Kanopy

5
Jun 18, 2020

Kanopy

Going to the movies these days is crazy expensive, including snacks, and it’s quite literally bad for your health at present due to COVID-19.  What’s a movie buff to do?  Johnson County Library has this situation on lock.  Allow me to introduce the Kanopy collection, which offers award winning documentaries, rare and hard-to-find titles, film festival favorites, indie and classic films, and world cinema with collections from Kino Lorber, Music Box Films, Samuel Goldwyn, The Orchard, The Great Courses, PBS, select Janus Films in the Criterion Collection and thousands of independent filmmakers.  Kanopy can be accessed for FREE with a Johnson County Library membership.  Don’t have a Johnson County Library card?  Residents of Johnson County in Kansas can sign up for a free eCard using this link: https://www.jocolibrary.org/using-the-library/getting-started to get immediate access to our eLibrary.  Here are the instructions for Kanopy usage and creating an account and, per our website: 

Stream up to 10 titles per month, plus enjoy unlimited streaming from Kanopy Kids and select series like The Great Courses.

  • 1 title = 1 play credit, just push the Play button
  • Each play credit allows 3 days (72 hours) of unlimited streaming for that title.

First time users: Create a Kanopy account using your Johnson County Library card number at this link: https://jocolibrary.kanopy.com/signup/auth/publiclibrary.
Returning users: Login on the website or app using your email address and password you created at this link: https://jocolibrary.kanopy.com/

Get started with your Library card number and PIN/password, then watch online or on a television with iOS, Android, Fire tablets, Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, Android TV and Chromecast. ​Learn more about the Kanopy website, apps and more using this link: https://help.kanopy.com/hc/en-us

Kanopy has an abundance of stories told through the eyes of diverse, under-represented and marginalized populations, such as LGBTQIA, African, African American, Asian, Indigenous and Latin American, giving patrons the rare opportunity to explore cultures of interest or delve deep into the newly discovered unknown.     Whatever type of movie you’re in the mood for, Kanopy has it, including: short film, comedy, drama, romance, horror, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, war and action.   Kanopy is not just a source of pop culture entertainment.  They also offer educational tools that could assist students of all grade levels supplement their homeschool curriculum, such as The Great Courses– which offers hundreds of topics to choose from and each course provides a series of in-depth video lessons taught by an expert professor; and non-fiction films and documentaries about a variety of topics.  Users can either search for content on the home page or select browse in the top right corner and search by subject.  Long story short, there’s literally something for everyone.  It’s super easy to navigate and use.  The visual format will be familiar to pay subscribers of streaming services.  Attractive movie posters populate the site and if you click on a picture, you’ll see a brief synopsis.   Once you’ve picked your poison, you just press play and you can enlarge your screen for the full cinematic experience.  There’s a captions button to turn off or on closed captioning for anyone in need of that feature.  There’s a comments section under the movie screen where users can leave their opinions for other Kanopy users to consider.  I would also encourage patrons to review Kanopy content on the library catalog to let other patrons know what goodies they’ve discovered.  If you select “more” under the movie title info, there’s a couple of really handy tools: transcript, which provides a full write up of the dialogue from the film; and citation, which sites the film in American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), Chicago Manual of Style and Harvard Citation Style; very convenient for students/scholars who are using a movie, documentary, etc. for academic purposes.  Users can share a link for content on social media, like Facebook and Twitter.  Users can also add videos to their watchlist to keep a running tab of noteworthy finds.  If you go under your name at the top, you can access My Dashboard where you can set up parental controls to make sure your kids view age-appropriate content, via Kanopy Kids; access your watchlist, play credits, comments, videos recommended for you, viewing history, playlists, memberships, edit your profile and edit your library card information.  Viewing history shows what users are watching and when it expires before another they need to use another credit for a repeat viewing.  The only disadvantage to Kanopy is the limitation to only stream ten titles per month.  There’s so much to see that that allowance goes entirely too fast.  I hope I’ve enticed anyone reading this post to take advantage of this awesome library service.

