JayDee's Movie Musings

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Good whiskey make jackrabbit slap de bear.
LOVE Alec Baldwin's performance in GGR. The movie itself is very good, but Baldwin is truly fantastic. Lemmon and Pacino ain't too shabby either.
__________________
"George, this is a little too much for me. Escaped convicts, fugitive sex... I've got a cockfight to focus on."



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Just going back to Hedwig and the Angry Inch and I feel I may actually have underrated it. It's been over a week since I saw it but it's still regularly in my mind. And not just the songs, just going over the movie in general. I think it may actually be something rather special, and I look forward to revisiting it to see if it is or not

One of the relatively few films we differ on, then. Loved the performances (Lemmon, Spacey in particular) but mostly I thought it was flat and uninvolving.
Well it would be impossible for us to agree on everything. Clearly there are just some films that you're going to be wrong about!



We've gone on holiday by mistake
Never even heard of GGR(usually a bad thing). What a cast too. I'll have to look out for it.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1993

Directed by
Takeshi Kitano

Written by
Takeshi Kitano

Starring
Takeshi Kitano
Aya Kokumai
Tetsu Watanabe


Sonatine

+

Plot – Murakawa (Kitano) is a world-weary Yakuza boss who seems tired of life. Dispatched to Okinawa to intervene in a Yakuza gang war, Murakawa and his men find themselves caught in the crossfire. Retreating to a safehouse on the beach they act like children by playing games and setting traps, while it slowly dawns on them that they have been set up as they are picked off one by one.

I have to say that I did enjoy this film even if I'm not entirely sure why, it just had something about it. I'm not generally a fan of gangster films, but then this isn't your standard gangster film. It's a much more unconventional, offbeat take on the genre. It's a lean, minimalist effort which is peppered with some deadpan, slapstick comedy and interrupted occasionally by a shocking burst of violence. It comes off like the antithesis of Bugsy Malone. In that film you had little kids acting like grown-up gangsters, while here we have real gangsters acting like little children. It gives an odd whimsical sense to it

Kitano's Murakawa is an enigmatically engaging presense, a great example of the anti-hero. Though he may not have the traditional looks you'd expect. Indeed he rather reminded me of Walter Matthau with his weathered face and tired, reserved manner. For the majority of the time he seems calm and apathetic about goings on but you always get the feeling of this vicious streak within him. It's a very strong performance. Oh and I also really enjoyed the two young gang members that are about, Ken and Ryoji I think it is. Instead of gangsters they act more like a couple of guys from a college frat house. Very entertaining. .

As you'd expect from a gangster movie there is a good deal of violence, and yet it doesn't feel particularly violent in a way. The violence is spaced out and is never really lingered upon or glorified. It occurs in short, sharp bursts which jolt the viewer out of the otherwise measured pace of the film, but then we have moved on. I also enjoyed the unusual final shootout. You're expecting this massive bloodbath, and yet we don't really see anything. And I mean we literally don't see anything. The conflict takes place in complete darkness, with only the eerie glow coming from each gunshot providing any light. And even then for much of it we find ourselves outside watching the flickering lights of violence bounce around and reflect off of cars.

Much of the film takes place at a lovely, peaceful and isolated beach which is beautifully shot. The scenes at the beach were they play like children with frisbees and fireworks have so much life to them. It's quite touching to see these violent men returning to such a childhood-like state, a state of innocence and freedom. And yet there also seems to be an undercurrent tone of melancholic sadness. Though it becomes significantly more than an undercurrent during the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors which Murakawa turns into a chilling game of Russian Roulette. Taking a lot of time to relfect and showing the characters like this means we get the time to understand and even sympathise with these guys.

The film presents both a fairly standard gangster tale but more interestingly a character study of these violent men, and the second childhood of sorts they resort to. Oh and lastly I found the film to have a beautiful, somewhat haunting, and infectious score.

