‘Okja’ Review: Netflix Delivers A Monster Movie Miracle With Escapism, Daring, And Tilda Swinton

There is a war raging over the future of film. It’s not the first. There have been others at the advent of sound, color, television, and digital cameras. Each time an alarm was sounded by those who guard the old ways, declaring film would be ruined with this new gimmick.

Netflix is at the center of this latest battle, because it dares to premiere movies on its streaming service, ignoring decades of theatrical release tradition. This spurred heated debate at the Cannes Film Festival, where people booed the Netflix banner as it rolled out before their premiere of the fantasy-drama Okja. The controversy burbles forth in think pieces about the importance of the movie house to the experience of cinema, and counterarguments about the access Netflix offers movie lovers who don’t have the benefit of a dedicated art house near them. While I understand the concerns of those fretting over the rise of Netflix, I look to their latest, a Bong Joon Ho movie that’s gleefully outrageous, boasting big stars and uncanny visual effects, and can’t help but celebrate the latest ruination of cinema. In a year where studio tent poles have offered us such big budgeted but bland bombs as Ghost In the Shell, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and The Mummy, it feels like a miracle to find a movie as weird and lushly budgeted as Okja.

Now, admittedly, this quirky adventure is said to cost around $ 50 million, so about half to a third of its big screen competitors. But mid-budget adventure movies like these are a rarity in Hollywood, where costly stars and visual effects are counted on far more than an intriguing story or compelling characters. But Netflix, with its growing bramble of original programming, is willing to take a risk. And with Okja, the audience wins.

Written by Bong Joon Ho and Jon Ronson, Okja begins with a flourish of a chipper and pastel pink CEO who’s promising a newly discovered breed of «super pigs» that will be the future in food. Through glinting braces, a whimsical lisp, and a jarringly broad smile, Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) promises the world will be saved from starvation by her publicity stunt initiative to grow the best super pig. She sends off piglets to far-flung farmers around the world, then gives them ten years to mature. In that time, Okja becomes the pride of the litter, having grown big and healthy in the untamed forests of South Korea, cared for by young and spirited Mija (An Seo Hyun) and her old-fashioned grandfather.

Theirs is a simple life. Mija hunts and gathers in the woods for fish and fruits to feed them all. Their house is more a hut, and their refrigerator, broken and outdoors, has become a place to store stinky shoes, while her grandfather’s coveted bottles of soju hide beneath the house’s floorboards as if they are smuggled treasure. Yet, spending her days gathering and gallivanting with her beloved super pig at her side under sun-dappled paths and glistening waterfalls, what more could a girl ask for?


Far from the fast-paced metropolises of the motor-mouthed Mirando, Mija is content. So much so that when time comes to give Ojka back to the corporation that plans to butcher her, the girl begs her grandfather to reject the hefty payout so the super pig can be saved, kept as part of their unconventional but happy family. But Mija’s peaceful plans are shattered when bombastic TV personality turned harried has-been Dr. Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) scrambles up to her mountain-top home, prods her friend for the cameras, and rips Okja out of her life.

This will not stand. And so, this tenacious 14-year-old straps on a fannypack of essentials, and races to Seoul to stop Okja from being flown to New York City for a massive celebration that will end in the super pig’s execution. In her journey, Mija meets a band of painfully hipster animal rights activists, led by a perfectly twee Paul Dano. Dedicated to bringing down Mirando for their animal abuse, they join forces with the determined girl, who cares nothing for their cause and only for her threatened friend.

The story unfolds like a modern fairy-tale, with wicked witches (the Mirando twins, both profit-driven, one less overtly sinister seeming), quest-hungry knights (or overeager activists), a mystical beast (Okja, natch), and at its center a self-rescuing princess who has no patience for all their games. Mija’s goal is just to return to the life she once knew. But after seeing the horrible truths that lie behind the glossy walls of Mirando, both she and Okja learn some brutal lessons, leading to a winsome but bittersweet ending.

The idyllic atmosphere of the opening might suggest Okja is a movie appropriate for kids. But the vague threat of butchering soon becomes graphic. Things turn sinister when Dr. Johnny—once a beloved animal show host in the vein of The Crocodile Hunter‘s Steve Irwin—lets loose his rage over being outshone by a beast, by abusing Okja. First, he subjects her to forced breeding with a massive and raging male super pig. (The footage is so disturbing that one spying activist howls for the sound to be muted from the feed.) Then, he uses special tools to sample Okja’s meat while she lives, and wails in pain. Try to imagine a studio making this movie.


