Category: Movies/TV

Kimcheeeee!

A while back, I posted about a movie review I’d seen which described The Foul King as “possibly the Citizen Kane of Korean wrestling movies”.
Well last night I managed to catch the last 3/4 of it on SBS and I can say that that description is categorically false. It’s more like the Rocky of Korean wrestling movies combined with the Bananas of Korean wrestling movies. There wasn’t a minute of the film where I didn’t have at least a grin on my face, and most of the time I was laughing my ass off. Practically nobody in the movie speaks below a shout, and a good deal of the film is taken up by Howard Dean-like martial-arts yelps of the “YOOOOAAAAAAUUUUGGGHHH!!!!” variety. The leading man, Song Kang-ho, has a very appealing goofy sweetness and is an incredibly adept physical comedian. Surreal, hysterical, and featuring some awesome Korean new-wave pop on the soundtrack. I haven’t had such a brilliant time at the movies in ages. Highly, highly recommended.

Ad lib

Some of the more, er, unusual ads I’ve seen on Australian TV lately:
–A chain of supermarkets is promoted with a claymation stick figure dancing a slow tango with a chili pepper.
–An utterly nightmarish beer ad begins with a sleeping man’s tongue disengaging from his palate. The disembodied tongue then slides on the floor through an ongoing house party to a throbbing techno beat. It retrieves a bottle of beer and slides back to the bedroom, where it re-enters its owners mouth along with the beer bottle. I suppose the man then enjoys the beer, no worse for having his tongue removed and reattached.
–The Dodo ISP has always been promoted by an animated blue dodo bird. Their newest promotion, for their new mobile phone service features the main dodo rapping (?!) with the support of three scantily clad female dodos (dodettes?) seductively cooing, “Talk to me, Dodo”. Quite.
–A home loan broker is represented by a race of hideously ugly, eyeless alien blobs training as if for an athletic competition.

As advertised

I have Clive Thompson’s Slate article on computer games to thank for pointing me in the direction of a site which has just demolished the better half of my morning: http://www.TelevisionWithoutPity.com. Truly, the title does not disappoint.
Its raison d’tre, in my humble opinion, are the delectably snarky multi-page episode reviews, which are aeons removed from the terse synopses found on most TV guide pages. I have read posts by several different authors, and truly, this is cultural satire that Christopher Buckley or Joe Queenan would be proud to have written.
Doppelganger quite hilariously deflates The West Wing’s bloated self-importance. Heathen makes lunchmeat of the once-great ER. I may love Oz, but Couch Baron helps me see the lighter side of all that shanking, anal sex and drug taking:
Gym. Schillinger and Said confer quietly, much to the consternation of their respective followers….In the cafeteria, Said placates his men with this: “Like it or not, that man is a child of God. Now I have made a commitment to Allah to defend the rights of all prisoners inside of Oz, not just the ones of color. Not just the ones who believe what we believe or who pray as we pray.” In much the same spirit, Schillinger informs his crew, “That nigger’s gonna get me out of here.” And just when you thought these two were going to sit down and sing “Ebony and Ivory” to each other. I would have enjoyed that.
Critics’ raves do not confer immunity. The much-lauded Six Feet Under comes in for a savage lambasting from Aaron, who admits
I may be in a slightly snarkier mood than normal.
And how. He slickly exposes the manufactured Quirks™ of SFU’s pseudo-faux-magic-realism.
And the above are all shows that I like and watch. I haven’t yet had the heart to visit the TWoP pages on such televisual pollutants as The Simple Life, The Anna Nicole Show, Newlyweds, Temptation Island, or WWF Smackdown.
I think I am going to be spending a ludicrous amount of time here.

Disaster Movies

Perusing the TV guide the other day I noticed that Escape from New York was listed. This fairly average movie from 1981 is set in a futuristic 1997 where New York City has been turned into a giant maximum security prison. Quite a laughable notion.
But back in the 1970s and early 1980s, the disaster movie was all the rage. Hollywood delighted in giving us movies that depicted things going wrong in a bad way. The Towering Inferno (1974), The China Syndrome(1979) and The Terminator(1984), all depicted terrible things happening to people, and depicted the future as some nightmarish place, ruined by nuclear war, or a dystopia of nightmarish proportions.
Hollywood might drive the agenda, but audiences respond too. Whatever ‘values’ Hollywood might wish to impose, its first imperative is to make money. So when the “Disaster” movie genre stopped striking a chord with voters, it stopped making money.
It may just be me, but didn’t these movies stop appearing about the same time the Cold War ended? The fact that people did not want to see these movies might reflect the increasing optimism with which the public faced the world.
If that is true, then what are we to make of the popular success of a movie like The Day after Tomorrow. The fear has changed shape, but it revives the old formula and gives us a view of a ruined future. Does the commerical success of this film, grossing over $180 million, suggest that the public is ready, once again, to be told messages of despair?

Look What The Cat Dragged In

The theme of Batman is that of a traumatized millionaire who encounters villains who have descended even more deeply into madness than he has. The trick to successfully transplanting this on film is to create screen villains who are at least as witty and engaging as they are tragic. Nicholson, Jones, and Carrey pulled it off. (I have not seen Batman and Robin.) But Batman Returns is a depressing flick that makes Hamlet look optimistic by comparison, even though the body count in the latter is much higher. The insanity of Penguin and Catwoman is so overwhelming that the audience has little sense of victory after Batman wins in the end.
The most ludicrous character is Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. Her origins are downright silly, even by comic book standards: she is pushed out a window several stories high, licked into consciousness by stray cats, vandalizes her own apartment, and develops a feline obsession, leather fetish, and cornball feminist braggadocio (“I am Catwoman, hear me roar”).
But at least the costume looks good. I haven’t seen the flick, but I’ve seen stills from Halle Berry’s Catwoman, and if this is the start of a trend it looks like the new generation of superheroines and supervillainesses will be outfitted by misogynous French fashion designers. Berry’s costume is more unattractive than sexy, and the mask is downright ugly. Patience Phillips? The James Bond molls don’t have names that goofy.