Funny story with this one; I’d checked to see, “Hey, when’s that new Korean cool girl show out?” and it was that day, Oct. 16. Two thoughts seized me, then: “Yay!” and “I should write about this.” See, I’ve been on kind of an SEO tear lately, which is partly why the last several posts have skewed entirely Korean. That seems to be the country of the week, and I’m glad there’s a country of the week at all. I just happened to see the SNL Squid Game parody, and that’s how you know you’ve made it, aside from the massive revenue. The recent post I did about Squid Game, in fact, was a cynical product, and even a bit rushed as a result — a hastily-thought-out premise effecting a strange contrarian opinion. But once I read that review of Parasite, I couldn’t let it go. And then comes My Name, yet another Netflix K-drama, and this one — unlike Squid Game — actually appealed directly to my sensibilities (which probably makes for a less compelling post, because I tend to say the same, uncomfortable thing). But because I’d checked, I had the opportunity to post something that very premiere day. … More K-Drama Report: My Name (2021) Follow-Up
After far longer than I realized, I’m returning to Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. I was very much into them during high school, but my attention then shifted entirely to Once Upon a Time in the West. Leone’s final western was important to me at that point in my life, anticipating and then entering film school, as it’s a genre deconstruction, film as myth, dense with symbols, et cetera. With, perhaps, the help of Christopher Frayling, Once Upon a Time in the West opened up to me as a movie to analyze, and I never spared the same approach to the trilogy. These days I’m far less insecure about my movie taste, and this has granted me welcome revelations. Especially since, to be honest, I could hardly follow what was happening in these movies. … More 09/20/2021 – The Dollars Trilogy Machete Order
Filmmakers can be sensitive sometimes. David Fincher still won’t talk about Alien 3, a 25-year-old wound by the time he produced Mindhunter, co-starring Holt McCallany (from Alien 3). Maybe on the promotional circuit, McCallany mentions that he first worked with David on Alien 3, and the director has to sit by silently — we apply the Eisenstein montage to his blank face and imagine the inner turmoil. Once a film has been made, it’s printed onto public record, and may follow its filmmaker through their career. I understand via pop culture osmosis that Stephen King wants to be known for The Dark Tower, but everybody talks about The Stand instead. You may not get to choose, as budgets inflate and stakes raise and the realities of showbiz bear down on creative passersby. … More The 20-Year Marketing Legacy of “Training Day”
I just saw the Johnnie To movie Election, and I was struck by its depiction of violence. There isn’t the usual staging around murders which typifies gangster movie structure. And the murders or beatings themselves aren’t gory or operatic. The contrary example I may as well be describing here is Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage trilogy, which I find interesting for being pure genre exercises. They’re very matter-of-fact, pretty low-energy, almost procedural yakuza dramas. The first Outrage was actually designed around the murder scenes, and throughout the series, they’re pretty extravagant. There’s death by baseball, horizontal hanging via car, mass shootings, explosions. It’s all over the place. And it’s all done with the expected style: black suits, shades, pistols, dignity. … More 05/23/2021 – Election vs. Outrage
There was this TV special that aired on Bravo in 2004 called The 100 Scariest Movie Moments, and the number 11th most scary moment came from this movie called Audition. You had these talking heads, including three American filmmakers: John Landis, Eli Roth, and Rob Zombie, and they’re going on about how disturbing this movie was. Landis found it so unsettling he didn’t even like it. This is still profound to me. First of all, there’s no better word of mouth for a horror movie, I think, but more than that, I boyishly appreciate this very open appreciation by Americans of foreign cinema — I’ll take that anywhere I can get it. So cool did I find it, it must have rattled around in my brain for long enough that I turned it into an issue. Wait a minute, why this one? What makes Audition different? … More Audition | Scariest of All Time?
Gosh, I remember — and don’t you dare deny that this happened — I remember when Parasite was at the height of its celebration, and one of the ideas floating around online was that Korean cinema isn’t only defined by violence and revenge. And if you look, a lot of the blockbusters of the past few years were romantic-comedies or historical dramas. However, my experience with Korean film is absolutely defined by violence and revenge. That’s how it was marketed, that’s what got me interested. So consider this a disproportionate response to something I saw on Twitter a year ago. I think Korean revenge is important. And today, I want to explore three of its examples and ask the question that bubbles at the edges of your mind while in the throes of these films: why? That scurrilous online claim had to come from somewhere — why is there so much Korean revenge? And should revenge define the nation’s cinema? … More Three the Korean Way (Why Revenge?)