75 Films From Asia: SHOPLIFTERS (2018)

Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters (2018) is a perfectly crafted film that plays a tune with your heartstrings that you never want to end.

CREDIT: GAGA Pictures

So if you were betting that I wouldn’t give out a five star in the first five movies I review for this challenge, then sadly today you lost, my friends. I don’t think I could even prepare myself for this movie. I wanted to watch this one not just because it won the Palme d’Or, but I’ve been recommended to watch Kore-eda’s work multiple times. I have to say that this did not disappoint in the slightest.

Shoplifters (2018) features a group of outsiders all banded together by their misfit qualities take into their home a little girl, which sets off a wide array of events and secrets surrounding the “family.” The film has its various twists and turns, which makes you learn to love this obscure family. You spend so much time with each character that makes it hard to say goodbye to some of them. Kor-eda does such a great job of making you care for these characters that when you find out the reason why they are together, it is hard to hold onto your prior feelings about them.

Kor-eda also includes necessary conversations in social class structures and classism. Why is it that the family has to shoplift to survive? Why do some of the family members have to resort to sex work as a means of making money? Overall, do any of these things make these strangers any less of a family than those of us bound by blood? The analysis included in this film is powerful and one that I will keep in mind when discussing some of the best movies from this challenge.

Shoplifters (2018) is available to watch on Hulu. Catch up on the rest of this challenge by visiting my Letterboxd or the google doc that includes all the films that I am covering. I implore every single person reading this review to watch this film, you will absolutely not regret it.

For The Fans…

A Review of EL camino: A breaking bad movie

Photo Credit: Entertainment Weekly

Another movie this year which I chalked up to being “unnecessary”, but in this instance I still believe that. But, did I watch El Camino the second it dropped on Netflix? As Walter White once proclaimed, “You’re goddamn right.” I guess this review has a hint of spoiler territory if you’ve never seen the original six seasons of Breaking Bad. If this is the case, be sure to stop reading here and go watch the series as it is one of the best television moments to ever grace the airwaves.

When we last left off the story of Jesse Pinkman, he was driving off into the sunset in an El Camino stolen off the once living, meth dealing white supremacists whose corpses now littered the very compound they had been keeping Jesse hostage in. This all of course thanks to Walter White’s last minute heroics which included robots and a fully automatic machine gun (Seriously to all the readers, go watch Breaking Bad). Anyways, to me this was the perfect send off to a beloved character who was only supposed to get a very short episode arc, but due to Aaron Paul’s prodigious performance, he became the Oliver Hardy to Bryan Cranston’s Stan Laurel. This ending sees Jesse burst through the locked gate of his previous forced residence as we get a close-up to his face both laughing manically while crying tears of relief and delirium. It left all viewers who watched with the idea that Jesse, a character who had gone through hell during this last season, would have a happily ever-after. Vince Gilligan had capped off one of his greatest achievements with an ending that left most, if not all fans, satisfied.

A little more than six years later we get El Camino, whose existence is more of a love letter from Gilligan to the fans. Was it necessary? Far from it. Was it satisfying? Oh, hell yeah it was. The story starts right at the very ending of Breaking Bad and doesn’t slow down. We find that not all stories are straight forward and sometimes our characters go from the frying pan and into the fire. Fans of Breaking Bad will not lose that feeling of satisfaction by the end of this movie, but will have more details to go with it.

Seeing Aaron Paul back as his titular character is refreshing and getting call backs to conversations he had with his past castmates from Jonathan Banks to Bryan Cranston made me nostalgic for the series. Two characters whose portrayals must be recognized are that of Todd Alquist, played by Jesse Plemons, and Ed Galbraith, played by the now late Robert Forster (who passed away, the same day the movie was released, at the age of 78). These two characters help to provide the details of Jesse’s past and move the story forward into his future. All I can say is that it is a must to have the exact change when purchasing a vacuum.

Can a two hour movie provide the same quality as six seasons? No, but Vince Gilligan has penned a love letter to the fans that allows us to see some of our favorite characters one more time. For that, I am giving El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie a 9.25/10. YoungYoda out.

Another Shark Tale…But Different

A Review of ‘bad cgi sharks’

Photo Credit: Bad CGI Sharks

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a fan when it comes to the B-movie genre, especially when it is one which involves sharks.  My eyes have been on the receiving end of too many badly acted, directed, and written scripts that have possibly dropped my IQ further than the copious amounts of alcohol I had consumed while day drinking in college.  Sharknado to me is almost as bad as the plastic surgeon hired by Tara Reid and if you listened to my comments on “The Nerd Corps” podcast, then you know my disdain of ‘The Meg’, which I refused to watch.  If I wanted to see Jason Statham punching and running from a large object, then I would just watch Hobbs and Shaw.

Where many of these movies falter is that they either don’t know they’re a horrible b-movie shark flick, or they do know it but bad acting and heavy-handed action sequences overpower the slight comedy sprinkled in (which, unfortunately, generally comes across as corny).  ‘Bad CGI Sharks’ however has decided to flip this and instead of relying on overpriced action sequences, they instead inject a far more comedic approach, relying on the dialogue (comedic not character) and a brotherly love story to be their foundation (they also throw in a magic Italian director who has the power to basically do whatever the f*ck he wants, which is kind of cool and more believable than a payphone existing in 2019).

Through the film, I found myself caring about the brothers and their story.  Matthew, being the more serious of the two, is made to deal with his estranged brother Jason who has basically downed 20 redbulls and is set free in Hollywood with his only dream being to make a Shark Movie they had written when they were eleven.  The dynamic between their two personalities helped set the tone of the film as both must work together while being chased by floating 3-D monstrosities that continuously fail to render. Because of this, Matthew learns to open up more and have fun while Jason realizes that not everything in life is sunshine and rainbows (just most of everything).  The brothers grow closer through each scene as they barely escape the pixelated jaws hunting them. 

I must also bring up the infinite entertainment value brought on by the continuous (what I like to call) “under the radar” jokes.  Those jokes which on paper probably aren’t seen as funny, but the dry humor and perfect delivery make me belly laugh into oblivion each time (Go watch Talladega Nights for more instances).  The best example of this is when Matthew is speaking with his boss, saying how his brother is ruining his life, and catches a glimpse of the self-motivation poster his employer has tacked up behind her.  He proceeds then to recite, “I want to learn…grow…and…suck…seed.” Now, many of these jokes are sprinkled throughout the film and their addition is a definite positive for any viewer who has the sense of humor of a prepubescent boy (which means me).

Bad CGI Sharks doesn’t shy away from what it is (hell, it’s the name of the movie) but barrels forward with low quality land?…hover? shark villains pushing our story along with a massive amount of comedic flare and a heart-warming journey.  Jason Ellsworth, Matthew Ellsworth, and Matteo Molinari have created something rather unique in a genre filled with the rotting filet-o-fishes of shark movie pasts.  Because of this, I’m giving Bad CGI Sharks a solid 8/10 rating.  YoungYoda Out.