The Chaser

Insert interesting post here. Damn good–often nerve-wracking, strangely silly at times, blackly sarcastic, then horrifying, then a gut-punch emotional wallop. This is a serial killer flick, of sorts, out of South Korea — a corrupt ex-cop (a sweaty,sleazy, superb Kim Yun-seok) now a pimp, finds that some of his “girls” are going missing. He’s pissed — they’re running away, or some asshole’s selling them, after all the money he paid himself. . . and the film opens with him sending another escort out, only to realize that it’s to the same john who was the last customer for the long-gone women. . . And the film bites down hard on your nerves, razor-blade editing slicing us back and forth from potential victim and killer to angry seeking pimp, but it is (really) very familiar, and then: boom. It shifts. Suddenly the film hangs an abrupt left and it’s going in directions you hadn’t expected, and it begins to slowly ratchet up the tension again.

The performances are strong, the editing superb, director Na Hong-jin shoots with plenty of unobtrusive style… it’s like a great Sam Fuller film, pulpy and histrionic yet smart and then smart-ass and then sincerely melodramatic.

I got a region-2 disc, and I don’t think it’s out here yet–but keep an eye on Netflix. Pretty damn good.

Die Weisse Band (The White Ribbon)

Michael Haneke’s latest, subtitled “a German childrens’ story,” is an austere, black-and-white, period film set in a small, northern village a dozen or so months before the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Beautifully photographed, rigorously self-disciplined, and meticulously crafted, The White Ribbon plays like mid-career Ingmar Bergman without the joie de vivre . . . and that’s not such a bad thing. Narrated by the village schoolmaster—who openly acknowledges he is an unreliable witness—some thirty or so years after the events depicted on the screen, the film opaquely yet convincingly illustrates Foucault’s dictum that power functions as a locus of struggle. In the film this struggle appears to be between an ambiguously malevolent group of children, their soft targets, and the authority figures (baron, doctor, pastor, the steward of the baron’s estate, fathers, husbands, etc.) who exercise discipline and control over said youth, who will, presumably, freely participate in the atrocities of Nazi Germany fifteen to twenty years down the road. Continue reading Die Weisse Band (The White Ribbon)


There’s been a bit of talk, here and there, on this blog about Cameron’s digi-romance 3D thrillride, but I thought it deserved its own thread. First of all, I’ve seen quite a few films made with the latest 3D technology, but this surely is the finest yet. I don’t want to go into the story too much. It is, as Chris pointed out, Ferngully (I’m taking his word, as I have not seen it). But it is also Aliens (Ribisi doesn’t quite manage to outdo Paul Reiser, but he comes close). Bad corporate interests, good-intentioned scientists, an ambivalence about technology Continue reading Avatar