That’s how they’re billing it and look! I think he’s acting again! Kind of! I can remember when Nicolas Cage used to act in his movies and now he’s doing something that really, really looks like acting again.
It’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent and it’s out in April. Who’s in?
Firstly, a huge – just immense – apology to all TMINE readers for my absolute and complete failure to review any movies over the past few weeks. I’m so, so sorry! My boss is on holiday, and I’ve had zero time to do anything except do his and my job this whole time.
I hope I’ll have some time this week to review the new movies I’ve watched, but if I don’t, here are some one-line reviews so that you get a sense of whether they’re worth watching or not, IMHO:
The Harder They Fall (2021) (available on Netflix): Western featuring Black characters who really did exist, even if the story is made up. It tries hard to be a Quentin Tarantino movie, just without the N word, and has some very literate dialogue and great performances. It’s just not very interesting. Or maybe I just don’t like Westerns? 🤷♀️
Red Notice (2021) (available on Netflix): Ryan Reynolds is an art thief, the Rock is an FBI profiler who catches him, but they have to team up to capture the world’s best art thief, Gal Gadot. It’s hugely expensive and has a simply fabulous pedigree in virtually every regard, from the cast through to the writer/director and the amazing locations they go to. There’s also a great twist. It’s big problem? It’s just so formulaic, it feels like the plot came from the pull out page at the back of a GCSE revision aid.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) (in cinemas): first good sequel to the original Ghostbusters (1984). It’s a little bit too much of a sequel for its own good, retreading too much of the first movie, but it’s surprisingly good and even had me crying at the end. It’s also as much a retread of Goonies (1985), as it is Ghostbusters.
Russian Film Festival 2021
Talk about low key! BFI Player has apparently been running a Russian Film Festival for the past two weeks and didn’t bother to tell me. What are the BFI and Roskino’s marketing people thinking? No press releases or anything! Look at my name! Look at my job! And I only found out about it at the weekend.
Fortunately, it runs until 10 December, so there’s still plenty of time to watch everything and if you sign up for the free trial and subscribe using the code they give you, you get an extra month free (it’s only £4.99 a month anyway), so you can watch them all for nothing! Isn’t that the best thing?
The Siege of Leningrad, the Bolshoi Theatre, Leo Tolstoy and Konstantin Stanislavski may all be familar elements from Russian culture and history, but their representations amid these startling ten features are anything but. This collection of new features – many of which only played Russian cinemas as recently as this year – showcase the impressive range and originality of contempoary Russian filmmaking. While festival favourites like Aleksey Fedorchenko and Andrey Zaitsev may be known names to some, there are number of notable debut features here from prodigious new talents, waiting to be discovered.
Russian Film Festival 2021 runs from 12 November – 10 December 2021 and is organised in collaboration with ROSKINO, a state organisation representing the Russian audiovisual content industry internationally with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Russian Cinema Fund.
Here’s the rundown:
A Siege Diary (2021)
Tell Her (2021)
Last ‘Dear Bulgary’ (2021)
The Story of an Appointment (2018)
The Conscience (2021)
The Bolshoi (2017)
Doctor Liza (2020)
The Humorist (2019)
I’ll be watching all of these and hopefully covering them in the TMINE Multiplex, in their own post or even individually, since December should be lovely and work-light for me – yes, I will be reviewing things again (yay!) – but for obvious reasons (look at my hair, look at my age), I had already seen Masha, which is a lovely and quite simple piece told in flashback about a young girl growing up in Russia in the 90s and discovering that the friends and family who’ve been looking after her are the new wave of gangsters that have emerged since the end of communism. It’s a mix of violence and coming-of-age story that’s deceptively uncomplicated, yet packed with emotion and shows the gradual decline into lawlessness over the period. The young star, Polina Gukhman, gives a wonderfully expressive performance and steals the movie. Loved it!
Yay! Details of the BFI’s showings in December! Here’s the press release.
