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KVIFF 2022: ‘The Ordinaries’ is a Clever Fable of Social Revolution

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KVIFF 2022: ‘The Ordinaries’ is a Clever Fable of Social Revolution

KVIFF 2022: ‘The Ordinaries’ is a Clever Fable of Social Revolution

by Alex Billington
July 15, 2022

What kind of character are you in society? Are you a main character, or just a supporting character? Maybe you haven’t even been cast in any role yet? Where do you fit in? What even is your “role” and can you change it? These are just of few of the questions that might come to mind when watching this funky, clever, strange, intriguing German film titled The Ordinaries (also known as simply Subtext for its release in Europe). The film had its world premiere at the 2022 Karlovy Vary Film Festival in Czechia, a perfect place for for this quirky, one-of-a-kind film to premiere, as it’s not the kind of film most mainstream audiences will have any interest in. Only those that love cinema, and love stories about cinema (and how it all works), and love films that make you think and figure them out, will appreciate this. That said, I still think it’s an ingenious and captivating film about breaking out of your “role” in society and becoming whoever it is you want to be.

Directed by German filmmaker Sophie Linnenbaum, and co-written by Linnenbaum and Michael Fetter Nathansky, the film takes place within the world of a movie acting as our real world. The concept utilizes archetypes as the actual characters in a very witty way. The world is centered around “Main Characters”, who represent the top tier of the social class. They’re supported by, of course, “Supporting Characters” and background characters that have somewhat of an important role, but don’t do much for society except keep everything in order for the “Main Characters”. Finally, at the bottom of the social strata are the “Outtakes” as they’re known – any number of various flawed people, broken or outdated characters, or anything else. This includes miscast characters, those that cause scenes to skip or jump ahead, black & white characters, those without voices, etc. They introduce this concept and run with it as far as they possibly can – building a narrative around an Outtakes revolution and a Main Character who learns she isn’t really a Main Character.

It’s rather hard to describe in a review, but that’s not a flaw with the film. It’s impressive how well thought out and intricately crafted the script is, throwing in every possible idea based on this concept that they can think of. There’s even a scene where they go to an Outtakes camp and one of them is burning script pages. If you’re a bright enough viewer to pick up on and understand this premise, it’s rather fun to get into the world and go along with the story. Fine Sendel stars as Paula, who is studying at the “Main Character” school to learn Emotions that she can properly express in her Scenes. As the film plays out, not only does she befriend and come to understand the plight of the Outtakes, but she discovers she’s not who she thought she was, and this sends her into a spiral drifting around this archetypal world. Ultimately the film’s commentary is about how we “other” people into derogatory castes, using flaws and differences that we’ve normalized as a way of separating society into social classes. How dare anyone interrupt Main Characters! It is their story, after all.

But is it really? That seems to be the point of The Ordinaries. Not everyone is going to be as perfect and as flawless as Main Characters, especially the ones we see in movies. (They always look good and seem to be able to figure out everything and live the best lives.) But that doesn’t mean anyone deserves to be relegated to some bottom rung social class primarily to make sure they don’t disturb or interrupt the stories the Main Characters are living. They want that control, they want to main that dominance, and they’re going to fight for it at any cost. I’m almost always a fan of films that cleverly utilize archetypes and metaphorical concepts to comment on how broken and backwards society is. As strange as this film may seem at first, and as kooky and amusing as it is to watch at times, it’s a serious story about how we really must stop segregating people because of their differences. Perhaps we can only achieve this with a revolution rising from the bottom up.