Conclusion – A very intriguing film which certainly made me think. Quite often I'll watch a film that I really enjoy while it's on, but as soon as it's over you pretty much forget all about it. This was the rare example of the opposite. As it was going on I was enjoying it ok, but it was more when it was finished and I reflected on it that I began to appreciate it. 3.5 for now but it could certainly prove to be a grower.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1978

Directed by
Michael Crichton

Written by
Michael Crichton (script)
Robin Cook (novel)

Starring
Genevieve Bujold
Michael Douglas
Richard Widmark
Rip Torn


Coma

+

(7.5/10)

Plot - In the last year at Boston Memorial Hospital twelve healthy and young individuals, in for routine operations, have suffered unexplained complications resulting in a coma. When Doctor Wheeler's (Bujold) close friend becomes the latest casualty, she begins an investigation that will lead her to a shocking discovery and a large and deadly conspiracy to cover it up.

That's right ladies and gentlemen! Just when you thought it was safe to come back into this thread the 70s thriller season is back! And oh 70s thrillers how I've missed you and your ways. All the classic hallmarks are here – paranoia-inducing conspiracy theories, large cover-ups, an anti-authority leaning, one man (or indeed woman) against the world etc.

Much like my experience with Stepford Wives I felt this was a little slow to get going before really picking up around the hour mark for a strong sprint finish. And also like Stepford Wives there's a strong feminist slant that the film seems to have, again influenced by the movement of the times. It goes against the usual expectation of this type of film were it would normally be a man investigating a massive cover-up that no-one believes. Bujold's character is a strong, liberated woman battling against male authority figures trying to control her, particularly in such a strongly male-dominated world such as medicine. Characters who just write off her wild accusations as an example of female hysteria; telling her she just needs to lie down, take a vacation or have a cup of tea. It's just a shame then that the film resorts to a classic (i.e. cliché) damsel in distress moment at the end.

For me the best bit of the film is definitely Genevieve Bujold. She delivers a perfect blend of steely determination, cerebral intellect, feminine vulnerability and striking sexiness even if she doesn't seem overly conscious of the fact. Her Doctor Wheeler is a woman born out of the feminist movement, a strong and professional woman determined to find out the truth no matter how many people try to talk her out of it. I have to admit I didn't recognise her name whatsoever and also don't believe I've seen her in anything, but needless to say I was very impressed.

And her performance is effectively counterbalanced by the fact that all the male characters are pretty much a shower of little s**ts! Richard Widmark gives a menacing performance as her apparently concerned and caring boss, full of mock sympathy. Rip Torn is just begging to be punched as the odious Dr. George. And even Michael Douglas as her boyfriend is no knight in shining armour. They have a tempestuous relationship and instead of believing her he seems more interested in how her behaviour will affect his chance of being appointed chief resident. There is also a real treat in spotting two future stars in very early, minor showings. Ed Harris as a pathology resident and Mr. Thomas Magnum himself, Tom Selleck, as one of Dr. Wheeler's patients.

With Michael Crichton (Coma's screenwriter and director) and Robin Cook (Coma's author) both being doctors it's no surprise to find that they are able to create an authentic atmosphere when it comes to the medical side of things. Just as Crichton would do with ER a couple of decades later he establishes a realistic setting and convincing characters; thus giving the film a plausible air despite it's rather outlandish plot. Indeed the actual medical operations that are performed feel particularly realistic, even generating a quasi-documentary feel in how they are shot. As a director Crichton may not be a superstar but he is able to build a nice sense of dread as the nightmarish truth begins to reveal itself.

However that's not all the film has to offer, it has some good old fashioned moments of suspense and tension, two in particular that I have to mention. The first is the nerve-jangling chase through the hospital's dark and empty corridors as Dr. Wheeler tries to escape her would be assassin (Lance LeGault), which culminates in a spectacularly creepy scene inside the autopsy room and the morgue's freezer, complete with dozens of corpses hanging like coats on a hanger. And the other scene of course is that which occurs at the Jefferson Institute. The institute is a mysterious facility were coma patients are stored in a unique manner to cut down on medical costs. The reveal of countless patients suspended from by the ceiling by wires that are threaded through their bones is a tremendously eerie and disturbing image.

