Hey everyone! I had another great day at NYFF including getting to meet one of my online friends Alli. We went to this wildly overpriced seafood restaurant (they charged $9 for a little bowl of rice!) but had a good time (it was quite stressful trying to navigate New York in the rain! A kindly doorman helped me get a cab. Thank you!).
Anyway, I saw 2 movies at the festival and they were interesting watches. No panels today but I still had a good time. So here goes:
Return to Seoul
I’ve always been someone that believes adoption can be a beautiful and wonderful experience but there’s no question it carries with it an array of emotions and challenges. Return to Seoul dives into that with the lead character Frederique or Freddie coming back to Seoul to meet her birth parents (she was adopted by a French family).
The film makes some big time jumps so you get to see Freddie through different periods of her life each time trying to balance her French and Korean sides. It’s all beautifully filmed with good performances particularly from Park Ji-Min who plays Freddie.
The only challenge is Freddie is a young selfish character who can be frustrating to watch at times. I don’t mind an unlikable character but particularly in the last section where she’s a soulless business-woman it was a lot to take in. The pacing is also of the indie-variety that may be challenging for some viewers.
Overall Return to Seoul is a memorable look at one woman’s look into her complicated identity.
7 out of 10
As seems to be the case lately, I feel torn on the new movie from director Maria Schrader depicting the Harvey Weinstein investigation, She Said. It’s a perfectly well done journalism film in the spirit of All the President’s Men (which I admittedly don’t love) and Spotlight. The performances are good, the reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey are admirable people who are good at their jobs.
However, it all felt a little too tidy and safe for my liking. Only Hollywood could make a movie about the Harvey Weinstein scandal where basically only he and his bland board of directors are at fault. Despite the fact that actors like Jane Fonda have admitted they knew what was happening and didn’t do anything (the problem was more than just one man, it was systematic). When Ricky Gervais got upset at the Golden Globes he may have been uncouth, but he was right about the way so many knew what was happening and did nothing.
Hollywood loved Harvey and some of the actors who are portrayed as heroic in the film could have done more to help others avoid this and other horrible men. I understand that’s up to them in their journey as a victim but it just rubbed me the wrong way how the movie didn’t acknowledge the greater Hollywood problem.
That said, the investigation by the 2 journalists is done well. Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazaan bring a lot of personality to the roles (although I wish they hadn’t acted like postpartum depression is solved by…working hard?) Anyway, Jennifer Ehle steals the show, as she usually does, playing a victim Laura Madden who was one of the few allowed to testify because she wasn’t under a NDA gag order from a settlement.
Like I said, I feel torn on She Said. It’s fine but its weaknesses irritated me. It could have been a lot more daring and had something to say (Mulligan’s Promising Young Woman was divisive but far more evocative.) I think someone outside of the Hollywood system would have been a better choice to tell this story. Then it wouldn’t feel so sanitized and safe.
5 out of 10
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