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Animation Features Live Action Movies

Godzilla Minus One
(Gojira -1.0,
ゴジラ -1.0)

Director – Takashi Yamazaki – 2023 – Japan – Cert. 12a – 124m

*****

Japan, defeated and demoralised after World War Two, must somehow defeat the seemingly unstoppable menace of Godzilla when it rises from the depths of the ocean – out in UK cinemas on Friday, December 15th

World War Two, Pacific theatre. Unwilling Kamikaze pilot Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) feigns engine trouble and lands on an island for aircraft maintenance, where he is grounded. While there, he notices deep sea fish curiously floating on the surface of the surrounding ocean: they presage the arrival of a huge monster, named Godzilla by the locals. With Koichi failing to fire his 20mm aircraft guns at the creature to kill it, almost everyone else on the small island is killed. (Whether his guns would have had any effect in halting the creature’s advance is debatable. They probably wouldn’t have had any effect whatsoever.) The only other survivor, who had previously congratulated Koichi for a near impossible landing on a tiny runway, blames him for the multiple deaths because he didn’t pull the trigger.

In 1945, in the ruins of post-war Tokyo, Shikishima is accused by a survivor – a woman whose children have died – of being a disgrace.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Land
Where Winds
Stood Still
(Zhel Toqtaghan Zher)

Director – Ardak Amirkulov – 2023 – Kazakhstan – Cert. none – 108m

*****

A Kazakh mother made homeless by Soviet policy must protect her two sons in the harsh environment of the Steppes – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

An historical, period, survival movie. In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Soviet forced collectivisation polices, intended to have a levelling effect, instead forced Kazakh peasants off the land and led to the famine of the early 1930s. People were reduced to eating livestock essential for agricultural production, not to mention each other.

In a barren Steppes landscape loosely reminiscent of the Spaghetti Western, mother Jupar and her two pre-teenage sons Jolan and Boshay must survive mounted gunmen, starvation, extreme weather, wolves, and hungry fellow human beings. Jupar carries a concealed knife within her clothing and will stop at nothing to protect her kids in one of the most powerful expressions of motherhood ever to grace the screen.

Their seeming nomadic existence is however not without purpose; she has to get them to the eponymous Land, the village where she was born, and safety. Yet the dangers they face on the way are legion.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Roxy (Roxy)

Director – Dito Tsintsadze – 2022 – Germany, Georgia, Belgium – Cert. none – 100m

*****

When a taxi driver’s latest clients retain his services, both end up getting much more than they bargained for– premieres in the 26th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

The eponymous Roxy is a fight dog who has so far killed 12, no, 14 dogs. We first become aware of him when, for no good reason, he bites a pedestrian’s hand, causing his walker to hand a wad of banknotes to seemingly unflappable, hired taxi driver Thomas Brenner (Devid Streisow) to straighten the situation out. Then his new fare has put Roxy on the back seat, his panting head inches away from Thomas’ face. “You have to buy a muzzle for this dog,” Thomas calmly explains to his fare. “It’s the law in Germany.”

Thomas, whose working life consists of picking up an arrival from the railway station, taking them where they want to go, and then returning to the station to pick up the next arrival, loves routine and order. In his intermittent voice-over running through the film, we learn that his grandfather was in the Wehrmacht and his father the Stasi, the latter eventually committing suicide in 1990.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Full Time
(À Plein Temps)

Director – Eric Gravel – 2021 – France – Cert. 12a – 87m

*****

A single mum with two young kids struggles to hold her working life together in a Paris where the transport network in and out of the city is paralysed by strikes – out in UK cinemas on Friday, May 26th

The brief moment of calm at the start gives little indication of the relentless nature of what is to follow. Julie Roy (Laure Calamy) sleeps deeply, a figure at rest, as we watch parts of her face in close-ups. Suddenly, this tranquillity is shattered by the aural violation of the quiet by an alarm clock. As she gets the kids up, the radio blares out something about an increase in working hours and something else about the welfare state. The impression is of the microcosm of her life and the macrocosm of the wider world (France) in a state of crisis. She bundles her kids off to the child-minder’s and boards a pre-dawn train to Paris. The train is terminated because of an unwell passenger, so she has to switch to a bus to get to St. Lazare, and as she is trying to get to The Churchill, the luxury hotel where she works as a head chambermaid, she must fend off a mobile phone call about her mortgage repayments.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Live Action Movies

Avatar:
The Way Of Water

Director – James Cameron – 2022 – US – Cert. 12a – 192m

Immersive Cinema *****

Screenplay *

Now raising their own family on the planet Pandora, a couple flee the attacking Sky People to live among a tribe of sea people – first Avatar sequel is out on digital on Tuesday, March 11th

Having gone native on the planet Pandora following the events in Avatar (James Cameron, 2009), in which paraplegic human soldier Jake Sully (performance capture including voice or Pcap: Sam Worthington) was transformed into an avatar of a non-disabled, native Pandoran, in the first third of the film, Jake is raising a family with Na’vi partner Neytiri (Pcap: Zoe Saldaña): two boys, two girls. They play in the jungle forest with their friend Spider (Jack Champion), a human child who was too young to be evacuated when the other Sky People left. Spider has been raised by human scientists who remained behind, and he must constantly wear a breathing mask to survive in Pandora’s atmosphere; he is to all intents and purposes feral.

