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Features Live Action Movies

Riddle of Fire

Director – Weston Razooli – 2023 – US – Cert. 12a – 115m

****

Two siblings and their friend get caught up in a quest through the great hills and woods of Wyoming on their bikes to find a speckled egg so they can bake the boys’ sick mother a blueberry pie – premieres exclusively on the Icon Film Channel from Monday, May 6th for 30 days and is out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 7th

Wyoming. Young siblings Hazel (Charlie Stover) and Jodie A’Dale (Skyler Peters) along with their slightly older friend Alice (Phoebe Ferro) break into the Otomo warehouse to steal a videogame console so they can play on the TV during the Summer holidays. Alas, they’ve reckoned without the two boys’ mother (Danielle Hoetmer) password protecting the TV. She currently has the worst cold she has ever had and isn’t going to relent on the password for the foreseeable future – it’s a beautiful day, and she wants them outside enjoying themselves, not cooped up in the house – unless the kids go to the store and get her a blueberry pie, the one thing that would make her feel better.

So the three kids set out for the local store on their pushbikes, but on arrival find the place has run out of blueberry pies and the cook is off sick (perhaps there’s a bug going around).… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Disconnect Me

Director – Alex Lykos – 2023 – Australia – Cert. 12 – 87m

***1/2

A man attempts to live for 30 days without the use of his smartphone, tablet or computer – out on digital from Monday, April 1st

This documentary opens with an advisory to keep your phone handy during the screening, as you may be required to use it at some point. In the UK, it’s only available on digital platforms… but even so, that advisory marks it out as different from most films.

Lykos, who narrates his documentary, is old enough to have grown up without a smartphone or other digital devices, but kids today handle smartphones from a younger and younger age. What would happen, wonders Alex, if I disconnected myself for an entire month? His and his wife’s home contains their two smartphones, two tablets, and a TV. Learning that Alex wakes and checks his smartphone three or four times a night, Alex’s doctor wires him for a sleep test.

Like many of us, Alex finds himself spending an hour on social media and wondering, what just happened? He and others admit to feelings of envy when others post about good things in their lives. A near-tearful divorcee talks about it being hard seeing people having a good time with partner or family.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtles II
The Secret
Of The Ooze

Director – Michael Pressman – 1991 – US – Cert. PG – 88m

***

With the criminal youth cult The Foot in disarray, its leader The Shredder (Francois Chau) emerges from a pile of garbage in a rubbish dump to lead the organisation’s remnant against their hated enemies, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Elsewhere in the city, TV reporter April (Paige Turco) is investigating the activities of the Techno Cosmic Research Institute (TCRI) through an interview with Professor Jordon Perry (David Warner), who is concerned with burying canisters containing the toxic waste product.

Off camera, and unbeknown to April, giant flowers are sprouting from a leak of the chemical (which also caused the original mutation of the Turtles and their giant rat master, Splinter, played by Kevin Clash). The Shredder captures Professor Perry and mutates some more creatures for the express purpose of pitting them against the Turtles.

Like its predecessor, this sequel is a film designed primarily to cash in on a children’s craze. Here, at least two of the actors playing the Turtles have changed, as has the actress playing their reporter friend April. The animatronics work once again reaches the high standard one would have expected from the late Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtles
(UK: Teenage Mutant
Hero Turtles)

Director – Steve Barron – 1990 – US, UK – Cert. PG – 91m 38s (cut) – 93m 25s (cuts waived for 2003 reclassification) BBFC info here

** 1/2

What can you say about four turtles who accidentally wandered into radioactive material, which caused them to grow unnaturally large and speak strange words? Like “pizza!” Or who serve a ninja master in the form of a giant, talking, four foot rat named Splinter (voice and performer: Kevin Clash)?

Whatever else they might be, the turtles are certainly different. While they might well fight for Truth, Justice and the American Way, they certainly know where their priorities lie, and never give up their other, equally important aims – to party and to seek out that essential slice of pizza.

This is the final film on which the late, great puppet master Jim Henson (The Muppets TV series, 1976-81; The Dark Crystal, 1982) worked. Here, his directorial protégé Steve Barron brings to life not only Leonardo (voice: Brian Tochi, performer: David Foreman), Michelangelo (voice: Robbie Rist, performer: Michelan Sisti), Raphael (voice and performer: Josh Pais) and Donatello (voice: Corey Feldman, performer: Leif Tilden), but also the crazy, teen crime-ridden city under which they live.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Reality

Director – Tina Satter – 2023 – US – Cert. 12a – 83m

*****

A young woman working in US security services is questioned in her home by two FBI interrogators who believe she’s leaked classified documents to The Intercept – out in UK and Irish cinemas on Friday, June 2nd

This film is based on a true story. That commonly used phrase can encompass everything from attempts at verisimilitude through to extreme misrepresentation. This film, however, is something different from most films bearing that legend.

