The Power of the Dog
Contains spoilers about The Power of the Dog (read our spoiler-free review here) Continue Reading →
Back in 1998, Gus Van Sant released his remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It wasn’t a good movie, but it provided two decent critical talking points. Firstly, was it actually a remake, or was it another adaptation of Robert Bloch’s novel? Given that Van Sant’s film was a shot-for-shot recreation of its 1960 predecessor save for two or three differences, it was a rarity in that, given its context, it ended up being the former. It, for all its failures in execution, used semiotics to circumvent the aforementioned semantics of its identity. Continue Reading →
West Side Story
While audiences and critics often bemoan the plethora of sequels and remakes that litter the media landscape, retelling a familiar story isn’t inherently bad. After all, Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet, was based on earlier works, and in 1957 playwright Arthur Laurents (along with composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim) adapted the tale into West Side Story, which Robert Wise turned into a classic musical in 1961. Sixty years later, Steven Spielberg has thrown his hat into the ring with a new adaptation of the material. But can he make a familiar plot relevant to the 21st century? Continue Reading →
Paul Thomas Anderson set out to make a love story with Licorice Pizza, and ended up creating his most joyful flick to date. Seemingly lacking is the dark heart so many of his stories contain, whether it’s in the wildly toxic relationship between designer and muse in Phantom Thread or brutal depictions of loss and loneliness in Magnolia. Instead, Licorice Pizza has a lightness he hasn’t truly approached since Punch-Drunk Love. Continue Reading →
Pablo Larraín’s sympathetic “fable” about Diana, Princess of Wales, also compassionately addresses the secret shame of eating disorders.
CONTENT WARNING: this article addresses eating disorders and self-injury. See our spoiler-free overview of Spencer here.
If Pablo Larraín’s Spencer doesn’t change your mind about royalty being aspirational, then nothing will. Sure, you’ll have access to wealth and fancy clothes, but at the cost of your time and privacy. Every part of your life, every holiday, even “off time” with your family, is scheduled down to the last minute, and everything you do is judged according to tradition and propriety. Maybe it’ll be you who breaks tradition, who makes things different through sheer force of will. But probably not. You’ll be a dress-up doll in a glass case, to be taken out and shown off whenever the occasion calls for it, whether you want to be or not. Continue Reading →
Ryusuke Hamaguchi adapts a Haruki Murakami short story & gives it additional depth & soul.
Interpretation is a complex beast. In terms of language, not even the most literal one is left entirely untouched by the person making it. In the case of longer work, a translator can take on a far more hands-on role, making a novel or film in translation a product of its interpreter as well as its original artist. In some cases, this influence can be significant. Translators and editors have played such a massive role in the way that English audiences understand and appreciate Haruki Murakami that writer, translator, editor, and creative writing professor David Karashima wrote an entire book on the topic in 2020.
Interpreting prose for the screen comes with its own nuances, and its own symbiotic relationship between the writer’s vision and the filmmaker’s. Translating Murakami’s writing for the screen is perhaps even more complicated, given the nature of his stories and how he tells them (or at least how I understand them based on the English translations I’ve read). Continue Reading →
Sian Heder directs a touching & funny story of having to choose between dreams & obligation.
The reason why so many movies about teenagers don’t work is because they often feature too-old actors playing characters who talk like jaded 35 year-olds (or rather, like the people who wrote them). Every once in a while, however, you find a real gem, like Sian Heder’s Coda, a low-key, moving story about a teenage girl who finds herself caught between doing the thing she loves, and having to help keep her family’s business afloat.
17 year-old Ruby, played by Emilia Jones (in what will hopefully be a star-making performance) is the only hearing member of her Massachusetts fishing family. On top of trying to get through school, she must also work on the family fishing boat, serving as the ears and voice of her father, Frank (Troy Kotsur), and older brother Leo (Daniel Durant), as they try to avoid (with mixed success) getting ripped off by the local fish buyer. It’s quietly expected that Ruby, who has no real plans for college, will simply stick around as long as Leo, Frank, and her mother Jackie (Marlee Matlin) need her. Continue Reading →