a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Tongue-slicing, giant dildos and the changing of the guard

Ichi the Killer
(2001, Takashi Miike) [B-]

I suppose had this been my first or even fourth Miike, it might have blown me away. But it’s not, and it didn’t. Miike has a habit of coming off like one of those ‘giallo masters, what with the combination of heavy (and, with him, deadpan) longeurs and show-stopping gore (or, more often, suggestion of same -- as always, Miike relies on careful editing that, as we all know, is all the more unsettling). And the big moments are both plentiful and appropriately shocking; I half feel like starting a poll on which moment was the craziest. The hanging tatooed dude who gets treated to scalding water? The tongue-slicing? The exacto-blade-to-nipples trick? Miike sustains a level of debauchery and heightened reality that makes each of these a bit easier to take -- hard to get bugged by the vertical-cutting bit when the effects look so (intentionally) cartoonish -- but I wound up less interested in Tadanobu Asano’s well-dressed mafia nutcase than I was by Ichi himself, finally deciding that I wished the movie was more about him. (Then again, given the manga origins and anime successors, the movie ultimately comes off like the weirdest, most unassuming orgins-of-a-comic-book-antihero ever.) Springs to life intermittingly, and not only for the Big Moments, but still too much of a rough draft, even for Miike. What about either of the women screaming while their necks let loose some mean arterial spray?

Save the Green Planet!
(2005, Jeong Jun-hwan) [B+]

I’ll contend that this is one damn derivative South Korean entry -- this really needs to be updated -- but I’d like to think of it more as an F.U. to Hollywood calling cards, a statement of purpose that the SoKo market flourishes so strongly that turks need not emigrate to be successful. Jeong is more smooth than most at the tonal switcheroo; the whole thing goes down easily as a nutso remake of Imposter, complete with funky hats, five-foot dildos, skin-shavings, and a swarm of descending bees whose victim tries to shoot down with a pistol, one by one. Rarely challenging but always engrossing, its central mystery -- is the businessman really from Andromeda? -- is held nicely in the air till the final moments, even allowing for some sympathy switcheroos. Maudlin moments integrated painlessly and with deft restraint, although the end credits too abruptly have a vague Amelie-ness to them. Sort of.

Lastly, as promised, both by him and in the subject header, md'a reveals end of the world as we know it. Not that you couldn't have seen that coming -- my six month-old Mini iPod is already off the market -- but it's something even multiple watchings of The Terminator and countless dystopian fare never prepared me for, even if those per se aren't what's on the horizon. Also, Naked is fawesome.


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