Like the past works of writer-director Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host), Okja isn’t so much an allegory as it is an outright morality tale. The Korean filmmaker seem intent on tackling each and every woe of modern society, from the danger of radioactive waste (and by extension, the short-sighted profit-seeking of big business) in The Host to the accelerating divisions between the wealthy and the poor in Snowpiercer. In Okja, Bong once again wraps his morality tale in a bit of science fiction. The titular Okja is one of several genetically-enhanced pigs, bred for slaughter in an attempt to solve the world’s hunger crisis. Where The Host was an obvious Monster Movie, and Snowpiercer more of a dystopian science fiction film, Okja is mostly a dark piece of satire. It’s just not clear who Bong means to target with his barbs.
The Cannes Film Festival is in the books, and there are some cool things that happened at the 70th iteration of this super-prestigious festival. This will be a causal post where I touch on a few of the things that interest me and therefore should interest you (because I am very often right). Obviously, I haven’t seen any of these films, so my excitement is completely based on word-of-mouth from the festival and other murmurs. I’ll recount the winners of the awards, then mention the other flicks that have me excited at the very end.
Are you re-watching episodes of QI and startling yourself with how often you remember the answers? Do you have a VPN set up to watch 8 Out of 10 Cats? Are you slightly angry that my previous question didn’t conclude with “Does Countdown”? This hackneyed rhetoric is just a way for me to say that if you enjoy British comedy, then Sean Foley’s Mindhorn is definitely for you. Even if you’re not crazy about the Brits and their particular brand of whimsy, you’re likely to find something to enjoy in this weird little farce.
Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho is not subtle when it comes to the themes of his films, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Snowpiercer isn’t so much an allegory for class warfare – it is class warfare, just set on the science fiction environment of an ever-moving train. The Host is the venerable monster-movie warning that our careless destruction of the planet will come back to bite us – literally in this case. And so, Okja continues in that same vein. This Netflix exclusive will compete for the Palme d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and then will be available for streaming on June 28th.
Check out the trailer below:
The Discovery has all the markings of a potent science fiction parable, but none of the follow-through. The central conceit, that a scientist has discovered irrefutable evidence that an afterlife exists, is simple yet wrought with fascinating consequences. But, as the film attempts to explore its ideas, it is bogged down by poor characters, confusing and unnecessary plot devices, and a banal ending that treads familiar paths, lacks visual storytelling fundamentals, and still confuses. As it stands, The Discovery feels less like a feature film, and more like an episode of Black Mirror – and a weak one at that.
I Don’t Feel at Home in the World Anymore captures that peculiar modern feeling that the world is a frustrating and mean place – but that ordinary folks can stand up and push back, though sometimes with hilarious and awkward results. Writer-director Macon Blair’s film contains bleak humor, affecting drama, and a bumbling crime story. The sad-sack characters and story compares well with Jeremy Saulnier’s film Blue Ruin, where Blair played the lead. Blair’s aesthetic is very much in line with his friend’s, but let’s be clear: Blair’s work in this film is not counterfeit Saulnier. Though they share sensibilities, Blair’s film is far more sarcastic and funny, which makes the harsher elements of the film pop quite effectively.
The Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the United States, and every year near the end of January, thousands descend upon Utah to watch the latest offerings of independent filmmakers from all over the world. Indie darlings like Little Miss Sunshine often debut at the festival, and there is always at least one hot ticket that leaves everyone scrambling. Many of the filmmakers are seeking distribution, so beneath the surface of the program itself there is a lot of wheeling-and-dealing. This year was no exception, but the denizens of the Sundance bargaining tables looked a little different this time around. Indie studios like A24 and Fox Searchlight were still there, but the big players were Amazon Studios and Netflix, with each of the streaming services purchasing rights to five films! Continue reading “Second-Hand Sundance: Streaming Services Spend Big and Other Stories”