Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Interview (4½ Stars)

I think that by now everyone knows about this film, whether they have seen it or not. It was the most controversial film of 2014, and it has been heavily promoted by the North Korean government against their will.

To give a brief overview of the film's controversy: In mid 2014 there were reports that the comedian Seth Rogen was making a film about the assassination of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. There followed protests to the American government, asking for the film to be withdrawn. This in itself showed the North Korean mentality. It's a country where the government exercises strict censorship over media and entertainment, so they assumed that President Obama is personally responsible for the release or prevention of any films in America. Amusing. When he refused to act the film was described as a "declaration of war", and the threats continued for months.

The next step was on November 24th when the computers of Sony Pictures were hacked by a group calling themselves the Guardians of Peace. Several unreleased films, not including "The Interview", were leaked online, as well as the emails of personal employees. At first the North Korean government denied responsibility, but then they gave themselves away by the Guardians of Peace threatening that more material would be leaked if the release of "The Interview" wasn't cancelled.

Sony Pictures refused to back down, which was followed by threats from the Guardians of Peace that there would be terrorist attacks on cinemas showing "The Interview" similar to September 11th 2001. What did they mean by that? Would they be crashing hundreds of planes all over America? This was ridiculous and made many people laugh, but the leading cinema chains reacted by deciding not to show the film. Sony grudgingly cancelled the release, but an American hackers group who claimed to already have the film in their possession said that they would leak the film onto the Internet if Sony didn't show it. As a result Sony offered to let the film be watched on streaming services in America for two days only on December 24th and 25th, as well as having screenings in small independent cinemas. On those two days alone "The Interview" set a new record for the highest earning streaming film ever. Thank you, Kim Jong-Un. Pirated versions were soon made available for free download, but Sony was already laughing all the way to the bank.

It doesn't look like the film will ever have an unlimited cinema release in the USA, due to the cowardice of the cinema chains, but it's being distributed in other countries, such as the UK. I was happy that I was able to see it yesterday. In advance there were news reports in which people were making comments like "all this fuss over a film which probably isn't so good". I admit to having had my doubts. I've never been a fan of Seth Rogen. His humour is too crude for me. Even his loud, rough voice sounds somehow rude. But within minutes of the film starting I was glad I was there. It was a party atmosphere in the cinema. There was loud laughter everywhere, and I couldn't help laughing too.

It's a beautiful film showing the tender side of Kim Jong-Un. He's a man suffering from father complexes who drinks margaritas and listens to Katy Perry. We can grow to like him. Almost. He's also a little fat man with a bad haircut who lives in luxury while most of his countrymen are starving. A lot of people have complexes about being overweight, but imagine how bad it must be to be the only fat man in a whole country.

Now we need a sequel. Maybe "The Interview 2" will feature Vladimir Putin. Come on, Seth, it'll be a big hit.

P. S. No planes crashed on the cinema while I was watching the film.

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