Then Playing — The Woman Who Ran; Gemini Man; 21 Bridges

The Woman Who Ran (Hong Sang-soo, 2020). Gam-hee (Kim Min-hee) is on a sort of urban walkabout, visiting different friends who, it seems, she hasn’t encountered in quite some time. She notes repeatedly that her husband prefer the two of them stick together, suggesting that it’s only his recent business trip that has given her the venture out for some social visits. Director Hong Sang-hoo depicts Gam-hee’s modest journey in a restrained manner that allows the details to accumulate. Commentary emerges gradually, whether about the voyeuristic possibilities inherent to ever-present surveillance devices to the constant, irritating intrusion of men, none of whom can fathom why their preferences don’t immediately prevail in every situation. The Woman Who Ran is a lovely, graceful film marked by quiet insight and welling wisdom. In the central role, Kim strikes a nice balance between cipher and woman whose inner being seems always on the verge of shimmering to the surface.

Gemini Man (Ang Lee, 2019). Ang Lee’s fascinating with emerging cinematic technologies has all but eradicated his artistry. The prime appeal to this project is presumably the use of de-aging CGI to create the illusion that Will Smith, playing a government assassin Henry Brogan, is facing off against a younger version of himself, in the form of a replacement clone. the technology is more convincing here than in it is in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, and yet far less useful because it’s serving such drab material. Gemini Man is packed with boring bang and clatter that isn’t enlivened by a Bond-ian penchant for globetrotting, the overqualified cast, or the sketchy science fiction premise. It’s dismaying to witness Ang Lee, who once pulled a scarf-chain of strikingly different cinematic masterpieces out of his sleeve like a magician, presiding over a film this utterly generic.

21 Bridges (Brian Kirk, 2019). Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) is a New York City police officer with a troubled past and a quick trigger, making him a familiar face to the internal affairs department. When several fellow officers are gunned down during an apparent robbery at an upscale wine shop, Andre is put on the case with Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) as an impromptu partner. The pair have a mandate to find the assailants by dawn, and are given plenty of grumbled assurances that bringing the bad guys in alive is optional. A seasoned television director making his first feature film, Brian Kirk throws everything he’s got into it, as if trying to audition to be a modern answer to Walter Hill, Andrew Davis, or John McTiernan. It merely a lot of glossy kinetics that don’t disguise the serious shortcomings of a painfully predictable script. May most remarkably, even Boseman’s monumental screen presence can’t inject any personality into 12 Bridges.

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