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Mace and Crown | May 24, 2018

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Monarch Movie Minute: ‘The Handmaiden,’ ‘Captain Fantastic’ and ‘Hello, My Name Is Doris’

Tyler Passarge | Staff Writer

Courtesy Amazon Studios

‘The Handmaiden’ (2016) | NR | 144 min.🎬🎬🎬🎬🎬

Set within a Japanese occupied Korea in the 1930s, “The Handmaiden” is a film that bubbles with elements of romance, film noir and gothic thrillers. Daughter of a thief, Sook-Hee (Tae-ri Kim), has lived life as a pickpocket for a majority of her life. It’s when she is met with a proposition by a farm boy pretending to be a count that she sees a chance to leave her dead-end life of crime.

Hired by the “count,” Sook-Hee is tasked to act as a handmaiden for Lady Hideko (Min-Hee Kim), the niece to a rich and twisted Japanese collector. Acting as her handmaiden, Sook-Hee’s main goal is to convince the lonely Hideko to fall for the count since he wants to marry Hideko, acquire her fortune and throw her in an asylum. Things are thrown into chaos when Sook-Hee finds herself falling for Hideko and begins to thwart the count’s plan.

To say anything more of the plot would be criminal. As the film’s plot begins to blossom, layers are revealed that change the entire game. Character motivations are revealed, intricate deceptions take hold of the film and audiences are left disturbed, but also left deliciously anxious for the surprises that keep rolling in.

Famed Japanese writer/director, Park Chan-wook, beautifully crafts “The Handmaiden” into a story that evokes diverse reactions. While the film certainly earns its title of being the most mind-bending and disturbing film of last year, it also finds itself being the most beautiful and sexiest one as well. “The Handmaiden” is a rich and complex piece of storytelling that shouldn’t be missed.

This film is available on Amazon Prime.

Courtesy Bleecker Street Media

‘Captain Fantastic’ (2016) | R | 118 min. 🎬🎬🎬🎬

At the heart of “Captain Fantastic,” is a character study. The character put into a role of analyzation is Ben (Viggo Mortensen), a man who shields his seven children from what he sees as a poisonous and consumerist society. Rather than expose his children to that world, he raises them in the center of the woods where he teaches them to live off the land and fend for themselves.

Although Ben does what he can to raise his children, he is abruptly placed in the position to do it alone after his troubled wife commits suicide. Initially, he is warned by his disapproving in-laws not to come to the funeral, but his clan of children convinces him to take them to bury their mother. As Ben travels into a world he abandoned long ago, he is also forced to analyze his role as a father and decide if his way of life is the right one for his family.

The moral dilemma and implications of Ben’s decision within the film are all presented in a way that keeps the audience conflicted. On one hand, Ben shows that he is a loving father that wants to do whatever is best for his kids, despite the fact that what he is doing consistently puts them in danger. Ben is someone who you want to understand and sympathize with but at the same time, he is a dangerous person.

The constant back-and-forth the audience feels is only heightened by Mortensen’s well-thought-out performance, one that he was nominated for in the 2017 Academy Awards. The film’s momentum is only stunted, however, by its sudden desire to justify Ben’s actions as the film progresses. What would make for a unique character study is only harmed by a decision that the film doesn’t let the audience figure out on their own.

This film is available on Amazon Prime.

Courtesy Roadside Attractions

‘Hello, My Name Is Doris’ (2016) | R | 95 min.🎬🎬🎬

Clinically diagnosed as a hoarder, Doris (Sally Field), has never been one to live her life. No one can blame Doris, though, since she was tasked to take care of her unbalanced mother for a majority of her adult life. When Doris’ mother passes away, she finds it difficult to move on and establish a life for herself. Doris is in desperate need for change in her life, and that change comes in the form of her new and much younger coworker, John (Max Greenfield).

Wanting to romantically pursue John, Doris strikes a friendship with him in order to get closer. Despite warnings from her friends, Doris embarks on a journey of self-discovery with John that may give her something she needs that goes beyond love. As she faces trials and errors in her pursuit of John, Doris must also face her habits as a hoarder.

The premise for “Hello, My Name Is Doris” is one that could go in many directions. At times it feels like it’s going to go within a creepy, stalker storyline, and other moments seem like it could go into a much sweeter and quirkier mood. Thankfully, the film is able to hold itself together well enough to fall into the latter category. This is a small, yet cute movie that stems past some of the film’s major issues.

A charging force that aids this film is the dynamic performance from Fields, who is able to blend likable and relatable elements into the titular character. Field has command over the film and gives the script a spark. Although it’s by no means a perfect movie, “Hello My Name Is Doris” is a sweet little flick that holds its own charm.

This film is available on Amazon Prime.

Rating System:

🎬 — Well, there goes 2 hours of my life!
🎬🎬 — Straight to DVD.
🎬🎬🎬 — Add to my queue.
🎬🎬🎬🎬 — A must see.
🎬🎬🎬🎬🎬 — Mind blown!