I saw a wonderful movie last Friday, but I had to go through tech hell to watch it.
Minari first caught my attention while writing about the Golden Globe nominees. The film was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language, even though its official nation of origin is USA. That’s unusual, although not impossible. It was set and shot in the States, but the main characters primarily speak Korean.
I set out to see the movie via Virtual Cinema – where you stream the movie at home while helping a closed theater. But this system has its problems. Almost every time you buy a ticket, you must figure out just how you can play the movie – especially, if you’re like me and you refuse to watch a feature-length film on anything smaller than a TV.
But it appears that distributor A24 Films decided to make streaming Minari as difficult as possible. True, you can buy a ticket to this movie in almost every Bay Area movie theater doing Virtual Cinema. But you must select a specific date and time – and a lot of those dates are ‘Sold Out.” On the good side, once the official time arrives, you have a four-hour window to watch the movie.
The website offers instructions on various ways to stream the movie, and none of them worked. I couldn’t stream through ChromeCast or Roku to the TV. I know ways around that, but they didn’t help because the video didn’t play on my Android phone, my wife’s iPhone, or my laptop. At one point we got a QR code on the TV, but both phones told us there was no data.
Luckily, A24 had some good chat tech support, where I was told that my browser needed to change a setting to allow third-level cookies. Once that was done (there were directions), I was able to connect my laptop to the TV and watched a great movie.
It’s easy to call Minari an American immigrant story, which it is, but it’s so much more. A Korean family just moved from California to Arkansas, where they can afford to buy land for a farm – the father’s dream. He’s a hard worker and knows farming, but he’s overly optimistic. Problems come up without good solutions. The marriage becomes strained. The young son has a heart condition that could be fatal.
Surprisingly, the film skips the cliché of white bigots attacking the Asian newcomers. Quite the opposite. The local, apparently all-white church welcomes their new neighbors. The family finds a community, but their problems keep growing. Of all the endings the film could have had, writer/director Lee Isaac Chung picked the right one.
I give Minari an A.
After the film, there’s a Zoom discussion with the filmmaker and cast. It’s worth staying on to watch it.