If you’re in the mood for a first rate documentary and a stirring drama, then Sea of Shadows and The Farewell are two flicks that are now out today. Episode 98 of CinemAddicts, as well as audio from my interview from both films are featured below!
Directed by The Ivory Game filmmaker Richard Ladkani, Sea of Shadows centers on the multi-pronged attempts to survive the vaquita porpoise, an endangered whale species that are located in the Sea of Cortez. In that same area, a rare fish called the totaba are being caught for their swim bladders. Illegal nets are spread across the ocean to catch the totoaba, thereby putting the lives of the vaquita and other marine life in danger.
Anderson Cowan and I review Sea of Shadows in the episode (starting at the 58:28 mark), and one of the many reasons why this documentary excels on a high level lies in Ladkani’s focus on making the film a cinematic experience.
“When I do a film, especially when it’s about a very tough topic, when it’s about the extinction and saving our planet, I really want to focus on positive sides of the story,” said Ladkani. “I look for heroes. I look for inspiration and I also want to make the movie very cinematic and a beautiful experience. I don’t want people just to be informed about an issue. I want them to truly have an immersive cinema experience, something that looks great on the big screen, has a beautiful score, it sounds great, good storytelling, and all these things. I set my own mark very high.”
Click on the media bar to hear Ladkani talk about how executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio was a “tremendous help” in the making of Sea of Shadows:
The Farewell, written and directed by Lulu Wang, centers on Billi (Awkwafina), an Asian American who travels to China after learning her grandmother (Shuzhen Zhao) is dying of cancer. Billi’s family, however, has not told Nai Nai (that’s what Billi calls her grandma) of her diagnosis, and Billi is conflicted about whether or not she should be complicit in this charade. The flick is one of my favorite films of the year, and I start my review at the 51:27 mark of the episode.
Here is Tzi Ma and Diana Lin, who play Billi’s parents in the feature, explain why very little rehearsal was needed for the film:
Take a listen to Episode 98 of CinemAddicts below. If you want exclusive access to my 1:1 interviews as well a Bonus episode every month (where Anderson and I review a film from a random year of cinema), take a look at our Patreon page for details! This month we are covering 1949, with Anderson covering White Heat and I’ll be covering The Heiress!!
The Farewell Review: 51:27
Sea of Shadows Review: 58:28