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Her Body
(Její Telo)

Director – Natálie Císarovská – 2023 – Czechia, Slovakia – Cert. 18 – 105m

****

Olympic diving champion Andrea Absolonová, forced by injury to abandon that career, reinvents herself as a porn actress – premieres in the Critics’ Picks Competition at the 27th Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival

Based on the real life story of Olympic diving champion Andrea Absolonová (Natália Germáni), this deploys a narrative that splits readily into three separate parts. In the first, she trains for the Olympics. Until one day, in the second, after executing a seemingly perfect dive, she wakes up in hospital fitted with a neck brace to the news that she’ll never dive again. And, finally, in the third, she reinvents herself as a porn actress.

The first section – her Olympic career – takes the viewer inside the sports training regimen, all the minutiae that are required to achieve greatness and rise to the very top of the competition in the athlete’s chosen field. As the film’s title suggests, it’s all about keeping the body in perfect condition to achieve the dream.

Andrea shares a flat with her younger sister Lucie (Denisa Barešová) who is under no such pressure, and on one occasion Andrea comes home to find her sister having a party, with lots of drinks Andrea mustn’t touch if she is to maintain her Olympic diet regime.… Read the rest

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Piggy
(Cerdita)

Director – Carlota Pereda – 2022 – Spain – Cert. 18 – 99m

*****

Director – Carlota Pereda – 2018 – Spain – 13m

*****

Fat-shaming, bullying, overbearing mothers, growing up as the local butcher’s daughter, and more – feature based on short is out in UK cinemas on Friday, January 6th

Sara (Laura Galán) is attempting to navigate the difficult waters of adolescence. It isn’t much fun if you’re different and cliques of your contemporaries gang up on you. In Sara’s case, she isn’t just fat, she’s also introverted and shuns people, which compounds the amount she gets teased. She often works in her father’s butchers shop, so bullies can easily put together insults based on fat and flesh and pork and meat. A clique of three, thinner girls – Roci (Camille Aguilar) and Maca (Claudia Salas) and their unwilling hanger-on Claudia aka Clau (Irene Ferreiro) – call her Piggy.

It’s Summer, and everyone is going down to the Madrigal (Waterfall) festivities at the pool on the river, where a mysterious out-of-towner is lounging about, but Sara sneaks down there later for a swim when she hopes nobody is around. She’s just getting into the water when the stranger (Richard Holmes) surfaces innocently, startling her.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

The Student
(Uchenik,
Учени́к)

Director – Kirill Serebrennikov – 2016 – Russia – Cert. 15 – 118m

****

An obsession with the Bible drives a Russian secondary school student towards dark designs in a film with both religious and political ramifications – out in cinemas on Friday, March 3rd 2017

Late teenager Venya (Pyotr Skvortsov) needs something to believe in. Both the State and its lackey the Orthodox Church have failed him. He spends much of his time either thumbing through his dog-eared pocket Bible or reading aloud from it to those around him. His lone parent mum (Yuliya Aug) initially thinks it’s a joke but comes to realise that her son’s rebellion is grounded in something she doesn’t really know or understand.

Most of his classmates are more interested in sex and larking about. Venya skips swimming lessons where he objects to the girls’ immodest bikinis. Later in an empty classroom he pushes away Lidia (Aleksandra Revenko) when she removes her top and throws herself at him. He spends time with bullied and disabled fellow student Grigoriy (Aleksandr Gorchilin) whose leg he promises to heal.

For the most part his school’s principal, teachers and even its Orthodox priest (who he dismisses as compromised and Mercedes-driving) can’t handle Venya.… Read the rest

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Still The Water
(Futatsume
No Mado,
2つ目の窓)

Director – Naomi Kawase – 2014 – Japan / France – Cert. 15 – 119m

*****

Two childhood sweethearts living on an island beset by storms must come to terms with the mortality and fallibility of their mothers – on BFI Player (rental) and MUBI.

The ocean roars and then, just as suddenly, is quiet. The wind howls through the trees, then sunlight is glimpsed through tranquil branches. Welcome to the sleepy yet storm-battered island of Amami Oshima, part of the Southern Japanese Archipelago, a place of paradox and contradiction seen through the eyes of two teenaged friends and their families.

Kyoko (Jun Yoshinaga aka Junko AbeSamurai Marathon, Bernard Rose, 2019) loves swimming in the sea. Her friend Kaito (Nijiro MurakamiIsle Of Dogs, Wes Anderson, 2018, Destruction Babies, Tetsuya Mariko, 2016) is less keen – he’d rather be in the safety of a swimming pool. She uses him and his bicycle to get around the island if and when he’s nearby. She is rather keen on him and would happily have sex. He can’t explain why, but is less enthusiastic about the idea.

Once we move on to their parents, there are fascinating observations regarding motherhood – especially in the light of adoption / unwanted pregnancy outing True Mothers (Naomi Kawase, 2020) – and, to a lesser extent, fatherhood.… Read the rest

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Animation Features Live Action Movies

The Pool
(นรก 6 เมตร)

Director – Ping Lumpraploeng – 2018 – Thailand – 91m

****

Now on Shudder, 30 days FREE with promo code SHUTIN

Day (Theeradej Wongpuapan) wakes up. There’s a lot of blood. He’s at the bottom of a drained, six metres deep swimming pool with a crocodile advancing towards him. But how did he – and for that matter the crocodile – get there?

Flash back to six days earlier. Day and his girlfriend Koi (Ratnamon Ratchiratham) are working on a movie set. He looks after the swimming pool and as a bonus his dog Lucky has to heroically jump from the poolside over the water in the schedule’s very last shot. The dog leaps, the crew gets the shot, it’s a wrap, everyone’s happy. In fact, Day is so happy that when almost everyone else has gone, he dozes off on a lilo in the pool while its draining. When he wakes, the water level has gone down so far that he can’t get out. Somewhere on the ground nearby, a flier announces an escaped crocodile on the loose.

I review The Pool for DMovies.org in my LEAFF (London East Asia Film Festival) 2019 coverage. Now on Shudder.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Jurassic Park ///

Director – Joe Johnston – 2001 – US – PG – 92m

****1/2

Joe Johnston directs Jurassic Park ///, the third instalment of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park franchise – out in UK cinemas from Friday, July 20th 2001

This redresses two minor omissions in Steven Spielberg’s first Jurassic Park (1993): JP///’s dinosaurs include some that interact with water (Michael Crichton’s original book contained a T.Rex swimming after its human prey, but the film didn’t) and some that fly (pteranodons). A rival giant dinosaur (here, a spinosaurus) at last fights the star predator (the T.Rex), a device used by dinosaur movies from The Lost World (Harry O. Hoyt; effects: Willis O’Brien, 1925) and King Kong (Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Shoedsack, effects: Willis O’Brien, 1933) through Disney’s Fantasia (Rite Of Spring segment, Bill Roberts, Paul Satterfield, 1940) to One Million Years BC (Don Chaffey; effects: Ray Harryhausen, 1966).

Gone is all the chaos theory talk and cuddly Sir Richard Attenborough. The proceedings have now been pared down to people trapped on a deserted isle – with no obvious means of escape – and dinosaurs. Guess what – this time those dastardly corporate folks at InGen have populated a third island (Isla Sorna) with dinosaurs then abandoned it.… Read the rest