I made a Kanopy account and fully explored its contents.  I can assure you that there is an impressive amount of choices and variety.  The video quality is clear, top notch, and I experienced minimal buffering.  I screened a one documentary, Grace Jones – Bloodlight and Bami and two movies, Colette and The Farewell.  My reviews are below:

 

Grace Jones – Bloodlight and Bami (2017)

A film by Sophie Fiennes

 

If you are a child of the 70s, 80s or early 90s then you might’ve heard of Grace Jones and are probably equal parts enthralled and terrified by her.  For the youngsters or older un-initiated, Grace Jones is a Jamaican model, singer, songwriter and record producer.  She’s been a pop culture mega-icon since the 1970s.  Grace is known for her confidence, wildness, larger-than-life persona, fierce individuality, fearless self-expression and bold and androgynous image.  Her masculine hair and angular padded clothing influenced the cross-dressing movement of the 1980s.  She’s been a muse for artists and designers including Jean-Paul Goude, Issey Miyake, Thierry Mugler and Andy Warhol.  She’s inspired music artists such as Bjork, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.  Grace is also famous for her scene-stealing movie roles: Strangé in Boomerang (1992), for which she recorded the song “7 Day Weekend” and co-starring Eddie Murphy; Zula in Conan the Destroyer (1984), co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger; May Day in A View to Kill (1985), co-starring Roger Moore as James Bond; and a vampire in the vampire thriller Vamp.  She also did television work, with appearances on “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special” (1988), “Beastmaster” (1999) and “Shaka Zulu: The Citadel” (2001).  I recently re-watched Boomerang, in which Eddie Murphy plays Marcus Graham, a slick advertising executive, insatiable womanizer and male chauvinist who has the tables turned on him by his new boss, Jacqueline Boyer (Robin Givens), delivering the same treatment to him as he’s delivered to others.  Grace Jones plays eccentric fashion diva, Strangé– essentially herself– who is the new face of Marcus’s company.  Strangé makes a grand entrance into a launch party, dressed in a skin-hugging red jumpsuit with black netting overlay, and Egyptian headpiece, driving a Roman-style chariot drawn by buff, half-naked hunks.  She is the epitome of female empowerment and camp.  Strangé also struts around in black patent leather daisy dukes, jacket, headpiece and thigh high boots while haranguing the ad team about wanting the scent of her fragrance to be the essence of sex.  The crowning glory of her scenes is her raunchy attempt to proposition Marcus in the middle of an expensive restaurant.  At the age of 71, Grace still actively produces music and performs around the world, with scheduled concerts at the Royal Festival in London; the Hideaway Festival in Chelmsford, Great Britain; Todays Festival in Torino, Italy; and Kite Festival in Oxford, Great Britain. 