December at BFI Southbank – featuring BFI JAPAN, the work of JACK CLAYTON, screenings of classic Christmas films, BUSTING THE BIAS, Dirk Bogarde at 100 and much more
With special guests including director Mark Gatiss (THE MEZZOTINT), the cast and crew of GHOSTS (guests TBC), actors Jamie Dornan, Danielle Macdonald andShalom Brune-Franklin (THE TOURIST), director Sharon Maguire (BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY), singer and performer Patti Boulaye, broadcaster and critic Mark Kermode, directors Markus Hansen and Jean-Marie Boulet (BILLY BANG LUCKY MAN)
The BFI today announces the programme for December at BFI Southbank including the culmination of BFI JAPAN 2021: 100 YEARS OF JAPANESE CINEMA, the BFI’smajor UK-wide celebration of Japanese film. This month’s programme features work by radical independent directors like Seijun Suzuki and Nagisa Ōshima, as well as more recent popular and art house Japanese cinema by filmmakers such as Shunji Iwai, Hirokazu Kore-eda and Naomi Kawase. Also in December, BFI Southbank mark the centenary year of one of the most intriguing voices in post-war British cinema, JACK CLAYTON, with a full retrospective including THE INNOCENTS (1961), ROOM AT THE TOP (1959) and THE PUMPKIN EATER (1964). The season will be accompanied by a free display in BFI Southbank’s Mezzanine Gallery of material draw from the extensive collection held by the BFI National Archive of Clayton’s scripts, stills, posters and letters. Also drawing on material from the BFI National Archive, our TV season for December, THEPRECIOUS THINGS, will be a feast of weird and wonderful curios from the archives that feature a host of famous faces, from Vincent Price and Basil Brush to Terry Jones and Tina Turner – brilliant, baffling, idiosyncratic footage often unseen since its original transmission.
It wouldn’t be December at BFI Southbank without a feast of Christmas entertainment, led this year by a BFI re-release of one of the most charming romantic comedies of all time, Ernst Lubitsch’s THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940), in selected cinemas UK-wide on 3 December. In the hectic run-up to Christmas, two ambitious rivals on the gossip-ridden sales floor of a Budapest emporium – played by James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan – are conducting an anonymous romance with each other by letter. This classic comedy has been often remade, including into the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan comedy YOU’VE GOT MAIL, but the original film remains unsurpassed, and perfect seasonal fare. BFI Southbank’s ongoing BIG SCREEN CLASSICS series – where we screen great films daily for the special price of £8 – will this month focus on CHRISTMAS ON SCREEN. Titles include MEET ME IN ST LOUIS (Vincente Minnelli, 1944), IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (Frank Capra, 1946), MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (George Seaton, 1947), GREMLINS (Joe Dante, 1984), THE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL (Brian Henson, 1992), TOKYO GODFATHERS (Satoshi Kon, 2003), A CHRISTMAS TALE (Arnaud Desplechin, 2008), CAROL (Todd Haynes, 2015) and more. In addition to our £8 ticket offer for BIG SCREEN CLASSICS, audience members aged 25 & under are able to buy tickets for BFI Southbank screenings in advance, and special events on the day, for just £3, through our ongoing ticket scheme for young audiences.
For those wanting to get a preview of some hotly anticipated Christmas specials for 2021, BFI Southbank will have TV Previews of THE MEZZOTINT (BBC, 2021), the GHOSTS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (BBC, 2021) and TERRY PRATCHETT’S THE ABOMINABLE SNOW BABY (Channel 4, 2021). Laced with MR James’ trademark terror, THE MEZZOTINT, starring Rory Kinnear,is the latest ghost story for Christmas directed by Mark Gatiss, who will take part in a post-screening Q&A on 7 December. On 9 December, BFI Southbank will welcome members of the cast and crew of GHOSTS for a Q&A following a screening of this year’s Christmas Special. This hugely popular comedy from the makers of HORRIBLE HISTORIES has become a firm favourite since it premiered in 2019 and this event will also feature a screening of an episode voted for by fans of the show. There will be a FUNDAY PREVIEW ofthe wonderfully festive animation, TERRY PRATCHETT’S THE ABOMINABLE SNOW BABY on 4 December; prior to the screening, ticket holders will also be able to join a family workshop in the main foyer to design their own member of the Abominable Snow Baby family.