Netflix has offered Bong a place to make a monster movie, where the monster is man. And along the way, he smashes to bits the expectations constructed by decades of four-quadrant American-made action-adventures. Okja centers on a child, but not on an English-speaking American moppet with big blue eyes and a fragile smile, on a Korean-speaking farm girl with a steely gaze and no patience for playing to adults’ sympathies. Her disinterest in being charming or easily accessible (through cuteness or English-speaking) makes Mija a standout female character in American cinema. (Albeit, Okja is an American/South Korean co-production.) Then, Bong cast the biggest stars to play silly yet vicious villains, who look comical but commit truly stomach-churning acts. Then, he delivers a finale that’s set in an actual abattoir, where super pigs like Okja are cut to ribbons left and right by bored technicians. This is a movie that risks losing its audience at many turns while bounding through dizzying tone shifts. And this is a key part of what makes Okja so exceptional.

Too often when you go to see a movie, you anticipate a formula. Perhaps there will be some subversions and shake-ups. But Hollywood makes much of its money by playing to audience expectation. Too few dare to rock the boat. But Netflix, with its lower overhead and widely accessible platform, can dare to make a movie that’s an outright boat-rocker. Because Okja is playing primarily to small screens, Netflix probably could have gotten away with turning in a CGI creature a hair more realistic than the sky-surfing beasts of Sharknado. Audiences would have expected little more. But instead, they gave us Okja, whose animation is an astonishing accomplishment in every frame.

There’s plenty of joys to find in this surprisingly dark adventure. The scowling ingenue An is a petite powerhouse, who wins our hearts specifically because she gives no fucks, rejecting adult bullshit and slapping down promotional signs with all the fury you’d expect from a child robbed of her pet/best friend. Swinton and Gyllenhaal revel in playing not only to the rafters, but to the bogeda down the block, and the rundown train yard blocks beyond. And the story—with its wacky turns, wild characters, and big bleeding heart—is enrapturing even at its wonkiest. But Okja herself is its greatest wonder.

Often CGI characters lack a sense of weight. But bounding through brusque brush, racing over slippery rocks or diving into a fish-filled pond, the super pig’s flesh bounces, her feet thump, her ears flap. In motion, she is marvelous. Yet still, she is breathtaking. In one scene reminiscent of Dr. Alan Grant resting on the heaving chest of a dinosaur in Jurassic Park, a gobsmacked Dr. Johnny runs his hand over Okja’s thickly textured and hair-bristled hide. And it looks so photo-real I had to remind myself it isn’t. It can’t be. This is fantasy. And that moment is transcendent, when you have to remind yourself you’re watching a movie. You don’t need a movie theater for it.

Ultimately, Okja offers escapism with a generous dose of politics that makes it fascinating, funky, and fabulous. It’s not for all ages. It’s not for everyone. But to those craving something strange and daring, Okja is a gamble worth taking.

Okja opens June 28th in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles, and nationwide on Netflix.

Kristy Puchko reviews a bunch of movies. Find more reviews of hers here.


Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson’s Romance Is a Lesson in Love For Non-Believers

Natasha Richardson tragically passed away in 2009 from a head injury following a skiing accident, but her romance with husband Liam Neeson is one that continues to inspire people to this day. The two stars tied the knot in 1994 and welcomed two sons, Micheál and Daniel. While they were clearly an adorable couple, the beginning of their love story was actually pretty dramatic. Natasha and Liam first met in 1993 while starring in the Broadway revival of Anna Christie. At the time, Natasha was married to producer Robert Fox, and Liam was known as a Hollywood ladies’ man who had been previously linked to stars like Helen Mirren, Julia Roberts, and Brooke Shields.

Their chemistry was undeniable on stage, and a month after closing night, Natasha ended her marriage. «It was not an easy time when I met Liam,» she later told the Daily News. «Working with him, what happened between us, and that becoming public knowledge in conjunction with my marriage falling apart, was kind of bad timing. So what can I say? Obviously I fell very much in love with him.» She also wasn’t phased by his playboy reputation, adding, «I’m pleased that women fall in love with him, because I know why.»

But despite their obvious affection for each other, they remained in limbo until the actress decided to take matters into her own hands. Liam sent her a note for her 30th birthday while he was away filming Schindler’s List, writing, «You’re catching up with me. Lots of love, Oskar,» referencing his character. Natasha was bummed by the obvious lack of enthusiasm, and reportedly wrote back, «This is like a letter from a buddy. What is our relationship?» Her response lit a fire under Liam, who later said, «That was when I knew I really loved this person. I thought, ‘This is real and genuine and is something that has to be protected.'» Natasha then hopped on a plane to join Liam while he finished filming, and they were married not long after.

