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Animation Documentary Live Action Movies Music Shorts

Blondie: Vivir En La Habana

Director – Rob Roth – 2021 – US – 18m

*****

Watch an incredible collision of cultures as new wave band Blondie tours Havana – from Sheffield DocFest 2021

Shot in several aspect ratios by multimedia artist and Blondie collaborator Roth (Doom Or Destiny music video, cert. 18, 2017; creative director on lead singer Debbie Harry’s memoir Face It, 2019), this is a vibrant, visual account of the band’s March 2019 tour of Havana. There are clips from songs recorded at several gigs here (with Harry sporting a variety of striking outfits) that make you wish you’d been there. For some songs, the band’s sound is augmented by Cuban musicians giving the likes of The Tide Is High a completely new lease of life.

Rather than going the obvious route and simply producing a film of the concerts – which I’m sure would be well-received by the band’s admirers, among whom I number myself – Roth has mashed the digitally produced concert footage up with Super 8 and 16mm footage of both Havana itself and members of the band.

He’s also had a lot of fun augmenting numerous live action shots with 2D animation drawn directly onto the moving images adding another layer to the already complex imagery.… Read the rest

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Music

vs Amp

Colin Webster: baritone saxophone, Fender Twin Reverb and Bassman Amps.

All tracks recorded live. No overdubs, effects or edits.

Raw Tonk Records RT050 / 2021

LP + DL

*****

Remarkable. With no overdubs or other studio trickery, Webster manages to make his sax sound variously like a weird electronic effect, a duck, a didgeridoo, a fog horn, the engine of a prop aircraft, a lawn mower and, in the final moments of the last track, the sound of water disappearing down a plug hole. And that’s just side one!!!

The opening of side two sounds like a double bass (but it’s Colin’s sax). At another point, I could swear I was listening to the mating call of a walrus or the much lighter in tone song of some species of bird.

I realise what I’m writing here is probably open to misinterpretation, so just to clarify, this album is really, really impressive. To my ears, at least.

Buy on Bandcamp.

Note: This review started life as a review on my Bandcamp page after I bought the album. Their allowed word count was too small. I didn’t want to cut it as what I’d written would have lost something.

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Features Live Action Movies

Minari

Director – Lee Isaac Chung – 2020 – UK – Cert. 12A – 120m

***1/2

The Korean immigrant experience in the US as a nuclear family set up a farm in Arkansas – on VoD from Friday, April 2nd, in drive-in cinemas from Monday, April 12th and cinemas from Monday, May 17th

Jacob (Steven YeunBurning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018; Okja, Bong Joon Ho, 2017), Monica (Yeri Han) and their two kids Anne (Noel Kate Cho) and David, 7 (Alan S. Kim), drive out to their new home in Arkansas. She is a little horrified that the home is a trailer on wheels supported by a basic frame, but he is thrilled that they have land with the best dirt (i.e. for growing things) America has to offer. They are surrounded by a vast area of countryside and woodlands. They speak mostly Korean, but are fluent in English and occasionally use it.

Eschewing the advice of a local water diviner, Jacob builds a well in some low ground where trees are nearby, reasoning that there must be water there. “Never pay for anything you can get for free,” he tells the attentive David, reminding him that in California, where they’ve moved from, they had nothing.… Read the rest

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Animation Movies Shorts

Feeling From Mountain And Water (Shan Shui Qing, 山水情)

Directors – Te Wei, Ma Kexuan, Yan San Chun – 1988 – China – Cert. N/C U – 20m

*****

Against a backdrop of mountains, rivers and the sea, a boy learns to play zither from an old master – available to rent online in the UK & Ireland as part of the Shanghai Animation Film Studio Retro in the Chinese Cinema Season 2021 from Friday, February 12th to Wednesday, May 12th

A bearded man carries a package through a mountainous, water-strewn landscape. A boy gives him a ride on his boat. When the man collapses after leaving the boat, the boy takes him to his house. The package turns out to be a zither. The man plays. The boy learns and is soon playing skilfully.

The plot here, such as it is, is really just an excuse to move the camera around incredible ink and watercolour landscapes and, in places, move objects such as the two main characters, the boy’s boat, fish in the river or water trickling down a mountainside in a style which fits with that. That’s an admirable aim and the film succeeds in spades. 

There are static marks on the screen which you know to be merely brush strokes, yet they convey, for example, an outcrop of rock visible in the snow or a small islet surrounded by water.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Martyr

Director – Mazen Khaled – 2017 – UK – Cert. 18 – 84m

***

Hounded by his parents to find work, a young man hangs out with friends and dives off the Beirut balustrade into the sea… and his death – on VoD from Friday, March 12th

A young man Hassane lives in Beirut with his parents. He can barely drag himself out of bed in the morning. They want him to go out and look for work and because he’s not yet found any, his father has a friend he’ll talk to too see if a suitable job can be found. To get his parents off his back, he promises he’ll look for work today.

