The Woman King Reigns; Woody Allen Not Retiring; Reckless Karate Kid Speculation

Woody Allen is lost in translation; The Woman King rules at the box office; a new Karate Kid film is coming to theaters, despite or because of Cobra Kai thriving on Netflix.

Fabelmans Wins at TIFF: Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, inspired by his own youth, won the People’s Choice award on Sunday as the Toronto Film Festical wrapped up its 47th edition. “This is the most personal film I’ve ever made, and the warm reception from everyone in Toronto made my first visit to TIFF so intimate and personal for me and my entire Fabelman family,” he said in a statement.

The Woman King Reigns: At the box office with $19 million. The film, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and starring Viola Davis, tells a story of the Agojie, a band of African women warriors in the 1800s. It did at least 25% better than analysts expected, The New York Times notes. The box-office take, and very strong reviews, mean it’s a surefire awards contender.

Can Anything Stop The Woman King? Maybe. Look out for an Oscar-season whispering campaign about its historical inaccuracies and claims that it elevates slavers because the Dahomey Kingdom, portrayed in the film, took part in the slave trade. (Supporters of rival award contenders often undertake unfortunate efforts to bad-mouth the real people portrayed in a film, especially if they don’t have anything bad to say about the film itself.) I haven’t seen The Woman King, so I can’t opine about its merits. But it wouldn’t be the first historical movie, by any stretch, to downplay the negative aspects of its protagonists. (See also: Any movie about America’s founders.) By the way, I’m not saying the very good New Yorker article in the link is part of a whispering campaign. It seems well-researched and thought-provoking.

May I Further Editorialize? Movies have every right to use historical figures allegorically without presenting them with total accuracy. “Al Capone” in a movie can just represent the mob or power or crime or whatever and doesn’t need to look or sound exactly like Al Capone. The internet’s ubiquitous “What [Movie] Gets Right and Wrong” stories are cool from the standpoint of using a story as a gateway into learning real history, but we shouldn’t scold filmmakers who elide or make things up for the sake of a better movie… as long as the movie is good.

A Great Observation in the New Yorker Article: “‘White’ period dramas are allowed antiheroes, ambiguity, and realpolitik. Somehow, though, when Black history is involved, the narrative shrinks to a didactic freedom fable.” I’ve found this to be often true, and blame Hollywood’s simplistic approach to green-lighting. (Again, not talking about any particular movie, especially since I have yet to see The Woman King.)

Another Great Line From the Article: “Dahomey’s complex history can no more be reduced to slave-raiding than England’s.”

More Box Office: Barbarian came in at No. 2 in its second week, earning $6.3 million, while Pearl, the sequel with an astonishingly low $1 million budget (according to Rotten Tomatoes) came in third with $3.12 million.

Karate Kid Sequel: Sony’s Columbia Pictures has set a June 7, 2024 date for a Karate Kid film described as “the return to the original Karate Kid franchise.” This is, of course, super confusing to huge Cobra Kai fans like myself, since the show already is the return to the original Karate Kid franchise. And there don’t seem to be many new directions to go, since the hit Netflix series has plumbed pretty much every character, no matter how obscure. (Karate Kid III villain Terry Silver, who I’d completely forgotten, is arguably the character around whom the whole show revolves now. He’s great.)

Unless… Maybe Mr. Miyagi had a secret daughter? That could work.

Also: Is it me or did Episode 7 of the new Cobra Kai season — they’re already one Season 5 — set up a potential backdoor pilot for Tory (Peyton List)? One character branded her “The Cobra Queen” which is a show title if I’ve ever heard one. Maybe she becomes the sheriff of a small Louisiana town, kind of like this?

Woody Allen NOT Retiring: After news over the weekend that Woody Allen plans to retire soon, a representative for the 86-year-old director clarified that that is not the case. “Woody Allen never said he was retiring, nor did he say he was writing another novel. He said he was thinking about not making films as making films that go straight or very quickly to streaming platforms is not so enjoyable for him, as he is a great lover of the cinema experience. Currently, he has no intention of retiring and is very excited to be in Paris shooting his new movie, which will be the 50th,” said a statement on Allen’s behalf provided to MovieMaker.

What Happened Here? He was quoted in the Spanish newspaper El Periodico (hilarious translation: “The Newspaper”) saying “”Mi idea, en principio, es no hacer más cine y centrarme en escribir,” which of course means, “My idea, in principle, is not to make cinema and focus on writing.”

It Always Makes Me Sad: When people in their 80s and 90s talk about when they’ll “retire,” as if it’s up to any of us.

‘I’d Like to Leave You With a Positive Thought, But I Don’t Have One — Will You Take Two Negatives?’ Is a fantastic Woody Allen joke from way back before, well, you know.

Main image: Viola Davis in The Woman King.