Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Love, Don't Cross That River (***)

Directed by Jin Mo-young


Jin Mo-young's My Love, Don't Cross That River is heartbreaking weepy of a documentary, a film about the final moments of a 76-year marriage. It's testament to the power of love, and the endurance of love, is indescribably beautiful. South Korean couple Jo Byeong-man and Kang Kye-yeol met when Kang was just fourteen years old. Arranged, the marriage continued on through twelve children, with six of them dying as children. Jin Mo-young's film covers the final year they live together as Jo's health disintegrates quickly. As Kang faces leaving the man she loves, the reality hits hard, not only for her but for their children and grandchildren. The film is sparse, is comprised almost exclusively from scenes in their modest village home, with their two dogs, Freebie and Kiddie. And yet, we can feel the history between these two beings, and we can feel the immense tragedy that they've had to overcome and will still have to overcome. For a couple in such an advanced age, their active, playful lifestyles are wonderfully charming. Jo's irascible prankster behavior blends fluidly into Kang's dry sense of humor. You can tell that this is a routine they've lived through for several decades. The two are beloved by their family, treated like gods on Earth, but they take the praise with modest smiles, Jo hardly able to hear anything. But they still dance, they still sing with one another, and never cease an opportunity for a snow ball fight. The film's third act is where My Love, Don't Cross That River crosses over into tearjerker territory. You can feel the pain in its purest sense as Jo's health goes South and quickly, but Jin's camera lingers so absolutely, leaving the audience no escape from Kang's tears. This film obviously has struck a chord with its homeland. At this time, its the most commercially successful documentary in Korean film history. There's a lot here, whether your Korean or otherwise, to identify with. The longer one lives, the more one leaves themselves open to moments of heartbreak and tragedy. My Love, Don't Cross That River is a film about two people who have faced that heartbreak and tragedy with great aplomb, a tremendous, inspirational display the endures even through the director's harping on their sadness.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Podcast: Is 'Good Will Hunting' Better Than Jurassic Park?

So.... Scott tried to fire me from the podcast after our last episode, but that didn't stop me from hopping right back on board as this episode's guest to defend the wonderful merits of 90's comfort food film Good Will Hunting. Bad accents, creepy Stellan Skarsgaard, and Minnie Driver love galore but is Good Will Hunting better than Jurassic Park? More importantly, do I get my job as co-host back?

Finding Dory (***)

Directed by Andrew Stanton


Pixar's masterful run through the Aughts began with Andrew Stanton's Finding Nemo, which managed to capture the pitch-perfect blend of wit and heart of the first two Toy Story films but put it on a much bigger scale. Nemo was a colossal hit, and sparked one of the greatest runs any studio had ever had, capped by 2008's WALL-E, which was also directed by Stanton, and which also may be the studio's true masterpiece. Stanton's venture into live action filmmaking was 2012's John Carter, a film that is so synonymous with monolithic failure that all anyone pretty much knows about it is the title and the fact that they haven't seen it. So now Stanton returns to Nemo, or more accurately, to Finding Dory, a not-quite-sequel-or-spin-off that reunites all of the principle characters and gives Pixar-loving patrons a new heart-wrenching tale that will keep the kids happy. Pixar's stronghold on substantial animated features has dwindled over the last few years; Dreamworks, Sony and their parent company Walt Disney, have for all intents and purposes caught up in terms of quality animation and filmmaking. And yet, they never really seem to capture that Pixar feeling, and by that I mean that we get swayed by the wonderful displays of female empowerment in Frozen or the striking parallels to racism and the drug war in Zootopia, but these films lack the poignancy and the saccharine nature of Pixar. They are on one side the most manipulative of all the major Hollywood film studios, but is it possible that they're also the most existential? What are kids getting out of the threat of gluttonous consumerism in WALL-E or the death meditation at the heart of Up? They're getting the heartbreaking joy, the emotional roller coaster, the awesome, exhausting back and forth between comedy and tragedy that comes with a Pixar film. Last year's Inside Out proved they still had their fastball, and Finding Dory shows that even when retreading old material, they can still keep up with the new kids on the block.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Podcast: Is 'The Shining' Better Than 'Jurassic Park'?

We got a special episode this time. We have Grant DeArmitt and and Robert Puncher from the wonderful Conspiracize Me! podcast. They've joined us to talk about The Shining, and decide if it's better than the great Jurassic Park. Is it? No conspiracy here! Listen and find out.