FlixChatter Review: NOMADLAND (2021)

I actually saw this one a few months ago at Twin Cities Film Fest. It was my pick of film of the month in October and also earns a spot on my Top 10 Best list of 2020. Nomadland is  about a woman named Fern (Frances McDormand) who lost everything in the Great Recession sets off on a journey through the American West with her van. The last film of Chloé Zhao that I watched, The Rider, showed a slice of life from a world I’m not familiar with and this time she showed life of modern-day nomad.

The film is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by journalist Jessica Bruder. The book documents stories of dispossessed older Americans (mostly 50s-60s) who face the largest reversal in retirement security in American history and ends up becoming workampers — working while living out of an RV or a tent. Fern is one of those people, having lost her husband, her job at a US Gypsum plant, and ultimately her old-company town Empire, Nevada, which died with the factory closure in 2011.

Now, the film doesn’t delve too much into the background of the economic crisis or the capital/government greed that causes them, but it explores a human story told through the perspective someone who choose to live that life. It seems that even though it’s obviously a tough life uprooting oneself into living in a ratty van, sans the comfort most house-dwellers take for granted, Fern and her fellow nomads seems content, even happy living this way. There’s a memorable scene of Fern saying “I’m not homeless, I’m just houseless,” with a defiant glee when friends offer her a place to stay. The film shows her working various jobs, most notably Amazon warehouses, and at times struggling to even get seasonal work. It seems like a lonely life, but there is actually a close-knit community that sustain them and this film actually features real nomads, Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells, who are featured in Bruder’s book. They become friends and mentors for Fern.

The film features a quiet yet intricate performance from McDormand, who apparently did some method acting for the role as she actually slept in a van used in the film for a while. Most of the time she only gets to act with her expressions as there are countless of shots of her gazing into the vast, beautiful landscape… and a brief shot of her serenely floating in a pool of water stark naked (I wonder if that’s what garnered this film an R rating?!). I find Fern as a fascinating character, but also frustrating and hard to warm up to, not sure if this is because the film never allowed us to really get to know her.

During her journey, Fern meets a fellow workcamper named Dave (David Strathrain, the only other prominent actor in the film) and the two strikes a tentative friendship. They end up working a part-time job together, but when Dave’s son visits him, Dave ends up staying with him in a large house on the country. Dave invites Fern to join him and later we see Fern come and visit him. It’s perhaps the only time we see Fern sleeping in a bed inside, but it’s interesting to see that she’s no longer comfortable living within the confines of a house. McDormand’s nuanced performance conveys the feeling that living day to day in the same place, same environment, despite all the comfort, would actually infringes on her sense of freedom.

Though not much happens in this film, there’s actually a lot to mull over and reflect upon. It made me think of certain aspects of my own life and others close to me, what I would do if I were in her situation. The scene of her walking in her old company town that’s now desolate is quite heart-wrenching. I was curious if Fern would actually consider Dave’s invitation and start a new life again as she once did… living with a new family (albeit an adopted one) and live in a real home again. The finale shows Fern’s decision without much words being spoken, but yet it packs a punch. Nomadland is truly a graceful, poetic, reflective film, boasted by stunning cinematography by DP Joshua James Richards and beautiful, serene music by composer Ludovico Einaudi.

After watching this, I’ve become even more of a fan of Chloé Zhao’s remarkable storytelling style. It’s so refreshing that Zhao features a woman over 50 in a leading role, which is a rarity given Hollywood’s issue with ageism. I can’t wait to see Eternals, especially after hearing Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige quote saying that her pitch was the best he’s ever heard, apparently it’ll be a very big, sweeping, multi-millennial-spaning story (per this article). So even if you’re not typically into slower-paced dramas, I still highly recommend Nomadland. It’s a study of restraint in its minimalism, almost stripped bare of frills in terms of special effects or unnecessary dialog, but done to great effect.

Have you seen NOMADLAND? Well, what did you think?

Disney Investor Day – Marvel trailers + announcements: LOKI, WandaVision, Ms Marvel, Falcon Winter Soldier

Woo wee!! I was quite busy with work yesterday that I didn’t even realize it was Disney Investor Day yesterday. Or you might as well call it ‘Disney-take-all-my-money-Day’ given the drool-worthy Marvel Phase 4 trailers being released, as well as new revelations that got me jumping for joy!

