A Vietnamese ‘ET’ for Kids – Knox County VillageSoup


Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy (Vietnam, Well Go USA, streaming, PG, 105 min.). The film, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in the Kids section, is Vietnam’s first children’s sci-fi feature film and the country’s second entry into the science fiction genre. The family adventure is based on a beloved Czechoslovakian television series (1978-1983) which became a cultural sensation in Vietnam throughout the 1980s and 1990s, as the titular character was cited as influencing behaviors consumers ranging from kids haircuts to baby name choices.

The film begins a year after the death of Hung’s mother (Lai Truong Phu). Now the 8-year-old and his father Thanh (Ngòc Tuòng) live in an apartment above his father’s cell phone repair shop. Hung’s only true friend, My (Khánh Như), and his family have moved away, leaving Hung, who likes to fly his Comet remote plane (the fun opening sequence), to be left to fend for himself, as his dad works long hours downstairs in his store. . Two henchmen, hired by the owner of the building, try to force all the tenants to leave so that he can sell it at triple the value.

One night, Hung sees a glowing purple object streak across the sky and crash into a nearby lake, which happens to be near the property that unscrupulous, ultra-rich space program developer Nghia (think Elon Musk, only villain ) recently purchased. The now-damaged vehicle contained Maika (Chu Dièp Anh, voiced by Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja), an alien who takes the form of a young girl with purple hair. During the investigation, Hung nearly drowns trying to retrieve Comet from the lake, but Maika saves him and their strange friendship begins.

Both villains are here for obvious comic relief. Since it’s a children’s movie, there are the obligatory fart jokes. Hung’s flying antagonist, CuBeo, ends up helping Hung and Maika, whom he is attracted to. Product placement is a bit obvious, especially when the biggest events take place at the Disney World-like Sun World theme park.

Overall, the film is entertaining and offers laughs, as well as a wonderful musical score by Christopher Wong. Apparently, writer-director Ham Tran (“Journey from the Fall,” “Bitcoin Heist”) began work on the film shortly after his own mother’s death, which influences how Hung and the heartbreak of his father are managed. Besides a moment of flight, the movie is a lot like “ET the Extra-Terrestrial,” in that Maika tries to fix her antenna so she can call home for rescue. Rating: 3 star movie
Scoring guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = jump

The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz aka Ensayo De Un Crimen (Mexico, 1955, VCI Entertainment/MVD Visual, Blu-ray, NR, 99 min.). Some consider it Luis Buñuel’s most underrated film. As usual, he mixes the macabre with the comedy. Most of the film is a flashback confession from the main character about the murders he wanted to commit, but didn’t, as outside forces do the deeds.

The film begins with the presentation of Archibaldo as an overly spoiled young boy of privilege. He is given a music box, a family heirloom, which is said to have caused the death of an enemy when played. The boy decides to test him, setting his sights on his nanny, wishing her dead. When moments later a stray bullet from a revolutionary’s gun flies through the window and kills her, Archie is convinced it was no accident. He carries the mindset of a serial killer into adulthood, plotting and fantasizing about the deaths of the women he meets.

One of his alleged victims is a woman who poses for department store mannequins, which leads to a very perverted date. Another is his much younger wife. Ernesto Alonso plays the adult Archibaldo.

The restored black-and-white film is accompanied by a visual essay (26:40) on Buñuel’s career by Dr. David Wilt, which highlights the deaths of two of the actors before the film’s premiere – Miroslava, who played Lavinia, and Jose Maria Linares-Rivas, who played Willy Corduran – and co-writer Eduardo Ugarte died six months after the premiere. Rating: 3.5 star movie; 2 additional stars

Symphony for a massacre (France, 1963, Cohen Film Collection, NR, 110 min.). This new release comes from the 2016 restoration of Jacques Deray’s strangely named film. According to the extra, the title was chosen to resemble that of another recently popular film in France. Nonetheless, the gripping story is about five businessmen, who own and operate a dance hall/casino, who combine their funds for one last drug buy ($500,000) to set them up for life. However, one of the five men cleverly manages to steal the money and come up with an alibi. The five then begin to die one by one, some because the traitor made two stupid mistakes.

