This week, a scathing review of Will Smith's latest drama, 3 trailers and... can we ask for a favour?
“It’s just nice to meet another human that shares my affinity for elf culture”
~ Elf, 2003
Make our wish come truuueee…
Salty Popcorn is fast approaching its 2nd birthday and over the past two years, the number of you opening SP and reading it every other week has already exceeded our original goal. We love all of you for being as committed as we are, but could we ask for a little favour? It is Christmas after all…
Every time we’ve ever asked you to like and share SP, you’ve done it - and every time we’ve seen a good uptick in new subscribers. So, can the power of our readers help us reach 300 subscribers before SP turns 2?
Even just clicking the ‘Like’ button does a lot to help the Substack algorithm recommend us to new readers. Engagement really does wonders to help us grow, so please give us a like!
Now for the headlines:
For his upcoming film Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan has recreated a nuclear explosion without using CGI. Read more.
The Golden Globe nominees have been announced, with The Banshees of Inisherin leading the pack with no less than eight nominations. Read more.
Sundance Film Festival has announced the 2023 Short Film and Indie Episodic Program Lineup. Read more.
A24 has released a poster for horror-director Ari Aster’s next film, Beau Is Afraid, starring Joaquin Phoenix. Read more.
Studio Ghibli has announced its latest project from Miyazaki Hayao, How Do You Live. Read more.
And finally, in what could be the most surprising book-to-screen adaptation of all time, The Art of Not Giving a Fuck has been made into a film. Watch the trailer.
Salty Popcorn is 100% free, but if you enjoy SP, please consider buying us a cinema ticket for just £5 per month - or a bunch of tickets for just £30 per year. Thank you!
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
UK: 2 June // USA: 2 June
In the sequel to the Oscar-winning animation, Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) embarks on an epic adventure that will transport Brooklyn’s friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man across the Multiverse.
UK: 10 March // USA: 10 March
From the writers of A Quiet Place comes 65, which sees Adam Driver put in a pre-historic/futuristic (it’s hard to tell) Earth fighting dinosaurs. It sounds exactly like the kind of film that wouldn’t feature in SP, but it’s got Adam Driver - so the script can’t be that bad… can it?
UK: 3 February // USA: 21 December
As a little bonus trailer, A24 released a ‘proper’ trailer for one of this year’s most anticipated films… have a tissue ready.
Fact of the week
Do you remember when the internet used to make fun of Leonardo DiCaprio for never winning an Oscar? Do you remember all the memes? Well, it all came to a stop in 2016 when he won Best Actor for The Revenant (his sixth nomination!) but I bet you didn’t know just how much work he put into that role…
For starters (no pun intended) he ate a raw slab of bison's liver, despite being vegetarian. He also had to learn to shoot a musket, build a fire, speak two Native American languages (Pawnee and Arikara) and study with a doctor who specialises in ancient healing techniques…
DiCaprio said it was the hardest performance of his career.
2.5 (out of 5)
Where to watch:
Will Smith plays Peter, a slave that flees a plantation in Louisiana after being whipped within an inch of his life. He has to outwit cold-blooded hunters and the unforgiving swamps of Louisiana on a torturous journey to the North, where enslaved people have been set free.
Be warned, the trailer gives a lot away and I found it harder to enjoy the film as a result.
The review (NO spoilers):
Based on the harrowing true story of ‘Whipped Peter’, Emancipation is a brutal drama that’s heavy on violence and light on feeling. In fact, the low-saturation colour grading could be a metaphor for the emotional void in this film.
With its muted colours, subject matter, score and cinematography, there’s no question that director Antoine Fuqua wanted Emancipation to be anything less than epic, but all he’s managed to make is a film that’s so Oscar-hungry, it’s more of a try-hard than a work of art.
It’s a wonder how a production of such magnitude could turn what should be an emotional journey into something so ‘meh’ - and it’s a real shame.
While there’s no denying Will Smith’s talent as an actor, I struggled to buy into his character. Is that in light of the controversy surrounding him and the knowledge that his career might be hanging on this film alone? It’s hard to say. But it’s equally as hard to watch this film and see him as anything but Will Smith with an accent.
As with so many of the films that let me down, it really comes down to the lack of feeling anything for the characters, and with Emancipation I think that’s a result of not spending enough quality time with the characters. Without wanting to give too much away, this isn’t a character-driven drama because it isn’t about the characters.
This is a film that is more concerned with telling the audience what to feel than having the characters feel it themselves. As an audience, we shouldn’t be told what to feel, we should simply feel it through observation. If the cast and characters can’t be a conduit for that, then the film has failed.
Scroll down for The Critic’s Cut and to see what’s in the next issue.
If you liked Emancipation…
2016 | UK: Netflix / Disney+ // USA: Apple TV ($3.99) / Amazon Prime ($3.99)
It might come as a surprise, but the film for which Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar has a lot in common with Emancipation, which is more a journey of survival than it is a story about slavery.
The big difference here is that The Revenant displays a much wider array of talent and the film will actually make you feel something.
In the next issue:
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
UK: 23 December // USA: 23 December | Watch the Trailer
Great article. However you missed the other unknown fact that the “intense scene” with Leo and the bear was real.