Meewella | Critic

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QuickView: Broker (2022)

“I know everything. You’re not a family.”


Kore-eda Hirokazu’s skill, on display here as in Shoplifters, is presenting found families — those cleaved together by choice rather than blood — in a way that feels both natural and intimate, with an excellent cast led by Parasite’s Song Kang-ho. Broker again explores this through good-hearted criminals, in this case a pair who obtain abandonned babies and sell them to families wishing to adopt. The film’s complications arise from two angles: a mother returning to recover her baby and two police officers hunting down the illegal brokers. Kore-eda’s script is compassionate toward the varying reasons for which mothers may make the difficult decision to give up children, whilst exploring the characters’ reasons for having strong views — particularly Dong-Soo upon returning to the orphanage where he grew up. Broker is a gentle, charming film even as the audience knows it cannot end happily for everyone. The dynamic of its makeshift family is not as nuanced as Shoplifters, but Broker is still a highly effective piece of cinema as Kore-eda continues to hone his craft away from the standard fare.


QuickView: Rebel Moon: Part 1 – A Child of Fire (2023)

“I am a child of war.”


The parallels between Rebel Moon and Star Wars — both set in a galaxy ruled by an authoritarian empire challenged by a small band of rebels — are overstated and certainly not the primary issue with Zack Snyder’s space opera, which draws liberal inspiration from the past 50 years of sci-fi movies. This “Part 1” (due to be concluded next year) sets up the pleasantly small-scale stakes of a farming community facing a ticking clock to destruction, but it devolves into a collect-a-thon when Kora leaves to recruit warriors to aid their fight. It turns the film’s second act into a series of extended introductions to cookie-cutter characters, usually involving violence. An amalgamation of these scenes may have made for a bombastic trailer but laid out in full it is barely watchable. Rebel Moon’s most interesting character is the android Jimmy, a contemplative former soldier voiced by Anthony Hopkins, but once established he vanishes (the fact he may be relevant in Part 2 does little to aid this film). A villainous Ed Skrein is at least enjoying himself as a cruel and capricious officer. Disappointingly, much of the world building occurs through clunky expository monologues about Kora’s past rather than emerging organically from the story. The purpose of planet-hopping space opera should be to explore the variety offered by a vast galaxy, but Snyder’s “vision” is a series of grimy monochromatic locations that rarely feel like distinct worlds. The action is rote, save for Nemesis’s twin-bladed fight against a chimeric arachnid, and Snyder’s continuing predilection for slow-motion adds little beyond extending the running time. If Netflix is paying for “content”, there is plenty here but with little depth to any of it. Rebel Moon is not even thematically consistent, with Nemesis warning against revenge immediately followed by Kora enticing her next recruit with a promise of revenge. With the production values on display this is not Battlefield Earth bad, but it does become nearly as ponderous. Snyder recently stated that he was glad he didn’t get his wish to direct a Star Wars movie because it granted him greater creative control in Rebel Moon instead; perhaps we should all be equally glad, if not for the same reason.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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