As you probably know by now, the bro-comedy The Interview has caused quite the controversy in the past few weeks. The film documents the story of Seth Rogen and James Franco as two loser-ish reporters who hit it big by scoring an interview with Kim Jong-Un, and are asked by the CIA to assassinate the dictator. After the Sony hacking crisis and a terrorist message from the hackers that threatened theaters that played the film, most major cinema chains (including AMC, Showcase, and Regal Entertainment) announced they would not be screening the film. However, over 200 independent theaters have agreed, even petitioned, to screen The Interview, our own Cable Car Cinema among them. Cable Car will be the only theater screening The Interview in Rhode Island. Tonight’s screening is already sold out; owner Daniel Kamil told the Providence Journal that Providence and RISD police will provide security for the event, commenting that, “It’s strange that a James Franco/Seth Rogen comedy has been elevated to a political film.”
In case you missed the details of the Sony Hack (after all, the events did begin during finals), Sony Pictures was originally planning a Christmas Day major theatrical release of the film. This plan was thwarted when the company’s network was hacked by a group calling themselves the “Guardians of Peace.” The hackers released thousands of private emails, leaked unreleased films and top executive salaries, creating a myriad of PR issues for Sony. The FBI initially stated they did not believe the hack was perpetrated by North Korea, though later confirmed that North Korean officials were indeed involved. A second message from the attackers invoked 9/11 when threatening any theater that screened the film, resulting in the decision of major theatrical chains not to air the film. Sony eventually decided to release the film online, and to private theaters that requested to air it.
The Sony Hack is a very rare breed of news story; it crosses the boundary between pop-culture and political news. It is as interesting to US Weekly as it is to The New York Times. After all, at first it just seemed like a story about Angelina Jolie being a spoiled brat and Channing Tatum writing amazing emails, and later it became a question of national security. The Interview, in turn, has gone from the kind of big comedy movie you’re likely to watch in the Providence Place Mall to the sort of controversial, artistic statement film that plays at Cable Car. This is the sort of story that should be analyzed in MCM and yet also PoliSci. Is The Interview even a good movie? Most reviewers have said no, and though I have yet to see it, I certainly thought it looked bad-to-okay from the trailer. Some have pointed out it makes light of the terrible human rights abuses in North Korea, dehumanizing the North Korean population and relying heavily on common Asian stereotypes. Others have compared it to The Great Dictator, the Charlie Chaplin comedy about the Hitler-like Adenoid Hynkel, usually concluding it’s not quite at the Chaplin level of political satire.
Regardless of your feelings about The Interview, it’s certainly admirable of Cable Car to be among those independent cinemas willing to share the film with the public. The first screening will be tonight, at 7:30p.m and the film will continue to play twice a night till the New Year. Though, realistically, it’s winter break and this isn’t practical information for most Brown students right now, we thought you should know and be proud.