I’ve watched three movies lately worth mentioning here:
- 똥개 (“Ddongkae”, which was given the English title “Strayed Doggy”yes, doggy.) This movie was quite a strange one, chock full of all kinds of acknowledgments of things that you don’t see widely acknowledged in public, like that even a family man and a relatively “good” cop with a conscience can be on the take, or that being a dabang girl is a gateway to be a massage parlor girl (which means being a prostitute). Yet the film isn’t a political one, not really. The politics of it, actually, seems to be “simple folk” versus “corrupt” folk, with cops kind of wavering in between. The bullies who made the protagonist’s life hard in high school become gangsters, while he becomes a kind of quasi-gang memberalbeit a gang ore focused on vigilante justice, in the end, and most of the time something more like a social club. I don’t know exactly what else to say about it, because it’s like some other movies lately that have simply defied definition for me: it’s not just a comedy, whatever else it is.
- Shallow Grave. Lime hated this film, though I suppose I should have known that. The word she uses for this kind of movie is “cruel”, which is apt I suppose, though normally in English we just say violent or nasty. Shallow Grave is nothing compared to Quentin Tarantino… on a violence scale, and Tarantino film surpasses Shallow Grave within only a few minutes of its commencement. Yet the psychological savagery that follows, the complete breakdown of the friendship, the horror of all of it, is scarcely to be believed. Except I find it slightly more believable than any other possible outcome in this film. Once David loses it, the ending becomes inevitable; no alliance can stand through it, and someone, only the cleverest or the one with the most twisted imagination, will walk away with all of the moneyif indeed anyone at all will. (The ending has been the subject of some heated debate, and if you don’t mind spoilers, you can see one thread of it here.) What happenedthe total collapse of the relationshipsat least in my opinion, was inevitable once David went mad, and quite possibly long before, perhaps even from the start.
A lot of people don’t like that kind of story, the story about how easy money brings out the absolute worst in people, how clever people often use their cleverness to make other people do their dirty work, about how clever people usually have no compunction about screwing someone over, regardless of how shameful it ought to be. The madness, the betrayals, the horror all proceeds quite logically from all of that money, simply because it’s not legally easrned. And yet, the legality of it scarcely seems to matter.
No, to me this movie seems more like a kind of mythological narrative about capital, a fairytale about the introduction of money into the human world, and what it renders us; not “money” as in money earned on a wage, byt normal people like you and myself, for examplerather, it’s about the obscene amounts of money that transform into power, that bring the temptation to turn on one’s fellows and that make it seem almost worth it to many people. Read in this light, it’s a damning statement about the deep psychology of money-as-power.
It’s also a simply crisp, brilliant thriller, of course.
- Lastly, today I watched Mr. Hitch. I don’t have much to say about it in the way I did the above movies, but it was amusing enough, and Will Smith did some alright acting in it… something I haven’t seen since he played himself in that movie with Ben Affleck, what was it called? Ah, yeah, Jersey Girl, a film I saw on a plane somewhere that wasn’t brilliant, but did have a nice cameo by Smith.
You might have noticed that I normally link to reviews by Darcy Pacquet for any Korean films I mention here, but this time I couldn’t because he’s not reviewed “Strayed Doggy”. However, I did find this piece on the man himself, and his day job, interesting.