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Archive for March 5th, 2011

by Allan Fish

(South Korea 2010 139m) DVD1/2

Aka. Shi

Drinking a glass of oblivion

p  Lee Joon-dong  d/w  Lee Chang-dong  ph  Kim Hyun-seok  ed  Kim Hyun  art  Sihm Jiom-hui

Yun Jeong-hee (Yang Mija), Lee David (Jong Wook), Kim Hira (Mr Kang), Ahn Nae-sang (Kim Yong-tak, Kibum’s father), Park Myeong-sin (Agnes’ mother),

It was over a decade ago when Peppermint Candy hit screens with the force of the oncoming train about to run down its hero, a film that made many experts in oriental cinema hail a master of Korean film, one to take it into the new millennium with a sense of purpose.  At the time, I was more sceptical; Candy was an excellent film, but it seemed formative, its director’s talent not yet fully grown.  Its idea of a backwards narrative was more satisfactorily used in Memento the following year and its central protagonist was hard to care about.  Yet Chang-dong’s film showed enough, even if his talent was embryonic then, to make one think a masterpiece was a possibility down the line. 

            In the intervening decade other Korean talents, Chan-wook, Ki-duk, Ji-woon and others have come onto the scene, but I always held out hope for Chang-dong.  And then along came Poetry, floating up the stream of the collective cinematic consciousness like the body of the schoolgirl who is seen by kids playing by a river.  And just as surely as we know it’s a body even before it’s confirmed, we know the river itself will become a motif.  It transpires that the girl has committed suicide after being bullied and horrifically raped repeatedly, at first by two boys, then later as many as six.  Five of the boys’ fathers try to band together to offer compensation to the grieved mother, with the school wanting to keep it out of the papers (the crime happened in a secluded science lab on campus) and the police unable to act until charges were made.  The problem is that the sixth boy has no father and lives with his grandmother.  (more…)

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By Bob Clark

In science-fiction or any other genre, there have been few writers who have been able to capture the exact qualities of paranoia on the page quite as lucidly as Philip K. Dick. Oh, I don’t mean to insist that he covered that pervading social anxiety with any greater eloquence or creativity than guys like Kafka or Vonnegut, minds who could conceive of the most disturbingly evocative scenarios with able gestalts of absurdity and humor. Next to them, Dick probably pales in terms of sheer literary quality– at times, his prose could be just as incoherent as the schizophrenic nightmares his characters walked through– but it’s very hard not to be swept up by the enthusiastic combination of stream-of-consciousness voice and out-of-left-field imagination that pervades through books like The Man in High Castle or Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, to name only two that haven’t yet been turned into movies. Since Ridley Scott adapted Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep into the modern classic Blade Runner, we’ve seen plenty of Dick stories and books brought to the screen with varying degrees of quality– sometimes truly great, as in Scott’s case, or nearly so, as in Richard Linklater’s unique use of rotoscope-animation in A Scanner Darkly; sometimes merely okay, but by no means bad, as in the case of Paul Verhoven’s Total Recall (from We Can Remember it For You Wholesale) or Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. Usually the results are far better than the forgettable mess of John Woo’s Paycheck or Gary Fleder’s Imposter. Dick’s persuasively twisted ideas are more than enough to fuel a couple hours’ worth of respectable entertainment– the characters of his stories may have to worry about their minds being erased at the drop of a hat, but audiences can always rest assured that sitting through a film based on his works is likely to leave them with all their brain cells still intact.

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