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As impressive as the script is, the film has a few flaws itself that keep it from reaching a revolutionary level of success on its own. The filmmaking can be a bit confusing at times, and it feels purposefully drab in a way that makes it a bit uninteresting. That said, I found myself caught up in this concept and the story, excited by the revolutionary undertones, that I can’t help praise this film and recommend it anyway. Will anyone watch it? I don’t know. Will it change anyone’s minds? Probably not. Nonetheless, it’s so clever and curious, and so smart and perceptive, that it deserves to be seen and discussed – by anyone who can get their hands on it. Maybe it will be encouraging and inspiring for some to see social classes envisioned in this cinematic way. Maybe it will be a relief for others to see a film that treats everyone’s differences as our advantages and quirks, not flaws. Even if we’re not all Main Characters, we still have an important role to play in the world.

Alex’s KVIFF 2022 Rating: 8 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter – @firstshowing / Or Letterboxd – @firstshowing

Find more posts: Indies, Karlovy Vary, Review

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

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Review: SAMARITAN, A Sly Stallone Superhero Stumble

Hitting the three-quarter-century mark usually means a retirement home, a nursing facility, or if you’re lucky to be blessed with relatively good health and savings to match, living in a gated community in Arizona or Florida.

For Sylvester Stallone, however, it means something else entirely: starring in the first superhero-centered film of his decades-long career in the much-delayed Samaritan. Unfortunately for Stallone and the audience on the other side of the screen, the derivative, turgid, forgettable results won’t get mentioned in a career retrospective, let alone among the ever-expanding list of must-see entries in a genre already well past its peak.

For Stallone, however, it’s better late than never when it involves the superhero genre. Maybe in getting a taste of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) with his walk-on role in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel several years ago, Stallone thought anything Marvel can do, I can do even better (or just as good in the nebulous definition of the word).

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The property Stallone and his team found for him, Samaritan, a little-known graphic novel released by a small, almost negligible, publisher, certainly takes advantage of Stallone’s brute-force physicality and his often underrated talent for near-monosyllabic brooding (e.g., the Rambo series), but too often gives him to little do or say as the lone super-powered survivor, the so-called “Samaritan” of the title, of a lifelong rivalry with his brother, “Nemesis.” Two brothers entered a fire-ravaged building and while both were presumed dead, one brother did survive (Stallone’s Joe Smith, a garbageman by day, an appliance repairman by night).

In the Granite City of screenwriter Bragi F. Schut (Escape Room, Season of the Witch), the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, teeters on economic and political collapse, with a recession spiraling into a depression, steady gigs difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and the city’s neighborhoods rocked by crime and violence. No one’s safe, not even 13-year-old Sam (Javon Walker), Joe’s neighbor.

When he’s not dodging bullies connected to a gang, he’s falling under the undue influence of Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk), a low-rent gang leader with an outsized ego and the conviction that he and only he can take on Nemesis’s mantle and along with that mantle, a hammer “forged in hate,” to orchestrate a Bane-like plan to plunge the city into chaos and become a wealthy power-broker in the process.

Schut’s woefully underwritten script takes a clumsy, haphazard approach to world-building, relying on a two-minute animated sequence to open Samaritan while a naive, worshipful Sam narrates Samaritan and Nemesis’s supposedly tragic, Cain and Abel-inspired backstory. Schut and director Julius Avery (Overlord) clumsily attempt to contrast Sam’s childish belief in messiah-like, superheroic saviors stepping in to save humanity from itself and its own worst excesses, but following that path leads to authoritarianism and fascism (ideas better, more thoroughly explored in Watchmen and The Boys).

While Sam continues to think otherwise, Stallone’s superhero, 25 years past his last, fatal encounter with his presumably deceased brother, obviously believes superheroes are the problem and not the solution (a somewhat reasonable position), but as Samaritan tracks Joe and Sam’s friendship, Sam giving Joe the son he never had, Joe giving Sam the father he lost to street violence well before the film’s opening scene, it gets closer and closer to embracing, if not outright endorsing Sam’s power fantasies, right through a literally and figuratively explosive ending. Might, as always, wins regardless of how righteous or justified the underlying action.