If you missed it, there are a few videos posted on Youtube where Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige introduced all the slates coming in the next year or so:

Man, it’s gotta be good to be Kevin Feige… I mean, how many producers get to be involved with SO MANY films that people can’t wait to see. It’s amazing how Marvel managed to connect their feature film slate with their TV series offerings, as Feige mentioned as the ‘inter-connected-ness of all the stories’ within the universe. It just goes to show how well-managed the Marvel franchise is compared to its rival DC.

Anyhoo, if you’d rather just watch the individual trailers, here are a few I’m super excited about:

LOKI

Out of ALL the Marvel series going to Disney+, LOKI is my most anticipated because I LOVE Tom Hiddleston‘s portrayal. He actually made me love the villain more than the hero (sorry Chris Hemsworth!)

Oh I love the changing font for the LOKI logo, it’s perfect for the god of mischief!

WandaVision

When I first heard of WandaVision series, I was kind of meh about it… that is until I saw the concept, setting it in 1950s as the unlikely couple are living the ideal suburban life in the town of Westview, trying to conceal their powers. Such a freakin’ brilliant concept!! Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany look like they’re having a blast in the roles, and now I can’t wait to see this on January 15, 2021!

Falcon & the Winter Soldier

I’m really hoping this one would be good as I LOVE Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan. Captain America is my favorite Marvel trilogy and these are two extremely handsome + talented actors reprising their roles from the franchise, and this trailer looks fun and action-packed. Yet… somehow there’s something wanting, which makes me a bit worried that it won’t be as good as I expected, but hey, I hope they’d prove me wrong come March 19, 2021.


I wish there were a trailer for ShangChi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the first Asian-led superhero movie, starring the Chinese-Canadian Simu Liu in the title role.

I’m super excited to see an Asian director at the helm, Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy), and starring a bunch of amazing East-Asian actors: Tony Leung, Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Fala Chen, Meng’er Zhang, Florian Munteanu, and Ronny Chieng. Finally, we’ve got representation for the large Asian audience!

Speaking of representation, this is a series I haven’t heard about but am excited about!

A new series called Ms. Marvel, is apparently in the works! Newcomer Iman Vellani will star as Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel in the series, which is set to arrive on Disney+ in late 2021! The series will center on Kamala Khan — a 16-year-old Pakistani-American growing up in Jersey City. A great student, avid gamer, and voracious fan-fic scribe, Kamala has a special affinity for Super Heroes, particularly Captain Marvel. Check out the teaser below:


Exciting Announcements

Well this is old news to some, but it’s still cool to see this brilliant casting news confirmed officially! As if we needed another reason to be excited about THOR: Love and Thunder, Christian Bale will be playing the villain, Gorr The God Butcher. Woo hoo!! I guess he’s taking a note from his former co-star & fellow Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett who seemed to have the time of her life playing Thor’s sister/villainess Hela, The Goddess of Death.

This video shows all the announcements for some highly-anticipated shows! I remember a month ago or so, while I was watching PERRY MASON which also stars Tatiana Maslany, there were talks that she’s going to play She Hulk, which she denied. But looks like it IS official that she will portray the character! Interesting to see Tim Roth will reprise his role in The Incredible Hulk as Abomination.

 

I wish they’d released at least a teaser for ETERNALS, which is what Feige said as ‘unexplored territories of the Marvel universe.’ The cast looks amazing!! But I’m equally excited for the director at the helm, Chloé Zhao.

Chloe Zhao w/ the ETERNALS cast at Comic Con 2019

Per IO9, it’s her Manga vision is partly what got her the director’s job. Per the IO9 article, Zhao is quoted as saying “I have such deep, strong, manga roots… I brought some of that into Eternals. And I look forward to pushing more of that marriage of East and West.” That marriage, Zhao thinks, could put Eternals on par—at least thematically—with the last big Marvel movie. “How much further and bigger can we go after Endgame? Because I’m not just making the film as a director. I’m making the film as a fan.”

Whoa!! Now I’m even more excited to see ETERNALS!! But man, such a long wait for this one as it won’t be released until Nov 5, 2021.


Now, not every single announcement got me excited however, this one actually made me LOL-ed and cringe at the same time… ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Holiday Special.

Wait, what?? Apparently James Gunn will also direct this Live-Action Holiday Special in 2022 Before Vol. 3 Arrives in 2023, and he obviously is excited about it. O-kaaay 😀


Well, that’s the scoop about Marvel Phase 5. Which series are you most excited to see?