|PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIREPORTRAIT OF A LADYCOLLECTIONTHIS WEEKVALENTINE|
Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.
As this quarantine wears on, I know you’re all bored enough that you will give a foreign film a try. And with studios releasing some of their biggest theatrical and festival hits on digital platforms early, now is never a better time. Neon’s romance for the ages, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, hit Hulu early last week, while Netflix has some word-of-mouth hits on its hands with the electric K-drama Itaewon Class and the Spanish dystopian thriller The Platform. Those films and more are in this week’s Pop Culture Imports.
Let’s fire up those subtitles and get streaming.Portrait of a Lady on Fire – Hulu
Genre: Romantic drama
Director: Céline Sciamma
Cast: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel.
When the poets write of the great love stories, at the top will be the searing romance between Marianne and Héloïse in Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Céline Sciamma’s rapturous lesbian drama, Portrait of a Lady on Fire follows female artist Marianne Noémie Merlant who is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of a mysterious daughter Adèle Haenel of a French countess, under the pretense of being her walking companion. But as they spend more time together, a close friendship blossoms and eventually, a deep, ecstatic romance. What else can there be written about this movie that hasn’t been written already? Why haven’t you seen it five times already? Watch it now and weep over the sheer overwhelming emotion of it all.
Watch This If You Like: Call Me By Your Name, Carol, Disobedience, the myth of Orpheus but 10 times sadder.Itaewon Class – Netflix
Country: South Korea
Creator: Kim Do-soo
Cast: Park Seo-joon, Kim Da-mi, Yoo Jae-myung, Kwon Nara.
I write about a lot of K-dramas in this column, and even as a fan of the medium, they start to feel samey after a while. But Itaewon Class has an energy to it, an electricity that pulses through its story of a young business owner whose group of ragtag employees try to hold down their bar in the hottest neighborhood in Seoul, that makes the series feel like few K-dramas I’ve watched before. The series follows Park Saeroyi Parasite‘s Park Seo-joon, an impossibly principled young man with a bad haircut whose opens a pocha a sort of sit-down bar called DanBam and destroy his enemies by turning it into the biggest food company in Korea. He opens the restaurant in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Itaewon and hires a crew of misfits that all hail from backgrounds not usually seen on Korean TV — an ex-con, a transgender woman chef, and a black Korean man among them. Itaewon Class has a...
The federal government’s recently-passed $2 trillion economic stimulus includes a $454 billion loan guarantee fund for businesses struggling from the economic blowback of the coronavirus, including movie theaters, which are facing a challenge like never before in the history of Hollywood. But it’s still unclear to me exactly what the timing will be on how the distribution of those funds will play out, and which theaters might be left standing when this pandemic eventually ends.
Today, the Criterion Collection and Janus Films have teamed up to start an arthouse relief fund for independent cinemas in the hopes that more than 150 theaters across the country will be able to pay their essential bills, including “payroll, insurance, rent, non deferrable loans, utilities, fundraising, and mortgages,” until we get through this period. Get the details below.
The government’s stimulus package expands its Small Business Administration programs in the hopes of letting smaller businesses those which have 500 or fewer employees pay their fixed costs with no revenue coming in, and in some cases, be eligible for loan forgiveness. The National Association of Theatre Owners says that a majority of cinemas in the United States are classified as small businesses. There are additional ways theaters could be helped out by this stimulus, but again, the timetable is a little murky and by the time this aid is disbursed, it may be too late for some struggling theaters.
So the Criterion Channel and Janus Films teamed up to donate $50,000 to establish the Art-House America Campaign via ComingSoon, which “aims to provide financial relief to struggling independent cinemas across the country so they can pay staff and their essential bills and survive until it is safe to reopen their doors.” Their research shows that “even in normal times the average independent theater has only one month and twenty-six days of operating cash on hand,” so they wanted to do something to help – and fast.
The fund is hoping to raise $500,000 from donors, and theaters that receive funding from this will not be able to use the money to buy equipment, invest in future programming, or pay company executives. A committee will evaluate all of the applications “based on need, with the objective of helping theaters successfully survive temporary closures,” and funds will be distributed as soon as an application is approved.
To apply, theaters must meet the following criteria:
• Be an art-house motion picture exhibitor that operates year-round.
• Have been an open and operational cinema exhibitor for at least 6 months prior to COVID-19–related closures.
• Be an independent cinema. The exhibitor cannot be publicly traded or manage more than 4 separate theaters. 75% of staff...