Among the five men are the eldest, Paoli (Charles Vanel, “The Wages of Fear”), who finalizes the case; Moreau (Jose Giovanni), who hands over the funds after a late train ride; Maurice Clavet (Michel Auclair), who runs the gaming tables; Valoti (Claude Dauphin), who will handle distribution arrangements; and Christian Jabeke (Jean Rochefort in his first serious leading role), gone to Brussels for a business meeting. The first wrinkle is that Jabeke is having an affair with Valoti’s wife (Daniela Rocca). Michèle Mercier plays Clavet’s worried wife.

The only supplement is a discussion of the film by journalist and biographer Jean-Philippe Guerand (“Jean Rochefort, deadpan”) and film historian and author François Guérif (“Le film noir Américain”). They discuss, in separate and intertwined interviews, the film’s production history, visual aesthetics and dialogue (28:21). Rating: 3 star movie; 2 additional stars

NCIS: The 19th Season (CBS/Paramount, 5 DVDs, NR, 14 hours 52 min.). The veteran Naval Criminal Investigative Service series sees People’s Choice Award winner Mark Harmon step down from his lead role as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The season begins with a search for Gibbs after the wreckage of his boat is found, with no sign of him. Turns out Gibbs was on a secret mission to track down a serial killer. Leading the search are Agent Jessica Knight (Katrina Law) and Special Agents Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) and Nickolas Torres (Wilmer Valderrama). Special guest stars include Pam Dawber (“Mork & Mindy”) and Denise Crosby (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”).

The set includes over 45 minutes of special features, including “Being Gibbs” (10:28), on set in Alaska (5:43), Brian Dietzen and Scott Williams discussing “The Helpers” (5:40) , on Gary Cole and Law joining the series (7:58), a look at Torres and Jane Tennant (7:33), and a general look at the cast (11:18).

NCIS: Los Angeles: Season 13 (CBS/Paramount, 5 DVDs, NR, 15 hours 41 min.). During this season, the spin-off show marked its 300th episode. Much of the action centers around Special Agent G. Callen’s (Chris O’Donnell) pursuit of Russian agent Katya (Jana Kolesarova), whose use of deepfakes to impersonate Callen has put the whole team in danger. Other threats come from Chinese intelligence, white nationalist militias, the mafia and an online army of murderous internet trolls.

The set includes over an hour of special features, including a preview of the season, the addition of Gerald McRaney as a series regular as Admiral Kilbride (he had previously made guest appearances ), cast and crew discussing the 300th episode, deleted and extended scenes, and a gag reel.

NCIS: Hawai’i: Season One (CBS/Paramount, 6 DVDs, NR, 2 hrs 12 mins.). The new NCISverse series stars Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant, the first female Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor. Tennant thrived and rose through the ranks with equal confidence and strategy in a system that pushed her back every step of the way. His team includes field agents Kai Holman (Alex Tarrant), Jesse Boone (Noah Mills) and Lucy Tara (Yasmine Al-Bustami), as well as technical specialist Ernie Malik (Jason Antoon). Also in the cast are Tori Anderson as FBI agent Kate Whistler and Kian Talen as Tennant’s son Alex.

The set contains both parts of the special crossover with “NCIS”. There are over 45 minutes of bonus features, including a look at the making of the series, costume designer Luke Reichle giving a tour of the costume department, production designer Andrew Bernard and set designer Carrie Stewart discussing sets. and a look at Nickolas Torres and Tennant (also available on the Season 19 “NCIS” set).

Tom Von Malder of Owls Head has been a music critic since 1972, right after graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwest-ern University. It has been reviewing videos/DVDs since 1988.

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