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Old 07-27-2014, 12:15 PM   #14321 (permalink)
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Snowpiercer

At this point in time we have had three prominent and visionary South Korean directors make their English language debuts. Chan Wook Park made “Stoker” that didn’t impress me too much besides some good acting from the cast. Kim Je-Woon made “The Last Stand” last year and while I haven’t seen the film yet, it’s safe to say that it was not what was to be expected from the director of “I Saw the Devil”. Finally, after numerous battles with Uncle Harvey, Bong Joon-Ho was finally able to release his apocalyptic sci fi thriller set aboard a train with an infinite engine of sorts. His film ended up being the best out of all three films by far.

The plot of the story is simple. Take the last surviving humans following a chemical freezing of the Earth, stick them on a train, and see what happens. What ended up transpiring was a class system where in everyone in the back of the train lived in conditions too horrible to be eve described by the word “poverty”, and everyone in the front lived in luxury. It has been seventeen years since the train first departed and there are many inhabitants on the train that were born there or were too young to remember the way the Earth used to be. The train is their Earth now. It’s all they know. All they know is confined to a few cars trailing behind the mystery that is the rest of the train. I few uprisings have occurred in the past and they have remained on the same talking plane as urban legends. That’s not going to last long though as we’re immediately put in the beginnings of another planned uprising, this time led by the brave and intelligent Curtis. Curtis may not have been born on the train, but he hates remembering what life was like in the beginning before his mentor changed things. That mentor is Gilliam, played by John Hurt and the evidence of his wisdom and experience is visible when you see that he has only one leg and one arm. Curtis is joined by fellow tail citizens Tanya and Edgar, played by Octavia Spencer and Jaime Bell.

The front is a mystery. We only know of its existence due to the fact that there is a small army handing out the only food available to the rear, protein blocks. The tail is also often visited by Mason, played by the woman who stole the entire movie in terms of performance, Tilda Swinton. Swinton was just incredible during the entire film. Her character of Mason, buck teeth and wide glasses, is a total reincarnation of something Terry Gilliam would think up. She is calculated and incredibly cruel. Her statement to the tail section to “be a shoe” is one of the funnier segments in the film and Swinton nails it. Between her work in this film and “Only Lovers Left Alive”, Swinton is probably my actress of the year so far.

I mentioned how funny Swinton is in this film but there is actually a lot of humor in this film. Bong Joon-Ho has always been great at blending genres in his film. Kang-ho Song has usually been the harbinger of the humor shown with his characters in “Memories of Murder” and “The Host”. The elements of humor mixed in with effects driven action and unhollywood plot twists make the films of Bong Joon-Ho a pleasure to watch and dissect and Snowpiercer is no different. As we travel through car after car, the worlds that are being built are just outstanding. Like the inhabitants of the rear, we are shocked to see what has been existing on the same train for nearly seventeen years. There seems to be no middle class as once we progress past the dangerous threats we are given view of some serious luxury. It’s not really that subtle, but you can see the symbolism that Bong Joon-Ho really doesn’t like the way the world works. By the end, the film gets a little too tongue and cheek for my liking. It got way too talky towards the end and seemed to deliver the message of society rules with a gigantic shovel. Don’t get me wrong, the ending is still one of the more unique ending twists you’ll see, but the message being shoved in my face was a little too loud for my taste. I felt it went against the smart and subtle first two thirds.

I use the word “subtle” loosely though because the action in this film is far from it. There are two set pieces in this film that were an absolute blast to watch. Let’s just say they involve a school and a fight in the dark. The school scene particularly was incredible. Allison Pill plays a schoolteacher who is constantly reminding her students of the history of the train and it’s uprisings. The way she engages her children through song and pledges had me belly laughing before it all turned into a baddass set piece. There is also a scene in which everything stops as they cross a bridge marking the new year. It’s just a riot scene after scene.

Bong Joon-Ho successfully converted his unique blend of humor and thrilling action to create the first truly great English language film from a South Korean director. The country has been pumping out fantastic films for years now and it’s awesome to see this level of critical success. I think Wook Park and Je-Woon will get opportunities to try again in the States, but they have a lot of catching up to do to reach the level that Bong Joon-Ho has reached.

4/5
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Old 07-27-2014, 03:12 PM   #14322 (permalink)
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Under The Skin

Woah. Bob was right. This film is a game changer. I'm not even going to write a review on my website yet until I've seen this a couple more times. It's just that kind of film. I think rather than doing that I'm just going to scatter brain talk about what I just watched in short musings. I need to let this sink in before I write a piece on it. Perhaps more in depth analysis will come from any discussion n here...

The score is pretty amazing. I'm listening to it as I type this. "Love", a track that is played during probably the most important scene in the film and one of the most beautifully impacting scenes I've seen in a long time, is a f*cking amazing piece of music. It's so beautiful yet so unsettling which is what the film was for me, an unsettling gorgeous piece of art.