One of the reasons the film is so effective is that it presents a really quite queasy premise and plays on familiar fears of hospitals, doctors and undergoing operations. If you're scheduled to go into hospital at any point, I certainly wouldn't recommend you watch this beforehand.

Conclusion – This is a fun, tense and taut little conspiracy thriller. With an interesting and still timely premise (the search for profit corrupting medicine), and an excellent central showing from Bujold this chilling film is most certainly worth a watch.



We've gone on holiday by mistake
Great to see you reviewing a Takeshi Kitano flick. I'm a big fan of his. Some of the very first films I ever bought were Kitano flicks.

I would love to see you review his masterpieces "Hana-Bi" and "Zatoichi". Also check out his earlier work, "Violent Cop" and "Boiling Point". "Brother" ain't to bad either.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Great to see you reviewing a Takeshi Kitano flick. I'm a big fan of his. Some of the very first films I ever bought were Kitano flicks.

I would love to see you review his masterpieces "Hana-Bi" and "Zatoichi". Also check out his earlier work, "Violent Cop" and "Boiling Point". "Brother" ain't to bad either.
Thanks for the input and recs. While I didn't absolutely love Sonatine I certainly found it interesting and intriguing enough to be interested in his other work. And like I said I could definitely see my appreciation for it growing on repeat viewings.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Just the latest update to my 70s thriller season in terms of favoruite films. The eagle-eyed of you may notice that China Syndrome is now ahead of Day of the Jackal despite having a lower original score. Well I found China Syndrome stuck with me very well and grew in my mind.


The Warriors -
+

Marathon Man -
+

All the President's Men -

Assault on Precinct 13 -

Dirty Harry -
-

Three Days of the Condor -
++

The China Syndrome -

The Day of the Jackal -
+

Frenzy -

The Silent Partner -

Dog Day Afternoon -
-

The Andromeda Strain -
-

Charley Varrick -
++

Coma -
+

The Stepford Wives -
+

The Conversation -
+

Magnum Force -

The Parallax View -
++

Sleuth -
+

Deliverance -

The Boys from Brazil -
+

The Omega Man -

Manchurian Candidate -


And here are the possible films that I could still watch as part of the season. It's been updated with a few more that I've stumbled across, taped or bought -

Capricorn One/ Duel/ Escape from Alcatraz/ Family Plot/ Le Cercle Rouge/ Play Misty for Me/ Prime Cut/ The Enforcer/ Night Moves/ Magic



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
I love Sonatine.
Yeah I remember you recommending it to me, thanks for that. Would you echo gandalf's thoughts on Kitano's other output or do you see it differently?

Same here. One of my favorites, without a doubt.
Welcome to the thread Justin.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1976

Directed by
James Fargo

Written by
Stirling Silliphant (script)
Dean Riesner (script)
S.W. Schurr (story)
Gail Morgan Hickman (story)

Starring
Clint Eastwood
Tyne Daly
Harry Guardino
DeVeren Bookwalter


The Enforcer

++

(7.7/10)

Plot – In his third screen outing renegade Detective Harry Callahan (Eastwood) is on the track of a radical terrorist group called The People's Revolutionary Strikeforce. This time however his new partner is Kate Moore (Tyne Daly), who just happens to be a woman!

Would the real Dirty Harry please stand up, please stand up, please stand up! Yes that's right, Harry Callahan is back! And it's the Harry Callahan I saw and loved in Dirty Harry, but felt got lost a little in Magnum Force. Harry is back with his hard-edged demeanour, and his caustic and sarcastic manner. And yes while he is a bit softer than the original presented him this time we are given a reason for his softening; his burgeoning respect for and friendship with Tyne Daly's Kate Moore.