When the Sky People return to Pandora with a new remit – to prep the planet for human habitation since the Earth is becoming uninhabitable – Jake’s old commander Quaritch (Pcap: Stephen Lang), who died in the first film but is now reconstituted as an an avatar embedded with the character’s DNA and memories, is determined to hunt down and kill the Sully who, as he sees it, betrayed him.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Cave Rescue

Director – Tom Waller – 2022 – Thailand – US Cert. PG-13 – 99m

****

A Thai-based dramatisation of the 2018 Thailand boys’ football team cave rescue, with some of the rescuers playing themselves – on Blu-ray (US only) Tuesday, September 13th

In 2018, the world held its breath when the 12 boys of a football team and their 24-year-old coach became trapped in a cave when rain fell unexpectedly and water levels within the cave system started to rise. Incredibly, the ensuing rescue attempt involving divers from the US, UK, Ireland and Canada got all 13 out alive. According to this film, sadly, there was one fatality among the Thai Navy SEAL divers involved in the rescue.

Quick off the mark, Thailand-based producer-director Waller made the story into a feature film The Cave (2019), aimed at the Thai market. With Netflix having already secured the rights to the boys’ stories – a miniseries Thai Cave Rescue (2022) is coming to Netflix US in September 2022 – Waller and his co-writers had to find an alternative route to telling the story. A meeting with Irish diver Jim Warny, who was involved in the rescue operation, resulted in the decision to base the narrative not around the thirteen people trapped underground but the men and women who attempted to get them out (mostly men, although there are one or two women featured among the paramedics not to mention an assistant to the local Governor).… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Kurt Vonnegut:
Unstuck In Time

Directors – Robert B. Weide, Dan Argott – 2021 – US – Cert. 15 – 127m

*****

A warm and compelling look at the life of writer Kurt Vonnegut, the influence upon him of the bombing of Dresden, and his decades-long friendship with director Weide – out in cinemas and on digital platforms from Friday, July 22nd, BFI Player Rental from Monday, August 22nd

Read my shorter review for Reform magazine.

The documentary Weide eventually made about Vonnegut took him the best part of four decades to complete. Weide opens with a statement about Vonnegut walking in the woods, feeling a tree and seeing the bombing of Dresden before it occurred. There seems no reason to doubt Vonnegut. He was unstuck in time, jumping around the years and decades. Weide first contacted him in 1982, never imagining that it would take him anything like as long to complete the film as it did. He starts looking at interviews of himself (“who wants to see a documentary in which a filmmaker appears as himself?”, he asks) – defined by where they were shot or what shirt Weide was wearing at the time.

Whatever else Vonnegut and his writing are, they are not conventional.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Nope

Director – Jordan Peele – 2022 – US – Cert. 15 – 130m

Overall **

The alien in the sky finale when the film finally dumps the other stuff *****

A black Muybridge model’s ranch-owning descendants and the survivor of a TV sitcom which turned into a bloodbath encounter a dangerous alien presence that attacks from the sky – out in UK cinemas on Friday, August 12th

There appear to be three separate films here.

In the first, a descendant of the black rider photographed in Eadweard Muybridge’s studies of a horse in motion, here historically repurposed as the first piece of moving film (which is debatable), is an old man OJ Haywood Sr. (Keith David) who dies in a bizarre accident on his ranch, where he runs a horse rental service for the motion picture business, leaving behind his children OJ (Dan Kaluuya from Judas And The Black Messiah, Shaka King, 2021; Black Panther, Ryan Coogler, 2018; Get Out, Jordan Peele, 2017) and Emerald (Keke Palmer from Lightyear, Angus MacLane, 2021; Hustlers, Lorene Scafaria, 2019). The bizarre accident may be related to the third plot. Or may not be.

In the second, a wholesome, family TV sitcom is shut down after its star chimpanzee goes on a rampage during the shooting of an episode, killing all members of the cast except the young boy Ricky Park (Jacob Kim) hiding under the table, who witnesses the animal being shot.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Thirteen Lives

Director – Ron Howard – 2022 – US – Cert. 12a – 147m

****

A dramatisation of the 2018 Thailand boys’ football team cave rescue, with the rescuers played by name actors– out in cinemas on Friday, July 29th and globally on Amazon on Friday, August 5th

In 2018, the world held its breath when the 12 boys of a football team and their 24-year-old coach became trapped in a cave when rain fell unexpectedly and water levels within the cave system started to rise. Incredibly, the ensuing rescue attempt involving divers from the US, UK, Ireland and Canada got all 13 out alive. According to the informational titles at the end of this film, sadly, there was one fatality among the Thai Navy SEAL divers involved in the rescue (shown in the film) and another death in that group later as the result of a contracted infection.

The story captivated the world, which held its breath as the days went by after the boys first became trapped by the water flooding the cave. For over a week, it wasn’t even known whether they were still alive. When they were located, alive and well, the question loomed large as to whether they would be able to get out alive.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Red Angel
(Akai Tenshi,
赤い天使)

Director – Yasuzo Masumura – 1966 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 95m

An army nurse is sent to China – as a slogan in one of the film’s trailers puts it, “on the battlefield where life and death is decided.”

*****

Full Blu-ray review published at All The Anime.

In 1939, for her first posting, Nurse Sakura Nishi (Ayako Wakao) is sent to Tianjin Army Hospital. A number of the male patients appear to be faking medical conditions so as to escape the front line, where Japanese casualties are heavy. When she first does her rounds, Private Sakamoto (Jotaro Senba) and a number of the other men are very forward and ask her a lot of personal questions.

Much worse is to come, however, because when she does her night rounds, she finds herself trapped in the men’s dorm and raped by Sakamoto while the others hold her down. Reporting this incident to the head nurse (Ranko Akagi), Nishi learns she’s this soldier’s third victim. The head nurse resolves to have Sakamoto sent back to the front.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, Nishi is then posted to a front-line hospital where medics go through the incoming wounded, pronouncing them dead or designating them for surgery, for which read amputation.… Read the rest