According to the releasing studio, Kino Lorber, the title is derived from Jamaican Patois (one of the spoken languages in Jamaica): “Bloodlight is the red light that illuminates when an artist is recording and Bami means bread, the substance of daily life.”  A very cool nod to Grace’s heritage and profession.  English film director and producer Sophie Fiennes– sister of actors Ralph Fiennes and Joseph Fiennes, director Martha Fiennes and composer Magnus Fiennes– not only created an electrifying portrait that celebrates the awesomeness that is Grace Jones, she also humanizes her.  The film fittingly begins with a live performance.  An announcer introduces Grace, the spotlight zeroes in on her accented by a simple background of color-changing panels and no backup dancers.  She’s hula hooping, singing her hit song, “Slave to the Rhythm,” and wears her signature flattop hair; a long black billowing cape, black thong bodysuit with corseted back, pumps and a gold mask headdress.  In short, Grace is a multi-tasking boss!  Sophie deftly alternates between Grace’s public and private life.  We switch from Grace’s performances in Dublin, Ireland; London, England; Paris, France; Tokyo, Japan; New York; Moscow, Russia and Barcelona, Spain to intimate scenes with her family in Jamaica and recording sessions with the Grace Jones Band and other collaborators.  She sings some of her most iconic songs: Slave to the Rhythm, Williams’ Blood, This Is, La vie en rose, My Jamaican Guy, Well Well Well, Warm Leatherette, Nipple to the Bottle, I Need a Man, Pull Up to the Bumper, Love Is The Drug, and Hurricane. Cinematographer Remko Schnorr’s camera work is unpolished, raw, slightly blurry and shaky, which gives this documentary a spur-of-the moment feel.  Her unique outfits range from a black thong bodysuit, performance headdresses and casual head wraps– my favorite being a disco silver bowler hat that’s lit up with a green laser beam so that it sparkles as she moves– wide-shouldered suits and tropical skirts.  She plays the cymbals, dances, and signs autographs for loyal fans outside venues.  Grace is unabashedly candid and has a foul mouth.  She cusses out her business associates who aren’t meeting her high standards for their professional partnerships and uses colorful language to describe her own body.  She speaks several languages, including French, which she demonstrates with her French driver in Paris.  It’s fascinating and humanizing to watch Grace with her large Jamaican family, fresh-faced with no makeup or glamour.  They laugh, eat, tease and drive around the winding roads of Jamaica in a large van and reminisce.  Grace reveals the abuse she suffered at the hands of her grandmother’s second husband, a strict disciplinarian who beat his step-grandchildren and enforced a strict Pentecostal upbringing.  She has a teasing camaraderie with her band mates.  The landscape of Jamaica is lush with deep green foliage.  Grace takes advantage of an isolated pond for night skinny-dipping.  Grace is not shy or ashamed of her body.  We are treated to scenes of her in full frontal nudity.  And I totally get why.  She’s tall, lithe and athletic.  We should all aspire to her level of comfort and vivacity.  This documentary is not the linear, informational kind.  Sophie doesn’t include any voice-over narration or a foray into Grace’s past.  Grace never addresses or interacts with the camera.  She’s just living her best life and we’re along for the ride.  There’s lots of long shots and creative framing, like Grace’s reflection in the glass separating her from her band and sometimes the camera shows us events from her perspective, like the front window view while she’s driving. There’s lots of close-ups of Grace while singing, applying dramatic makeup in her dressing room, and just general emoting.  I really loved how we get glimpses of Jamaican culture, like Grace eating a fish head at her family’s dinner table and buying food from an open-air food stand.  We find out Grace has one son, Paulo Goude, from her brief relationship with long-time collaborator, Jean-Paul Goude.  Paulo is also a musician and singer in a three-piece band called Trybez and has a daughter with one of his band members, Azella– a talented vocalist and dancer.  There’s a lovely moment where Grace cradles and serenades her baby granddaughter.  What a lucky girl!  I can’t express enough how phenomenal this electrifying musical documentary is.  And I’m not the only one who thought so.  It’s the Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival and its Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Washington DC Filmfest.  I recommend it for casual and hard-core Grace Jones fans.  If you’ve never heard of Grace Jones, this documentary will be a siren’s call to investigate her style, music, motion picture and photographic archive.  Anyone who inspires Lady Gaga and Beyoncé deserves closer inspection.  I highly recommend visiting her official website, gracejones.com, her music videos on YouTube and her Wiki page for a deeper dive into her amazing career and life.

   

Colette (2017)

 

