This weekend, moviegoers can escape reality or face it
This weekend, you can choose from the fantastical worlds of aliens and geniuses or the reality of a U.S. Marine facing an indifferent veteran administration as a trio of new movies open in theaters.
Fantasy and real-life drama collide at the box office this weekend
“Three thousand years of nostalgia”
It feels like a millennium of dizzying anticipation waiting for George Miller’s new movie starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. But “Three Thousand Years of Longing” is finally here, and it serves up a story about stories.
Alithea (Tilda Swinton) introduces herself and tells us that she has a story to share, a true story but one that could best be understood in the context of a fairy tale. Truth and fantasy intertwine seductively as she recounts how she pulled a Djinn (or genie played by Idris Elba) out of a mysterious old bottle and how he asked the classic question, “What would you wish for What is your heart’s desire?
But Alithea knows only too well the dangers of such an offer. Her life’s work is to study stories and their meaning, and she emphasizes, “There is no story about wishing that is not a cautionary tale.”
Miller’s film – based on A.S. Byatt’s book “The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye” – is a cautionary tale but one fueled by unbridled imagination and intoxicating visuals that shoot out from the screen. Miller, who is probably best known for his “Mad Max” films, knows how to capture both the epic scale of a story spanning centuries and the small details that make stories personal.
The film also builds unexpectedly rich emotional layers thanks to the dream cast of Swinton and Elba. They deliver an adult fairy tale that subverts expectations by giving us a magical Djinn who is more vulnerable to disordered human emotions than the woman he tries to manipulate into making wishes so he can be freed from a curse. .
“Three Thousand Years of Longing” is a glorious valentine for the power stories have to teach us about empathy and the human condition. See it in a cinema where Miller’s bold vision has the breadth needed for such an epic yet intimate tale.
Then a South Korean sci-fi tale catapults out of space to give us a world where aliens use earth as a prison with the criminals imprisoned in human bodies. Then the guards go back and forth in time to make sure they don’t escape.
Choi Dong-hoon’s “Alienoid” also has dosas (a kind of wizard), droids, time-traveling SUVs, lots of tentacles, a divine blade that everyone is looking for, and a young girl on a mission.
The story is too crazy to fit in one movie, so it’s really just the first part of a time-hopping saga that boldly mixes period martial arts action with science. -modern fiction and still leaves room for a broad comedy. It can be confusing and convoluted at times, but it’s also extremely engaging and ridiculous fun. Additionally, the effects and production design are imaginative.
With “Alienoid”, you can either complain about all its inconsistencies and irregularities, or choose to indulge in its madness and simply enjoy it. When a film is made with such unpretentious enthusiasm and energy, I surrender. I hope the second part will come soon.
If you’re looking for something more grounded in reality, John Boyega gives an intense and heartbreaking performance as a former Marine fed up with the VA’s inability to provide the promised support.
“Breaking” is based on the true story of Brian Brown-Easley, who had served as a Marine in the Middle East and suffered from PTSD and a physical disability as a result. When the VA fails to make his usual disability payment, he risks ending up on the streets. He then decides to take hostages in a bank in the hope that the media will highlight his problems. When the movie premiered at Sundance earlier this year (which is when I saw it) it was called “892”, the amount of money it claimed the VA owed him. So he had no intention of robbing the bank, only to get what he felt was his due.
“Breaking” has some structural similarity to “Dog Day Afternoon”, which was about an actual bank robbery in which the hostages felt some compassion for the robbers. But “Breaking” is more of a spirit akin to Denzel Washington’s film, “John Q.” Both films give us good men driven to make desperate choices in order to draw attention to maddening inequalities. In the case of “John Q”, the issue was health care.
While “Breaking” overtly focuses on how the VA mistreated Easley, it also makes another point about how law enforcement puts more emphasis on resolving situations with firepower and violence than on negotiation. The film echoes issues raised at the height of the 2020 protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd. At that time there were calls for defunding the police to shift funds from the police to social services (which can address underlying issues such as mental health, addictions and homelessness ) in order to bring in people capable of defusing a situation like the one Easley found himself in. The film shows that a negotiator is brought in but doesn’t really get a chance to resolve the situation.
Boyega makes smart movie choices (see also his work in “Small Axe”) and it’s great to watch him grow as an actor. The film also marks the final performance of the ever-remarkable Michael K. Williams as the frustrated negotiator.