I just feel the energy and vibrancy that was somewhat lacking in Magnum Force has returned here. And likewise, while the dialogue may not be quite as colourful as in Dirty Harry, I'd say it is certainly richer and funnier than in Magnum Force. My favourite example being when Harry turns in his badge with the sentiment “Here's a seven-point suppository, Captain”!

If you've seen the first two films in the Dirty Harry series you will know exactly what you're in for, they don't mess with the formula. We see Harry in some side adventures were he goes over the top in his attempts to get justice, resulting in censuring from his liberal namby-pamby superiors and a demotion. But San Francisco is under attack from a group of psychos and only Harry and his unique brand of policing can stop them, even while he continues to clash with the bureaucrats. However despite the usual Dirty Harry violence and gratuitous nudity I'd say this is a bit more of a light hearted and humorous effort, mainly due to the plot sticking Harry with a woman of all things as a partner!

Now in his third outing as Callahan Eastwood looks so comfortable in the skin of the character that he could probably have played it in his sleep by this point. With his monosyllabic ways Eastwood enables us to know exactly what Harry is thinking and feeling in as few words as possible. He is just so damn cool in the role.

However the main ingredient this film has that puts it over Magnum Force is the addition of Tyne Daly. She is an actress I've always enjoyed, and here her relationship and back and forth bantering with Eastwood creates arguably some of the strongest and most enjoyable moments of the film. The role could easily have come across as one-note and unsatisfying, merely there for Eastwood to get laughs by bouncing off of, but Daly imbues Detective Moore with a strength and resourcefulness that means we admire and care for the character. A very likeable and endearing performance. In the previous two Dirty Harry instalments his partners were fairly forgettable characters, but Moore offers a good deal more to the movie.

As with Magnum Force I'd say the villains come off as a little weak when compared to Andrew Robinson's terrifically memorable Scorpio killer from the original. This time out we have a group of hippie radical terrorists, The People's Revolutionary Strikeforce, who actually pale in terms of interest when compared to the charismatic leader of a black militant group, Mustapha. They aren't really developed and we never truly learn or understand their motives. Indeed for the first time in the Dirty Harry series the villains are not the real crux of the film, that going to the relationship between Callahan and Moore.

Any Dirty Harry flick worth its salt is going to have to deliver on the action front, and luckily The Enforcer is able to deliver in fine style. The film opens with a liquor store robbery that Harry deals with in wonderfully bombastic and reckless fashion as he drives his car through the shop, even if it does feel perilously close to parody. There is a terrifically energetic rooftop chase which gives a nice sense of the city of San Francisco, and is accompanied by a wonderfully frantic funky jazz score. And then for the finale we have another great look at San Francisco with a shoot out at Alcatraz which ends in explosive style. While it's good fun with an evocative setting it feels a little rushed, particularly when it comes to dealing with the resolution of a character.

Conclusion – Looking around the web and this seems to generally be considered inferior to Magnum Force and one of the weaker entries in the series. I however complete disagree. While it's still some way short of the original I found it to be a level up on Magnum Force, mainly thanks to the pairing of Eastwood and Daly.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1957

Directed by
Ishiro Honda

Written by
Shigeru Kayama
Takeshi Kimura
Jojiro Okami

Starring
Kenji Sahara
Yumi Shirakawa
Momoko Kochi


The Mysterians


Plot - Scientifically advanced beings from the destroyed planet of Mysteroid arrive on Earth. After a demonstration of their power they request a patch of land to live on. Except that's not all. They also want our women!!!

Well you can't say I'm not giving you some variety! In the last few pages alone I've reviewed a few 70s thrillers, an offbeat Japanese gangster flick, a couple of superhero blockbusters, a cult comedy/drama about a German transsexual punk rock singer and a critically acclaimed and dialogue heavy David Mammet film. And now we come to a slice of kitschy 1950s Japanese B-movie.

