Planet Bollywood

Courtesy photo

Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai (2021)

“Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai” adapts Kang Yoon-sung’s 2017 Korean film, “The Outlaws,” into a star vehicle for Salman Khan. As a turf war escalates between two rival gangs, a ruthless newcomer angles to take over. It’s up to the roguish cop, the titular Radhe (Mr. Khan), to restore peace. While the original was based on actual events that took place in 2004, the Bollywood remake seems so extravagant that few traces of reality remain. Both Radhe and the antagonist, Rana (Randeep Hooda), are utterly indestructible; this is precisely the kind of action flick that Takashi Miike had in mind when he made the cartoonish “Dead or Alive.”

Continue reading "Planet Bollywood" »

Second Fiddle

Anthony Courtney/Roadside Attractions

Finding You (2021)

“Finding You” is “Wolfwalkers” for adults: a fable set in a magical place called Ireland, where a homeless nuisance can be a master fiddler and a soul-searching American girl can fall in love with a Hollywood heartthrob. Beyond all the tourism board-approved scenic views you’ll discover an abundance of folk music, dancing, high crosses, ales and town tasties – or scones rather.

Continue reading "Second Fiddle" »

Wedding Crashers

Golden Village Pictures

My Love (2021)

A near carbon-copy Chinese remake of “On Your Wedding Day,” Lee Seok-geun’s 2018 Korean film, Han Tian’s “My Love” manages to bottle the lightning a second time: It earned the equivalent of $21 million U.S. on its opening day and won the highly competitive Chinese Labor Day holiday box office over Zhang Yimou’s “Cliff Walkers.” Sweet, sentimental and occasionally funny, it’s the kind of romance that Hollywood has seemingly forgotten how to make.

Continue reading "Wedding Crashers" »

Working Girls

Alexander Bloom/Sundance Institute

Hive (2021)

Based on a true story, “Hive” reveals how women are shunned by Kosovan society when they attempt to do virtually anything – work, drive, start a business etc. Some women’s lives are on hold as they endlessly await word on the fates of their men – husbands, fathers and sons – missing due to the war with Serbia and presumed lying dead in some undisclosed mass grave. Per end titles, about 1,600 people from Kosovo remain unaccounted for two decades postwar. Still, traditional values dictate that these women survive on the paltry 30 euros monthly handouts from the government, lest they bring shame on their families by trying to make ends meet when the soldiers are not officially dead.

Continue reading "Working Girls" »

Caught on Camera

Corey Hughes/Sundance Institute

All Light, Everywhere (2021)

“All Light, Everywhere” is an exposé on the police state that spotlights Axon, a company that offers a range of "public safety” products such as Tasers, police body cameras and drones. The documentary is so clinical in its depiction of the blind spots of surveillance that it sometimes recalls those unconscious-bias training videos some of your white colleagues love to complain about. But its revelations are nevertheless interesting, even if its approach is anything but.

Continue reading "Caught on Camera" »

Far Upper West Side Story

Warner Brothers Pictures

In the Heights (2021)

Somewhere buried deep within the “In the Heights” movie adaptation is the story of a people who feel neither at home in America nor privy to the American dream. But you must look hard past the glossy, neon-lit music video treatment of the Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes.

Continue reading "Far Upper West Side Story" »

The Transporter

Christopher Raphael/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Wrath of Man (2021)

After a seemingly endless series of retreads (“Sherlock Holmes” times two, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” and . . . “Aladdin”?!), Guy Ritchie returned to mining his own oeuvre with 2019’s “The Gentlemen.” His latest, “Wrath of Man,” directly recalls one of his lesser known offerings, 2005’s “Revolver,” with Jason Statham navigating through some twisty shenanigans. But since it’s a remake of Nicolas Boukhrief’s 2004 film, “Cash Truck,” it too qualifies as a retread.

Continue reading "The Transporter" »

A Great Season in Harlem

Mass Distraction Media/Sundance Institute

Summer of Soul (. . . Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised) (2021)

A documentary on the Harlem Cultural Festival in the summer of 1969 – when Woodstock took place upstate – “Summer of Soul” features previously unseen footage from this star-studded but mostly forgotten event, with performances from Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips and many more.

Continue reading "A Great Season in Harlem" »

Hearing Aide

Sundance Institute

CODA (2021)

If “Sound of Metal” is about the hearing impaired learning to normalize the disability, then “CODA” is set in the utopia where that normalization is complete. “CODA” does indeed center on a hearing protagonist; its title is an acronym for child of deaf adults. Here, deafness is more of an inconvenience for the hearing, and our protagonist is torn between interpreting for her family’s thriving fishery business and pursuing her own musical talents.

Continue reading "Hearing Aide" »

Negative Action

Lou Nakasako/Sundance Institute

Try Harder! (2021)

The documentary “Try Harder!” speaks the quiet part out loud: Cards have long been stacked in academia against Asian Americans. Director Debbie Lum presents these inequities as the facts of life that they are, of which non-Asians who benefit must be acutely aware but prefer not to give the game away.

Continue reading "Negative Action" »

© 2008-2021 Critic's Notebook and its respective authors. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Subscribe to Critic's Notebook | Follow Us on Twitter | Contact Us | Write for Us | Reprints and Permissions