* This post will cover Jee-Woon’s three most recent films, being that they are the ones I have seen as well as the ones which fit most nicely into my admittedly arbitrary cut-off date for reviews of “newish” films posted without some sort of larger organizing theme.
The Good, the Bad, the Weird
And here is where we go off the rails, and right from the beginning no less. Kim Jee-woon has always been messier than his fellow South Korean mad scientists Bong Joon-ho and Chan Wook-park, a point he makes no bones about hiding. His films are also messy with less of a pinpoint purpose and to much less subversive results – if Joon-ho and Wook-park are madman auteurs, Jee-Woon is a mad craftsman. If the former is a bit more satisfying in the end, both are lacking in today’s world (perhaps the latter even more than the former), and they’re both entirely welcome. Continue reading
If The Guard was a strong, entertaining if somewhat slight caustic comedy, Calvary keels over and knocks things back down to Earth, hinting at even greater things under John McDonagh’s sleeves in the process. The film, which details one week in the life of Father James (Brendan Gleeson) and takes place in a quintessentially Irish countryside, deals with crises of faith with an uncustomary humanity and sincerity (especially considering John and brother Martin’s reputation for snarky, brittle humor). The warmth shouldn’t be confused for lack of despair though – the center of the plot is James being told in a confession booth that the man confessing plans to kill him at the end of a week. The reason? He was molested by another priest in his childhood and, after trying to cope for years, he can no longer come to terms with himself and needs to lash out to acquire some sense of vengeance. Continue reading
I was planning on curbing my tendency to upload two reviews every week for Midnight Screenings, rather than one, but seeing as how I missed last week’s review, I’ll post two this week one last time. One is below, with another, linked by theme and something a bit more concrete, to come tomorrow.
Blue Velvet is curiously, even paradoxically, both director David Lynch’s most anarchic film and one of his most straightforward. Perhaps the two are linked, for Lynch opens up the film by setting up an image of straightforward reality he spends the film taking to task. We get clean-cut grass and well-manicured houses, spaced evenly between one another, hiding well-manicured people who probably take pains to space themselves evenly as well. Lynch is aware that these images construct our dreams of America, or at least our dreams of an American past, and even in his admitted celebration of them, he also examines them, cutting into them like a knife through pre-sliced, packaged white bread (what could be more American?) hiding maggots under its façade of comfort. Continue reading