Now I have to say that the score I've given is most definitely a cult/camp rating in the tradition of Mark and UsedFuture. The plot is the most basic of alien invasion stories, and there is no real effort put into the character in terms of fleshing them out or anything. But then those aren't really the reasons you watch this kind of thing are they? While there are some admirable elements this is not a particularly good film. It is however a really quite entertaining one. It's a film that is at its best when it's just being bonkers and nonsensical, and thankfully that's quite often!

There are some excellent, large scale battle scenes, even if they are a little on the lengthy side at times. Miniature model tanks, artillery and weird new military technology (which the humans are able to conceive of and build incredibly fast! ) battle against the Mysterians domed headquarters while military jets and flying saucers engage in a dogfight in the skies above. The film's effects are mightily impressive for their time, and even the very ropey ones have that undeniable charm which most 50s sci-fi flicks possess. Most impressive is the use of numerous elaborate miniatures, with use of models and excellent matte work also contributing to some nice moments. For me the highlight is when a village disappears below as the ground opens up.

Actually what am I talking about?! Quite obviously the film's highlight, both in terms of effects and just plain awesomeness is Moguera. Moguera is a weird animalistic-looking robotic creature that emerges out of a mountain and begins to wreak havoc. It's an unexpected moment that just comes out of absolutely nowhere. It's just ridiculous and makes no sense whatsoever. And yet in this film it feels like the most obvious thing ever. Of course there's going to be a mechanical creature thing emerging from a crumbling mountain, what else could possibly happen?! The only problem is that it's the film's big moment but comes just 15/20 minutes into it. Nothing else can live up to it, and indeed I was just waiting and expecting a return that never really comes.

It's a fantastically colourful film, full of eye candy. Indeed I found myself getting frequent flashbacks to my childhood watching Power Rangers during this. Along with the large mechanical creature the aliens themselves have a real Power Rangers look to them. They are dressed in primary-coloured uniforms, with capes and helmets. And in fact there is also a touch of the original Star Trek to the mysterians. Depending on their standing aboard the ship they appear to be colour coded. And the colours? Red, yellow and light blue.

Underneath all of the bright zaniness there are the fears of a country that is still recovering from the after effects of the h-bomb. We are presented with the question of nuclear war, and not in a particularly subtle manner. The Mysterians destroyed their own planet with an atomic war, and left 80% of their offspring with defects and abnormalities. A dark echoing of the post-war experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And just in cast that was somehow still too subtle near the film's conclusion we get the declaration that "This is an example to us all - don’t misuse science!" And while it is a heavy-handed message, given what occurred not many years before then it's understandable and done in a fairly sincere way, as it talks about how all nations have to put aside their differences and come together to battle the mysterians.

Conclusion – This is a film that is extremely silly, especially when it's trying to be deadly serious, but frequently entertaining. It's pacing may be a problem but at just 85 minutes it never risks outstaying its welcome. Just fun.



Leben findet einen weg...
Nice reviews mate but...

... I may have missed something, why do you give your reviews the foreign language posters?
__________________
Originally Posted by doubledenim
Garbage bag people fighting hippy love babies.




Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Nice reviews mate but...

... I may have missed something, why do you give your reviews the foreign language posters?
Thanks Rodent. And as for the posters I like to just pick whatever takes my fancy aesthetically. Quite often I'll throw in an English language poster but sometimes the foreign posters just put more of a smile on my face (as was the case with The Mysterians).



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
1950

Directed by
Akira Kurosawa

Written by
Akira Kurosawa (script)
Shinobu Hashimoto (script)
Ryūnosuke Akutagawa (story)

Starring
Toshiro Mifune
Machiko Kyo
Masayuki Mori
Takashi Shimura


Rashomon

+

Plot – At Rashomon gatehouse a priest, a woodcutter and another man gather to escape the rain. The woodcutter and priest relate a story of a trial into a rape and murder. At the trial three different versions of the same story are told, but none of them tie up with the woodcutter's own tale. So which story, if any, is the truth?

