Hello! I’m Mark Olsen. Welcome to another edition of your regular field guide to a world of Only Good Movies.
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If you’re reading this newsletter, you probably know that the Oscars took place this past weekend, with “Everything, Everywhere, All At Once” taking seven awards, including Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, Actress in a cast, supporting actor and editing. But our coverage doesn’t end when the show ends, as there’s still plenty to ponder, dissect, and discuss.
Justin Chang wrote about “Everything Everywhere” and how, as strange as the movie sounds, it’s a very traditional family story, one that has played around in his mind several times and in many different ways. (A multiverse of opinions, if you will.)
As he wrote, “How, then, to consider the fact that ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once,’ with its phenomenal box office success and seven Oscars on Sunday night, now stands as the biggest Asian-American movie in history?” This is a watershed moment, unquestionably, and after nearly a century of Hollywood’s indifference to Asian characters, actors, stories, and narrators, plus the intensified anti-Asian rhetoric and violence of recent years, it’s not something to be taken lightly.”
With acting awards going to Brendan Fraser, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Cutis and Ke Huy Quan, I examined whether this was the “Year of Comeback” at the Oscars.
“Dreams are something you have to believe in. I almost gave up on mine. To all of you, please keep your dreams alive,” Quan said in his deeply emotional speech. He concluded by saying, “Thank you very much for welcoming me.”
Although there was a lot to celebrate that night, there was still room to do better. While “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR” became the first winning original song from an Indian film, as reported by Jen Yamato and Helen Li, the song’s performance on the broadcast did not feature any South Asian performers. .
Michael Ordoña, James Reed, Amy Kaufman and Jen Yamato hit the afterparty circuit, from the academy’s Governors Ball to events hosted by Elton John and Vanity Fair.
After all his work at the Governors Ball, photographer Jay L. Clendenin also got fantastic shots of Jamie Lee Curtis at the Beverly Hills Hotel the next morning.
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Directed by Vasilis Katsoupis from a script by Ben Hopkins, “Inside” it’s something of an existential thriller about an art theft gone wrong. When Nemo (the eminently convincing Willem Dafoe) finds himself trapped inside a luxury apartment while trying to steal the multi-million dollar art kept there, he struggles to survive and find a way to escape. The movie is already in theaters.
For Tribune News Service, Katie Walsh wrote: “Katsoupis questions the overly inflated value of art while reminding us that expression is inherently human and elemental. It is closer to the top of our hierarchy of needs than we might assume. Katsoupis asks these searching and provocative questions about humanity, but she offers no clear messages or answers. Rather, she lets her muse, Dafoe, simply inhabit this harrowing journey with his uncanny magnetism and sense of timelessness, in a performance that is both primal and transcendent. Nemo becomes a figure straight out of Greek mythology, wielding the forces of creation and destruction, but whether he is Sisyphus, Prometheus, or maybe even Icarus is unclear.”
Emily Zemler spoke with Katsoupis and art curator Leonardo Bigazzi about creating the art collection seen throughout “Inside,” which involved bringing together existing works and commissioning new ones specifically for the film. As Katsoupis said: “I had an idea in mind for the collection, but I needed an expert to make it legit. We have seen too many movies that have to do with art and most of the time the art is fake or look-alike. I really wanted everything in my film to be very, very correct.”
For The New York Times Amy Nicholson wrote: “Katsoupis and screenwriter Ben Hopkins aren’t concerned with pulling off a believable heist caper. Katsoupis is more of a snotty teaseer with the elegance of such deep stance. He mocks the rich, filling the stone apartment with futile luxuries that give it the feel of a pharaoh’s tomb. … When boredom sets in, we are offered silence to contemplate our own definition of art as Nemo the criminal evolves into Nemo the creator. The awesome escape contraptions of him are tools. His haunting scribbles on the wall are therapy. Both receive as much reverence as anything that has a price.”
