We all know that Kim Jong-Il enjoys looking at things. We just didn’t realize that those things included movies. Recently, a copy of the beloved leader’s book of film criticism, On the Art of Cinema, crossed our desk. It’s a basically unreadable blend of propaganda, theory, and all-caps commandments about the film industry that Kim published in the late 1970s. (One such missive: “COMPOSE THE PLOT CORRECTLY.”) We decided to judge the year’s top-grossing films, as best we can, using the North Korean leader’s formula.
1. Toy Story 3
Though Toy Story 3 doesn’t further the message of a revolutionary creative process, it does adhere to Kim Jong-Il’s directive that “the best words are full of meaning and easy to understand” (not a whole lot of high-falutin’ vocabulary in it). As an animated feature, it’s exempt from the strict rules on acting, but as the third movie in a franchise, it fails on the originality front: “Writers must not establish a pattern and restrict themselves to that stereotype.”
Kim Jong-Il Rating: Three stars
2. Alice in Wonderland
“A writer must not stubbornly persist in bad habits on the excuse that he is preserving his originality.” Zing, Tim Burton! Haha, but seriously. Kim Jong-Il’s dictates aren’t looking that promising for Alice in Wonderland. “The Director should clearly define emotions” — unless those emotions include “zaniness,” it seems to have failed on that front. But in terms of another commandment, “exacting standards should be set in filming and art design,” Burton might just squeak by.
Kim Jong-Il Rating: Two stars
3. Iron Man 2
Again, the sequel problem makes the originality bar a hard one to jump over. Further, there’s the whole hokey action movie acting thing. Kim Jong-Il notes, “There should be no affectation in speech or action.” So not a Scarlett Johansson fan, then? But the film’s affectations are sort of on purpose, as a comic book-to-screen sequel, so the ultimate blame, according to Kim, lies with the director. After all, “the director is the commander of the creative group.”
Kim Jong-Il Rating: One and a half stars
4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Twilight manages to escape the invective against movies in a series by so heartily fulfilling another requirement: “Each scene must be dramatic.” Check! “The mood must be expressed well.” Check, again! “Conflicts should be settled in accordance with the law of class struggle.” Wait, what? Assuming that by “class” Kim actually means “werewolf v. vampire,” then we think we have a winner on our hands.
Kim Jong-Il rating: Four stars
“In a creative work one must aim high,” says Kim Jong-Il, and no matter how you feel about Nolan’s final product, it certainly was reaching for something. But it might have stretched it out so far — “The requirement of a broad and profound elaboration of content cannot be used to justify the weaving of a complex web of events, constantly drawing in innumerable new aspects of life… [This produces] works which are complex and rambling, almost devoid of content that actually moves people.” But then again, it does “begin on a small scale and end grandly,” even if its ending sort of failed to meet the dictator’s requirements: “The closing scene must therefore clearly demonstrate the outcome of the struggle of the hero…” Not so much.
Kim Jong-Il Rating: Two stars