An English-language, Korean-directed adaption of a French graphic novel is worth your time in theaters this week, plus four things worth streaming on Netflix!
In theaters: Snowpiercer
Next in the (what I hope will be)1 long line of post-apocalyptic climate change movies: Snowpiercer! After fudging our atmosphere’s bucket, the remnants of humanity are crammed into a train destined to circle the now-frozen globe for as long as its engine keeps on running. To exit the train means death, to stay inside of the train, for the majority of people, means a life in oppressive squalor.
Like most forms of public transportation, the fancy folks occupy the first couple of cars of the train, while the drecks of humanity live in the tail cars. This, as you can imagine, is not the most equitable of situatons. Not to worry, Captain America is there to save the day and fight for the meek! Well, not Captain America, but Chris Evans–who I’m not entirely sure isn’t just Captain America in real life. He leads a ragtag group of rebels from the back of the train to the front in a violent struggle for equality.
Snowpiercer is an English-language, Korean-directed adaptation of a French graphic novel. If it were a strictly American film, it’d be a total summer-blockbuster snooze fest. Luckily, it’s directed by Bong Joon-ho who you may know from the absolutely amazing The Host, and it’s produced by one of my all-time faves Park Chan-wook. These guys are masters at combining violence, the grotesque, and humor into something that feels above and beyond the capabilities of American directors in this genre.2 You get what you’d expect out of Chris Evans, but his supporting cast is wonderful, especially Tilda Swinton playing a decaying, matronly figure. She’s definitely grotesque (but funny!). ★★★★★
- Why you should see this movie: It’s gross, fun, and has a compelling story–much like a toddler.
- Why you shouldn’t: It suffers for being an adaptation of a previous work. Some of the plot points, which are clearly central to the original graphic novel, are crammed into overly long Chris Evans monologues.
- Bechdel Test: Passes on a technicality. Octavia Spencer and Tilda Swinton talk about a child (who’s male). But mostly it’s just Chris Evans chopping up folks with axes.
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Seven Chances (1925)
by Susan Howson
Nobody does physical comedy like Buster Keaton, and, arguably, nowhere is physical comedy more hilarious than in silent film. With his classic stoneface and penchant for inviting trouble, Keaton plays Jimmie, a guy who has to get married in the next few hours–OR FACE FINANCIAL RUIN. You may remember this as a 1999 film starring Chris O’Donnell, but, as is almost always the case, the original chews up, spits out, and throws boulders all over the remake. But that’s what you get for trying to redo a genius work from a legendary, groundbreaking director. ★★★★★
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Apparently in the 50s, husbands, abandoned for the summer by their wives and children due to the oppressive New York City heat, would have affairs?And this was totally fine in an “<shrug> C’est la vie!” kind of way! Marilyn Monroe, as always, kills it like a genius, and Tom Ewell trundles about hilariously. While I thought it was lovely and couldn’t stop laughing, Director Billy Wilder regretted making the film due to the production codes at the time which wouldn’t allow for on-screen affairs. ★★★★★
The Endless Summer (1966)
A classic surf movie that the entire world knew about but me! Follow two surfers from the 1960s as they chase summer across the globe while filmmaker Bruce Brown charmingly (and sarcasticly) narrates. It’s maybe the most adorable film I’ve seen this year. ★★★★★★
How much do you know about General George S. Patton? Did you know he participated in the 1912 Olympics in the pentathlon? Did you know he hated Russians and Germans alike? Or that he was instrumental in saving those guys from Band of Brothers in Bastogne? After a viewing of Patton, which includes the iconic “Standing In Front Of An American Flag” scene, you’ll know plenty more. It’s a war epic of epic length, but it’s totally worth 170 minutes of your life. ★★★★★