“After Yang” is a sublime sci-fi independent film
TOP CHOICE OF THE WEEK
**** I once heard a movie critic say that all great movies are about being a human being who loves other human beings. This is true in After Yang, but the film is also about being a being who loves other beings, human or not. Set in the unspecified future, it chronicles the silent grief of Jake (Colin Farrell) and Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith), who mourn the death of their robotic “son”, Yang (Justin H. Min). Jake thinks Yang can be resurrected, but he’s more interested in using a device called a Reader to immerse himself in Yang’s experiences, including his secret romance with a clone named Ada (Haley Lu Richardson). Ada’s longing and loneliness haunt After Yang– your heart breaks as you watch her hold on, even when her eyes threaten to unleash a sea of tears – but somehow the film leaves you burning with hope. Adapting a short story by Alexander Weinstein, writer-director Kogonada (Columbus) merges his deeply felt script with sublime imagery, like a cosmic sight that represents Yang consciousness. When Jake falls into one of Yang’s memories, a faint dot enlarges, becoming a memory. Therein lies the wonderful idea that defines the film – that a moment, whether beautiful or ordinary or both, can be a star. PG. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Hollywood.
**** In turn red, the latest kinetic gem from Pixar Animation Studios, 13-year-old Meilin (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) yells, “I’m a big red monster!” Given her age, you might think she’s talking pimples, but Meilin literally talks – when her emotions rise, she transforms into a fuzzy red panda. It’s a metaphor, but what for? Puberty? Exit? Discovering a furry fetish? Audiences are likely to come up with dueling perspectives, which is a sign of the film’s intelligence – it’s too radical and mythical to be confined to a single interpretation. Meilin’s mother, Ming (Sandra Oh), wants to perform a ritual to banish the panda in her daughter’s soul, but Meilin happily and firmly tells her, “My panda, my choice, mom,” a characteristic line from a specialized studio. to serve as allegorical baggage for all ages. Both children and adults will enjoy turn red, directed by Domee Shi, revels in Meilin’s panda-like exultation – she defeats a bully and leaps across rooftops – but most importantly, the film is aimed at girls Meilin’s age. As the triumphant “Pandas, Assemble!” the climax suggests, turn redthe first Pixar film with an all-female creative direction team, wants them to feel both entertained and seen. PG. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Disney+.
drive my car
**** After seeing drive my car, you’ll never look at snow, suspension bridges or scenes the same way again. When you see the world through the scrutinizing eyes of director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, there is no mere setting. There is only the living fabric of places and objects that envelop Yûsuke (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and Misaki (Tôko Miura), whose compassion and complexity are a world in their own right. Most of the film takes place in Hiroshima, where Yûsuke directs a production of Chekhov Uncle Vanya. Misaki is assigned to be his driver, but their relationship transcends the separation between front seat and back seat. Over the surreal yet oddly believable journeys, conversations, and adventures, their reserve gradually erodes as they reveal their losses and inner lives to each other, reaching a cathartic climax that leaves you both broken. and hovering. The film, based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, isn’t afraid to face the agony of grief and loneliness, but Hamaguchi’s evident love for his characters imbues the entire journey with an invigorating warmth. A tender, hopeful coda set during the pandemic might have been commendable, but like every moment of the film, it’s worth believing because Hamaguchi’s sincerity is unquestionable. “We must go on living,” Yūsuke told Misaki. With these words, he is not only addressing her but us. NR. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Fox Tower.
Lucy and Desi
*** This Amy Poehler-directed documentary should be considered more of a splendid tribute than an in-depth documentary on Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Archival footage, rare home videos and audio recordings provide touching intimacy, but these glimpses into their personal lives are as deep as the film, aside from a few passing mentions of trauma with the “yada yada’d” details. . It works well because there’s not enough running time to address the deeper elements with the respect they deserve, and because that’s not the story Poehler seems to want to tell. The star interviews (Bette Midler, Carol Burnett, Charo) are full of the effusive praise you’d expect from celebrities pontificating on each other, but intertwined with enough of their personal stories to keep things interesting. Poehler expresses a reverence for his subjects by falling back on repeated use of emotive background music and narrative crescendos usually reserved for a cathartic conclusion, but the film ultimately ends well. She has created a dazzling love letter to one of her heroes and a shimmering entry point for those who discover two trailblazers whose influence still resonates. PG. RAY GILL JR. Amazon Premier.
