Movies of the Week #25 (2017)

Movie of the Week:

The Babushkas of Chernobyl (2015)



  • The Babushkas of Chernobyl (2015): It’s my not so hidden secret that I want to visit Chernobyl one of these days. In preparation for the event, I thought some lessons of wisdom from radiation ridden old ladies might do me good. Babushkas turned out to be quite the sensitive portrayal of resilience and sentimentality in the face of the man-made adversity. The women still living in the wider exclusion zone couldn’t bear leaving their homes as the reactor core melted in 1986 and in spite of their forced evacuation, they returned illegally to go on with their lives. Authorities deemed they would more likely be killed by old age than by the nuclear fallout (although the protagonists we see would have been in their early 50s back then), so they were permitted to stay. It’s fascinating to see how everything looks normal, as if the thing had been shot somewhere in rural Romania, instead of one of the most toxic places on earth. What has always given me a sense of the otherworldly are the images of nature reclaiming Pripyat, the kind of post-apocalyptic foreshadowing so many disaster movies try hard to fake. Living on the now impure land, as they had always done, the babushkas are a testament to the small joys of life, with an emphasis on the importance of being and belonging ahead of mere survival. 7/10


  • Kong: Skull Island (2017): In a way, I didn’t like much of what was going on in Kong:SI. The scriptwriting is frustrating and pompous, there are too many characters, the film has an overreliance on slow-mo and the monster fight is your usual WWF struggle. I mean, really, Hiddleston looks like he’s posing for GQ in almost all his shots! There’s a heavy visual influence of Apocalypse Now, which also spreads in varying ways across the characters, from John C. Reilly’s Crusoe-esque character, to Samuel L. Jackson’s blatant Colonel Kurtz impression. In spite of all this, though, I got taken in by the action, and managed to enjoy Kong, perhaps, more than I should have. It’s a mystery. 6/10


  • Resident Evil: Vendetta (2017): I’m all in on anything Resident Evil, but it’s even hard for me to find anything worth recommending in RE: Vendetta. This animated movie sure looks a lot like the games (and, of course, the previous animated films), bringing in familiar characters like Chris, Leon and Rebecca. The bulk of the story, about another frustrated douchebag arms-dealer wanting a new start for the world, takes place in that weird chronological order that the Resident Evil universe exists in and is pathetic. Everything looking like a collage of previous locations, characters and plots, sometimes just textured differently, which nobody seems to find familiar. I won’t even complain about the off-key dramatic scenes or the by-the-numbers action moments, as I felt it more worrisome, that empathizing with anyone proved impossible. Plainly put, the writing on this is so awful, almost everything else goes with it. I never thought it would be possible to top or equal P.W.S. Anderson’s live-action movies as long as you stuck to core characters, but it seems I was naive and idealistic. Skip this, even more so if you care about Resident Evil. 3/10