There are three films released this week - the epic adventure Eternals, the soulful romantic comedy-drama Here Today and the fantastic animation adventure Monster Family 2.
Following her sweeping Oscar-winning portrait of the American nomadic spirit in Nomadland, writer-director Chloé Zhao takes us on a soulful journey into Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Eternals, introducing 10 superheroes never seen before on screen.
Marvel Studios’ Eternals follows a group of heroes from beyond the stars who had protected the Earth since the dawn of man. When monstrous creatures called the Deviants long thought lost to history mysteriously return, the Eternals are forced to reunite in order to defend humanity once again.
Jack Kirby’s original Eternals Marvel comic books, which were first published in 1976, provided the inspiration for the film. His stories presented a unique opportunity to explore uncharted time periods and diverse characters and to delve into the rich history of the Eternals. The screenplay for Eternals was written by Chloé Zhao, Patrick Burleigh, Ryan Firpo and Kaz Firpo, from a screen story by Ryan Firpo and Kaz Firpo.
Zhao commented: “We are excited for audiences to go on this epic journey through time and space with a group of immortal heroes. My initial vision for the film can be summed up in the opening of William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence. ‘To see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.’
Blake meant that you can find meanings and the endless beauty of our universe inside the smallest things on earth, and with the most intimate moments between human beings. We set out to capture both - something as epic as the creation of a sun and as intimate as the whispers of lovers. To find a way for these moments to co-exist and to use them to explore our relationship with our planet, the cosmos and ourselves was a challenge that we loved deeply.”
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Veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz (Billy Crystal) forms an unlikely yet hilarious and touching friendship with New York singer Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish) in the new comedy-drama Here Today.
Payge - the unlikely recipient of a prize to have lunch with the comedy legend despite not knowing who he is - gets off to a rocky start with Charlie (think seafood allergy, a hospital visit and an epi pen). Before long, each finds in the other a sort of soul mate, forging a deep bond that kicks the generation gap aside and redefines the meaning of friendship, love and trust.
The idea for the film Here Today was ignited when writer-director Billy Crystal saw his long-time friend and collaborator Alan Zweibel share a hilarious anecdote from his life during a guest appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, which resulted in the genesis for Zweibel’ short story The Prize, which inspired the film’s screenplay crafted by Billy Crystal and Alan Zweibel.
“The challenge of this movie is to be respectful of what Charlie is going through - we have to honour the people, like my aunt, and their families who are dealing with that. And yet there are very funny things around him and then the movie shifts into a very compassionate third act as the characters discover what’s most important in their lives,” says Crystal.
The book Charlie is trying to write about his late wife, the guilt he has about being in a way part of her death, Emma becoming a motivator to confront the demons of his past and uniting his family with him. The movie’s very rich, it’s very big - big laughs, big emotions.”
With Monster Family 2, screenwriter David Safier and director Holger Tappe focus on the beauty of the imperfect.
To free Baba Yaga and Renfield from the clutches of Monster Hunter Mila Starr, the Wishbone family once more transforms into a vampire, Frankenstein’s monster, a mummy and a werewolf in Monster Family 2. Aided and abetted by their three pet bats, our monster family zooms around the world again to save their friends, make new monstrous acquaintances and finally come to the realisation that “nobody’s perfect”.
David Safier explains: “I think there is more pressure built up through social media and optimisation in any form than there was 20 years ago. Often I want to tell people - perfect doesn’t exist! Everyone has strengths and weaknesses that are worth living out. Be happy with that!
If you pay attention to these qualities, you will get more out of life, instead of bowing to all the optimisations that you’re being modelled on. This is an important topic that affects every viewer in his or her own way. Happy Family 2 in this case is the beautiful, funny and entertaining medicine to that!”
Daniel Dercksen has been a contributor for Lifestyle since 2012. As the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative The Writing Studio and a published film and theatre journalist of 40 years, teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting and screenwriting throughout South Africa and internationally the past 22 years. Visit www.writingstudio.co.za