The opening shots are very kubrickian in composition, but unique in how Glazer introduces us to our main character. The darkness contrasted with the bright whites, as if something is being created in front of our eyes was really neat and sucked me into the film from the get go. We immediately know that this person we're seeing is not of this world. The fact that she's learning our language is equally as unsettling.

The whole hidden camera technique that Glazer used was genius. We have these unsuspecting men being lured in by a beautiful woman when in fact they really are being tricked into being cast in the film. Something just wasn't right every time on the screen and I think some of these men felt that, especially the deformed man.

The beach scene with the swimmer was one of the bleakest things I've ever seen.

The way she lures men is almost like a Venus Flytrap. The liquid trap scene scared the living **** out of me. I've never seen anything like that before.

I think it's safe to say that if I was one of those guys that she tried picking up, I'd end up like everyone else. Scarlett was just mesmerizing the entire film. Besides being seductive as all hell, she portrayed somebody not of this world extremely well. She's really starting to come into her own as far as acting goes.

The landscape shots of Scotland were gorgeous. It just added to the overall creepiness and unnerving feeling I had throughout the film. There wasn't a moment that I wasn't uncomfortable. Even during the love scene I was certain something awful was going to happen.

There are too many scenes that occurred where I have no idea what happened. I need you help on some of those bob. Maybe more time will uncover those.

Yeah. This movie is a f*cking masterpiece. I think I'm going to watch it again tonight before I got to sleep. Let those dreams try to work the cogs out of this one.

5/5

Last edited by Exo; 07-27-2014 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 07-27-2014, 04:36 PM   #14323 (permalink)
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Snowpiercer

i agree 100%....the school scene was so fucking weird that it drew me so much further in than i thought i would go with this film....and probably my absolute favorite scene

in all honesty one word comes straight to mind when i reflect on this film...."Brazil"....Bong Joon-Ho had to be paying some major homage to Gillian's Brazil....that train felt so much like his dystopian society it was beyond a homage and more of a continuation....even that opening scene of planes reminded me of Brazil

i agree 100% about Swinton...in Grand Budapest Hotel she was an adorable and very well done up old maid.....in this she was a hilarious totalitarian....and in Only Lovers Left Alive the perfect example of the woman of my dreams (except for the drinking blood part....although i think i could get used to it ).....she is really batting a hundred this year

i think by the time Evans got to Wilfred i had an idea of just what was actually going on....but that mainly had to do with Wilfred's reception of him.....and me thinking of just how this type of situation could actually work for 18 years....but i was still surprised at Wilfred's explanation

Under The Skin

ok exo....i know i just sent you a message saying that The Congress is on VOD and you should watch it.....but you may want to let Under the Skin settle....The Congress is a very different type of disturbing surreal ride

i felt the whole movie had such a perfect concentration on long thought out shots....and that it added so much to the general feeling

and yeah this film is worth watching just for....what i would call "the black scenes"......you have never and probably will never see anything like that again

i agree with you wholeheartedly man....this film is a true masterpiece....even the soundtrack will likly be on my top of list at the end of the year
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Old 07-27-2014, 04:55 PM   #14324 (permalink)
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Yeah, I'm going to wait a couple days for The Congress. Like I told you, I'm going to rewatch Under The Skin tonight before I go to bed. One reason is that I just REALLY want to see it again, and the other is to let my brain fully process the film as I sleep. I feel I'll have a better understanding in the morning. One thing is for sure...

How the f*ck am I going to narrow down films to a top ten list at the end of the year? This has just been an incredible year for cinema fans.
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Old 07-27-2014, 04:58 PM   #14325 (permalink)
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i know man.....and we still have some of the big boys on the way

P T Anderson's Inherent Vice opens at the New York Film Fest!
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Old 07-27-2014, 05:01 PM   #14326 (permalink)
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The whole going to find Wilfred thing, was giving me a Wizard of Oz feel. The ragtag team going to find the mysterious figure behind it all. I figured that he would have just been some unremarkable person or he doesn't even exist anymore and that maybe it was a machine/robot running the whole thing.
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Old 07-27-2014, 05:05 PM   #14327 (permalink)
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i got the impression that he was dead also
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Old 07-27-2014, 07:56 PM   #14328 (permalink)
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The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

One word can describe every Wes Anderson movie I've seen: delightful. This film is hilarious, it's got Bill Murray being his usual badass self, and on the flip side of things Owen Wilson doesn't play Owen Wilson for once! Great film, I'm kicking myself for not watching it earlier.
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Old 07-27-2014, 08:18 PM   #14329 (permalink)
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Old 07-27-2014, 09:45 PM   #14330 (permalink)
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My favorite line in that movie.
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