A Couple of Monster Movies (with subtitles)

So, I don’t want to rain on Anthony Lane’s parade, but I’m not sure I get all the love flowing toward Bong Joon-ho and The Host. It’s an entertaining genre movie, for the most part, and it does stretch generic conventions in unique ways, but I’m not entirely sure it adds up to a coherently good film (and it could have benefited from a few more judicious cuts). If you want a good monster movie, this ain’t it (I’d recommend Carpenter’s The Thing, Spielberg’s Jaws, and Dante’s–with caveats to John Sayles–Piranha). If you are interested in a film about a histrionic dysfunctional family who band together over the loss of a loved one while traveling in a van, well . . . insert your own Little Miss Sunshine plug here. If you like your foreign films to couple wall-to-wall action with an incisive critique of post-industrial, post-Cold War national identity, I’d say Beckmambetov’s Night Watch is the better, more entertaining, more culturally engaging genre flick (as Reynolds’ enthusiasm seems to suggest when he pointed us to the trailer for part two of that trilogy). If you like narratives about the ironies of miscommunication in a digital world, I’d say pop The Departed (or even Infernal Affairs) back in the DVD player. I guess I’m saying I’m not the fan I thought I would be and that’s too bad . . . I’ve been tracking this film with great enthusiasm for well over a year. It’s a solid film but nothing I want to see again with any zeal (though there is a lovely moment over dinner where a missing character’s presence is so deeply felt, she finds her way into the mise-en-scene . . . I wanted more of that and less of everything else). I also think the film has some gender issues worth examining, particularly in the way a “changeling” appears to make everything a bit more ok in the film’s final moments.

Monster movie number two? Continue reading A Couple of Monster Movies (with subtitles)


i liked shadowboxer very much. this is a little, ambitious-slash-pretentious film that i suspect no contributors to this blog will want to watch unless dragged to it by wild horses — i hope i’m wrong. helen mirren and cuba gooding jr are a team of hired killers who are also (adopted) mother and son and lovers. their different colors (as in skin) and age difference makes them triple taboo breakers, which of course is one of the main attractions of this film. director lee daniels is not timid about this. rose and mickey are frequently shown in bed and in various tender situations. their love for each other is, arguably, the main focus of the film. the visual representation of their relationship, though, betrays hidden complications. in one scene, mickey is asleep at the bottom of the bed, curled up, while rose lies normally, head to bottom. in the extras, lee says he didn’t want to show them side by side. i don’t know what kind of hierarchy he meant to emphasize, but the racial one is the one that jumped at me in that moment, even though mickey’s fetal position at the bottom of the bed evokes the mother-child theme as well. Continue reading shadowboxer