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Drama

Ang Lee to Helm Biopic on Bruce Lee’s Life Casting his son Mason Lee to Play the Iconic Martial Artist

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Martial Arts icon Bruce Lee has always been ripe for an adaptation of his life. There was a surge in the late legendary martial artist’s interest once the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, Be Water was released during the pandemic. Now, it seems that an Oscar-winning director is set to bring a narrative about Lee’s life to the big screen with a rather interesting casting choice as well.

According to an exclusive from Deadline, Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Life of Pi) will helm the biographical drama aptly titled, Bruce Lee for Sony Pictures. Additionally, the director has cast his son, Mason Lee to play the lead part of the oriental icon. Dan Futterman (Capote, Foxcatcher) will write the script that will follow the life of the generational multi-hyphenate.

Bruce Lee came to the United States in 1966 starring as Kato in The Green Hornet television series which introduced Lee to US audiences however, the sidekick moniker that Lee has accrued due to being the titular character’s “right hand man” left the Chinese-American star desiring more leading roles. From there, Lee headed back to Hong Kong where he became a massive film star. Though he was on the precipice of American stardom with the martial arts flick, Enter the Dragon in 1973, Lee tragically and suddenly passed away during an automated dialogue replacement session for the movie. His autopsy revealed that there was fluid in his brain that led to his untimely at the age of 32.

The casting of Mason Lee from his father may be surprising, however, also embedded in the report is news that Mason Lee has been training to play Bruce Lee for the past three years through the COVID lockdown. Additionally, he previously appeared in Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk and The Hangover Part III as well as Hong Kong dramatic films, Limbo and Mu Ji Zhe so he does have true acting experience. 

Bruce Lee is not the first biographical film to follow the life of multifaceted star as Jason Scott Lee played Lee in 1993’s Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story as well. As a highly successful director of Asian descent, Ang Lee is the perfect choice to helm a movie on Bruce Lee’s life and with his passion for the material and years of development on the project, Bruce Lee has potential to garner critical and box-office success when the film is released.

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Drama

The Zone Of Interest Is A Bleak Reminder of the Horrors of Holocaust

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Zone of Interest [credit: A24]

The Zone of Interest is Jonathan Glazer’s latest feature loosely based on Martin Amis’ novel of the same name. It stars Christian Friedel and Sandra Huller in the lead roles. The German-language feature was a major breakout from the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, where it also won the Grand Prix award. It is based around one of the darkest chapters in human history and serves as an important reminder of how brutal and evil humans are capable of being.

Glazer is known for having carefully crafted frames with plenty of nuances which is the case here as well. He intricately designs each and every scene for maximum impact. Before we enter the first scene, the screen fades to black with a chilling score in the background that sets the viewer up for everything they are about to witness. Black is also the colour of evil which hints at what aspects of human nature this story will explore. The cinematography is also top-notch. The use of natural lighting works really well to complement the setting of a warm family atmosphere. Also, there are a few moments where the visual style changes and those scenes are thoughtfully captured as well.

Zone of Interest [credit: A24]

Christian Friedel and Sandra Huller are both fantastic in their roles. Friedel is absolutely convincing as Rudolph Hoss, the commander of the Auschwitz concentration camps, and Huller plays his wife Hedwig, who steals a lot of scenes with her emotional range. The editing is also careful and patient. Each scene gets time to breathe and settle properly resulting in a lot of extended scenes of the daily life of the family. The background music is minimal, but whenever it kicks in, it makes sure to elevate the scenes with creepy and ominous sounds.

The plot may seem basic and simple on the surface level, but we gradually see the layers unfold as the narrative moves forward. The story gets darker and darker with time and can be utterly shocking and horrifying at times, especially in the third act. It is no doubt a slow burn In terms of its pacing and takes its own time to set things up and we keep getting to see more sides of the characters in the second half of the movie. 

Zone of Interest [credit: A24]

 

It is utterly shocking how a family man who reads his children bedtime stories and loves his wife wholeheartedly can do the things that Rudolph Hoss does. But that level of brutality and faithfulness to reality is among its biggest strengths. The movie doesn’t have too many weak aspects, but it is slow and takes a while to get going. Also, it will turn out to be difficult to follow or comprehend for general audiences and it might be difficult to follow for some. It demands patience and attention.

The Zone of Interest is a kind of movie that subtly and slowly horrifies you with its brutal and harrowing storytelling. Jonathan Glazer is at the top of his game. The lead performances are top notch and the conclusion leaves a heavy impact on the viewer. It won’t work for everyone, but will certainly find the appreciation it deserves.

