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Mystery Of K-duk Kim

Seen a couple really good movies by Ki-duk Kim lately. "Bad Guy", "Samaria" and 3 Iron". 3 Iron was particulary good I thought and this got me curious to look into the other films by this director. One that looks like it might be interesting is "The Isle". Curious about it I went and read/skimmed a couple of reviews. I like this bit that Roger Ebert had to say [regarding challenging movies]:

"Why would you want to see this film? Most people would not. I was recently at a health resort where a movie was shown every night, and one of the selections was Pedro Almodovar's 'All About My Mother,' which involves transgendered characters. 'Why,' a woman asked me, 'would they show a movie with things I do not want to see?' She is not unusual. Most people choose movies that provide exactly what they expect, and tell them things they already know. Others are more curious. We are put on this planet only once, and to limit ourselves to the familiar is a crime against our minds."


Joint Security Area

Watched another korean flick last night: "Joint Security Area". Another by Chan-Wook Park, the director of "Oldboy" (which I thought was pretty fucking good.)

A military thriller about north and south korean guards that become buddies. They hang out and party in the wee hours when they're supposed to be guarding the border. Naturally, it goes wrong somehow, resulting in murder, and a swiss born korean chick (neutral) is brought in to investigate.

The film unfolds rashoman style where "everybody tells a different story". Took a while to get going but once it did was pretty heartwarming.

Couple north korean guys save a south korean guy who is stuck in north korean field because he feels the wire of a landmine he has just stepped on. The story seemed more complicated than it actually was since not being familiar with the uniforms and such it was difficult at first for me to tell north from south.

Anyway, they save his life and become buddies. It's reminiscent of Takeshi's film "Sonatine" in the way it can flash between ultra-violent and hello kitty cute.

The topic was interesting and reminded me of an article (wish I could remember which one) I read about how north korea is viewed dimly by the rest of the world --except for south korea where the mood is more towards looking at eventual reunification.


Sam Raimi On Japanese Horror

I was listening to the commentary track of the American release of the Japanese horror film "Ju-On" and Sam Raimi's comments about the difference between Japanese and American horror films struck me. He pretty much hits the nail on the head. I think his observation also works to describe the difference between American and Japanese cinema in general:

"For me the big difference between the Japanese horror movement that's taking place now in the late 90's and in the early 2000's is there's a much more subtle approach. I think they treat the audience with a lot more intelligence than American filmmakers do. They know they've seen these movies, they know they don't have to hit them over the head, that sometimes a creepy moment is so much more valuable than just a scare. It can get under your skin and really freak you out in a way that just a jolt can't."

"I think that's the big difference --the Japanese recognition of subtlety. Their ability to create subtle moments in the suspense and horror really is so much more effective that just--I think--the broader hit you on the head type of American approach."

"And I think that's what I learned --how subtle you can be and still really freak out the audience. ...I can imagine when the Japanese audience watches an American horror film--that they might react as though it were a little broad for their tastes--a little obvious--a little more set for children than for an adult crowd."


The Magic Of The Big Screen

I keep having this same conversation over and over with several of my friends. The one where they're trying to convince me of the magic of the big screen (as if it was something I didn't know about...) Usually with Anthony, but most recently with Genise --telling me that watching Kurosawa's "Ran" on a television or a computer monitor was a big waste. Some movies are just meant for the big screen... blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, I know what I'm missing alright --all the assholes in the audience. The ones that bring their babies, the ones that answer their cell phones (or worse, they place a call during the movie.) The geezers in trench coats. The people that think they're so cute they need to let everybody in the fucking theatre know what they think by yelling at the screen. Laser pointers. The asshole next to me noisily eating nachos that smell like gym socks.

Several years ago (back before I more or less gave up going to theatres) I went to see Almodovar's "Kika". Anyway, my friends didn't want to sit in my preferred spot, the last row --at least then the assholes aren't behind me tossing popcorn, or putting their feet on the back of my seat. So these people sit down a couple rows back and they're talking and I figure it's cool they will quite down when the movie starts. Nope. The movie is in spanish with subtitles. I tell myself I can just read them and the talking won't bother me. Nope. After ten minutes or so of this I'm pretty steamed and I turn around and look the big mouth in the eye and I tell him:

"CAN YOU PLEASE KEEP QUIET?"

No snappy response but then he says: "FUCK YOU."

I turned around and continued trying to watch the film, but I was so pissed you could probably have cooked an egg on my head. But the talking stopped and eventually I calmed down and started to enjoy myself.

After the movie--as I step out of the restroom--my friend Wanda asks:

"do you know who that is?",

"yea, it's the guy in the theatre that I told to shutup",

"that's Axel Rose", she says.

You're not even safe in the foreign film/art film cinema. If you are lucky and get a good audience, the sharing can add a lot to the experience. Generally my experiences with audiences have been negative ones. So please... don't remind me what I'm missing when I watch a movie without going to the theatre. I already know.



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