Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pontypool. Watch that shit!

First, a mini-review.

Pontypoolposter Pontypool is a Canadian horror set in a radio station. The employees of the station are going about their morning as normal when a strange report comes over the police radio and a few strange calls start coming in reporting riots. The reports escalate violently and it becomes apparent that the people of the town are being hit by a peculiar virus.

By setting this film, indeed restricting it, to a radio station, the makers of this outstanding film are able to create one of the most tense cinematic experiences available. The tension, ohhhh the delicious tension, is created by a slow, uncertain, drip... drip... of details combined with the genuine concern  and panic displayed on the employees faces and heard in their voices as they realise this is not an ordinary day.

This really is one of those diamonds that comes occasionally appears from the low-budget horror film "rough". See it. That's an order.

From this point on, I’d suggest those who haven’t seen Pontypool to stop reading. I have thoughts that I need to remove from my head that are not so spoiler-free as the above mini-review. For a unspoiled first viewing…


OK, now that the kiddies have gone to bed we can talk about this in more detail.

Confusion_of_Tongues You see, as soon as it became apparent that the virus was carried through language, two things popped into my head. The Tower of Babel, and Snow Crash. For those unaware, the Tower of Babel is a bible story that explains the diversification of language. The basic story is that for the generations after the great flood, humanity was united under a single language. They gathered together and decided to build a tower so tall that it would have it's top in the heavens. Unfortunately they did it as a symbol of the glory of man, not of God. This pissed God off for a variety of reasons so he confused their language and scattered them to all corners of the globe. Hence why there are so many languages.

Snowcrash The novel Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson, uses the story of the Tower of Babel to suggest that there is a forgotten language that all humans have an innate understanding. This awesome cyberpunk novel talks about the original language working like a computer virus that infects our minds instead of our computers, allowing us to be controlled. Once again, it’s the understanding that causes the infection.

Ever since I first read Snow Crash, I’ve found it to be an incredibly intriguing thought. Now that I’ve seen seen Pontypool though, I can’t help but add a small degree of terror to that intrigue. It’s well established within the horror genre that “the unknown” is infinitely more frightening than the “known”. Add to that a complete inability to protect yourself. I mean, seriously, Grant said it. How do you make yourself not understand something? What if you didn’t even know you understood it?? *Shudder* It’s enough to keep you up at night… night… I mean, not day, it’s not night… night. night. night… *pop*pont

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Badass, The Magnificent Bastard, and The Crazy

Otherwise know as The Good, The Bad, The Weird.

Quad People who know my love of South Korean cinema know I’ve been dying to see this movie. Well it just so happens that I found a job after only 2 weeks of searching so I rewarded myself with the purchase of this film. I didn’t get it for a steal. I paid full price and was happy to do so. I’ve been trying to find this bitch for as long as I’ve know it exists but I often have an allergic reaction to paying full price for movies (note: full price for movies in Perth is $25). Considering I recently ordered 3 movies for less than that online (including shipping), you can see why it pains me. But I decided to splurge.

Thank God I did. It was oustandingly fun and hilarious. The basic synopsis is that The Magnificent Bastard (AKA The Bad, Lee Byung-hun) is hired to steal a map from a Japanese official. The fun starts when The Crazy (AKA The Weird, Song Kang-ho) steals it first. Bounty hunter The Badass (AKA The Good, Jung Woo-sung) just wants The Magnificent Bastard (don’t we all!) because he believes he’s the notorious Finger Chopper. Meanwhile, the independence fighters want the map, as does the Japanese army. The word “hijinks” doesn’t even come close.

good-the-bad-and-the-weird11 The real superstar in this is The Crazy. The comedy he brings to this role is just brilliant. I knew Song Kang-Ho was capable of being funny (even the most serious role I’ve seen him in has a touch of humour to begin with) but I hadn’t seen him in an intentionally comedic role. I’ve said it before, South Korean comedy kills me. I was laughing loudly throughout. However, The Crazy also has the benefit of being the most developed character, which also helps set him up as the favourite.

good-the-bad-and-the-weird1 After The Crazy, The Magnificent Bastard gets a decent amount of development as well. Why do I call him that? Because that’s what he is. He’s magnificent in his nasty ways, from laughing at his old boss before killing him, to shooting one of his own men to steal his horse. He’s damn good, and damn good-looking, and he knows it. He’s one of those irritating shits who has a right to be as cocky as he is.

good-the-bad-and-the-weird3 The Badass doesn’t really get much in the way of development, but if there’s one scene where he shines it’s the uber, mega, chase/gunfight. From the moment The Badass joins the chase and the music changes to the classic disco track “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by Santa Esperanza, I was hooked. In fact, it’s how The Badass earned his new name. Riding a horse, shooting a rifle, he reloads by spinning the rifle around his finger. Bad.Ass. THEN, he turns around and rides back into the Japanese Army.

This is the kind of film that gets referred to as a “rollicking good time”. If you have someone you’d like to expose to South Korean cinema without frying their Hollywood-fed (or starved) brain, this’d be a good place to start. I urge everyone to give it a go.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Infernal Affairs vs The Departed – one gals opinion

Heeeeey! Ya found me!

Yep, this my first post as Rach On Film (though all my previous Rach’s Media Opinions post are still here). Why did I change? Because :)

200px-Infernal_affairs 200px-Departed234 So, just prior to my 4-Week Subtitle Sensation I purchased the Infernal Affairs trilogy. It took a while, but I finally watched it. Naturally it blew me away, but it also got me thinking about The Departed. I knew that the stories were very, very similar (except that one involves the Triads and the other the Irish Mob) but I found them SO similar that it’s actually changed the way I see The Departed.

Let me explain. When I first saw The Departed, I was suitably blown away. The story was ingenious, the acting superb, and the direction masterful. As with most Scorsese films, the brilliance was in the smaller details. After watching it, I found myself going back over it over and over again in my head. It’s a sign of a great film when it sits in your mind and refuses to leave you be. So, what the fuck am I whining about?

Simple. Most of the things that utterly impressed me about The Departed appear in the original Infernal Affairs. My favourite plot twists, the joking dialogue about if you’re looking at the gangsters but pretending to do something else then you’re a cop, the entire cinema scene, all of them were written by the original writers (Alan Mak and Felix Chong). It leads me to form the opinion that Master Scorsese should not have won Best Director and the film should not have won Best Film.

Now, before you all lynch me, I’m not saying Scorsese doesn’t deserve AN Oscar, we all know he’s been robbed time and time again. I just feel that this wasn’t the movie he should have won it for. And yes, the film is brilliant, but I have incredibly strong feelings about what movies deserve awards and what don’t. Number 1 on my list of attributes a “Best” film should possess is originality. If that means that no remake should ever be eligible, then so be it.

infernal-affairs_l Or maybe I just prefer Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu Wai to Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Sue me.