Colette is my favorite type of period drama.  By the time the credits rolled, I learned about a historical figure previously unknown to me.  The movie’s titular character is based on Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954), a French novelist and short story writer; music hall dancer and mime, 1906-11; and columnist for Le Main, beginning in 1911.  Colette was made a member of the Belgian Royal Academy (1935), the French Académie Goncourt (1945) and a grand officer of the Legion of Honor– accolades rarely granted to a woman.  She wrote Chéri and Gigi, both novels adapted into two of my favorite period dramas.  Colette lived a fascinating, full, unconventional and scandalous life.  The director was Wash Westmoreland and director of the gorgeous photography was Giles Nuttgens.  The cast boasts a cadre of talented actors, including Keira Knightley– who has the perfect face that morphs seamlessly from period dramas to the modern age– plays Colette.  Dominic West plays Colette’s first husband, Willy; and Fiona Shaw plays Colette’s mother, Sido.  Colette dramatizes Colette’s brief, convoluted marriage to the writer and critic, Henri Gauthier-Vivars, known as “Willy,” the writing and publication of her collection of four “Claudine” novels: Claudine à l’école (1900; Claudine at School), Claudine à Paris (1901; Claudine in Paris), Claudine en menage (1902; republished as Claudine amoureuse, translated as The Indulgent Husband), and Claudine s’en va: Journal d’Annie (1903; The Innocent Wife); and her fight for autonomy, creative ownership and pushing against societal, cultural and sexual constraints of the early 20th century.  The film begins with Colette being visited by her then lover, Willy, at her childhood home in Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye in 1892.  Colette’s parents are accepting of her suitor, but Sido worries if Willy will be able to understand and appreciate her.  They soon marry and move to Paris.  Colette starts out as a very unsophisticated and dutiful country girl with long braids, being schooled by her worldly husband.  She also had no dowry (property a woman brings to her husband at marriage), so the power dynamics are off balance from day one.  Willy is the worse!  He’s a libertine (sexually promiscuous), a gambler, a spendthrift to the point that the couple goes through a constant cycle of debt and repossession, controlling and a self-professed literary entrepreneur with a factory of ghostwriters who publish content under his pseudonym.  He introduces his bride to the Parisian Avant Garde and intellectual society.  She takes over his correspondence and discovers the first of his many affairs.  His excuse, as always, is that he’s a weak man and that’s what men do.  Colette briefly leaves him, but Willy lures her back with promises of honesty and to involve her more in his life.  Due to their mounting debt, Willy encourages Colette to ghostwrite a novel for him.  Her labors culminate in the first of her four “Claudine” novels, Claudine à l’école, which became a bestselling sensation.  All four novels were adapted into plays and inspired mass-produced fandom merchandise, such perfume, haircuts, soap, fans, school girl uniforms, cigarettes, face cream and candy.  Claudine was a semi-autobiographical character where Colette drew on her own experiences– both as a girl from the provinces and as a young woman married to a libertine husband– to produce scenes for the life of her young ingénue.  Willy kept all her royalties and the credit.  Colette became interested in the theater and mime and toured around as an actress.  Colette and Willy’s relationship deteriorated due to his tyrannical control over her writing– going so far as to lock her in her room until she produced enough pages to his satisfaction– molding her pubic image to fit their brand and his refusal to allow her to publish under her own name.  Colette evolves mentally and visually, finds her voice and eventually wins the battle over her autonomy and creative ownership.  She pursued lesbian affairs and pushed societal boundaries of proper feminine behavior.  This movie was but a snapshot of Colette’s eventful life.  As soon as the movie ended, I immediately researched the real Colette.  I love how we got to see black and white photographs of Colette, Willy and her longtime lover Missy in the ending credits.  This movie was so lush.  