The true story on which this film is based is an interview of a woman by two FBI agents. That organisation’s protocols dictate that such incidents, planned ahead of their execution, must be recorded in transcription form. So the film is not based on the incident so much as it is based on the official transcript of it. That includes not only the verbal words, but also pauses or gaps on the parts of those speaking them.

Writer-director Satter was hooked by the transcript and has already turned it into the critically acclaimed Broadway play Is This A Room. Theatre and cinema, while they often share certain elements, are essentially two different media; a successful play has an immediate attraction to movie producers who believe its proven theatrical track record will sell cinema tickets, yet the cinema is littered with stagebound adaptation of plays which worked far better on stage than screen.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Reality

Interrogating the text

Reality
Directed by Tina Satter
Certificate 12a, 83 minutes
Released 2 June

A film named after not, as you might imagine, a state of truth, but a young woman, the main protagonist Reality Winner (Sydney Sweeney). She works in a US security facility, translating documents from Farsi to English. The room in which she works separates its workers into cubicles with dual computer screens and workstations. TVs on the wall constantly play Fox News.

They say that truth is stranger than fiction. This is not one of those ‘based on a true story’ movies; it actually is a true story in that the dialogue (along with the pauses within it) is lifted from the FBI transcript of the real life interrogation of the real life Reality Winner.

So, the actors take the words, pauses and so forth, and… [Read the rest in Reform magazine]

Reality is out in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on Friday, June 2nd.

Read my review at Reform magazine.

Read my alternative review for this site.

Trailer:

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

Categories
Animation Documentary Features Live Action Movies

Kurt Vonnegut:
Unstuck In Time

Transformed by an atrocity

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time
Directed by Robert B. Weide, Dan Argott
Certificate 15
Released 22 July (cinemas and digital platforms)

Full review published in Reform magazine.

The late Kurt Vonnegut claims that after touching a tree trunk he saw the bombing of Dresden before it actually happened, and it’s easy to believe him. His whole life, he says, has been unstuck in time. Born in Indianapolis in 1922, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and was shipped off as a POW to Dresden, a bustling metropolis unlike anything he’d previously seen. He survived the Allied bombing of that city inside an underground meat locker and emerged to see it razed to the ground. The Germans had him and fellow prisoners search for bodies amongst the ruins.

Back in the States… [Read the rest at Reform magazine]

Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck In Time is out in cinemas and on Altitude Film digital platform in the UK from Friday, July 22nd.

Read my longer review.

Adaptation of Vonnegut’s Mother Night (writer-producer Robert B. Weide, 1996) – review.

Never Look Away (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2018) also covers the bombing of Dresden – review.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Il Buco

Director – Michelangelo Frammartino – 2021 – Italy – Cert. U – 93m

**1/2

A Calabrian cowherd nears the end of his life while a group of explorers journey down a deep hole to find out how deep into the ground it descends – out in cinemas on Friday, June 10th

Literally, ‘The Hole’. Frammartino again brings to the cinema the style that made his earlier Le Quattro Volte (2010) so special. He sets up the camera, often at a great distance from the action, then leaves it there to record whatever happens. The narrative of Il Buco is actually pretty simple, a recreation of an expedition by a group of young, amateur speleologists into a hole in the ground in Calabria. (Speleology is the branch of science involved in mapping and measuring the interiors of caves, natural underground systems, and the like.)

It’s 1961. We’re first introduced to the place in a shot looking out of the ground at the edge of the hole as, eventually, the heads of two bulls come into view over the ridge. An elderly cowherd watches over the grazing cattle from a position halfway up a forty degree incline hillside. As the bus leaves the rich, urban developments of Northern Italy for the still unspoiled Southern region of Calabria, we watch it slowly make its way along rounds, through a small rural town where the party stops for the night to bed down in sleeping bags in the local, Catholic Church alongside statues of monks and the crucified Christ lying on his back, across open country until it arrives at the vast plain where the explorers will set up camp.… Read the rest

Categories
Documentary Features Live Action Movies

The Coup D’État
Factory
(A Fantástica
Fábrica
De Golpes)

Directors – Victor Fraga, Valnei Nunes – 2021 – UK, Brazil – 105m

****

An exploration of the role played by Brazilian media conglomerate Globo in various right wing Brazilian coup d’états over the decades – UK premiere on Sunday, May 29th 2pm at BFI Southbank followed by a discussion with special guests: Baroness Christine Blower, Jean Wyllys, Marcia Tiburi alongside the filmmakers

For the Brit, there’s something quite unnerving about coming to this documentary about the Brazilian political system and the role played within it by media conglomerate Globo, which controls the country’s most popular TV channel, newspapers and more. We think we have media bias problems here in the UK, but in this country we at least have a certain amount of press regulation enshrined in law and through such ethical bodies as the Press Council and institutions such as public service broadcasting.

That doesn’t appear to be the case in Brazil where, it seems, the media can do pretty much what they like without anyone holding them to account. Which also means that those outside of the country aren’t well-informed as to what goes on inside it since much of the information (or misinformation) about events from within the country is skewed.… Read the rest