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Chilli Laugh Story (闔家辣)

Director – Coba Cheng – 2022 – Hong Kong – Cert. 12a – 94m

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A young man successfully markets his mother’s chilli sauce in the pandemic lockdown until the lucrative business it unexpectedly generates is taken off him– out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, July 15th and in the US and Canada on Friday, July 22nd

This starts off with a very sweet – no, make that spicy – memory of 2002 when Coba Cheng (Edan Lui Cheuk-On) was a small boy of five and visited his mum’s village where he tried her chilli sauce for the first time. It burned his mouth, but was always a part of his life from then on.

Jump to mid-2020. Hong Kong, like everywhere else, is in the middle of the pandemic. Coba is now working his job from home, and he and his parents are struggling to live with each other in the same enforced space. His dad Alan (Ronald Cheng) is engaged in a no-way forward argument with a delivery man in a surgical mask who won’t tell him what the unknown package is until dad has paid the delivery fee, which dad won’t do until he knows what it is, which Mr.… Read the rest

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Sweat

Director – Magnus von Horn – 2020 – Poland, Sweden – Cert. 15 – 106m

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An Instagram fitness celebrity struggles with the tension between constant self-promotion and everyday existence – on MUBI from Friday, September 17th

This opens with Sylwia Zajac (Magdalena Kolesnik) leading a demanding workout with a crowd of dozens of her fitness fans in a shopping mall. It closes during her appearance on the ‘Good Morning TVN’ TV chat show with her doing a wake up workout for the camera. Somewhere in the middle, when she visits her mum Basia (Aleksandra Konieczna) for a birthday gathering where she meets Basia’s new boyfriend Fryderyk (Zbigniew Zamachowski), she plays her latest fitness DVD on the big plasma TV she’s just given her mum – who thinks it’s too big for her living room.

Hitchcock once described movies as “life with the dull bits left out” but this Polish movie takes a completely opposite approach, with writer-director Van Horne interested in the dull bits in between the star’s high profile presence. Sylwia is as much an Instagram personality as a fitness trainer and has “around 600 000” followers on the platform.

During the opening workout, she addresses her fans as “my loves”, the mode of address she consistently uses in her posts and, it turns out, in life, and after the workout she publicly takes a selfie.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Souad

Director – Ayten Amin – 2021 – Egypt, Tunisia, Germany – Cert. 12a – 96m

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Home truths are revealed about a 19-year-old, social media-obsessed, Egyptian girl in this small independent film – out in cinemas on Friday, August 27th

Starting and ending with a (different) young woman riding a bus, this slice of life drama takes a look at the lives of teenage girls in Egypt. The older generation live according to traditional, Islamic values, including the subjugation of women to men, while their younger counterparts like many Generation Z-ers around the world have more contemporary Western concerns.

For Souad (Bassant Ahmed), 19, it’s all about fashion, boys and looking cool on and off social media. Riding on the bus, she regales fellow travellers with tales of her boyfriend whose identity changes as she talks to the next woman sitting next to her. She visits a clothes shop and successfully shoplifts an item of headgear.

Having established her as either a teller of tall tales or a pathological liar, we see her giving her younger sister Rabab (Basmala Elghaiesh), 16 going on 17, a pretty unreasonable grilling when the later complains, understandably, that Souad is late picking her up.

When Souad unexpectedly vanishes from the story, her shaken sister travels to Alexandria to meet and get to know better her sister’s former boyfriend Ahmed (Hussein Ghanem) in an attempt to find out more about sides of Souad’s life she didn’t really know.… Read the rest