He finds living at home with his parents to be a stifling experience. Masturbation in the shower might provide some respite were it not for his father beating on the door to shout the he’s taking too much time and using up the family’s water allowance.

Once he goes out on his moped, rather than look for work he joins his best mate Hmeid and other friends down at the promenade overlooking the Mediterranean, a popular diving spot. They hang out, chat for a while, then he mounts the balustrade to dive into the sea and… doesn’t come up.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Fukushima 50 (フクシマ50)

Director – Setsuro Wakamatsu – 2020 – Japan – Cert. 12 – 122m

****

Historically-based, disaster movie cum drama in which workers struggle to limit the considerable damage to a nuclear power plant hit by an earthquake then a tsunami – on VoD from Monday, March 8th

March 11th, 2011. A powerful earthquake followed by a tsunami hit Japan. Situated near the epicentre of the earthquake on the coast where the tsunami hits is a nuclear power plant. The resultant nuclear disaster threatens to decimate Japan. Coming in at slightly over 9.0, it remains the most powerful earthquake the country has ever experienced.

The above is history. The title Fukushima 50 is the name given to from the crew of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant who at considerable cost to their own health stayed at the plant to limit the damage as much as they could and prevent an undoubtedly appalling situation becoming far worse.

To anyone not well-versed in the specific technical minutiae of how a nuclear power plant works (i.e. most of us) much of what happens in the film is bewildering. Not that it really matters, frankly, because if someone looks at a gauge, reads off a number in units of which you’ve never heard and exclaims that they’ve got to get the number down, you have a pretty good idea what’s going on.… Read the rest

Categories
Animation Features Movies

Nahuel And The Magic Book (Nahuel Y El Libro Mágico)

Director – Germán Acuña – 2019 – Chile, Brazil – 99m

****1/2

Opening Spotlight in the New York Intl Children’s FF 2021 on Saturday, March 6th at 7pm ET followed by a Q&A with the director. Previously in the Annecy 2020 Online Animation Festival

Nahuel is afraid of the water. This is a problem since he lives in a coastal town and his single parent father – his mum died before he knew her – is a fisherman who’d like him to help him on the boat. Whatever his dad asks him to do, he can’t seem to get right. For example, he never gets to the boat in time. If sent to the market to buy eggs, they get broken on the way home. To make matters worse, a couple of local bullies pick on him too.

One day he’s exploring an abandoned house an discovers an old book of spells. The old, blind man who lives there and who possesses strange powers – including a walking stick that sports an eye – appears to be some sort of guardian for the tome. That doesn’t stop Nahuel sneaking out of the house with it. Soon, he’s being followed by crows in the service of a sorcerer who wants the book for his own evil purposes.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Ieoh Island (Iodo)

Director – Kim Ki-young – 1977 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 110m

*****

An acquitted murder suspect visits the island birthplace of his alleged victim to learn about the latter’s life and the strange, ritualistic, matriarchal society that still exists there – from the London Korean Film Festival 2019

Environmental journalist Chun Nam-seok (Choi Yoon-seok) is sent by his editor on a boat trip junket. Both men are unaware that it’s promoting a proposed Ieoh Island hotel. Chun Nam-seok was born and raised on Parang-do island, off the coast of Jeju island. On Parang-do, Ieoh Island was regarded with a terrible awe owing to the water spirits alleged to live there and believed to take the fishermen from their boats during storms at sea. The island is populated by women who mostly work as divers and their children, the men having been lost at sea on fishing vessels or having left the island for other reasons.

Aware of Chun Nam-seok’s environmentalist credentials, but not of his past associations with the island, company man Sun Woo-hyun (Kim Jong-cheol), whose brainchild the proposed Ieoh Island hotel is, expresses a desire to colleagues to get rid of him and engages with a drinking contest with the man on deck during which Chun Nam-seok goes missing, presumed drowned.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Dark Water (Honogurai mizu no soko kara)

Director – Hideo Nakata – 2002 – Japan – Cert. 15 – 101m

*****

Currently available to view on Amazon Prime, BFI Player (extended free trial offer here) and Shudder.

Review originally published in Funimation UK to coincide with the UK Dual Format Blu-ray/DVD release date 14/10/2016.

Jeremy Clarke on Hideo Nakata’s urban ghost story.

At the centre of Hideo Nakata’s film Dark Water (2002) is the powerful bond that exists between a mother and her child. Yoshimi Matsubara (Hitomi Kuroki) is in the middle of divorce proceedings and while all the financial arrangements have been agreed, the question of who gets custody of the couple’s daughter has yet to be settled. Yoshimi is assured that in cases where the child is less than six years old, the mother tends to get custody. However, her former husband is attempting to discredit her to prevent this happening.

This is all very stressful to Yoshimi. For the time being however she and her almost six year old daughter Iku (Rio Kanno) need to find a place to live. So Yoshimi views an apartment in a run-down block of flats and mother and daughter move in. That’s when their troubles really start.… Read the rest