Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Adapted From A Different Language

Wanderer loves having us explore foreign cinema and this week we're talking movies that were adapted from a different language. No rules on which ones so there's plenty to choose from. The only rule I gave myself was to not choose my go to's like The Ring or the Departed, or any horror remake really. Here's what I came up with.

1) Brothers

This is a remake of Susanne Bier's Danish film and I really enjoyed it. I feel like no one talks about it anymore, but Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal were great. 

2) Some Like It Hot

Did you know this was a remake of a German film called Fanfaren der Liebe? I didn't when I originally watched it. I haven't seen a lot of Marilyn Monroe's work despite her being so iconic but I love this film. 

3) The Kindergarten Teacher

This is a remake of an Israeli film of the same name and Maggie Gyllenhaal is brilliant in it. It's a frustrating watch at times, but certainly worth it. I can't believe she didn't get any love during awards season. 

Review: Detective Pikachu

Gotta catch 'em all.

Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) is an insurance salesman who is called to Ryme City because of the mysterious death of his detective father. They've been estranged for some time, so Tim isn't thrilled with the prospect of collecting his things. Then he finds his father's Pokemon Partner, Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds) who was supposed to have been dead alongside him. Even more curious, Tim can understand what he says. Now they are forced to try to solve this case together. 

I wasn't a fan of Pokemon growing up, but I was familiar enough with it. They're currently my son's newest obsession so of course we found ourselves in this. The nice thing about it is that you don't need to know the ins and outs of Pokemon to enjoy this movie. There's surprisingly very little fan service. I was expecting far more references to the obvious things. Maybe there were more subtle ones I didn't catch.

Ryme City is a city where humans and Pokemon live side by side, vs everywhere else were they are still in the wild and that's the coolest part of the movie. I like how easily the Pokemon were integrated into society there. When the film starts moving away from that, that's where they start losing steam.

Justice Smith is good, and while I wasn't thrilled with Reynold's voice as Pikachu I did eventually get use to it, but the acting everywhere else was really inconsistent. Poor Ken Wantanbe is here to stare off into the distance again, and everyone else is over acting their parts. 

I wasn't expecting a strong story so I still had fun with this. The second half gives Crimes of Grindlewald a run for its money in the exposition department but it's not enough to stop myself from enjoying this. It makes for a fun matinee at the movies.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I'm actually pretty good at being alone at night." - Tim (Justice Smith)

Review: The Wandering Earth

Goodbye, solar system.

The sun is expanding, and soon Earth will be engulfed. Scientists formulate a plan to launch Earth out of our solar system into a new one by installing massive engines all over one side of the globe. In 2500 years, the Earth will reach a new solar system. Liu Peiqiang (Jing Wu) leaves behind his four year old son with his grandfather, (Man-Tat Ng) to go aboard the international space station that is monitoring Earth's move. The remaining inhabitants of Earth move into underground cities. 19 years later, his son Liu Qi (Chuxiao Qu) has grown into a rebellious young man and takes adopted younger sister Han Duoduo (Jin Mai Jaho) on the service as Liu Peiqiang is getting ready to make his return to Earth. But Earth is moving too close to Jupiter and is going to collide. Now all of these people are getting caught up in a last ditch effort to save humanity. 

This is based on a short story by popular Chinese author Cixin Liu. I read a translation of one of his books, The Three-Body Problem and enjoyed the premise but was ultimately underwhelmed as a whole. My husband loved the book and bought the entire trilogy. This movie was a massive hit in China and when Netflix picked up the U.S distribution, I knew we were going to see it.

Here's the thing about Cixin, I love his ideas but I'm not a huge fan of how they are executed. The premise of this movie is fascinating, the characters aren't the richest, but they give us enough to feel invested. But while it starts out strong the second half flops into a convoluted mess that simultaneously drags, yet doesn't explain itself enough. And like The Three-Body Problem, the ending didn't work for me. It's not going full Ghost Ship like TBP did but Liu Peiqiang does something towards the end that is so serious and risky and he does it with zero input from anyone else that it rubbed me the wrong way. 

Despite not caring for the end, this film is just way too interesting to write off completely. There really isn't another sci fi story like it. If China is making more movies like this, I hope international markets take note and give them a wider release. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "I'm sorry." - Liu Peiqiang (Jing Wu) 

Thursday Movie Picks: Letters

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is movies that have letters as a plot point. Nicholas Sparks basically has an entire filmography on this so here we go.

1) The Color Purple

I've written many times over the weeping mess Celie and Nettie make me in this film, and when Mister pulls them apart and Celie yells "write"...honestly I think I may cry all over again.

2) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Willoughby's letter to Mildred about how he paid for another month on her billboard was amusing, but the letter he writes to his wife before taking his own life is downright heartbreaking. 

3) The Notebook

As much as I make fun of Spark's work, I actually really did like this. It's a nice sappy romance. And Noah wrote a letter every day for a year. That's commitment. 

2019 Blind Spot Series: Kramer vs Kramer

What I knew going in: The plot, but nothing else.

I'm not really sure what pushed me to add Kramer vs Kramer to my Blind Spot list. It might have been a recommendation from a friend, it might have been just wanting to cross more best picture winners off my list, I'm not sure. But what I can be sure about is that I'm happy it got there.

Ted (Dustin Hoffman) and Joanna (Meryl Streep) are getting a divorce. Joanna is fed up and leaves Ted with their seven year old son, Billy (Justin Henry) convinced she's not a good mother and he'll be better off with there. Ted has always been a workaholic and has no idea what to do with his son. 

From reading the trivia on imdb, it seems Meryl Streep did a lot of saving of this script from Joanna's perspective. It's hard to favor one parent over the other. Sure, Joanna leaves, but she has her reasons. Ted's not a great father, but he gets there. Ultimately, I just felt bad for their relationship crumbling, especially in the court room scenes towards the end of the film. 

Hoffman and Streep are both wonderful in their Oscar winning roles, but the star of this film for me was Justin Henry. Amazing child performances are not hard to find and this kid felt so authentic. Every time he cried or got angry over his mom leaving him felt so real. I knew he had been nominated before watching and assumed it was going to be an Abigail Breslin/Little Miss Sunshine situation where any kid would've gotten in for that part but no. He really blew me away. 

My only complaint about this film is that I really just wanted more depth. I wanted more information on Ted and Joanna and I wanted to see more of what happened after their court case. (by the way, both of those lawyers were mega-assholes. Jesus) Though I can see why the film chose not to give us that. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: *whispers* "No" - Ted (Dustin Hoffman)

Review: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Extremely long title.

Notorious murderer Ted Bundy's (Zac Efron) story is told through the eyes of his one time girlfriend, Liz. (Lily Collins) 

I'll never forget the first time I read about Ted Bundy. His crimes were so horrific I don't even want to think about them. Making a movie about someone this disgusting isn't easy, but director Joe Berlinger goes about it in the most restrained way possible.

We're spared the gory recreations of his crimes, thank God. Most of this film focuses on his time in various courts, and his time with Liz, who dated him for years.

Lily Collins is incredible here. She was strong in To The Bone but this might actually top that, and it's easily the best performance Zac Efron has ever given. It was nice to see him step out of his comfort zone, but it also presents one very large problem.

Ted Bundy would fucking love that Zac Efron is playing him because Efron is arguably very good looking. See, the narrative around Bundy during his trial was that he was "hot" and had all these crazy women swooning over him in court when the reality is that Bundy was average. That's why he got away with these murders for so long. Because he was completely unremarkable. So having someone like Efron, who gets a moment in the film to show off how sculpted his body is rubbed me the wrong way because it's buying into glorifying Bundy.

I was wary about this movie going in but it was very well done despite it's problems with portraying Bundy. I appreciate that it wasn't gratuitous and I love most of the cast. Especially Collins and Efron getting to spread their wings a bit.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "What happened to her head?" - Liz (Lily Collins)

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies You Have A Different Opinion Of After Rewatching

This week we have Steven of The Void to thank for topic. Over at Wandering Through The Shelves it's all about those movies that you felt one way or another at first, then changed after watching it a second time. The one that instantly came to for me was Fargo but I already used it this year. I kind of struggled a bit with this, I know there's so many films that make me feel this way but I've never kept track of them in any way. I literally went through my watched films on Letterboxd waiting for a title to jump out at me and here's what I came up with.

1) The Exorcist

This movie absolutely terrified me as a child but when I re-watched it again, it wasn't so scary. Actually, it was quite brilliant. While hiding my face behind my hands I swore I'd never watch it again and I'm very glad I put on my big girl panties and got over it. 

2) Up

It's almost comical how much I hated Up when it first came out. I looked back at a few of my old posts about it and MAN I was harsh. But then I had a baby and he grew into a little boy who adores this movie and now I have a newfound love for it as well. It's actually high on my Pixar list. Oh what motherhood did to my cold black heart. 

3) Thor

Can you believe me, proud holder of the Marvel Bitch card actually didn't like Thor when it first came out? I thought it was so dull and I had a massive headache afterwards because I had to see it in 3D. It wasn't until after Avengers came out that I went back to Thor and enjoyed it more. It's still nowhere near the top of my list but I wasn't bored the second time around.