** “What’s black and blue and dead all over?” In The Batman, the Riddler (Paul Dano) poses this question to the Dark Knight (Robert Pattinson), but blacks and blues don’t feature much in the film – visually, morally and emotionally, it’s a gray film. While director Matt Reeves brought majestic mourning to the Planet of the Apes series, he seems completely lost in Gotham City. His nearly three-hour film is less a narrative than a mechanistic study of a political conspiracy the Riddler wants to expose – the story begins after the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents not only because we’ve seen it before, but because Reeves is more interested in plot than pathos. Even the soulful, sultry presence of Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman can’t liven up the film – she and Batman flirt so chastely as if it hadn’t been for a few F-bombs and awkwardly staged fight scenes, Reeves could have easily gotten away with a G rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. When Christopher Nolan directed the Black Knight trilogy, it tore apart the Batman mythos with fervor, whereas Reeves just seems to be marinating unrestrainedly in misery, especially when the film attempts an embarrassing and half-hearted critique of Bruce and the rest of Gotham’s 1%. What is dead everywhere? The Batman. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Academy, Baghdad, Cedar Hills, Cinema 21, Cinemagic, City Center, Eastport, Fox Tower, Laurelhurst, Lloyd Center, Pioneer Place, St. Johns, St. Johns Twin, Studio One, Tigard.
** Cyrano de Bergerac, the all-consuming saga of wit and beauty by 19th-century French playwright Edmond Rostand, is a tragedy, but not because it ends in death. It’s about the tragedy of the unsaid, which is why it’s bizarre that playwright Erica Schmidt and members of The National reimagined it as a musical. A play about characters failing to express themselves hardly suits the most expressive of all genres, but that hasn’t stopped director Joe Wright, who has turned Schmidt’s confusing overhaul into a confusing film. Peter Dinklage perfectly embodies Cyrano’s swashbuckling flair and punishing self-doubt, but he doesn’t live up to the songs’ deafening lyrics, which feature flimsy platitudes like “I need more !” and unintentionally laughable laments like “So take this letter to my wife and tell her I loved my life.” What little power the movie has comes from its cast, which includes Haley Bennett as Roxanne, whom Cyrano silently loves. Almost 15 years ago, Bennett stole the show from Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore with her portrayal of an ethereal pop princess in Music and Lyrics, but her charisma matches perfectly with Dinklage’s in Cyrano. The songs may stink, but with the dialogue and the emotions, the actors create a duet of longing and regret that could bring the ghost of Rostand to tears. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Cedar Hills, Cinema 21, Eastport, Clackamas, Laurelhurst, Lounge, Progress Ridge, Studio One.
Huda’s living room
** This spy drama set in the West Bank opens with Israel’s so-called separation wall, reinforcing that the events of the film take place in a sort of cauldron. Suspicion and oppression are stoked by unseen forces until they are self-perpetuating, like filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now, Omar) highlights a puzzling betrayal based on true events. Huda (Manal Awad), a Palestinian salon owner, blackmails a client named Rema (Maisa Abd Elhadi) for the Israeli secret service, erecting a fence in the story itself. One half of the film focuses on Huda’s black box theatre-style interrogation by a Palestinian intelligence chief, while the other half is devoted to Rema who wonders if she can tell her jealous husband that she is doing subject to blackmail. This mirror structure should offer some insight into the character, but the script tricks evade its promise. Huda’s interrogation informs too loudly and conveniently about Rema’s domestic debacle, allowing only flickers of organic drama between husband and wife. The bottom line, clearly explained but shown mutedly, is how state violence and conservative oppression prey on women until they prey on each other. Although Awad has some memorable doe eyes, however, the film gets bogged down in the sociopolitical backstory of why she endangered her community. It’s a portrait of a traitor, but with a large dialog box in place of her face. R CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. The living room.