So we're off to Japan again. For the third time in the last five reviews, and two in a row, I'm looking at some output from the land of the rising sun. Though this is probably about as far from the previous Japanese film (The Mysterians) as you could get! I have seen this film before but I believe it was only once and that was many years ago now so I didn't really remember much of it. Which was nice actually, let me discover it again. This is an expertly constructed film from master director Akira Kurosawa. It's a sharp, intense and cynical exploration of the subjectivity of truth and the weakness of mankind. With it's unique and lively narrative and directorial style this is a film that still feels fresh over 60 years after it first appeared on the scene.

Working from his own wonderful script Kurosawa's direction is terrific, the film is shot just beautifully with a real lyrical quality. Indeed it feels almost like a harsher Terrence Malick at points. The crumbling Rashomon Gate, pounded by lashing and unrelenting rain, is an extremely evocative setting to tell the story from. And the forest where the crime, whatever it was, takes place often takes on a haunting and almost mythic atmosphere. Full of striking photography it looks wonderful. The way the images flow together is extremely expressive, especially when coupled with the use, or at times absence, of score music. The scene at the beginning where the woodcutter is walking through the forest, made up of a kaleidoscope of images and shadows set to a beautiful piece of music is a stunning scene, just drawing you in early on. Indeed his direction is notable at creating numerous tones to go along with the action, whether it be barbaric, contemplative or even some dark slapstick comedy. He also uses very powerful, snappy editing to really move the film along at a great pace.

While there is a lot to admire here, for me overpowering everything was the performance of Toshiro Mifune as the bandit. He is just incredible. His bandit is unpredictable and crazed, and just demands your attention any time that he is on screen. He's a character full of swagger and bravado, but with little substance; a man just desperate to live up to his billing as the most dangerous and vicious bandit around. While he is on trial he is like a wild, untamed beast. The rest of the cast too supply strong showings, even if the melodramatic and heightened acting style takes a little bit of adjusting to. This is particularly true for Machiko Kyo who portrays the wife of the piece. Once you get past her hysterical rantings there is a rich, mysterious and mesmerising individual to be found. Depending on which version of the story we are presented with, she is the one who varies most in terms of character. At times pure and virtuous, at others insidious and vicious; switching from an innocent victim to manipulative temptress.

Whatever else his films are about Kurosawa always seems to look at the human element and here is no different. Though this time out it's a rather damning verdict of humanity. We lie, we cheat, we steal. In short we suck! The witnesses all present their own versions of events, and each time they place themselves in the best light (even when it means claiming they are the killer) and make themselves look strong, in the process making those around them appear pathetic and weak. And then the woodcutter reveals what he saw, what I took to be the truth, or at least as close as we are going to get. His story shows the weakness and cowardice of all involved. Particularly revealing is how after building up an apparently epic battle, the woodcutter shows what a pathetic tussle it really was. Their 'battle' descends into slapstick with both men seemingly too afraid of death to be able to fight properly, running and stumbling about like scared little boys. So humanity, not looking too good is it? At least until a last minute piece of redemption when the woodcutter selflessly agrees to adopt an abandoned child. In the grand scheme of things it's a small gesture, but one which provides a chink of light, a little piece of hope for us.

This is a film that is arguably right up there amongst the most influential of all time. Indeed it's story was so revolutionary and influential that the film has become shorthand for this type of tale (the Rashomon effect), and has been used numerous times both in film and TV – The Usual Suspects, Hero and episodes of The Simpsons, The X-Files, Leverage, Star Trek: The Next Generation and CSI amongst many others I'm sure all used its structure as inspiration.

Conclusion – A terrifically constructed and realised tale from Kurosawa. With powerful performances, scripting and direction it is richly deserving of its standing as one of the great classics of cinema.



