Set It Up
A solid romantic comedy with sharp dialogue, amusing characters, and a few surprises up its sleeve.
Seongyong Cho was born in Jeon-ju, South Korea. He did graduate work at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science
and Technology (KAIST) in Dae-jeon. His passion
for good movies continues its primitive rampage, which includes weekly pilgrimages
to the local multiplex. He started his blog in 2008 and writes nuumerous reviews. In the midst of that, he manages to find time for
books, music, exercise (usually treadmill and swimming), and corresponding
with other bloggers.
Streaming on Netflix Instant
When I watched "The Intouchables" (2011) at the local movie theater several months ago, I got a nagging dissatisfaction with that crowd-pleaser, which was about the warm friendship between a disabled man and a caregiver hired by him. The movie was surely a pleasant drama with two amiable lead performances, but I found it too mild and superficial; it merely loitered around thin stereotypes and worn-out clichés and it went no further than that.
Sometimes an actor's face tells so much about his character that the movie doesn't have to waste its time describing the character's past to us. Roger Michell's "Venus" (2006) doesn't tell us in details how famous its hero was as an actor, but that's not a problem because he is played by Peter O'Toole, a living legend who gave us a bunch of memorable larger-than-life characters including Henry II of England, Eli Cross, the 14th Earl of Gurney, Alan Swann, and, above all, Lawrence of Arabia. When we look at him in the movie, we instantly remember how magnificent he was, and that aspect is naturally incorporated into his character.
There have been many horror movies about deranged characters and their insane deeds which make most of us cringe. As a diligent moviegoer, I have frequently encountered such movies, and I found some of them were enjoyable while others were repellent. While I saw a sense of humor in that ruthless South Korean horror movie "I Saw the Devil" (2010), my eyeballs were rolling in disbelief and disgust in the case of a movie called "The Human Centipede" (2009) and its more atrocious sequel.
Watching Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report" (2002) again through Blu-ray made me muse on how much my life with movies has changed during the last 10 years. When I watched it with my father at one of the big movie theaters in my hometown on one summer day of 2002 July, we were not yet familiar with multiplex theaters, and I watched movies mainly through VHS while infrequently going to theaters. DVD was slowly attracting my attention and I eventually bought a DVD-ROM drive for my computer in 2002 October. And I was not particularly interested in downloading movies from Internet; why do I have to watch movies in my small dorm room when I can enjoy them at big theaters?
You may find it disturbing to see audiences laughing while watching "The Exorcist"(1973), but you will probably not see any problem in having some laugh with "Rosemary’s Baby" (1968). It goes without saying that they are two of the most chilling modern horror films, but, while the former unsettles us with its utmost solemnness parodied many times since it came out, the latter has a spooky sense of humor immune to parodies. How can you make an effective parody to undermine a horror film if it already has a devilish tongue slyly placed on its dark cheek?
When Jeremy Irons won an Oscar for his icy but humorous performance in "Reversal of Fortune" (1990), he thanked David Cronenberg at the end of his acceptance speech. He had a very good reason; in Cronenberg's unforgettable medical drama "Dead Ringers" (1988), he gave a stunning performance, or a pair of stunning performances, as the peculiar but prodigious twin gynecologists who are threatened by real emotions and then plunged into the self-destructive chaos where the only exit for them may be becoming one again, as they were conceived at first in their mother's womb.
When I watched a film directed by François Truffaut for the first time during one Sunday afternoon in 2008, I had a little expectation about the movie, which was shown on TV as "Pocket Money." Although I was already familiar with many of Truffaut's famous works including "The 400 Blows" (1959) or "Day for Night" (1973), I had not heard about the title, and nor did I know that its alternative title in North America region was "Small Change." Funny thing is, I remember that alternative title very well because Roger Ebert said in the introduction to one part of his book Awake in the Dark that he still could not explain how he came to choose "Small Change" as the best film of 1976 instead of "Taxi Driver" (1976), which he placed on No. 2 on his annual list.
When David Fincher's "Zodiac" (2007) was released in South Korean theaters, it was immediately compared to a famous South Korean film. That movie was also based on the infamous serial killing case still remaining unsolved to this day, and it is also about the desperation, frustration, and obsession of the people who wanted to find the man behind the horrific killings.
A professor at my department who studied neuroscience, once told us something you have probably heard elsewhere: If you think you're crazy or getting crazy, that means you are not crazy because crazy people do not know that they are crazy. This sounds like the famous dilemma in Joseph Heller's "Catch-22." I thought it was useful advice for students who had to deal with lots of pressure and stress in the academic process. It could also be good advice for the hero of "Take Shelter" (2011), because he thinks at first something is wrong with his head, but cannot ignore what disturbs deeply him. He tries to quell his mental turbulence as much as he can, but is transformed into a more disturbed man obsessed with visions attacking him every night. It is possible that he himself is the threat to the family he wants to protect, not the catastrophe of epic proportion he fears.
Looking back at when I watched "Life, Above All" (2010) last December, I discern that I'm a more jaded person than I think. At one point in the story, I wondered if its heroine really had to do what she was determined to do. I understood her motive, but I thought it might be better for her and her family to leave the problem alone because there was really nothing she could do for changing the circumstance. However, it was what should have been done, her heart knew that, and I was eventually moved by her determination while recognizing that she was right after all.