Friday, November 03, 2006

"Vengeance is Mine," saith Chan-wook Park.

Last week I finished Mr. Park's Vengeance Trilogy. Lady Vengeance was the third. The first decision he made in creating the last film was to have a woman as the lead. He then intentionally cast against type a beautiful woman in that role. (He likened it to casting Audrey Hepburn in the role.) This "aggressive" act, confronting the audience with a beautiful woman committing these acts of vengeance, was sufficient for him, so he didn't have nearly as much violence on camera as his previous two in the trilogy (a man cutting off his own tongue, severed achille's tendons and the like). He felt that kind of violence would have been too much, too brash.

Once he decided on a female protagonist, this informed the rest of the film. He brought a more redemptive aspect to the film than the first two, and he had her share the retribution throughout, particularly in the end.

The three films are only linked by their director and theme, not plot. It works though; and while the first two are very violent, it would be best to watch them in order: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Lady Vengeance. While the last is the most palatable for a general audience, the second is a very strong film that attacks the viewer with themes as much as images. The first is the director familiarizing himself with the material before really showing a mastery of it in the last two. Out of a possible ten, I give them 5, 7.5, and 8 respectively. Yeah, Korea!

The other film I watched last week was The Proposition. This is a "kangaroo Western." The director's genesis for this film was a camping trip in the Outback. He knew he wanted to use the landscape as a character in a film. He succeeded with this one. Writing-wise Hillcoat had Nick Cave on board to compose the music before the film was written, and ended up having Cave write it too.

My greatest joy from this film was the acting of Ray Winstone, Emily Watson, and Danny Huston. I previously enjoyed Winstone in Final Cut, Sexy Beast, Ripley's Game, King Arthur, and The Departed. However, this is probably his best performance. Watson I first saw in Hilary and Jackie, then Gosford Park, Punch-Drunk Love, Red Dragon, and Breaking the Waves. I've always been pleased with her, and she doesn't disappoint here.

Then there's Danny Huston, he upstages his brother in the film, Guy Pearce. I spent much of his time on camera trying to place where I'd seen him before. Finally after some research, I realized I'd seen him not too long ago in The Constant Gardner. Now is the time for six degrees of separation. Huston was in The Constant Gardner with Ralph Fiennes, who was in Red Dragon with Emily Watson, who was in The Propostion with Huston. Then of course is the revelation that Huston is the son of legendary director John Huston. Very nice.



At November 03, 2006 11:33 PM, Anonymous angela said...

yeah korea! i watched oldboy with klaralyn. if she hadn't wanted to see it, i might never have watched it. i was nervous about the violence. however, i enjoyed it. i closed my eyes in the gruesome parts and came away with stuff to think about. i'd like to see lady vengeance now that you've talked about it. maybe that'll be our next dvd bong rental. but i'm sure i won't love them as much as steven chow's kungfu movies. shaolin soccer and kungfu hustle are definitely two new favs.


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