When I heard the title of the 2018 South Korean musical, Swing Kids, my first thoughts were of the 1993 American film with the same name. Despite both being backstage musicals set during wartime, I assumed that similarities would end there and the re-used title was merely a coincidence rather than a reference. Though it may be true that the filmmaker did not directly intend to make a connection between the two films, the similarities are also impossible to ignore. Swing Kids (’93) is a film about German youths attempting to grow up and enjoy ordinary lives appreciating swing music during an era of the Nazi regime and war that was anything but ordinary. Similarly, Swing Time (2018) is about a group of people finding simple pleasures in dance during wartime. Even more remarkably, while Swing Kids (’93) is an American film with German protagonists, Swing Kids (2018) is a South Korean film with North Korean characters as the primary focus. Most importantly, both films (along with the French Joyeux Noel) celebrate the empathetic powers of music and artistic expression during wartime, specifically considering those on the opposite side from the country in which the film is made.
Americans notoriously avoid foreign films. The sad reality is that even those deemed the best of all imported cinema (subjectively determined by year-end lists and awards), are often ignored by a large majority of audiences in this country. The rare exception of a financially successful foreign film is often completely distanced from the idea of what wins awards, and tends to exist within a familiar genre convention. In the past, horror fans have flocked to the notoriously gruesome offerings of different cultures, but I have noticed the genre most influenced by foreign markets in recent years has been the action/martial arts movie. Ironically, while Furie’s major selling point is the casting of a Vietnamese actress already successful in
Hollywood (Veronica Ngo from Star Wars: The Last Jedi), it is a film
that will likely be an introduction to Vietnamese action for most in . And for many
it will be the first Vietnamese film they have seen; in fact, it was the first
ever to be released theatrically in the Hollywood , in any genre. United States
Between the Lines feels as though it must have had its finger on the pulse of the counter-culture movement of the seventies, while simultaneously serving as an awkward reminder of how much even the liberals and progressives of that time were politically incorrect by today’s standards. The film follows a group of employees working at an alternative newspaper in
which is on the verge of a buyout from a major publishing company. Leaning
heavily on the idea that selling out means a lack of integrity, Between the Lines feels laughably dated
in its sensibilities (which would have been completely dismissed had the film
been made a few years later, in the 1980s), but even worse is the awful
treatment of female characters amidst the illusion of ‘free love.’ Sadder yet
is the fact that this incredibly misogynistic film was directed by the rare
female director. Boston
Hype is a dangerous thing in the entertainment industry. One way this can take form is when fans have expectations set from previous success. Just ask any fans of “Game of Thrones” what they thought about the final season, and you will get a taste of the effects of this. No matter what the medium, following up an initial success is always a difficult task. The greater the success, the harder the task of following it up will be, so Jordan Peele was taking something of a risk when he decided to return right to the horror genre after the Academy-Award-nominated Get Out.
Captain Marvel marked the arrival of the first female-led superhero film from Marvel Studios, a fact that would have been far more impactful if it weren’t for that other superhero franchise getting there first and the fact that it took Marvel so many years (and sooo many movies) to finally release one themselves. The film itself, with some distance from its theatrical release, is likely to be best remembered for the petty online bickering between its star and internet trolls (from which neither emerged looking great) rather than any content in the movie itself. This seems especially true now that Avengers: Endgame has made Captain Marvel’s contributions to the franchise almost inconsequential, save a cheesy female-pride sequence during its final battle.
As rare as a non-Disney/Pixar animated success story is in
, it is not surprising that those
which are successful inevitably parlay it into additional films. How to Train Your Dragon first captured
the attention of audiences in 2010 (released by Paramount Pictures), followed
by a sequel in 2014 (released by 20th Century Fox), with the final
installation being this year’s How to
Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (released by Universal Pictures). With
a fitting close to the story of Hiccup and Toothless (the most unlikely of hero
names) found in the last chapter of the trilogy, it looks as though Dreamworks
is in the market for a new animation franchise to compete with. Hollywood
Godzilla is a franchise larger than life (both in terms of the title character and the breadth of films made with the iconic daikaiju-hero), and this makes the largeness of the spectacle something special in the right format. This could not be truer of Godzilla: King of the Monsters, which has a collection of monsters to behold, as homage to the original Toho Studio films that the Legendary has adopted into their “MonsterVerse” (Kong is absent from this one, to be seen in a show-off teased during this film’s post-credit sequence), including King Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra. Along with the integration of additional giant monsters from the Japanese counterpart, the film cleverly includes the use of the original weapon used to destroy Godzilla in the classic 1954 film
Part of the excitement of a new cinematic format is the discovery of its potential, and these are often dependent on the creativity and innovation of their use. With 4DX, part of the expansion of limits comes with the choice of films to pair the technology with. Before attending a screening of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum in 4DX, it occurred to me that four out of the four films I had previously seen in the format had belonged to the superhero genre. This is certainly due in part to the tendency to utilize the format with high-profile Blockbusters, and the industry’s simultaneous obsession with the ever-profitable comic-book-adaptation franchises. Whatever the reason, I had already spent a great deal of time in the moving seats of 4DX theaters as they simulated flight, underwater exploration, and spider-web swinging. In John Wick 3, I found an entirely different experience; one that was much more grounded, even to the point that the practice of being thrown to the ground was repeatedly simulated.
Unbreakable was somewhat of a disappointing film for audiences, especially after the extreme success M. Night Shyamalan saw with The Sixth Sense. Looking back now, it is clear that Unbreakable was ahead of it’s time, but the conclusion in Glass feels equally dated and unnecessary. This may have something to do with the 19-year-gap between the films, not to mention the onslaught of superhero films that have saturated the market in the meantime.
