Friday, March 09, 2007

Critics have been sending love letters to my favorite Korean director, Bong Joon ho, for his just released film "The Host." First Anthony Lane writes a full feature review of the movie. And now the NYT. My boyfriend actually gave me a pirated DVD version a month ago so I've already seen it.

Although Bong deserves every iota of praise he's been receiving, I don't think it's his best film--too CGI-ified and Spielbergian for my tastes. Although both critics remark on the dizzying mash up of genres in "The Host," which is a characteristic that defines not only his style but much of Korean cinema, I found the movie surprisingly tidied up.

Now "Memories of a Murder," his previous film, is brilliant, absolutely brilliant--a stirring antidote to Hollywood buddy cop films or detective dramas, in that the serial killer is never found (It seems that the just released Zodiac is one of the few movies that risks such a loose ending). The film is also less about the mystery and more about the Korean police force's incompetence and sheer corruption, along with its long rich history in sanctioning torture. Actually incompetence is a running theme in Bong's work. Incompetence not only of the political system, but the incompetence of parenting, friendship, and just daily human interactions (witness the Father's parenting skills in "The Host") which is where a lot of Bong's black humor comes into play. Rarely is anything righted or resolved, which is why I was a little disappointed by the polish of his latest film.

His first film is "Barking Dogs Never Bite." Ed Park posted an excellent review in his blog. Ed implores for the film to be distributed in the States. I'm more doubtful because of the violent things done to beloved, cuddly canines. And representing a violent act committed against beloved, cuddly canines is one of the biggest American cinema taboos. Not to be transgressed!


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