Category Archives: Foreign-Language

Night of the Kings At Hollywood Legion Drive-In Cinema

Posted by Larry Gleeson

It was a beautiful Friday night evening in the heart of the movie-making capital of the world with the NEON production, Night of the Kings. I hadn’t been to a theatrical screening since I viewed Christopher Nolan’s Tenet on the silver screen at the Metropolitan Fiesta 5 this summer in downtown Santa Barbara, California, with five other mask-wearing moviegoers – the screening theatre was air-conditioned.

The Hollywood Drive-in Cinema, in the heart of Hollywood, Calif., moments before the opening scene of the special screening of Philippe Lecote’s epic drama, Night of the Kings, Friday, January 8, 2021. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

Night of the Kings, written and directed by Philippe Lecote, was screened outdoors at the Hollywood Legion Drive-in Cinema, and the soft and cool breeze present throughout the film laid down an atmospheric ambiance that no indoor theatre could match. Blazing cinematography with vibrant red, orange, and yellow hues from cinematographer Tobie-Marier Robitaille rivaled Roger Deakins Academy-award winning work from BladeRunner 2049. Robitaille and Night of the Kings received Best Cinematography and Best Sound Awards from the 2020 Chicago International Film Festival.

With a surreal tone, Night of the Kings was set inside an infamous Ivory Coast prison, MACA. And, in a similar fashion to the 2017 Shot Caller, the prison seems to be run by a well-heeled influencer inmate. MACA is run by Blackbeard, a large man past his prime who appoints a storyteller for the annual “Night of the red moon.” The guards refer to the storytelling ritual in shamanic terms and that the inmates will be “in trance” all night long.

Enter actor, Bakory Kone, a young, fresh inmate who catches the eye of Blackbeard. Blackbeard anoints the young convict, “Roman.” Roman is the term used to describe the criminal who must entertain the prison population with a nighttime story. The only non-person-of-color (white) actor, Jean Cyrille Digbeau, is a half-baked loser walking around with a pet chicken perched and squawking upon his troubled spirit’s shoulder. But, Digbeau’s character, Half Mad, provides the key to the provocative evening-ending salvation.

Night of the Kings made its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the world and a launchpad for the Academy Awards season, and Night of the Kings is slated as a Spotlight premiere feature on February 1st at 1:00 P.M., for the upcoming, mostly virtual, 2021 Sundance Film Festival, January 28 – February 3rd.

Night of the Kings turned out to be a special night at the drive-in. In addition to the relaxing atmospherics, exceptional cinematography, epic (literally and figuratively) production design, the stalwart performances, and the classic narrative combined with the writing and the seemingly spontaneous, dynamic, choreographed song and dance routines send this feature film into the stratosphere. Highly recommended!

Until next time, I look forward to seeing you at the movies!

And, yes, I ate the popcorn.

HollywoodGlee at the Hollywood Drive-in Cinema in the heart of Hollywood, Calif., for the special screening of Philippe Lecote’s epic drama, Night of the Kings, Friday, January 8, 2021. (Photo by Valerie Rapalee)

 

 

 

 

 

BECOMING ASTRID Opens in Los Angeles and New York

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Music Box Film’s Becoming Astrid, directed by acclaimed Danish filmmaker Pernille Fischer Christensen and inspired by events in Swedish author and literary icon (Pippi Longstocking) Astrid Lindgren’s formative years, is an engaging, heartfelt story of a teenaged Astrid Lindgren, played by Alba August in a breakthrough performance that delvers an emotionally riveting sojourn of the young writer’s early religious upbringing and her advent in becoming a storyteller of mythical proportions.

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After young Astrid accepts an internship at a local newspaper, she catches the eye of the married editor, Mr. Blomberg, portrayed by Henrik Rafaelsen, and soon becomes pregnant. Forced to leave her childhood home for Copenhagen to avoid the public outcry that could potentially remove her family from their stewardship of church land and to secretly give birth to a bastard child, Astrid perseveres learning difficult life lessons, eventually settling in Stockholm when her parents refuse her with her new son, Lars (Lasse). Reluctantly, Astrid leaves Lasse with a foster mother, Marie, portrayed by Trine Dyrholm, during her exiled time in Stockholm. Saving her money from a paltry secretary’s salary, Astrid visits young Lasse when she can. After Marie falls ill, Astrid uses her imagination and flair for storytelling to reconnect with her child. In spite of her struggles, Astrid emerges with a newfound courage that will form the foundation of a vast and beloved body of literary work.

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While Astrid Lindgren is mostly remembered for her Pippi Longstocking and Karlsson-on-the-Roof book series, her titles have been translated into 85 languages and published in over 100 countries. Selling approximately 165 million books worldwide, much of her writing was based on her childhood memories growing up in a small Swedish village. Outspoken on topics as diverse as the Vietnam War, children refugees, nuclear power, and urban planning, she always had children and their future at the center of her concerns. In 1958, Lindgren received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the top international award in children’s literature.

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Becoming Astrid is an excellent film technically as well as aesthetically. The version I viewed was in Swedish and Danish with English subtitles and came in with a run time of a smooth 123 minutes. In addition, the film contained well-rounded cinematography, seamless continuity editing, a strong narrative structure, stellar acting performances, a beautiful mise-en-scene, and an uplifting and complementary, non-diagetic, musical score. Becoming Astrid recently won the Audience Award for Best Foreign-Language Feature in October at the recent Chicago International Film Festival and is a highly recommended film!

Becoming Astrid opened November 23rd at the Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in Los Angeles and in New York at the Film Forum and will soon be followed by a national rollout.