With today being April 20th, otherwise known as 4/20, the most unofficial holiday for marijuana enthusiasts, it isn't a coincidence that a new Bob Marley documentary is arriving in theaters. But aside from the well-publicized/idolized/celebrated use of marijuana that Marley's name is affiliated with, this new documentary from The Last King of Scotland director Kevin Macdonald is truly a labor of love.
Admittedly, I'm not the biggest Marley fan (though I know the popular songs), so finding out all the little bits of information was kind of neat. For example, did you know that he was born in an impoverished village with no electricity, that he was the child of an 18-year-old Jamaican woman and a 50-year-old captain in the British Royal Marines or that the first Wailers single came out way back in 1964?
I was also impressed with what a revolutionary unifier Marley was. He died three days before my birthday, so I never got the opportunity to grow up watching him on the TV (not that my infant brain would have absorbed any of it). The only Marley I was ever exposed to was my dad's records and 8-tracks, yes, 8-tracks. Google it.
Marley, while running almost two-and-a-half hours, contains never before seen footage and interviews with people who have previously never spoken about the music and cultural icon on camera.
From the completely opposite side of the globe comes the latest film from Je-kyu Kang. It's been eight years since Kang directed a film, his previous being Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War although foreign film fans will probably know him better for the 1999 spy flick Shiri.
In My Way, Kang re-unites with Brotherhood star Dong-gun Jang and adds a few rising Asian stars to the cast, including Jo Odagiri (Shinobi, Retribution) and Fan Bingbing (Shaolin and Andy Lau's Battle of the Warriors). The film is being touted as the most expensive Korean film ever made, though the real selling point should be the Saving Private Ryan-esque war scenes and the emotionally charged scenes between Jang's Jun Shik and Odagiri's Tatsuo.
Based on a true story, the film essentially takes the familiar Prince and the Pauper tale and marries it with the feuding Capulets and Montagues of Romeo and Juliet and sets it against the backdrop of World War II. The film is unflinching in its portrayal of Japanese abuse of Koreans, but all the rage and hatred ultimately fuels the stirring final moments of the film. You can view the timeline of the two men as they battle and are captured by the Soviets and ultimately end up being captured by the Germans and forced to fight on the shores of Normandy on D-Day.
Both films are in limited release this weekend and are certainly worth checking out.
Sleepers to See is an occasional column to tout lesser known films. This column is not studio endorsed but instead is a strong recommendation from the movie geeks here at Fandango for those looking for something outside of the Hollywood mainstream.