Jenny's Year at the Pictures #2

7.) Chinjeolhan Geumjassi
(Sympathy for Lady Venegeance) (2005)

If I thought Buffalo '66 was original, I'm also the first to admit that it doesn't even hold a candle to Sympathy. In my book, this Korean film from director Can-wook Park is revelatory, not only for its crisp execution of cinematography, or sumptious mise-en-scene, but it's all around-ness. yes, the ever-allusive all-aroundness. This is a film that delivers in all capacities visual and emotional. With all its blood and anger and hatred, without any sound, any dialogue even, this is one of the most beautiful films I've ever watched. But that is unfair, as the entire picture, sound and story included, are exemplary. Please see this films if you haven't and you love movies. I will say, Lady Vengeance is not for the weak-spirited or stomached, prepare yourself for terribly vivid violence, stylized, but severe.

6.) Zwarteboek (Black Book) (2006)

Last year was a big one for Jenny and Paul Verhoeven - my coming out year if you will. Tanner schooled me in Total Recall, RoboCop and the uberimpressive Starship Troopers (and for all of those who hate on the latter, shame on you, it takes guts to make a film that relies on beautiful, vapid actors and satire, especially one about nazis!) Black Book, for me, is the creme de la creme of these pictures. This WWII picture about a Jewish singer (the impressive and beautiful Carice van Houten) who escapes death and becomes a spy who falls in love with a Nazi may, on the outset, seem too campy and improbable to be worth watching. Not so my friends. This is a beautifully vibrant picture, supple and lush, that skillfully blends the horrors of war with boobies. In all seriousness though, I find Black Book to be among the most upsetting (and rewarding) movies I saw last year. It's intelligent, unusual, and downright entertaining. One of the criticisms of this film is it's pulpy nature, leaving many viewers feeling that it lacks depth or heart and is too reliant on Verhoeven's love of all things naked. But let me tell you, seeing van Houten naked is at times titillating, but at others disturbing, and others still it'll downright make you nauseous. And if you still don't believe that Verhoeven is capable of making a truly touching picture, one that doesn't rely on guns or dolled up sci-fi or Sharon Stone, than watch it for Carice van Houten's breasts. She has the nicest breasts I have ever seen.

(And this is coming from the girl with the nicest breasts I've ever seen. Sorry mom. -Tanner)

5.) It Happened One Night (1934)

Perhaps you, like myself from time to time, watch the old timies and think 'well sure, i suppose it was good back then' but can't help but feel undeniably detached from the picture because it's simply too dated. I assure you, this is NOT the case with It Happened One Night, Frank Capra's thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy about a wealthy heiress who runs away only to meet a handsome reporter looking to publish her story. You'll never guess so I may as well clue you in: they fall in love. Sure, it may sound pat, but this film not only remains one of the finest of a genre that has turned to tripe in the past fifty years, but also swept the 1934 Oscars, winning for Best Picture, Best Actress (Claudette Colbert), Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Director, and Best Writing. The acting is superb, and much like the script to an audience members utter delight, very intelligent. What's that, did she say a smart romantic comedy? I did! Perhaps that what I liked most about this movie, outside of Colbert's anti-heroine spitfire and Gable's washing of the entire screen with smarmy charmy goodess, the pure brains. Like many films of the day (Grand Hotel and the later His Girl Friday are great examples if you're interested), It Happened One Night uses snappy, witty dialogue. It's quite fun to get jokes that aren't dumbed down and run right past you - oh - there's one, don't miss it!

Alexander Andrews: Oh, er, do you mind if I ask you a question, frankly? Do you love my daughter?
Peter Warne (Gable): Any guy that'd fall in love with your daughter ought to have his head examined.
Alexander Andrews: Now that's an evasion!
Peter Warne: She picked herself a perfect running mate - King Westley - the pill of the century! What she needs is a guy that'd take a sock at her once a day, whether it's coming to her or not. If you had half the brains you're supposed to have, you'd done it yourself, long ago.
Alexander Andrews: Do you love her?
Peter Warne: A normal human being couldn't live under the same roof with her without going nutty! She's my idea of nothing!
Alexander Andrews: I asked you a simple question! Do you love her?
Peter Warne: YES! But don't hold that against me, I'm a little screwy myself!

How can Clark Gable talk about hitting women daily and still be so damn magnetic? Watch the movie!


jay said...

I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen any of these yet.

Park Chan-wook's "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" and "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" are both in my Netflix queue. The only film I've seen by PCW is "Oldboy", which I thought was fantastic.

In my opinion, filmmakers in Korea and Taiwan (Sang-soo Hong, Tsai Ming-Liang, Hou Hsaio Hsien, etc.) have produced some of the best films of the past decade.

Tanner M. said...

I'm in agreement with Jenny on the goodness of these films - As for the Chan-Wook films, you better get right on them Jay, i think Mr. Vengeance is my favorite of the whole bunch, though they're all so good it's hard to be certain. Mr. Vengeance is the most... real (?) of the trilogy, not relying on as much implausibility, humor or action hero action scenes... Not that those don't work to perfection in the other two movies. This one i guess, is just wearing it's heart on it's sleeve a little brighter. I can appreciate that.

Jennifer said...

jay - i'm shocked! although, looking at your tome of a home movie list did put a little egg on my face as there are too many on it I haven't seen. first, you must see sympathy for lady vengeance, which if you liked oldboy will not disappoint, and then we can watch sympathy for mr. vengeance together as I have not seen that one yet!
It Happened is the second old timey on the list jay, we're 0-2. so i suggest you and i go back in time - joan and norma and greta oh my!

jay said...

It's true--though I've seen hundreds of films made prior to 1970, a very large percentage of them have been films made outside the U.S. It's definitely time to start watching some domestic classics.