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You’ll Tear Up Watching Adam Driver Deliver a Special Surprise to a Military Family

Actor and veteran Adam Driver got emotional while sharing some exciting news with a military family through a partnership with Budweiser and Folds of Honor. In a video of his exchange, Adam visits the home of Hayley Grace Williams, who’s studying to become a nurse. Her father and «everyday hero,» John Williams, is an army veteran who was severely injured during a training exercise before Operation Desert Storm. His injury has taken both a physical and emotional toll, as he’s unable to work full time and struggles with the guilt of seeing his unit shipped off to war while he was in a hospital room. Adam empathized with John’s struggle when he met with the family, and their visit became even more meaningful when he delivered special news. Watch the emotional surprise above.

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Katy Perry Talks About Orlando Bloom’s Nude Paddle Boarding Pics

Glastonbury Festival 2017

The pictures of Orlando Bloom’s paddle boarding dick were some of the most newsworthy images of last year, and so during an interview today with the Australian radio show Kyle & Jackie O ShowKaty Perry was asked about them.

Katy was asked about the pics (this is becoming a regular question on the Kyle & Jackie O show), specifically why Orlando was totally naked and she wasn’t. Orlando has said that he was naked because he’s developed a “good radar” for paps and thought he was safe. It wasn’t a pap thing for Katy; she jokes that she just wasn’t feeling it that day.

“I’ve had lots of therapy about that. He asked me if I wanted to be [naked] and I just like – you know, it was one of those things where it was like ‘Aw, nah.’ You know when you’re dating someone, sometimes it’s exciting to be like, ‘Ooh, should we try and make out over here in this place?’ or what have you. And I was just not in the mood. I saved it for the boat. He was just trying to show off for all the people back at the shore. He thought it was funny.

He was so funny because I was kind of explaining Twitter to him and social media, because he had taken a break on all that stuff. I had been explaining to him for a few weeks, and all of a sudden, he’s like number one trending on Twitter. And he’s like ‘I understand Twitter!’”

I can’t help but think Katy was just being polite for the sake of the radio audience, and she didn’t want to say the real reason why she wasn’t in the mood. Sometimes getting sexy and naked on vacation just isn’t worth the potential sunburn to your pussy area. That’s the sort of place you really can’t skip a thorough SPF application, and if you happen to put it on sloppy and get a burn, you’ll knock it out of commission for the rest of the trip. It’s just not worth the risk.

Pic: Wenn.com


Hey Hollywood, Hire These Women Cinematographers

Did you know that no woman has ever been nominated for Best Cinematography at the Oscars? 80 years of the industry’s most coveted awards and no woman has ever even made the list of nominees for this one award. It’s depressing enough to know that there have only ever been four women nominated for Best Director, but that seems like a veritable feast in comparison to the field of cinematography. I brought up this fact during the 2016 Oscars and was immediately bombarded by inept buffoons who had gotten lost on their way to 4Chan but had plenty of time to read from the Handbook of Misogynistic Douchebag responses to Perfectly Reasonable Questions. Every attack appeared: Stop making this about gender; Maybe there just weren’t any worthy nominees; Women are too dumb to operate a camera; What if women just don’t want to do those jobs, and so on. Such nonsense rarely requires a proper response, but it only highlighted the problem at hand: Why, in 2017, are there so few women cinematographers in the film and TV industry?

Other than the obvious answer of «sexism», there’s a major gap in the field regarding defined competence and the prevalent perceptions over who is best with technology. As described by cinematographer Elle Schneider in a piece for IndieWire in 2014, «because of reinforced gender biases in hiring practices at every level of our industry, men simply feel more comfortable entrusting technology to men.» With industry figures, as referenced in a 2016 Variety piece, showing film schools have student bodies of relatively equal gender balance, it only drives home industry discrimination harder when women make up about 3% of cinematographers in big budget films. A 2015 Deadline article reported that women make up less than 4% of the membership of the American Society of Cinematographers. The bias still remains that working with cameras and major technical equipment is something poor ladies just aren’t strong enough to deal with. In their eyes, women are too meek to work with handheld cameras for long periods of time. Access to the necessary equipment also seems to be a major barrier, as emphasised by Schneider: «Gear is money, and if there’s one thing we know about Hollywood, it’s that money talks.» In a risk averse industry, looking outside the box for rising talent is a no-go area, making the climb all the more difficult for women hoping to catch a break.