It’s what superhero audiences want, apparently, and what Samaritan uncritically delivers via a woefully under-rendered finale involving not just unconvincing CGI fire effects, but a videogame cut-scene quality Stallone in a late-film flashback sequence that’s meant to be subversively revelatory, but will instead lead to unintentional laughter for anyone who’s managed to sit the entirety of Samaritan’s one-hour and 40-minute running time.

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Samaritan is now streaming worldwide on Prime Video.

Samaritan

Cast
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton
  • Pilou Asbæk

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Matt Shakman Is In Talks To Direct ‘Fantastic Four’

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According to a new report, Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct the upcoming MCU project, Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios has been very hush-hush regarding Fantastic Four to the point where no official announcements have been made other than the film’s release date. No casting news or literally anything other than rumors has been released regarding the project. We know that Fantastic Four is slated for release on November 8th, 2024, and will be a part of Marvel’s Phase 6. There are also rumors that the cast of the new Fantastic Four will be announced at the D23 Expo on September 9th.

Fantastic Four is still over two years from release, and we assume we will hear more news about the project in the coming months. However, the idea of the Fantastic Four has already been introduced into the MCU. John Krasinski played Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The cameo was a huge deal for fans who have been waiting a long time for the Fantastic Four to enter the MCU. When Disney acquired Twenty Century Fox in 2019 we assumed that the Fox Marvel characters would eventually make their way into the MCU. It’s been 3 years and we already have had an X-Men and Fantastic Four cameo – even if they were from another universe.

Deadline is reporting that Wandavision’s Matt Shakman is in talks to direct Fantastic Four. Shakman served as the director for Wandavision and has had an extensive career. He directed two episodes of Game of Thrones and an episode of The Boys, and he had a long stint on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. There is nothing official yet, but Deadline’s sources say that Shakman is currently in talks for the job and things are headed in the right direction.

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To be honest, I was a bit more excited when Jon Watts was set to direct. I’m sure Shakman is a good director, but Watts proved he could handle a tentpole superhero film with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Wandavision was good, but Watts’ style would have been perfect for Fantastic Four. The film is probably one of the most anticipated films in Marvel’s upcoming slate films and they need to find the best person they can to direct. Is that Matt Shakman? It could be, but whoever takes the job must realize that Marvel has a lot riding on this movie. The other Fantastic Four films were awful and fans deserve better. Hopefully, Marvel knocks it out of the park as they usually do. You can see for yourself when Fantastic Four hits theaters on November 8th, 2024.

Film Synopsis: One of Marvel’s most iconic families makes it to the big screen: the Fantastic Four.

Source: Deadline

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Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Star in ‘Zombie Town’ Mystery Teen Romancer (Exclusive)

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Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase have entered Zombie Town, a mystery teen romancer based on author R.L. Stine’s book of the same name.

The indie, now shooting in Ontario, also stars Henry Czerny and co-teen leads Marlon Kazadi and Madi Monroe. The ensemble cast includes Scott Thompson and Bruce McCulloch of the Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall.

Canadian animator Peter Lepeniotis will direct Zombie Town. Stine’s kid’s book sees a quiet town upended when 12-year-old Mike and his friend, Karen, see a horror movie called Zombie Town and unexpectedly see the title characters leap off the screen and chase them through the theater.

Zombie Town will premiere in U.S. theaters before streaming on Hulu and then ABC Australia in 2023.

“We are delighted to bring the pages of R.L. Stine’s Zombie Town to the screen and equally thrilled to be working with such an exceptional cast and crew on this production. A three-time Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award winner with book sales of over $500 million, R.L. Stine has a phenomenal track record of crafting stories that engage and entertain audiences,” John Gillespie, Trimuse Entertainment founder and executive producer, said in a statement.

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Executive producers are Trimuse Entertainment, Toonz Media Group, Lookout Entertainment, Viva Pictures and Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates.  

Paco Alvarez and Mark Holdom of Trimuse negotiated the deal to acquire the rights to Stine’s Zombie Town book.

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