To mark the 20th anniversary of BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY (Sharon Maguire, 2001) Woman with a Movie Camera powered by Jaguar will present a special screening of the film on 16 December, followed by a Q&A with director Sharon Maguire. After a painful festive party 30-something Bridget Jones, played to perfection by Renée Zellweger, decides to set some New Year’s resolutions: she’s going to lose weight, cut out the cigarettes and keep well clear from all the wrong men. Co-starring Colin Firth, Hugh Grant and a who’s who of British acting talent, BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY is one of the best-loved romantic comedies of the last 20 years, and this anniversary screening offers audiences a chance to hear from director Sharon Maguire about bring this iconic character to the big screen.
Also in December will be BUSTING THE BIAS, a series of screenings, talks and presentations taking place from 3-5 December, showcasing disabled practitioners’ work while creating ongoing discourse for improved access for disabled talent to work in the screen industries, and advocating for authentic on-screen representation and leadership off-screen (the full programme will be announced soon). There will also be a TV preview of THE TOURIST (BBC, 2021) starring Jamie Dornan as a British man who finds himself in the Australian outback being pursued by a vast tank-truck trying to drive him off the road. The screening of the first episode of the series, written by Harry and Jack Williams (THE MISSING, LIAR) on 7 Decemberwill be followed by a Q&A with actors Jamie Dornan, Danielle Macdonald and Shalom Brune-Franklinalongside other members of the creative team.
Other highlights this month will include a special screening on 5 December of the Tom Baker-era story DOCTOR WHO: CITY OF DEATH, which was co-written by the great Douglas Adams; monthly star-studded event MARK KERMODE LIVE IN 3D AT THE BFI on 6 December; and Patti Boulaye in Conversation on 12 December, during which the singer and performer will talk about her life and television career on the occasion of the publication of her memoirs. Completing the events programme will be new regular programme strand, THIS KIND OF THING, in which we explore video games and beyond at BFI Southbank – from consoles and VR to AI and wearables. The first event on 10 December will be a unique live event where audiences talk, listen, eat, drink and play their way through the evening, exploring just what a video game is in 2021, and beyond. This month’s event complements BFI JAPAN, exploring the country as one of the engine rooms of the past, present and future of video game culture, creativity and play.
Finally, to mark the centenary year of DIRK BOGARDE, we screen a selection of work featuring the British star who shook off the mantle of the matinee idol to gain respect, not just as an accomplished actor but also as a writer of considerable talent. Screenings will include HUNTED (Charles Crichton, 1952), in which a boy finds a corpse in a bombed-out building and is taken hostage by the killer; I COULD GO ON SINGING(Ronald Neame, 1963) about a stage star (Judy Garland, in her final film) who is reunited with her estranged son; the darkly comic tale of a nightmarish butler who exploits the weakness of his lazy, entitled employer THE SERVANT (Joseph Losey, 1963), screening in a recent 4K remaster; and SO LONG AT THE FAIR (Terence Fisher, Anthony Darnborough, 1950), a perfectly formed period mystery.
Here’s some good news from the BFI about its rescheduled season of Japanese movies, which you can watch in cinemas or at home on the BFI Player. There are events all over the UK as well – I’m hoping I’ll be able to see or attend at least some of them.
There’s a trailer, too!
The BFI today announces highlights of the UK-wide programme for BFI JAPAN 2021:100 YEARS OF JAPANESE CINEMA, coming to cinemas from October – December 2021. Highlights of the celebration will include a BFI re-release of Akira Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI (1954), a BFI JAPAN TOUR, featuring classics from Yasujirō Ozuand Akira Kurosawa,alongside cult titles from Kon Ichikawa and Toshio Matsumoto, which will feature many new 4K restorations and visit cinemas across the UK. For audiences who cannot attend a screening in their local cinema, there is a vast BFI JAPAN programme online on BFI Player Subscription. The BFI is also working closely with the National Lottery funded BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) to enable cinemas across the UK to host special screenings and events as part of BFIJAPAN.
