Tag Archives: visually striking

Oldboy: Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This

Based on the Japanese manga (where all good stories come from) written by Nobuaki Minegishi, what incredible things can I say about Oldboy? Considered the best in the Revenge trilogy, Oldboy comes from a very visceral place combining elements of all

Hammer time.

kinds of storytelling into one film. It’s got revenge and tragedy, theatrical protestations and all the heart and music of an opera. People have said (CNN has said) that it is one of the 10 best Asian films ever made. Let’s back that up and rephrase. There’s no need to include Asian in that statement. Ten best films ever made? Sounds good to me.

I’ve seen Oldboy twice now and I’ve been thoroughly entertained both times. The story is fresh and there’s just enough plot and action that keeps you captivated to the edge of your seat. Visually striking, poetic in the way it is formulated and the scenes are shot… Think about the snazziest guy you know that does things in such an elegant way and give him a beat-up haircut and a hammer. That’s this movie in a nutshell.

If you laugh, then the world laughs with you…

Revenge, as I’ve talked about in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is played with in this movie as well. Just when you think you have the good and bad guy figured out, it turns itself on its head. Sympathy is the keyword in all these films. You are meant to feel sympathetic towards all characters in this film. Nobody is spared a reason for doing what they do, and that makes it all the easier to see this as a truly brutally honest humanistic film.

Basic plot, shall we? Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) was kidnapped after a drunken night out around his daughter’s birthday. He vanishes from society for 15 years and we get to see a montaged version of that process. Through Oh Dae-su’s diaries, we see the tortured mind that has no idea of his crimes or who he wronged. He writes down every name he can remember in case he has to seek

I forgot to mention Ji-tae Yu, but he did some great work in this movie too.

revenge or beg forgiveness, it’s all up in the air at this point. But, with no reason or rhyme, Oh Dae-su is released after 15 long years of seeing no one and having no company other than a T.V. This leads him on a calculated and cold chase for the man who put him away for seemingly no reason.

Choi Min-sik is a theatrical master in this film. I’m pretty sure Park Chan-wook liked him so much that he brought him back for Lady Vengeance for that reason (different character, just as good). He has a great sense of theatrical, dramatic moments, and he takes his time in delivering lines. That’s what I found interesting about this movie (and Lady Vengeance). Choi Min-sik gathers his thoughts (as a person not on camera would) and says things as if he is choosing his words carefully (no script style). It’s a very unique and non-traditional way of acting, and I enjoy it every time I see him (i.e. watch I Saw The Devil).

The cinematography in this film is a bit more fluid, but you see the same basic ideas come across in this one that you saw in Sympathy for Mr. Revenge. Long shots, wide angles, an extreme focus on the bigger picture. This movie has a fight scene from a side angle that is about 5 minutes long and took 17 takes in 3 days to make. Uncut and visceral, it’s realistic fight scenes like this that make martial arts films being made today possible. (You can see a similar scene in Tony Jaa’s The Protector.)

The plot is fantastic and the cast is great as usual. It’s movies like this that only come around once in a lifetime that everything comes together perfectly to make a film that transcends genre, style, and overall movie like quality. You feel you are watching something more real and ethereal than you expected to see with something created by man. I can’t say anything bad about this movie and I feel, for all audiences (above 13, I’d say) this movie is worth watching again and

A strange sense of Korean comedy…

again. Moviemakers out there, if you don’t already have this for your collection, get it. This should change the movie industry (hopefully) for the next 20 years. And I really hope Spike Lee doesn’t remake it…

Anyways, 10 out of 10. Obviously.

 

 

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Monsters: Nothing Happens.

As much as I loved the premise of this movie and the idea of another Spielburg-like sci-fi alien film, it appears as if they progressive plot that should occur in this film is absent. Gareth Edwards had a great idea in posing a film in a world that has gotten used to a monster invasion, but this has been explored to a further degree in District 9. The aliens/monsters are still unknown in this film and are avoided at all costs. This creates a sense of mystery, but the end of the film leaves nothing learned. We still haven’t discovered the big twist that sets this apart from just a setup of a film. So close, and yet so far.

So the premise of this film is quite simple. Andrew Caulder (Scoot McNairy) is an investigative reporter in search of the next big story about the aliens that landed along the U.S./Mexico border. He has come the

Very interesting locations and commentary.

safe route into Mexico in order to retrieve his bosses’s daughter, Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able). After some complications and a wild night in Mexico, Andrew and Samantha miss the last boat before the season of the monsters activity. For a lot more money, the two are able to illegally and dangerously obtain a ride through the river and jungles of the contaminated zone.

The actual couple, Scoot and Whitney.

From this big buildup, we expect some really awe-inspiring and weird things to go down in the jungle. The make their way down the river, Anaconda style, and then Jeep their way through the jungle. Things go South for the assisting party, but Sam and Andy make it out scratch free. They make their way to a pyramid, have a moment, and become intimate after only spending a few days together. They head into America, desolated at the point of impact around the border, and spend the rest of the film in a gas station. You get a bit of monster interaction and a disappointing Quentin Tarantino ending. And that’s it. I didn’t reveal anything you would want to avoid in a spoiler alert of a review. That is literally it.

The entire film you learn nothing and don’t grow along with the main couple. (And they are a couple, interesting to find Scoot brought along his girlfriend for the ride.) The monsters appear violent, although the tone of the film suggests they are just living in the place they’ve found. They kill, they are attacked, and it

A bit of symbolism that shows nothing is going on, ever.

seems to be a mutual hostility between the two. I did like the political undertones of the “aliens” landing on the border of the U.S. and Mexico, but that’s about all I took away from this film. Yes, visually striking at parts, but those parts are about 5 minutes of face time the monsters get on camera in a 90 minute film.

Ah, is this the map that shows where our plot went?

I was impressed at the lengths that Gareth Edwards went to film his movie on a small budget. Filming without permission, actual locations, small crew. That’s the way movie are supposed to be made. Show the world you are depicting for what it’s worth. Pull no punches, never apologize for a things. I’m in admiration of Edwards guile and ambition, and just wish this film was better and more interactive. Maybe his version of Godzilla will be better. But for this film, I’ll give it a 4.1 out of 10.