The scenes transport you to vintage Paris where we peak inside Willy’s house, the Moulin Rouge, private residences of the elite, open-air cafes, a dance studio, a gorgeous winding staircase, theaters/ music halls, shops, restaurants and nightclubs, compared to the quiet tranquility of the gardens, simple dwellings and trees in the countryside of Colette’s birth and vacation homes.  The historical minutiae were perfect, like the fascination of guests at a party over an electric light switch, train and carriage travel and pantomime shows.  No detail was neglected in the props and decor, like the reproduced Claudine novels and merchandise, Colette’s composition books and ink pen and her writing desk.  The filmmakers were almost successful at making viewers believe the action takes place in France; the characters write in French and references are made to the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge.  But, the intended reality is negated by Keira Knightley, Dominic West and the other actors speaking with English accents.  Some critics of period dramas believe that they can’t relate to characters or issues from societies and eras so different from our modern world.  I disagree. Colette deals with issues that are very timely.  Colette must publish under her husband’s pen name because Willy asserts that women authors don’t sell books.  Unfortunately, women authors, past and present, have had to deal with the same gender-based publishing prejudice:  Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë first published their famous novels under the pseudonyms of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, respectively; and J.K. Rowling, the woman behind the mega-successful Harry Potter series was urged by her publisher, Barry Cunningham, to use gender ambiguous initials because he thought Harry Potter’s target young male audience might be put off by a book written by a woman.  Creative ownership without gender backlash is an ongoing concern for women in all fields and across all cultures.  Colette and Willy’s relationship is your classic emotionally abusive and controlling dynamic.  Willy molded Colette into her fictional school girl character of Claudine, for financial gain, sexual satisfaction and to lord over her as an older, more experienced “headmaster” to where the lines got blurred between reality and fantasy.  Keira Knightley gives a stirring speech near the end of the movie where Colette gives Willy an epic tongue lashing about his intentional manipulation to compensate for their unequal marriage and essentially killing their metaphorical “child,” Claudine.  LGBTQIA characters and the discrimination and public ridicule they faced are poignantly addressed.  The evolution of an early 20th century literary fandom is shown beautifully from publication to fevered buying and reading, mass-production of related products, cosplay, groupies and adaptions.  Keira Knightley’s performance was the heart and soul of Colette.  She goes from a meek and dutiful wife to a gusty woman of righteous outrage and rebellion. She makes you root for Colette, flaws and all.  Kiera also shows her character’s evolution and awakening through gorgeous fashion and hair.  She goes from simple dresses, corsets and long braids to fashionable ensembles and hats, a masculine suit, bicycle riding pants and a chin length bob.  My favorite was her performance at the Moulin Rouge dressed in a sexy, appropriated Egyptian costume.  Dominic West was on-brand as a disreputable and unlikable cad and fraud.  Fiona Shaw brought a quiet dignity to Colette’s mother, Sido, who supported her daughter and advised her to fight for own interests in her marriage.  Denise Gough gave an understated performance as Mathilde de Morney “Missy,” the marquise de Balbeuf, an independently wealth, aristocratic lesbian and artist who wore male dress (also based on a historical figure).  I commend Denise on her scene-stealing performance and shining a light on the challenges of homosexuality and being a transgender man in the early 20th century.  I wouldn’t recommend this drama to the delicate period drama lover, it’s not a proper, sanitized one like Downton Abbey.  It’s got nudity, adult language and sexual situations and themes.  The language is modern and accessible.  The characters use profanity that seem out of place for the era, but what do I know about what swear words were used throughout history?  I do highly recommend this gem to those who appreciate daring dramas that dispel common notions of early 20th century people living boring, conventional, sedate lives.  Who wouldn’t want to spend two hours in fashionable France?