If film is the empathy machine as described by Roger Ebert, then cinematography is one of its most crucial, if under-discussed, aspects. The more inclusive your talent pool, the greater level of perspectives and skills available for use. It’s simply ridiculous to assume that an entire gender just aren’t good enough to do this job, or don’t want to. There are many wonderful women working in the cinematography world right now, putting their unique stamp on the field and collaborating with some of the top directors out there. These women aren’t hard to find either, but for those whose heads are still deep in the sand, I have handily provided a list of a few for them to check out.

Aimee Galicia Torres (The Full English)
Agnes Godard (Beau Travail, Let the Sunshine In)
Amy Vincent (Hustle & Flow, Claws)
Anna Foerster (Anonymous, White House Down)
Anne Etheridge (Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On)
Anne Misawa (All For Melissa, Jack & Diane)
Ari Wegner (The Kettering Incident, Lady Macbeth)
Ashley Connor (Funny Bunny, Tramps)
Autumn Durald (Palo Alto, Teen Spirit)
Bonnie Elliott (Hunters)
Céline Bozon (Exiles, Madame Hyde)
Charlotte Bruus Christensen ()
Charlotte Champetier (Holy Motors, Of Gods & Men)
Cinders Forshaw (Anita & Me, Poldark)
Claire Pijman (Good Morning Karachi, Echo the Now)
Claudia Raschke (Mad Hot Ballroom, Coup 53)
Cybel Martin (Queen of Glory)
Dagmar Weaver-Madsen (10,000km, High Maintenance)
Dana Kupper (Life Itself, Do No Harm)
Ellen Kuras (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Jeanne Lapoirie (8 Femmes, 120 Beats Per Minute)
Joan Churchill (Shut Up and Sing, Last Days in Vietnam)
Kat Westergaard (Life is Hot in Cracktown, Love Song)
Kate Reid (Uncle, Trust Me)
Katie Milwright (Looking For Grace, Please Like Me)
Kira Kelly (13th, Queen Sugar)
Kirsten Johnson (Citizenfour, Cameraperson)
Lisa Rinzler (Menace II Society, Pollock)
Lynda Hall (The Imposter, Dreams of a Life)
Magela Crosignani (Hunky Dory, Savage Youth)
Mandy Walker (Truth, Hidden Figures)
Marianne Bakke (Turn Me On Dammit)
Maryse Alberti (Creed, The Wrestler)
Nancy Schreiber (The Comeback, Mapplethorpe)
Nanu Segal (Shrooms, The Levelling)
Natasha Braier (The Neon Demon, The Rover)
Nina Kellgren (Solomon and Gaenor, Wondrous Oblivion)
Polly Morgan (Call the Midwife, The A Word)
Rachel Morrison (Fruitvale Station, Black Panther)
Rain Li (Paranoid Park, Beijing, New York)
Reed Morano (The Handmaid’s Tale)
Sandi Sissel (Salaam Bombay, Karaoke Girl)
Sandra Valde-Hansen (White Bird in a Blizzard, Shotgun)
Sarah Cawley (Ringer, Salem)
Sarah Levy (The Office, The Peacemaker)
Sharon Calahan (A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo)
Sofia Oggioni (The Towrope, Anne)
Sue Gibson (The Forsyth Saga, Death in Paradise)
Svtelana Cvetko (Inside Job, The Architect)
Tami Reiker (Carnivàle, Beyond the Lights)
Tarin Anderson (Party Girl, XX)
Uta Briesewitz (Hung, Fresh off the Boat)
Valentina Caniglia (Mad Women, Umberto D.)
VanNessa Manlunas (Always Worthy)


Eleven Madison Park’s East Hampton Outpost is Finally Here

This past Saturday, Hamptonites rejoiced in the unveiling of EMP Summer House, a spinoff of Eleven Madison Park in New York City. Spearheaded by OG EMP chef Daniel Humm, the pop-up is designed to be a fun-filled, beachy placeholder while the original undergoes a facelift.

A certified fine dining heavyweight and the current “World’s Best Restaurant” titleholder, the EMP brand brings serious pedigree to its new East Hampton hideaway, previously occupied by the sleepy eatery Moby’s. But the indoor/outdoor outpost is a lighthearted spin on the original Eleven Madison, serving up backyard-inspired creations from black truffle-infused Humm Dogs to garden gnome-shaped cocktails, while a separate indoor menu delivers classics like poached lobster and bouillabaisse.