Seasons and events will include Day For Night’s Urban, Natural, Human – exploring Japan on screen programme, showing at HOME, Manchester, Close-Up Cinema in London and more and a tour of highlights from Queer East Film Festival at Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham, Showroom Cinema in Sheffield, HOME, Manchester and Edinburgh Filmhouse. Belfast Film Festival (4 – 13 November) will present a selection of surrealist Japanese films and Cambridge Film Festival will present a curated strand of films for its 40th edition (18 – 25 November). In Scotland, Screen Argyll is bringing Japan: Family, Community and the Sea to the islands in the Hebrides. Over the Halloween weekend (30 – 31 October), Chapterin Cardiff will celebrate the films of Nobuhiko Ōbayashi including his cult comedy horror HAUSU (1977).
Originally scheduled to run in venues across the UK from May – September 2020, the season was moved online due to the pandemic. An unprecedented number of Japanese films were programmed on BFI Player while cinemas across the country remained closed, resulting in films in the BFI JAPAN collection being streamed on BFI Player in excess of 400,000 times since then. After the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo come to a close this summer, the BFI picks up the torch to shine a light on 100 years of Japanese cinema this autumn.
BFI JAPAN will spotlight one of the world’s greatest cinematic traditions, one that has long inspired admiration and fascination among audiences and creatives the world over. Classic films by AkiraKurosawa, Yasujirō Ozuand Kenji Mizoguchi regularly rank at the very top of critics’ all-time lists; Studio Ghibli leads the animated world in visionary imagination; while waves of innovators from the cinematic rebels of the 60s to today’s audio-visual live artists and video game auteurs take the moving image to thrilling new places. The influence of Japanese cinema cannot be overstated – Kurosawa in particular influenced Sergio Leone’s A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS – an often shot-for-shot remake of YOJIMBO (1961) – and John Sturges’ THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, adapted from SEVEN SAMURAI (1954); George Lucas has long acknowledged Kurosawa’s influence on STAR WARS, from the narrative and thematic elements to costumes and names. More recently, George Miller’s MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and video game GHOST OF TSUSHIMA, in which players can adopt ‘Kurosawa mode’, have paid loving homage to the master filmmaker.
PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS BY REGION:
A BFI UK-wide re-release of Akira Kurosawa’s seminal masterpiece SEVEN SAMURAI (1954), back in cinemas UK-wide from 29 October. Genuinely epic in scale and tone, Kurosawa’s hugely influential samurai movie is a towering achievement which has to be experienced on the big screen. Confirmed venues so far include HOME, Manchester, IFI Dublin and Bristol Watershed.
The BFI has also curated a BFI JAPAN TOUR, featuring classics from Yasujirō Ozu and Akira Kurosawa,alongside titles like Kon Ichikawa’s breathtakingly stylised AN ACTOR’S REVENGE (1963) and Toshio Matsumoto’skaleidoscopic masterpiece FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES (1969). The tour will visit cinemas across the UK and will feature many new 4K restorations. Picturehouse cinemas across the UK (with venues in Edinburgh, Cambridge, Southampton, Exeter, York, Liverpool and many more) will present select titles from the tour in their ongoing reDiscover series, with key titles from Akira Kurosawa and Yasujirō Ozu screening at cinemas weekly from 17 October – 2 December.
Day for Night is a UK-based independent film organisation working across the film exhibition, specialist distribution, access and screen translation sectors. Urban, Natural, Human – exploring Japan on screen is their curatorial project exploring representation of the built and natural environments framed within Japan’s historical, current and future contexts. The project, incorporating archive material, documentaries, artists’ moving image and contemporary films, will consist of seven in venue film screenings, including HOME in Manchester on 4 and 5 December, and Close-Up Cinema in London, 12 – 14 November. A programme of 10 features and 20 short films will also be made available online. Titles include BOOK, PAPER, SCISSORS (2019) by Nanako Hirose, ASCENT (2016) by Fiona Tan, MEMENTO STELLA (2018) by Takashi Makino, TENZO (2019) by Katsuya Tomita, THE INLAND SEA (1991) by Lucille Carra, 3.11 A SENSE OF HOME (2011) (various directors) and shorts by Kaori Oda. More titles are to be announced.
