middle man, the person who has to deliver bad news, e.g.… Read the rest

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House Of Hummingbird
(Beol-Sae,
벌새)

Director – Kim Bora – 2018 – South Korea – 138m

***1/2

A teenage girl in Seoul, Korea, 1994, comes to terms with life on a number of levels – personal, family, social, political – plays in Korean Film Nights (KFN) Summer Nights at the Korean Cultural Centre (KCCUK) on Saturday, June 11th

Seoul, South Korea, 1994. Less than ten years since South Korea has become a democracy. The year of the Winter Olympics, the death of North Korean leader Kim Il-sung and the Seongsu Bridge collapse. The latter incident will leave its mark on some characters here.

Teenager Eun-hee’s mum and dad (Jung In-gi and Lee Seung-yeon) run a small food store, sourcing “only the finest ingredients”. On occasion, they deliver to other suppliers and the whole family is roped in to make sure the orders are prepped and sent out on time. They are fiercely proud parents who want only the best for their kids. The best, as they understand it, is doing well in the school and university system, presumably with the idea of getting a well-paid job afterwards.

This message is reinforced by her school. A male teacher has the girls chant, “I will go to / Seoul National University / instead of karaoke”.… Read the rest