‘The Farewell’

Pair The Farewell with Midsommar for a double feature about Americans interacting with how other cultures contextualize death.

Or, pair it with Gloria Bell for a double feature of movies that treat animals sneaking into their respective main characters’ abodes as metaphoric symbols. There are also aesthetic similarities (how to externally plumb the depths of repressed emotional truths!), narrative reflections (both stick close to their lead women, chronicling how they navigate — and bridge? — the distance between themselves and others around them, particularly familial others), and thematic refractions (The Farewell‘s about how to say goodbye to a life, and Gloria Bell‘s about how to say hello to a new life).

Early prediction: The Farewell is 2019’s first Best Picture nominee (unless Us stands the test of (a few months worth of) time). 2019’s probable second BP nom: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, which most likely will be yet another Tarantino also-ran in the 6-10 range (gotta love the post-Dark Knight extra slots!).

Box office-wise, this weekend comes with interesting subplots concerning the two (plus one!):

  1. How does Hobbs & Shaw open?
    • AKA: can a non-Disney universe thrive in the current theatrical ecosystem, or are the best days in the rearview for the Fast & Furious franchise?
  2. How does Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood hold?
    • Its stellar start proves that non-blockbuster milkshakes can still bring all the boys and girls to the theatrical yard (damn right!), but this weekend will show the strength of its word-of-mouth, which — despite stellar reviews — is by no means guaranteed, what with its “B” CinemaScore and, frankly, how weird it is compared to QT’s usual, unusual crowd-pleasing romps.
  3. How does The Farewell expand?
    • Will it keep raking in those dollar bills, or will its big-market success not translate to national audiences? To be an Academy Awards player, it needs to be the breakout specialty release of 2019.

Speaking of which: Awkwafina will probably be the campaign’s thespian focus — there’s ample precedent for comics turned dramatic — but the powers-that-oversee shouldn’t forget about Shuzhen Zhao (the grandma everyone’s saying farewell to!). She has plenty of dialogue, but still her face is basically a wordlessly-verbose script unto itself.

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