A great movie and great review
__________________
Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.
Buddha



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Thank you very much Nebbit. You seem to have become one of my biggest supporters of late. I appreciate it



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
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Year of release
2003

Directed by
Jang Joon-Hwan

Written by
Jang Joon-Hwan

Starring
Shin Ha-kyun
Baek Yun-shik
Hwang Jeong-min
Lee Jae-yong



Save the Green Planet

+

Plot - Byeong-gu (Shan Ha-kyun) believes that the world is on the verge of an alien invasion which will destroy the Earth. Convinced that a large company's CEO, Kang Man-shik (Baek Yun-shik), is really an alien in disguise Byeong-gu kidnaps and holds him at his home. He is determined to find out the truth and save the world, no matter what he has to do to Kang Man-shik.

Japan and Korea have proved that they are adept at numerous genres, Japan for many years and Korea particularly in the last decade or two. Despite that however this is the type of film that jumps immediately into mind when I think of those countries; something just a little bit out there, just a little bit different, just a bit bonkers! And oh boy is this some f*@$ing bonkers stuff! Merely calling this film 'original' really does feel like I'm underselling it. After all how often do you come across a film that plays like an X-Files episode meets K-Pax by the way of Silence of the Lambs, with a slice of Hostel-style torture, a pinch of a 2001: A Space Odyssey homage and a bit of a Men in Black/Mars Attacks vibe in it's finale?

It really is quite rare that you find a film that jumps across so many genres. It's part sci-fi, part dark comedy, part thriller, part detective story, part psychological drama, part tragedy, part....well it would probably be quicker to list the genres it doesn't actually touch upon! There are some laugh out loud moments of slapstick, some squeamish and surreal moments of torture, some inspired moments of lunacy, some sad and truly affecting drama and even a little bit of romance. Immensely surprising is that in a film that features such outlandish incidents, twists and turns it is actually able to be really quite touching and deep. The depraved, but beautiful montage that shows what has led Byeong-gu to this point in his life is very powerful. It really is an astonishing feat for a first time director. To coral so many different genres and tones and still be coherent is amazing.

Much of the film was a surprise, but nothing more so than the performances. Going into the film it wasn't the kind of film were I was expecting to be wowed by the acting but boy was I. Shin Ha-kyun is incredible as our 'hero' Byeong-gu. He delivers such a winningly charismatic showing that I couldn't help but root for him despite the fact that he appears to be a psycho who has kidnapped and is torturing a poor innocent guy. He's just so electrifying and likeable, no matter how insane he seems to get. Not far off matching him is Baek Yoon-sik as Kang Man-shik. Switching between fear and panic, and abusing and antagonising his captor he is a very powerful presence. With both characters switching back and forth so often, from horrifying us to garnering our sympathy the film really does play with our emotions and expectations. Who's the good guy here and who's the villain?

And while those are the main roles there are two other actors who are able to be engaging. Jeong-min Hwang as Byeong-gu's chubby tightrope walker girlfriend Su-ni is a great mix of the quirky and the adorable, while Jae-Yong Lee is great fun as a dishevelled police detective. A bit of a Korean Columbo if you will. There's a great stretch of the film were he actually stays overnight at Byeong-gu's home, and they engage in a tense game of cat and mouse with the captive Kang Man-shik down in the basement below them the whole time..

It's a film that is just alive and bursting with energy and creativity, a wildly imaginative ride that just crashes along at a tremendous pace, complete with terrific directing and striking cinematography. And while yes there may be a few flaws floating about here and there, it's all done with so much exuberance and gleeful delirium that I was easily able to forgive them. Oh and once you watch this I doubt you'll ever be able to hear Somewhere Over the Rainbow the same way again.

Conclusion – An absolute baffling delight. I don't know how it will hold up on repeat showings but on first viewing I was completely captivated by this oddity. The most fun I've had in a while. If you enjoy a weird movie and can cope with some gory violence then you may love this.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Was just adding Save the Green Planet to my list of films reviewed in the opening post when I decided to count them. And coincidentally discovered that I've now hit a milestone of 50 in terms of my extended reviews. Not quite on the same pace as Rodent but not too shabby.

I was going to say that if I had known it was my 50th review ahead of time I'd have chosen something special for it, but turns out Save the Green Planet actually was something rather special.