Following its second edition, which took place 15 – 26 September across eight venues in London, and showcased 37 films from 15 countries across East and Southeast Asia, Queer East Film Festival will be touring four highlights from its Focus Japan programme across four venues:
DAUGHTERS (2020) by Hajime Tsuda will be showing at the Midlands Arts Centre (MAC) in Birmingham on 28 October and at HOME, Manchester on 1 November. MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR LAWRENCE (1983) by NagisaŌshima will be showing at the MAC on 30 October. GOHATTO (1999) by Nagisa Ōshima will be showing on 35mm at the Edinburgh Filmhouse on 21 November. And for the 20th anniversary of its release, HUSH! (2001) by Ryosuke Hashiguchi, will be showing on 35mm at the Showroom Cinema, Sheffield on 3 December.
Phizzical Productions, a company specialising in film curation, exhibition and production, led by artistic director Samir Bhamra (UK Asian Film Festival) will be presenting a unique season exploring the connections and influences between Indian and Japanese cinema. The season will take place in November and December at Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. LOVE IN TOKYO (1966) by Pramod Chakravorty, KONTORA (2019) by Anshul Chauhan and 8 THOTTAKAL (2017) by Sri Ganesh, will be among the films presented, alongside Akira Kurosawa’s SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) and STRAY DOG (1949).
At the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival (12 – 17 October), A PAGE OF MADNESS (Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1926) will be presented at Abbeydale Picture House in Sheffield (17 October) with a live score by Sheffield duo In The Nursery. DRAGNET GIRL (YasujirōOzu, 1933) will be presented at The Leeds Library in Leeds (30 October) with an improvised live musical accompaniment by Irine Røsnes (violin) and Jonny Best (piano).
From 19 – 21 November, the Showroom Cinema (Sheffield)will run its first Anime festival – Sheffield Loves Anime, celebrating the genre in all its breadth, from cult classics to contemporary works, and with a unique focus on women writers. The programme, co-curated with Anime LTD and the Scotland Loves Anime film festival, will see A SILENT VOICE (2016) by Naoko Yamada, LOOKINGFOR MAGICAL DOREMI (2020) by Yu Kamatani and Jun’ichi Satō and CYBER CITY OEDO 808 (1990) by Yoshiaki Kawajiri screened alongside introductions, Q&As and other activities including a Japanese board game afternoon by Treehouse Board Game Café.
As part of its 21st edition, Belfast Film Festival at the Beanbag Cinema (4 – 13 November) will present a selection of surrealist Japanese films including: WIFE! BE LIKE A ROSE! (Mikio Naruse, 1935) THE MANWITHOUT A MAP (1968) by Hiroshi Teshigahara and EXTREME PRIVATE EROS LOVE SONG 1974 (1974) directed by Kazuo Hara and produced by Sachiko Kobayashi. The project is developed and curated in collaboration with three young programmers: Ruairi McCann, James Hall and Meicheng Zhou who are taking part in the Belfast Film Festival intern programmers initiative.
Screen Argyll is bringing Japan: Family, Community and the Sea to the islands in the Hebrides. STILLTHE WATER (Naomi Kawase, 2014), GIOVANNI’S ISLAND (Mizuho Nishikubo, 2014) and PONYO (Hayao Miyazaki, 2008)will be among the titles presented. Lecturer and writer Roy Stafford will produce film notes and an illustrated talk on Japanese island communities and their representation on screen, as well as facilitate post screening discussions. Whalley Range All Stars’s show, GODZILLA v the FATBERG, a 20-minute action-packed story told in the kamishibai style, will be recorded and presented to audiences, and followed by a kamishibai workshop. The screenings and events will take place mid-November to December.
