First, the good news: Those of us who live in the cinematic wasteland of Squamish were able to catch the tail end of some film-world happenings with the Netflix release of Angelina Jolie's First They Killed My Father just one week after it screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. Remember, Bong June-Ho's Okja hit Netflix right after turning heads at the Cannes Film Fest, and Brad Pitt's War Machine also ignored the standard, 100-plus-year-old theatrical release system.
With big screens and sound in every home, On-demand is the future. Of course, that will likely also contribute to humanity slowly devolving into fat, lazy sacks of worthlessness like in that movie Wall-E, but for those of us living in Squamish right now, it's a fair trade.
Now, the bad news: First They Killed My Father is not Gia 2. Instead, it's a heartbreaking look, through the eyes of a child, at the rise of Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime after America pulled out of Vietnam. Director Jolie uses floaty POV and drone shots to both draw in and distance the viewer from her story, based on a memoir by Loung Ung, and it works to a point.
While the plight of the Cambodian people is incredibly close to Angelina's heart, much of the rest of the Western world has very little idea just how savage and evil the Khmer Rouge were. While First they Killed My Father benefits by adhering completely to experiencing the horror through the eyes of a five-year-old Cambodian child, a little more context on the situation at large might have helped the film have more effect here in the West. Regardless, it's a stirring portrayal of an important story that needs to be told, and Cambodia has confirmed this is their entry for the foreign film category of the Academy Awards. Angie is officially on the Oscar campaign.
At the Village 8 this week, Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens Friday. It's a sequel to the unexpected success of super spy actioner Kingsman: The Secret Service (you know, the one that ended with an anal sex joke), and this time around we've got American "Statesman" archetypes who come to save the day when hackers launch missiles and mayhem into the Kingsman's world of English archetypes.
It's pretty fun. Kingsman 2 is as over the top as you can expect from a based-on-a-comic-book adaptation. It's also too long and some of the CGI is (purposefully??) shoddy. But the cast is strong and includes Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges and Narcos standout Pedro Pascal. One last plot point: the princess from the anal sex joke in the first flick is now his fiancé in the sequel. So it goes to show....
Speaking of opening, The Lego Ninjago Movie had no pre-screeners but it appears to be about an outsider ninja kid whose estranged father is a semi-evil ninja warlord hellbent on world domination. You can bet it all hangs on the kid battling his own internal demons and discovering his true self, or something like that. Regardless, kids will flock to Ninjago and this one looks slick, has a solid voice cast (Dave Franco!) and Lego movies never fail.
To close out this week, we come back to Angelina. The trailer is out for a new Tomb Raider film, this time starring Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl) as '90s video game superhero Lara Croft. Astute film fans will recall that it was while filming for 2001's Tomb Raider that Angelina Jolie first travelled to Cambodia and fell in love with the culture and people. Then she adopted Maddox, a Cambodian orphan, started an NGO in his name and, eventually, made First They Killed My Father.
Whether we need a new Lara Croft film is beside the point; we've got one and Vikander is hoping to elevate the character through sheer physicality (she looks strong!). A lot has changed since 2001 though, and the internet is already abuzz with commentary on whether Lara is still an icon of female empowerment or if the flick will end up being "White Savior Barbie meets Batman." Decide for yourself when the flick drops in March 2018, but from where I'm sitting it looks like fun. Vikander is an Oscar winner (like Angelina was when she picked up the pistols) and isn't it time the Tomb Raider torch was passed?