For Rolling Stone David Fear wrote: “There are hints that some, or perhaps most of what we are seeing, may not be real, especially when Nemo’s hallucinations begin to outweigh the more realistic scenes of his isolation. However, ‘Inside”s attempts to play existential mind games don’t pan out either, and you can feel that wooing such a pretense isn’t a winning hand for this film. … What is clear is that big players can do a lot to sell an ingenious idea that ends up being both their differential factor and their worst enemy. Yet even an Oscar-nominated GOAT can’t escape something that looks so perfectly put together on the outside and is so flawed, easily torn apart and barely held together on the inside.”
For IndieWireKate Erbland wrote: “For a film so obsessed with art (expensive art, crazy art, serious art), ‘Inside’ abandons its most compelling questions all too quickly. What good is any of this art in the face of real need? When Nemo uses a priceless statue to open a door, his conversion seems obvious; once he takes another and folds it into a tent, it’s complete. It’s also too forceful, like ‘Inside’. Real art asks questions, it doesn’t answer them in the clearest terms possible.”
Written and directed by Paul Weitz, “Forward” is a mix of sophisticated Neil Simon/Mike Nichols farce with a Robert Altman-like stirring sensibility. At the funeral of an old college friend, Claire (Jane Fonda) tells Evelyn (Lily Tomlin) that she intends to murder the deceased woman’s husband, Howard (Malcolm McDowell), as revenge for a traumatic event at the past that led to the end of Claire’s marriage to Ralph (Richard Roundtree). The movie is already in theaters.
For The Times, Gary Goldstein called the film “a funny, bittersweet little story of love, friendship and, yes, retribution.” He added: “Fonda and Tomlin, who have become something of a modern female version of Matthau and Lemmon, not only playfully showcase their vivid chemistry, but bring expert nuance and pathos to their characters’ many emotional twists – great and small. If that’s not a huge surprise, given the length and breadth and caliber of their runs, it’s still moving and impressive to behold.”
For The New York Times, AO Scott he wrote, It becomes clear pretty soon that ‘Moving On’ is operating in strange and risky genre territory. If the phrase ‘rape revenge comedy’ sounds like an oxymoron, this movie won’t convince you otherwise. …Something else is missing here: a ludicrous energy or satirical boldness that could shake up the premise of a haunting life, or else a deeper, darker core of feeling. ‘Moving On’ takes refuge in the kindness and easy charm of its protagonists. Which are, as I’ve said, consistently enjoyable to watch. What could be the problem.
For A.P. Lindsey Bahr wrote: “This is one of those rare films that balances a dark comedy swagger with authentic emotional resonance, allowing Fonda, Tomlin, and their co-stars Malcolm McDowell and Richard Roundtree to really perform rather than be demeaned by cheap caricatures of people. greater. … Let’s hope that performances like these remind writers, directors and those who make the decision about what is done to cast our living legends in good roles while we still have them. The actors keep playing and hopefully the audience too.”
‘Full River Red’
Directed and co-written by Zhang Yimou, “Full Red River” it has become the biggest box office success of his long career in the filmmaker’s native China, currently said to be the sixth highest-grossing film in the country. Based on a well-known historical poem, with a cast that includes Jackson Yee, Shen Teng and Lei Jiayin, the story, apparently a murder mystery on an epic scale, mixes comedy and political intrigue. The movie is already in theaters.
For The Times, Justin Chang wrote: “What lies at the heart of the maze is best not divulged too explicitly here, though it may explain why the film has become a blockbuster (it has grossed over $600 million in home) and the biggest commercial success of Zhang’s prolific, alternately haunted and beleaguered career. ‘Full River Red’ is the title of a famous poem, a lament and a war cry (“There we will feast on the barbarian flesh “), believed to have been written by the Song dynasty general Yue Fei, which nearly everyone in China is said to know by heart. That adds more than a touch of jingoism to this amusing mechanical parlor trick, which generates a rush of emotion that can make your heart sink or soar.”
For the new york times brandon yu wrote: “Despite a prolific filmography of grandiose art and essay that has often struggled with the vast span of Chinese history, the filmmaker has imbued a dynastic war fable with elements of whodunit slapstick. However, the charm of light, offered mainly by Shen as the goofy sidekick, serves as a saving grace amid the dark political games. … The lighthearted tone that looms keeps it afloat and suspends the viewer in mostly carefree entertainment throughout its two and a half hour run.”