The Zone of Interest will release in cinemas on December 8.

 

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Drama

‘Past Lives’ Review: A Transcendent Cinematic Journey

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Greta Lee and Teo Yoo in a still from 'Past Lives' (A24)

Hollywood has a knack for producing extraordinary movies year after year, but there comes a time when the industry exceeds all expectations with a gem of a movie like ‘Past Lives.’ A mesmerizing film directed by the talented Celine Song takes audiences on an unparalleled journey of self-discovery and the exploration of our interconnectedness through time. This thought-provoking movie connects various lives, blurring the boundaries of reality and immersing viewers in a transcendental tale.

The romantic drama showcases Song’s remarkable storytelling ability, presenting a narrative that delicately balances emotion and intellect. ‘Past Lives’ starts with Hae Sung (Teo Yoo), Nora (Greta Lee), and Arthur (John Magaro) sitting at a bar. An unseen couple watches and tries to guess their relationship. We are taken back in time and get all the vital details about the relationship they have been sharing throughout various parts of their lives. One of the best aspects of the movie is how Son interconnects the lives of diverse characters across different periods and unveils the secrets that bind them together. The film’s nonlinear structure allows for a gripping exploration of multiple storylines, ensuring an engaging and enthralling experience.

Greta Lee in a still from ‘Past Lives’ (A24)

Visually, ‘Past Lives’ is an absolute feast for the eyes. The poignant visuals heighten the emotional resonance of the narrative, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer. Accompanying the stunning visuals and sound design is an enchanting score that perfectly complements the film’s ethereal quality. Beyond its visual and musical splendor, the movie invites viewers to contemplate profound themes and philosophical questions. The film raises thought-provoking inquiries about the nature of existence, the way people’s lives are connected, and the impact of our actions across time. The script forces the moviegoers to reflect on the concept of destiny, choices, and the ripple effects they create.

Furthermore, the performances in ‘Past Lives’ are nothing short of extraordinary. The ensemble cast, led by seasoned actors, delivers nuanced and heartfelt portrayals, breathing life into their respective characters. Greta Lee is enchanting as Nora and delivers a performance that is undoubtedly going to give her all the buzz during the awards season. Meanwhile, Teo Yoo is just as brilliant. The talent on display evokes genuine empathy, enhancing the overall experience.

A still from ‘Past Lives’ (A24)

Even though the awards season is far away from where we are, we have already got a strong contender for Best Picture and top acting categories in the form of ‘Past Lives.’ It is quite rare these days to see a romantic story that provides such an immersive experience and we are glad that Celine Song’s film has given us a movie that makes us wonder why such romantic movies are not made anymore.

‘Past Lives’ is a modern masterpiece.

 

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Comedy

A Kind of Kidnapping – Dark Comedy with Politics

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Written and directed by Dan Clark, this fairly star studded independent film follows a young couple who are stuck in a financial situation, and decide to kidnap a sleazy conservative politician in order to receive a ransom, that will allow them to escape their static lives.

Patrick Baladi (The Office) plays Hardy our creepy politician, Kelly Wenham (Double Date) plays Maggie, a complex woman who seemingly is always drawn to the “bad boy”, Jack Parry-Jones (The Crown) plays Brian our voice of reason within all of this, or is he?

A Kind of Kidnapping [2023]

The character development is well written and allows the space for character arcs, unlike a lot of small films, where there isn’t that room in the script. The three main leads feel very grounded and familiar, everyone knows someone like this in their life or perhaps public figures in the media.

The performances of the main three lead actors are great, if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think this film would work as well. Alongside the strong performances, the editing of the film helped to navigate this non-linear plot and allowed the film to peel aways the layers of backstory which all helped to create a stronger character driven piece.

A Kind of Kidnapping [2023]

As the film was nearing the final act,  it felt as though it was dragging a little. Dan Clark mentioned in the Q&A after the screening how this was a short film before and I can definitely see how it could work in a confined setting really well. Maybe there was a bit of padding in second to third act to reach that feautre length requirement that didn’t aid certain character moments.

If you want to hear my full thoughts, the best thing to do is check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your thoughts in the comments. 

When independent film is fighting for its life, A Kind of Kidnapping is the light in the dark. This is one of the better British produced indie films I’ve seen in a long time. 

A Kind of Kidnapping is out on digital on 24th July on iTunes, Amazon, Google and Sky.

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the [series/movie/etc] being covered here wouldn’t exist.

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