Who doesn’t love a good blockbuster? Big budgets, thrilling action, and entertaining set pieces will continue to drive audiences to the movies, and for good reason. However, cinema art can also provide us with great moments that capture our curiosity and spark our imagination. In fact, some of the most critically acclaimed movies of all-time, and many Academy Award® winners, could be labeled as “cinema art.”
So, what is “cinema art?” Frequently produced and distributed outside the major studio system on a relatively small budget, cinema art movies typically handle serious matters in an artistic and often experimental way, geared towards more of a niche market rather than for a mass audience. In an artform where social realism takes precedence, on-location filming is favored over studio sets and sometimes amateur actors are even used.
Stretching back to the origin of movies, the genre has provided some of the most recognizable and talented filmmakers in cinema who have put their uncompromising visions onto the screen with a unique flare and style that is all their own. Foreign language movies are also included in this genre, recognizable by many of the same features with the addition of subtitles, although rarely referred to as “cinema art” in their respective countries. Instead, they are more commonly known as “auteur” or “national” cinema, the former originally coined in France to distinguish filmmakers of the French New Wave (a movement and form of European cinema art from the 1950s and 1960s).
Below are a few cinema art movies to keep an eye on this week as they debut in select Regal theatres nationwide:
Runtime: 1hr 30min
Starring: Marcus Alfred, Wayne Alfred, Giorgio De Finis, Mingwei Lee
Directed By: Robin McKenna
Written By: Robin McKenna
Is life about getting or giving? This is the question at the heart of this creative essay documentary exploring real-life gift economies. Inspired by The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde, Gift serves as a tribute to something that can’t be measured, counted, bought, or sold, a reflection on the creative process and why we labor in service of our gifts, and a celebration of the imagination.
Writer/director Robin McKenna made her feature debut with the documentary Great War Experience (2007) and is currently filming an animated, short “documentary fairytale” titled Crow. Her latest work, Gift, interweaves character-driven stories of artists throughout the world.
JIM ALLISON: BREAKTHROUGH
Runtime: 1hr 30min
Starring: Jim Allison, Woody Harrelson
Directed By: Bill Haney
Written By: Bill Haney
Renegade Texan scientist Jim Allison embarks on a visionary quest to find a cure for cancer. Today, Allison is a household name throughout the scientific world, winning the 2018 Nobel Prize for discovering the immune system’s role in defeating cancer, but for decades he waged a lonely struggle against the skepticism of the medical establishment and the resistance of Big Pharma.
Writer/director Bill Haney’s other documentary subjects include track and field in Racing Against the Clock (2004), the relationship between humans and whales in A Life Among Whales (2005), and coal mining in The Last Mountain (2011). His latest work, Jim Allison: Breakthrough, delves into the inspiring and dramatic world of cutting-edge medicine and into the heart of a true American pioneer. Three-time Academy Award® nominee Woody Harrelson narrates the documentary.
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller
Runtime: 2hr 12min
Starring: Kang-ho Song, Hye-jin Jang, Woo-sik Choi, So-dam Park, Yeo-jeong Jo, Seo-joon Park
Directed By: Bong Joon Ho
Written By: Jin Won Han, Bong Joon Ho
The Kim Family, all unemployed but rich in street smarts, senses a golden opportunity when they cross paths with the Park Family, the picture of aspirational wealth, and soon a symbiotic relationship forms between the two households. The Kims provide “indispensable” luxury services while the Parks obliviously bankroll their entire household. When a parasitic interloper enters the picture, jeopardizing the Kims’ newfound life of comfort, a savage, underhanded battle for dominance breaks out, threatening to destroy the fragile ecosystem between the Kims and Parks.
Writer/director Bong Joon Ho has a unique filmography rich in dark humor, sudden mood shifts, and unconventional, and often uncomfortable, storylines. The South Korean director made his English-language debut with the sci-fi action Snowpiercer (2013), starring Chris Evans. Bong Joon Ho returns to his homeland for his latest feature, the Korean-language Parasite (originally titled Gisaengchung). This pitch-black, modern fairytale won the coveted Palme d’Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, making Bong Joon Ho the first Korean director to win the award.