Our pick of the best* and most interesting screen-related articles and features from around the web this week.
At the risk of incurring tl;dr (too long; didn’t read), we commend you to this epic survey of the 50 best musicals in languages other than English. Apparently, this took Bilge Ebiri over a year to write and I\we can understand why. Here’s a representative capsule:
34. Hong Kong Nocturne (1967)
In the 1960s, Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers studio brought over Japanese director Umetsugu Inoue in an attempt to mount musicals that would match the splash and gloss of Hollywood. And he hit it out of the park with this exuberant confection that’s so colorful and exploding with wild numbers, it takes on an almost avant-garde quality. This is the story of three dancing sisters (played by future stars He Lili, Qin Ping, and Cheng Pei-pei, the latter of whom would go on to make numerous kung-fu classics) who win a go-go contest and try to break free of their lecherous magician father. As such, the film is curiously epic and almost tragic in scope — the girls’ intercut story lines provide enough melodrama to fuel five Vincente Minnelli movies — but the Expressionistically lit, exuberantly designed musical scenes are so inventive that you can’t help but giggle like an idiot.
African critics are beginning to push back against the acclaim for Cary Fukunaga’s Netflix feature Beasts of No Nation, including Noah Tsika at Africa is a Country:
That Fukunaga’s Beasts breaks no new narrative or thematic ground is scarcely a sin. But the film evokes the type of Tarzanism by which Western cultural producers perpetually seek to gain artistic legitimacy, proffering a cinematic vision of reflexive violence (couched as inherently, ahistorically “African”) as well as an especially aggrandizing, extratextual portrait of an American male director who made a “risky,” malarial, downright Conradian trek into the darkness of the global South. Fukunaga’s film was, as many a press release has made clear, filmed in Ghana. Less available, however, is the fact that Fukunaga shot retakes in Brazil, letting the lush landscape of that South American country stand in, however unconvincingly, for some of the environmental specificities of West Africa.
Eagle-eyed Widescreen followers will recognise that Tsika’s (and others) concerns were shared by us in our video review a couple of weeks ago.
We are big fans of Studio Ghibli here at Widescreen and are very taken with the idea of a Ghibli tour of Japan. Some ideas can be found here at Inside Japan Tours:
5. Totoro House, Nagoya
Fans of My Neighbour Totoro, perhaps Miyazaki’s most recognisable film, can visit a full-scale replica of Satsuki and Mei’s house in Nagoya. Built for the World’s Fair in 2005, the faithful reproduction was overseen by Goro Miyazaki, with incredible attention to detail that really brings the film to life.
Finally, the news that Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials novels are to be adapted for television by the BBC – an announcement coinciding with their 20th anniversary — brings us a tremendous interview with Pullman at Slate:
What’s your favorite parable?
I think the Good Samaritan is probably the best. It is so clearly told, so simply conceived, that having heard it once you’ll never forget it. Jesus, like so many of the preachers wandering Galilee, was a tremendous storyteller. He wielded words and images with enormous genius. “When you see a speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your eye”—that is just a wonderful image, and so true. I wonder what would’ve happened if he hadn’t been arrested and executed. Would he have gone on and written a book? We know he can write because we have a description of him writing in the dust …
[*May not be the actual best. We haven't read the entire internet.]