EXCLUSIVE: Grace and Frankie may have suspended production on its seventh and final season because of the coronavirus crisis, but the Emmy nominated Netflix comedy is back this week with a special live treat for fans and a spotlight on seniors in need during these troubled times.
The Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin-led series will be having an online table read this Thursday to help Meals On Wheels COVID-19 relief program, I've learned – though you can make donations right now via the link here.
While other shows have taken a similar digital approach in recent weeks, the long running Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris showrun series is adding some originality. The April 9 presentation will feature an episode from the yet unaired seventh season, as well as a live Q&A afterwards moderated by Kauffman.
Along with Oscar winner Fonda and Oscar nominee Tomlin, fellow G&F cast members Sam Waterston, Martin Sheen, June Diane Raphael, Brooklyn Decker, Baron Vaughn and Ethan Embry will be participating in the reading of the Kauffman and Morris-penned “The Fallout” episode on Thursday.
Starting at 5 PM PT/8 PM ET, the whole shindig can be seen live and direct on the Netflix is a Joke YouTube page LINK HERE on April 9.
“While we’re sitting here afraid, unsure and isolated, we wanted to come together and do some good,” Kauffman told me of the decision to take the show online in a new form and with a peek into the future.”
“All we’ve got is time on our hands and technology at our fingertips,” the Friends co-creator added as production on Season 7 was temporarily suspended late on March 12 as restrictions on large gatherings tighten in the City of Angels. “So we decided to use both of those assets to raise money for Meals on Wheels, which brings food to food-insecure and isolated seniors. They are among our most vulnerable right now and need our help.”
“Our cast is all in and super excited,” Okay Goodnight founder Kauffman also says of her superstar packed team. “And Netflix and Skydance have been particularly supportive. As far as giving the fans a peek into Season 7, we figured more people would tune in to new content and it would, hopefully, be a draw for fans of Grace and Frankie. The hope is: more eyes, more money raised for Meals on Wheels.”
Produced by Skydance Television, which launched in 2013, Grace And Frankie was one of the first original series for Netflix. Though in a pause period right now, like everyone else in Tinseltown the seventh and final season is still set to premiere next year, which will make the series the longest running comedy in the streamer's history.
As of last night, there are 6360 confirmed case of the coronavirus in L.A. County and 147 deaths....
Back when Scream was released in 1996, it revitalized the slasher genre formula with its blend of self-referential humor and genuine scares. Once it became a cultural and box office phenomenon, it ushered in a new era of horror films in a similar vein such as I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Faculty. But then came a slasher pic that was inventive while showcasing the traditional slasher formula. Yet, because it still stuck to tradition and wasn’t entirely in the same vein as Scream, it became instantly underrated.
When Valentine came out 19 years ago, it received quite a critical bashing. According to the critics consensus on its Rotten Tomatoes page, it is a “formulaic throwback to conventional pre-Scream slasher flicks.” On the one hand, yes, it does follow the traditional slice-and-dice formula that slasher films would have in the pre-Scream era. However, it is both familiar and non formulaic and deserves more praise for how it attempts to stand out from other films within the rather interchangeable genre.
The story is familiar enough. A group of women: Kate Marley Shelton, Paige Denise Richards, Shelley Katherine Heigl, Dorothy Jessica Capshaw and Lily Jessica Cauffiel, are picked off one by one by a former classmate they tormented in their childhood. Also, the film takes place around Valentine’s Day, hence the title, and opens with a Valentine’s Day Dance from 1988. During that opening sequence, the killer, Jeremy Melton, asks his female classmates to dance with him only for most of them to harshly reject him. Thirteen years after that dance, Jeremy comes back for his revenge.
Its basic premise, along with the killer’s identity being evident, is what likely results in its reputation of being a copy-and-paste slasher flick. However, while the lack of grand mystery surrounding the antagonist may be true, Valentine is more interested in examining the mistakes made by the main characters. It mainly follows them in their adult years to show whether they’ve learned from the torment they caused Jeremy in middle school. It is hinted that there is a history of Jeremy being bullied outside of the night of the dance. So, the film asks whether some of them realized how wrong their bullying was.
Additionally, a false reputation that Jeremy was hit with becomes a method to his madness. After being accused of assaulting Dorothy at the aforementioned Valentine’s Day dance, he was sent away and eventually became the psycho that his classmates believed he was. He wasn’t motivated by fame the way some of the Ghostface killers in the Scream series were nor was he driven by the death of a loved one like Mrs. Voorhees in Friday the 13th. Instead, Melton is driven by his indignation over being deprived of an ideal existence due to torment by his classmates and the accusation that shattered...