A collaboration with American Express, the EMP Summer House requires an Amex Card to make a reservation. Fittingly, the opening party drew a crowd of high rollers, from Brad Goreski to Alec Baldwin, with music courtesy of Hannah Bronfman. And while guests may have been swiping Amex cards left and right, the plastic really started flying at the Ping-Pong tables out back, where Vanessa Hudgens and friends were spotted duking it out.

While tables are currently booked through most of the season, the summer fun continues on July 1st when reservations for August 15th through Labor Day will open up. 

The post Eleven Madison Park’s East Hampton Outpost is Finally Here appeared first on DuJour.


Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Getting Celebrities to Sing Hamilton, and We Love It So Much

Image Source: Getty / Kevin Mazur

Leave it to Lin-Manuel Miranda to turn Hollywood into a real-life musical. The former Hamilton star is currently spreading the love (and rhythm) by teaming up with Prizeo in honor of Immigration Heritage Month to benefit the Immigrants: We Get the Job Done Coalition. The star has asked his fans to donate $ 10 to the organization and record themselves singing any Hamilton track for a chance to win two tickets to the LA opening night of the hit play, as well as airfare, accommodations, and a hang-out session with Lin-Manuel himself. The challenge quickly inspired some of Hollywood’s biggest stars to get in on the fun (without actually taking home the final prize), and it has already become a viral craze. Everyone from Kelly Clarkson to Eva Longoria to the Harlem Globetrotters shared their videos, and we love it all so very much.

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Lindsay Lohan Invited Her Old Crew (And Beyonce) To Her Birthday Party


I’m using an old picture of Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton as wax figures, because Lindsay has a better chance of getting Paris’ wax figure to show up to her party than the real thing. But what’s the difference really.

Lindsay turns 31 on July 2nd, and she’s throwing herself a big party in Mykonos. Lindsay’s brain must have fired a faulty synapse and sent her back to 2005 when she was still friends with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Yesterday she tweeted them, as well as Beyonce, an invitation to her birthday party. Lindsay probably had to tweet them because the numbers she has for them in her old Sidekick were out of service.

Lindsay also tweeted a message to Emma Stone asking her to do Mean Girls 2 with her. But no birthday party invite? How rude.

But what is that guest list even? I guess Lindsay forgot that time Paris was seen laughing her ass off at Brandon Davis joking about Lindsay’s fire crotch . Or how Britney has long moved on from that messy awful pussy-flashing time in her life. Or how Beyonce definitely isn’t showing up and not because she just got home from the hospital with her twins.

So far, neither Britney, Paris, or Beyonce has RSVP’d on Twitter to Lindsay’s party. Lindsay says her family isn’t able to come to her birthday party either and so a very high-looking Lindsay asked her fans for suggestions on Snapchat and said she wants to create a green community.

Asking for people who want to create a green community is only going to create trouble. Lindsay’s inbox will soon be flooded with requests from “investors” who believe she owes them money. “Hey, a whole bunch of us – a community if you will – are missing some green. What time should we all be expected to show up?

Pic: Wenn.com


Let’s Watch Abigail Ratchford Enjoy A Topless Pool Day

It’s about time Abigail Ratchford got back into the sports world by dating an athlete. They all follow her, she can basically hand pick whoever she wants. I guess she’s slowly but surely getting there. She was linked to Manziel a while back, Kristaps Porzingis slid into those DMs a couple of times, and she was partying with Chandler ‘Chancun’ Parsons a couple of weeks ago. But I want a power couple. You pair her with *insert name of superstar athlete* and they can dominate some headlines.

Anyways, now that I got that little rant out of the way, let’s just enjoy this IG story of Abigail’s mini vacay in some tropical locale by the pool. It’s a slow sports week, nothing is really going on, so here’s a little something to get you through the day.


Sports Gossip, Sexy WAGs, NFL and Hot Cheerleaders: BustedCoverage

Steve Carell Reveals His Wife’s Reaction to His New Silver Fox Status

Step aside, George Clooney — there’s a new silver fox in Hollywood. Steve Carell, who has been sporting some sexy salt and pepper hair recently, stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday to talk about his new studmuffin status. In classic Steve Carell humor, he joked that he’s officially joined the exclusive club of silver foxes and even has a bracelet that reads «hunk of man meat» on the inside. But the biggest perk of being one of the sexiest actors in Hollywood? «My wife finally said she’s in love with me,» he said, trying to keep a straight face.

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