The slow but steady revival of the movie world is finally ready to dole out some of the highlights filmed years ago and still not shown on the big screen here in Germany. Chief among them is one of our absolute favorites of the past year, Minari. Leipziger cinema Passage Kinos actually managed to organize a live online Q&A with the director Lee Isaac Chung! Meanwhile, the first new Marvel film since the pandemic, Black Widow, finally hits the screens after being delayed a staggering three times since May 2020.
Click on the film title to see all OmU and OV/OF showtimes in Leipzig’s cinemas.
I would have loved to include this beauty of a film in my top 10 of 2020. Unfortunately, the pandemic forbade a proper release and the studio wisely avoided a digital release because this film gains so much from the cinema experience. It is really tough to put into words all the little things that make Minari so, so special. On its surface, it is about a first-generation migrant family from South Korea trying to start their own farm in rural Arkansas, USA in the 80s.
However, the authenticity, the tender grace in each scene pours over the viewer and you cannot help but be enraptured by this family’s struggles and triumphs. All characters are so extremely well-written and observed that you somehow forgive all of them for their shortcomings and root for each and everyone even when they argue amongst each other.
I have rarely seen the qualities and emotions of family, as I understand and value them, be so thoroughly and honestly portrayed.
It has to be mentioned that, aside from superstar Steven Yeun as the sometimes difficult and strong-headed patriarch, other family members often take the lead and outshine him. The smallest in the family, played by Alan S. Kim, and the late addition of grandma Soon-ja, played by Yuh-Jung Youn, are absolute stand-out performances. The latter was even rewarded for her amazing work with the first Oscar for any South Korean actress, at age 73. The interplay between curious, sneaky David Yi and tough-as-nails and hilariously clever grandma Soon-ja are comedic highlights that underscore the sometimes challenging everyday life of a struggling family.
I urge all of you to catch up on Minari on the big screen, ideally in the one OmU screening with the director’s Q&A.
After a long and troubled production history, Black Widow finally opened worldwide last week. The film is not as messy as its 17-year production timeline might suggest. Thanks in large part to a dysfunctional family dynamic at the center, anchored by some great actors that outshine Johansson. Most of all, rising star Florence Pugh, who plays the eponymous protagonist’s ersatz-sister, impresses with her usual sense of comedic timing and unique on-screen persona.
By their side are two veteran actors who fill the roles of the ersatz mother and father: Hollywood royalty Rachel Weisz and everyone’s favorite on-screen sheriff from Stranger Things, David Harbour. Both do their best and manage to imbue this action fest with a modest but reliable emotional core. Meanwhile, the typical Marvel problems are unfortunately not overcome by this first entry in their so-called Phase Four: The villain is once more one of the weakest characters and overall aspects of the film, the overlong runtime drags the story and the forced adherence to Marvel’s world and rules restricts an otherwise enjoyable romp at times.
These final sentiments might sound more negative than my actual experience with the film. Black Widow is worth a watch. The action is impressive and very entertaining and Florence Pugh is the most exciting new addition to the Marvel cinematic universe. If you miss seeing a big, loud blockbuster in the movie theatre, you cannot go wrong with Black Widow.