It is strange to see Steve Carell in a film as contrived and emotionally manipulative as Welcome to Marwen in the same year that he made Beautiful Boy. Both are based on true stories and deal with sincere pain, and somehow Welcome to Marwen still feels like it was thought up by a studio executive capitalizing on someone else’s suffering. No matter how much Carell has been able to make odd characters loveable onscreen in the past, Marwen’s Mark Hogancamp mostly just made me uncomfortable.
Peter Bogdanovich has repeatedly proven his interest in film history through the subject choices in his narrative films (Nickelodeon, The Cat’s Meow), but fascination turns to adoration in The Great Buster: A Celebration. The film celebrates (as the title implies) one of silent film’s greatest stars, Buster Keaton. Bogdonavich clearly has a passion for the subject, and it is contagious, but the documentary may be better titled “An Introduction” rather than “A Celebration.” In other words, die-hard fans of Keaton are likely to be disappointed by the rudimentary nature of much of the information provided by the film.
For many people, scary movies are more than just something to watch near Halloween. As dedicated as the sci-fi and fantasy fans are, I would argue that the true horror fans still win out, which is why it is fitting that Ultra Productions has paired with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to bring a unique horror film experience to
. Open now (as of April 4th), The I Love Scary Movies Experience is
located on the second floor of The Desmond and will run through June 16th. Los
Deciding whether or not to watch a movie in theaters is only the first of many choices audience members now have, especially when it comes to the blockbuster releases. Which theater chain, where to sit, and what to snack on remain choices that have long existed, but now audiences have multiple options in regards to the actual presentation of the film. In an effort to help audience members make the best choice, we will discuss the specifics of each available option for Captain Marvel.
Second Act earned a certain amount of respect from me, but that had more to do with film history and marketing choices than the quality of the movie itself. Although the promotional material sold the film as a comedy about class differences, there are plot twists that quickly veer the narrative into more melodramatic territory. And I don’t use the word melodrama as an insult, but rather as the genre which was popularized in the 1940s, primarily dealing with stories of motherly love and loss. Sadly, Second Act is the rare exception of a film that doesn’t spoil these reveals in the trailers.
Just in case anyone was asking for a landlocked version of Waterworld, Mortal Engines released into theaters with the odd expectations that there was an audience for this film. A big-budget theatrical experience if ever there was one (shown in 3D, IMAX and the usual perks offered to those willing to watch it on the big screen), Mortal Engines has all of the pieces to make up a blockbuster, except one. There is an apocalyptic sci-fi storyline (which has proven successful in multiple franchises), action, humor, romance, and plenty of special effects. The only thing missing was audience interest.
Green Book is not the film I ever expected to see director Peter Farrelly make when I first watched There’s Something About Mary many years ago, and it certainly isn’t the film I expected to win Best Picture for this past year. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprise, considering this makes three years in a row that the Academy has given the award to a film about diversity and discrimination (The Shape of Water may not directly be about race, but I think the allegory is clear). Green Book seems far from the best film of the year, but it is a safe choice in terms of balancing audience enjoyment and social message.
I honestly had no idea what to expect from Burning, up until the credits started to roll. Although there are moments that the movie seems to resemble others, or starts to conform to genre conventions, this may all be red herrings and MacGuffins to the overall film experience. And I truly believe that the experience director Chang-dong Lee intended audiences to have is one of questions, not answers. It is fitting that the inciting incident of the film’s narrative involves the house-sitting of a cat that never shows itself. Many who have debated the meaning of the movie have argued the possibility that the cat doesn’t exist at all. I believe that the point is that the cat both exists and doesn’t exist, because the film itself feels like a cinematic representation of Schrödinger’s cat.
There is a quote on the back of the Rampant Blu-ray comparing the film to “Game of Thrones meets 28 Days Later,” and while I know this was meant as a marketing selling point, it did more harm than good to have these preconceived notions in my head. For one thing, “Game of Thrones” already has zombies, so the addition of 28 Days Later to the comparison is redundant at best. Also, nearly every element that is can be compared to “Game of Thrones,” including swordplay, politics, and zombie-like attacks forcing the living to band together, has been done better by the HBO series. While the quote on the back of the Blu-ray may inspire additional rentals and purchases, it is also likely to lead to more disappointing viewing experiences.
There is no question that Mary Queen of Scots is a good movie, well made in every technical aspect. The 4K Ultra HD edition highlights this fact, particularly in terms of the design elements. It is a good looking film, with a timely story (to the point that it occasionally feel on-the-nose) acted out by a handful of capable actors (albeit, many of which are made unrecognizable underneath too much stagy make-up), and yet there are also enough annoyances (as pointed out in these interruptions to the sentence) to prevent me from fully appreciating the quality. Mary Queen of Scots also has the misfortune of inevitable comparisons to The Favorite, a film which satirizes the very ideas that this film treats with melodramatic seriousness.
Wreck it Ralph was a unique concept, but I wasn’t all that impressed with the film itself. While it had a colorful design and a helpful message for younger audience members, it didn’t have enough originality or cleverness to keep my mind occupied for the entire running time. Not only is Ralph Breaks the Internet a better film in nearly every regard other than the title, but I actually found myself appreciating it more with additional analysis. In short, Ralph Breaks the Internet may be filled with shameless Disney self-promotion and is clearly another cash-grabbing sequel, but it also happens to be a pretty great film.