‘Blackpink: Light Up the Sky:’ The joys, angst of a K-pop group

‘Blackpink: Light Up the Sky:’ The joys, angst of a K-pop group
‘Blackpink: Light Up the Sky’ is now streaming on Netflix. Supplied
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Updated 16 October 2020

‘Blackpink: Light Up the Sky:’ The joys, angst of a K-pop group

‘Blackpink: Light Up the Sky:’ The joys, angst of a K-pop group

CHENNAI: It has taken only a couple of years for Blackpink to become one of the biggest girl bands in the world, with members Jennie, Jisoo, Rose, and Lisa continuing to smash new records.

They were the first K-pop girl group to play at the Coachella music festival and to reach 1 billion YouTube views. They broke three Guinness World Records with the single “Kill This Love,” and are the most subscribed female group on YouTube.

But how did they manage to do all of this?

Caroline Suh’s Netflix documentary, “Blackpink: Light Up the Sky,” presents in just under 80 minutes a visually rich story of each of the group’s four women in their 20s.

Blackpink came into existence in 2016 only to touch the skies in just three years, becoming an unbelievable sensation. Supplied

The work, now on Netflix, happily does not turn out to be an exercise in color, gloss, and high fashion, but draws us into the women’s personal lives and rigorous schedules, which were stressful and involved sacrifice, comparable to the kind of tough regime that Olympic athletes undergo in their race toward gold.

Blackpink came into existence in 2016 only to touch the skies in just three years, becoming an unbelievable sensation. That happened at Coachella in the US, where the spectators, thousands of them, went delirious watching the women sing and dance.

Suh splendidly balances the team’s professional life by presenting hit songs such as “Whistle,” “Kill This Love,” and “I’m Ready for Love,” with their personal joys and even griefs. Her attempt to humanize the quartet is gloriously lovely.

The director introduces each group member in a very leisurely way, in places far away from the noise and din of the madly cheering crowds.

Rose is Korean, grew up in Australia, but was born in New Zealand, while Jisoo was born and raised in Korea. Lisa comes from Thailand and was a rapper and lead dancer before joining YG Entertainment. “I have been dancing since I was in kindergarten,” she said. Jennie was always “super shy.” She was born in Korea but moved to New Zealand when she was 10 years old.

Behind the glitz and high living, first-class hotels, and business-class travel (or was it first), the young women missed their homes and families, especially during their long tours, sometimes stretching months on end.

“I would talk to my mother every day,” one of them said. One can sense wistfulness, the creeping loneliness and quiet that follow every concert. Then there were those missed experiences. “A lot of people make memories as a high-school student, but I never had that,” Jennie said.

Lalisa Manoban in Blackpink: Light Up the Sky. Supplied

The quartet’s training began in their early teens, and they could see their families once in two weeks. Suh incorporates audition videos of the girls before they were picked by YG, which looked out for that quality that goes hand-in-hand with stardom.

Suh’s documentary is wonderfully intimate, and between the concerts, she incorporates the fears and fancies of the women. They are nervous at their first meeting with journalists and bloggers, and the natural bonding among the four gives them a kind of warmth and strength to face the challenges of an extremely competitive profession.

But will they be together once the Blackpink phenomena ends? “The thing is, you can never tell how long it will last,” Rose said.

‘Monster Hunter’ is ‘the right movie at the right time,’ says director

‘Monster Hunter’ brings the iconic Japanese video game to the big screen. (Supplied)
Updated 05 December 2020

‘Monster Hunter’ is ‘the right movie at the right time,’ says director

‘Monster Hunter’ is ‘the right movie at the right time,’ says director

DUBAI: Milla Jovovich, the action star and one-time highest-paid model in the world, was sitting in her dining room when her husband, director Paul W.S. Anderson, dropped a script on the table. It was the latest draft of “Monster Hunter,” a passion project he had rewritten numerous times over a 10-year period, struggling to bring the iconic Japanese video-game series to life.

“Paul sat down and said, ‘I finished the latest script. I would love for you to read it and tell me what you think.’ Even though I had already read about four different versions, I said, ‘OK, great.’ And he’s like, ‘I’m just warning you. I wrote this for you,’” Jovovich told Arab News.

“I said, are you joking? We just finished ‘Resident Evil,’ you’re going to have me going from killing zombies to killing monsters? You have to be kidding me. People are not going to buy it.”

Jovovich and Anderson have always had a painfully honest relationship, but it seems to work for them. The two met on the set of “Resident Evil,” and since then have made eight films and had two children together, marrying in 2009.

“It’s always in my best interest to be honest,” said Jovovich. “I want him to do his best, and if I can help that, the last thing that I want to do is not say what I really feel.”

“It’s a great relationship. It’s something I really value. Milla gives great script notes,” said Anderson.

Despite her rather pointed note, Anderson was convinced the movie wouldn’t work without her.

“He said, ‘I really strongly believe that you’re the best person to do this. Read the script before you decide.’ And, of course, he knew exactly what I love, which is to play a soldier, but I was definitely not sure about the whole thing,” said Jovovich.

The film tells the story of a soldier named Artemis, played by Jovovich, who is transported into another dimension with her squadron, and has to survive in a world populated by larger-than-life creatures and find her way back home.

In order to avoid shooting everything against a green screen — now the norm for Hollywood blockbusters — Anderson took his wife and the rest of the cast and crew, including action star Tony Jaa, to the Western Cape of South Africa to film in the blistering sun.

 “Milla ended up with sunburn on the whites of her eyeballs, because her character can’t wear sunglasses — the same for Tony Jaa. It was very physically challenging, which was a new experience for me,” says Anderson.

“Oh, poor you, with your hat and your sunglasses, and your nice white billowing top,” Jovovich says to her husband.

“I was talking on your behalf,” says Anderson.

Even Jaa, who is known for his death-defying stunts, struggled to adjust to the desert climate.

“The white sand was really beautiful, but the temperature was around 45 degrees. It was really hot. I just ran, and we would do around 20 takes. I was exhausted, but I kept going because this is really important. This is a big movie,” he said.

Anderson wanted the film to come out during 2020, feeling that a divided and wounded world needed some escapism, as well as a hopeful message.

“It’s the same message the game has. It’s important for people from different cultures, from different worlds, to learn how to cooperate for the greater good. It’s becoming a very divisive, insular world.

“I wanted to have a movie where cooperation and friendship are the important things. It is the right movie at the right time,” said Anderson.