SOUTH EAST AND LONDON
The 40thCambridge Film Festival (18 – 25 November) will present a curated strand of five Japanese films at the Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge:
POUPELLE OF CHIMNEY TOWN (2020) by Yusuke Hirota (UK Premiere)
DRIVE MY CAR (2021) by Ryusuke Hamaguchi
WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY (2021) by Ryusuke Hamaguchi
JUST THE TWO OF US (2020) by Keita Fujimoto
SALARY MAN (2021) by Allegra Pacheco (UK Premiere)
WHEEL OF FORTUNE AND FANTASY, JUST THE TWO OF US and SALARY MAN will also be available online UK-wide (21 November – 5 December) as part of the festival’s online programme.
Reading Biscuit Factory is a brand new, three-screen independent cinema located in the town centre. For BFI JAPAN, the venue is celebrating the breadth and variety of Japanese filmmaking, from Kurosawa to Koreeda, from J-Horror to eroticism, and from samurai to cyberpunk, tracing the evolution of Japanese cinema over the past 75 years. Featuring newly-remastered classics such as SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) and GHOST IN THE SHELL(1995) by Mamoru Oshii and the very latest releases including DRIVE MY CAR (2021) by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, it will also include special events in partnership with academic staff from the University of Reading, director Q&As, and presentations of FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES (1969) by Toshio Matsumoto and the documentary QUEER JAPAN (2019) by Graham Kolbeins as part of a special LGBTQIA+ strand in association with Queer East Film Festival. The programme will run from the end of October and throughout November and will also feature displays and demonstrations of Japanese arts and crafts.
As previously announced, there will be a major two-part season at BFI Southbank from 18 October – 30 December, featuring screenings, contextual introductions and events. Part one of the season (18 October – 30 November) surveys the great Japanese studio era from the 1930s to the early 1960s and part two (1 – 30 December) features 20th century Japanese films made after 1964, including the New Wave and genre classics of the 1990s. Full details can be found in the BFI JAPAN press release:
In celebration of the BFI’s Japan season, expanded cinema practitioners Compass Presents are programming a day-long celebration of Japanese cinema and celebration on Saturday 9 October with events taking place in Millennium Square and a special ticketed screening and food pairing taking place at Watershed in Bristol. The day-long celebration will feature live cooking demonstrations, Taiko Drumming, cultural workshops and games, as well as full length feature screenings of acclaimed Japanese films including OUR LITTLE SISTER (2016) by Hirokazu Koreeda and YOUR NAME (2016) by Makoto Shinkai.
Ahead of a restored screening of SEVEN SAMURAI (1954) at Bristol Watershed, The Bristol Bad Film Club, renamed The Bristol Bushido Film Club for the occasion, will present a one-off screening of SHOGUN ASSASSIN(1980) by Robert Houston on Wednesday 3 November, complete with a live DJ set by DJ Cheeba and an introduction by Juice Aleem of AfroFlux.
Over the Halloween weekend (30 – 31 October), international centre for contemporary arts and culture Chapter, in Cardiff, will celebrate the films of director Nobuhiko Ōbayashi. His cult film HAUSU (1977), drawing on ideas furnished by his young daughter, will be presented alongside a selection of Ōbayashi’s short films, and followed by a discussion on the power of young women on screen, led by a group of young programmers. The weekend will also include conversations on women and folklore in Japanese culture, as well as zine-making and craft workshops.
Sandman was really the graphic novel that got me into reading comics. With its stories of the seven Endless – personifications of abstract ideas including Dream, Death, Desire and Destruction who were gods in a DC Universe that had gods – it caught me at just the right time, just as I was sporting a Robert Smith hair cut at university.
It was also the comic that introduced the world to Neil Gaiman, who has of course gone on to many mighty and varied things, including writing episodes of Doctor Who, movies such as Stardust (2007), books for children and adults, and TV shows based on his books, such as Good Omens.
There have been various attempts to adapt Sandman for other media over the years, including a movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the most successful being a series of audio plays for Audible featuring James McAvoy as Dream and Kat Dennings as Death.
Netflix has been trying to adapt the comics into a TV series. That seemed initially like it was going to be as successful as the movie adaptations that preceded it. But look at this, will you! We have an honest to God teaser trailer, as well as a behind the scenes featurette. And it looks both good and authentic, which will please the fundamentalist Sandman fans out there. Of which there are many.