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.
It's always difficult to put a play on the stage. Actors and crews work hard amid many setbacks that can happen on and behind the stage. If they are lucky, they will survive today's performance with descending curtain and some fulfillment. Then they will have to struggle for another performance tomorrow with today's performance faded into yesterday.
It sounds gloomy, but people in "The Dresser"(1983) stick together and try to go on while believing they are accomplishing something in spite of their mundane reality in and out of theater. At one moment, one character confides to the other about her life spent on theater business: "No, I haven't been happy. Yes, it's been worth it." Norman, played by Tom Courtenay, can say the same thing if asked.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul's latest movie "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" scored some points from me at the beginning. After the enigmatic opening sequence featuring a cow and the jungle shrouded in strange atmosphere, the following sequence with a car going along some country road drew my attention. The land was different, the trees and plants surrounding the road were also different, and the climate was also different, but the mood was somehow familiar to me.
It was not different from what I remember from our family's occasional short journey to my grandmother's country village. We also went there by a car, we also went along a paved country road, and I used to pensively look at the landscape outside car while a little bored in backseat.
Revenge is served raw and simple in "Bedevilled"(2010). The movie delivers exactly what it promises to us, but that is not for free. There are barbarous scenes that make you wince, and then there are bloody scenes that make you cringe, but this South Korean revenge thriller has gallons of emotions to spurt on the screen in its sad, wretched character. It carefully prepares its ground while seemingly following the typical formula of revenge movies featuring abused heroines. It continuously accumulates explosives beneath its surface as the plot progresses. And then, when the time comes, it explodes its anger magnificently like a harrowing bloody aria.
Spending almost two hours with the relentlessly drunk character is not a pleasant thing at all, and it is also not easy to watch the man who chooses to abandon himself to his own hell. He is almost near at the bottom. All he can do is moving further to the final destination he has been reaching for. He still has some fancy about getting out of his torment, but it only reminds him that he has already crossed the line. He screams out of frustration near the end of the movie, "It's not possible -- not in this world!"
John Huston's "Under the Volcano"(1984) poignantly looks at one of the bleakest states of mind. This is a sad portrayal of a man struggling with his addiction and the agonizing contradiction resulting from it. As one character in the movie says, no one can live without love, but he cannot accept it even if he has desperately yearned for.
The movie is mainly about one unfortunate day of the former British consul Geoffrey Firmin (Albert Finney) who has been stuck in Cuernavaca, Mexico. According to him, he resigned his post for himself, but that may be not true considering his present state. He is a drunkard going through the final stages of alcoholism where the drinking is necessary for getting "sober." He says he can deal with his addiction ("Surely you appreciate the fine balance I must strike between, uh, the shake of too little and, uh, the abyss of too much"), but his abstinence is just the brief moment of looking at his glass. His body soon craves for alcohol, he frantically searches for the bottle, and, after satisfying the need, he passes out.
While it is one or two steps behind "Dr. Strangelove," "The President's Analyst" (1967) is a very good black comedy sniggering at Cold War paranoid. Maybe it's not as ruthless as that great comedy, but the movie romps cheerfully on its subjects with a take-no-prisoner attitude. And during this loony joy ride we eventually discover that the movie foretold something very accurate more than 40 years ago.
We have seen many psychiatrist whose lives become more burdensome than usual thanks to their unusual patients in the movies ("Analyze This") and TV series("The Sopranos" and "In Treatment"), but I think no one can top our hero Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn). His new patient is none other than the president of the United States, the most powerful figure in the world who incidentally does not appear on the screen.
Sang-hoon is a terrifying piece of work. He is someone you never want to mess up with. He is callous, narrow-minded, vulgar and, above all very volatile. Whenever his hair-trigger fury erupts, there's more than hell to pay -- and that happens often.
Even when his temper relatively abates, he is still difficult and hostile to communicate with, probably even with himself. In the opening sequence, we see a young woman being beaten by some guy in the night streets. Sang-hoon appears and he savagely beats that guy. And then, he spits at her, smacks her, and insults her.
When I observed the lifestyle of Ryan Bingham in Jason Reitman's wonderful movie "Up in the Air" early in this year, Lawrence Kasdan's 1988 movie "The Accidental Tourist" came to my mind. Like Ryan, Macon Leary (William Hurt) knows a lot about traveling around by plane. He can tell you how to pack your bag as small as possible.
There must be many ardent admirers who know far more than me about Fritz Lang's "Metropolis"(1927), one of the great movies in the 20th Century. They will provide you more detailed and accurate knowledges about this unforgettable masterpiece after watching, no, experiencing it. So, I think I have to talk about my experience during the evening of May 4th and my several thoughts, instead of making a fool of myself by talking about what I do not know well.
Legendary movie critic Pauline Kael formally recognized Morgan Freeman's talents in her review: "Morgan Freeman may be the greatest American actor." It's hard to argue with that title now, but it was in 1987 when she wrote her review for "Street Smart."
From the perspective of more than 20 years after its theatrical release in the US, it's rather surprising to think that this small, flawed movie boosted the career of one of the great American actors of our time. It garnered him his first Oscar nomination (he lost to Sean Connery in "The Untouchables") and that was just the start. He has been nominated for an Oscar five times in total and received the Oscar for best supporting actor for "Million Dollar Baby". He is now one of the most formidable actors in Hollywood and is consistently watchable on the screen.
The movie I want to talk about is Korean Movie "The Chaser". I watched it in early 2008 and I hadn't had much expectation since watching its trailer. However, after watching the movie, I chose it as one of the best Korean movies of 2008.
Several weeks ago, Mr. Ebert gave enthusiastic review to this terrific film and I decided to talk about it as one of Korean audience.