      

The Farewell (2019)

 

The Farewell, a comedy-drama written and directed by Lulu Wang, is a love letter to all grandmothers, past, present and future.  I laughed and cried.  Billi (Awkwafina) a Chinese born, U.S. raised writer returns to Changchun (translation “long spring”), China under the guise of a fake wedding for her cousin, Hao Hao (Han Chen) to stealthily say goodbye to their beloved matriarch, Nai Nai (Mandarin for grandmother) after she’s diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer.  Nai Nai is the only person who doesn’t know she only has a few weeks to live.  The tagline on the movie poster is “Based on an actual lie.”  According to an NPR interview, Lulu Wang based the movie on her experience with having to lie about her grandmother’s terminal illness, which she made public in an essay, “What You Don’t Know,” which appeared on This American Life, a weekly public radio program and podcast.  I’m a huge Awkwafina fan from her hilarious scene-stealing performances in Crazy Rich Asians, Ocean’s 8 and Awkwafina is Nora From Queens.  Awkwafina’s performance was nuanced and graceful as Billi, who struggles to straddle two worlds, American and Chinese.  She believes it is morally wrong to lie to Nai Nai, but reluctantly acquiesces to the collective agreement of her Chinese family.  As a westerner, the concept of withholding medical information from a patient makes me uncomfortable.  Not only does that go against the American Medical Association’s code of medical ethics, but also our American philosophy of individualism, agency and transparency.  Lulu beautifully and poignantly communicates the Chinese way of thinking and persuaded me to sympathize.  Billi’s Uncle Haibin, scolded her, “You think one’s life belongs to oneself.  But, that’s the difference between the East and the West.  In the East, a person’s life is part of a whole.  Family.  Society […] We’re not telling Nai Nai because it’s our duty to carry this emotional burden for her.”  I find this philosophy of intergenerational honor and respect comforting.   Their family is so devoted to the collective well-being that they cultivate hope where none seems to exist.  They ensure the time a dying loved one has left is peaceful and fulfilling.  Billi’s mother, Lu Jian (Diana Lin), also sagely advised, “Chinese people have saying– when people get cancer, they die.  It’s not the cancer that kills them.  It’s the fear.”  I think there might be some truth to this mental health tenant for some cancer patients.  When my maternal grandmother was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and her oncologist tried to explain that she had cancer, she freaked out.  My uncle, her caregiver, kept her calm by reassuring her it was just an ordinary illness that needed a special treatment to cure it.  My grandmother went on to live for another 20 years after going in remission.  Nai Nai enthusiastically plans her grandson’s wedding, giving her a positive purpose.  Her family smiled through all the events leading up to the wedding, for her sake: the women’s beauty day with a cupping treatment for Billi, wedding photographs, a visit to their paternal grandfather’s grave to leave offerings and ask for blessings, family dinners, the wedding and reception.  Cracks showed in the family’s facade with trembling lips and unsteady voices during the emotional wedding toasts.  Everyone wanted to tell Nai Nai how much she means to them, without telling her the reason.  The whole cast poignantly showed the emotional costs of shouldering their matriarch’s invisible burden.  Billi grappled with two kinds of grief: the imminent loss of her Nai Nai and the loss of her Chinese heritage and moving away from her close-knit extended family.  Her Nai Nai’s old neighborhood had been torn down and rebuilt, erasing her past and moving into the future without her.  Billi is not sure where she fits in and what’s to become of her writing career after losing a Guggenheim Fellowship.  I loved the glimpses into Chinese culture: red envelopes with a monetary gift which is given during holidays or special occasions, the family paying homage to the grave of their grandfather with offerings and prayers, and the cultural value of the collective versus the individual.  This film also emphasized its theme of juggling cultures with the language.  Mandarin, English and Japanese were spoken, with subtitles when necessary.  The best part of this movie was the interactions and the loving, close, warm and teasing relationship between Billi and her Nai Nai.  Nai Nai often called Billi “stupid child!” in one teasing breath and then praised her for her intelligence, independence, creativity and spirit.  Nai Nai believes in Billi’s writing talent, roots for her success from across the ocean and worries over her loneliness in New York.  Made me miss my dearly departed maternal grandmother and the knowledge that she was thinking of me no matter the distance.  Awkwafina won a much-deserved Golden Globe in 2020 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.  This movie has also gotten a lot of accolades, such as the AFI Award for Movie of the Year (2020), but Lulu Wang was robbed at the 2020 Academy Awards.  She should have at least gotten a nod for best director, screenplay and/or best film.  The rest of the cast is beyond stellar.  Zhao Shuzhen (Nai Nai) was warm, mischievous, loyal, loving, critical and controlling.  She stole the show and deserved an Oscar nod.  Tzi Ma and Diana Lin are noteworthy as Billi’s parents.  Lu Hong, who plays Billi’s aunt, Little Nai Nai, is Lulu Wang’s real great-aunt.  Hong Lu seems so natural as an actress in this personal role, I think she’s tapped into a new talent.  Nepotism can be awesome, sometimes.  I kept expecting for someone to slip up and spill the beans to Nai Nai, but that never happened.  The family kept up with their duty; even going so far as to falsify a medical report from the hospital.  I loved Billi’s final scene when she yells out in an empty street in New York, a practice Nai Nai told her was good for health and clears out toxins.  After the stressful weekend of honorable lies and pretending, Billi needed to release toxins.  Lulu concluded the film with footage of her real grandmother, practicing what I think, after internet research, is either Tai Chi or Qigong, both forms of Chinese exercise and mind-body-spirit practices.  A note in the footage revealed that Nai Nai was still alive and still doesn’t know about her diagnosis.  Alex Weston’s musical score was haunting and perfectly framed the grief and beauty of Billi’s journey.  Billi may have had to execute “a good lie,” as Nai Nai’s emergency room doctor described the cultural practice of secrecy, but she still found reasons to celebrate her grandmother’s love, family connections and her pull to reconnect with her birth country and culture.  Now that the film has let the cat out of the bag, I wonder if her grandmother has seen the film and knows it’s biographical and how her family feels about revealing the family skeletons to a world-wide audience.  This film asks viewers to grapple with morally ambiguous questions: Is lying to your family ever justified?  What would you have done in Billi’s shoes?  I can’t recommend this movie enough for those who enjoy exploring another culture and considering how their values converge and diverge from our own.  Anna Franquesa Solomn, director of photography, concentrated on wide shots that showcase the whole family, which highlights the collective more than any dialogue could.  The complex family dynamics were very relatable and both funny and uncomfortable to watch: Nai Nai not approving of her grandson’s finance, the family debate of which country is more advantageous to build a life in, America or China; Billi’s mom and Nai Nai butting heads, Billi and her dad singing karaoke to “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees, the women of the family crawling on the floor in search of the bride’s earring, Billi exercising with Nai Nai, Billi quarreling with her mom over whether or not it was wise for Billi to go to China since her face is an open book, Billi nagging her father about smoking, and Billi trying to convince her family to tell Nai Nai about her prognosis.  If you want a plot driven movie with lots of action, this won’t be your jam.  But, if you favor domestic dramas about how we try to do what we feel is right for our loved ones and how to best “family,” The Farewell couldn’t be a better choice. 

Written by Karyn H

I love to travel

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