John Wick 4
Im Soo-yeon (CINE21 Reporter): Even the viewers who simply took John Wick as “a movie about a man killing hundreds of people for killing his dog,” have to appreciate the artistic accomplishments achieved by the series’ perseverance. The new John Wick 4 is noble and elegant, even. John Wick (Keeanu Reeves) who forewarned at the end of the previous installment that he would take revenge on the High Table, takes down the High Table Elder from the get go. The new leader Marquis Vincent de Gramont (Bill Skarsgård), hiers assassins from all around the world to have John killed, and exploits John’s old friend Caine’s (Donnie Yen) weakness as leverage to coerce him into betraying his colleague. The action sequences that were designed to highlight the features of the locations that span from the Wadirum Desert in Jordan, National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, Japan, to the Sacred Heart Church in Berlin, Germany, and Trocadéro Square in Paris, France are incredibly fun to watch - perhaps the best in the series yet. The desert scene with the High Table Elder is an homage to Laurence of Arabia; others mirror the kung fu movies Donnie Yen starred in at the height of his career; gives a hat tip to the gun fights in John Woo’s The Killer; then ends with a bang much like Clint Eastwood’s Western film. John Wick 4 is a dedication to its classic predecessors and the action genre in general.
Next in Fashion Season 2 (Netflix)
Yoon Haein: Next in Fashion is a Netflix original reality show in which up and coming designers compete to win a cash prize along with other perks. The first season that aired in 2020 gave rise to the now well-known winner, Minju Kim, and now they’re back with a second season. This time around, designers face challenges that span a wide breadth of themes such as royal styles to gowns for the Met Gala, using fresh flowers, and upcycling vintage garb for models with different figures from various racial backgrounds and age range. The participants scramble in a short amount of time to come up with creative and sophisticated garments that are in line with the theme but with their unique spin. The designers’ diverse backgrounds and identities inevitably shine through their works, which makes Next in Fashion incredibly satisfying to watch.
The pressures of facing elimination every episode pulls the air taut, which is expected in a survival show, but Next in Fashion drives the narrative in a much more amiable way. The participants are competing with one another, but they respect and praise each other’s strengths, and cheer each other on so that they can all overcome whatever difficulties they may face together. In group challenges, they discuss and negotiate so that they can come up with a coherent final piece that also reflects each team members’ different styles. This process of growing together is included in the show. “Nobody’s perfect. Just show yourself as you are. All of you, firmly.” Just like the special judge and stylist Jason Bolden said, the judges don’t fall into the trap of cruelty just for the sake of entertainment. Rather, they empathize with the issues that the designers are going through as members of the same community, respect the competitors’ styles, and guide them in the right direction. As the plot develops, the participants realize their identities with clothing as their medium and find their confidence as they complete challenges that they wouldn’t have been able to at the outset. The show depicts the joy of already talented people further pushing themselves to discover even more of their talents. This is a process of moving forward through competition and cooperation among different people and learning to truly have faith in themselves. Next in Fashion is an example of a positive survival television show, that shows us the meaning of friendly competition.
Do / Do or Don't by Chang Kiha
Na Won-young (Music Critic): “I recorded my voice first then added the bare minimum here and there,” confessed Chang Kiha. And just as he described, the minimalistic song is stripped down to the bone, leaving only the texture of the words, which feel “light as a feather with not a piece of earth to land on.” Last year, Chang majestically soared high into the sky after shaking loose from the weights of temporal references and spatiality of sound that were hanging with The Faces. But now, he finally lowered the anchor for the concert after defying gravity and floating around for a while. His colleagues who also go by bongjeingan skillfully help with Chang’s berthing. Drummer Jeon Iljoon who showed off his rhythms in his tight partnership with The Faces in the 2010s, and in the precise performances with chiyoonhae starting from the 2020s, now bridges the two with his energetic beat. Chang first dipped his toes in the combination of simple arrangements and the rhythms of colloquial language with “Kieuk” and “That’s Just What You Think” and finally took a full dive in Levitation where he replaced certain elements with unprecedentedly heavy and sharp texture, with dense, dramatic instrumentals. The structure layered on top of spoken language, and the progression that follows the vocals is similar; however, while earlier songs involve letting the finely chopped electronic sounds or samplings flow at a leisurely pace to a bass-less backdrop, the bold and rapid stream of instrumentals take sharp turns without a moment to come up and take a breath in Do / Do or Don’t. Chang offhandedly tells you to just do it, but also ping-pongs back and forth: “If you tell me to do something I will do something, but I don’t know if I’ll do it or not.” The flow that mirrors the lyrics rush on, and the two tracks fill up with “now” as they “neither look to the future nor to the past (or look to both equally)” (GAEKKUM / GOOD). The present of Chang Kiha whose sleek talent of spewing out a ceaseless stream of words as sounds rather than their meaning is becoming ever slyer as he “keeps trying to do something when he can just stay still” no longer envies “the ancient future” that isn’t even ancient.
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