Saturday, April 22, 2006

First "Repulsion," then "Silent Hill"

So, as you can guess from my oh so clever title, I saw "Repulsion" at the the Film Forum. It was good, but that's not the point, the point is this...first of all oh my God, and second of all are you serious? You can't spring a B noir movie film festival on someone like that. Seriously, I will be going broke because of this.

Anyhow, back to Silent Hill.

SPOILER ALERT!!!....honestly, the story is inconsequential, but in case I bring something up I don't want to surprise anyone at all


I need to call up my old survival horror game crew and inform them that this movie MUST be watched. Because it's a great movie?, not really, but it's great in the sense that it's a pretty awesome representation of the mechanics of the Silent Hill universe.

The writers and directors actually seemed to have played the games. It's such a great recreation of the feeling you get playing the game. I was very impressed by the layers of Silent Hill that was captured too. The normal world, the foggy (in the case of the film, smoky) world and the rust world. For those familiar with the games, it's a nice familiar jaunt to sit back and fall into, for those unfamiliar, I think it's still a cool kick just because it is unfamiliar.

Now, considering how things ended, the movie ended as a bad+ (maybe double plus?)...which was an interesting choice I think (for those of you unfamiliar with the game, Silent Hill games have several types of endings considering how you do, they can be good or bad), but even good endings in Silent Hill were ever really good. The bad part is afterwards I kept turning in my head how the movie could've played out to not be a bad ending as if I was playing the game ("Hmm...maybe if they didn't let that girl Anna die...or if Rose didn't get injured so much...or if Rose didn't let Cybil get captured and killed...what if Rose didn't let the demon into her body..."). *that's* depressingly geeky.

What's cool was how familiar the soundtrack was. I at first wondered if used the game's composer, but no, the composer based it on the game's soundtrack, which was still pretty interesting. Nonetheless, the Silent Hill series has such a great soundtrack that this was welcome, in whatever form.

What surprised me a bit was the unbelivable amount of sudden violence. Don't get me wrong...Silent Hill is a pretty disturbing graphic game, but much of the violence was suggested through the town and the monsters since the game suggests that Silent Hill is the hell of the person. For example, in the first one, we're talking about the world created through Alessa, in the second one it's the exploration of James' guilt, etc. So the city is rusty (looking almost bloody), the monsters reflect the violence committed (such as child rape suggested by the Abstract Daddy monster from SH2). Any other violence against actual characters is limited to attacks which really aren't violent. Even in SH2 where deaths occur numerous time, it's not as harsh or tortuous even.

This movie, however, seemed to relish a lot in protraying violence done against persons. The death of Cybil is distractingly and gratuitously drawn out. The final bloodbath involving the death of the church/cult members just seems uncharaceristic of not just the game (which yes, is a separate entity I know), but how the movie was so far. The death of Christabella was just...uncomfortable in more ways than one.

Oh...and Pyramid Head...can't leave him out...I am deathly afraid of Pyramid Head. Seeing him come on the screen actually made my heart stop for a second or so.

Overall, great game movie. Considering other game movies out there....this was actually well-done. Considering that I think the first "Mortal Kombat" movie (no, not the subsequent ones, not at all) to be a pretty decently created game-based movie, it's pretty self-evident how dismal the market is for that.

Friday, April 07, 2006

So a funny thing happened on the way to see Neko Case...

Well first off, it was an AWESOME show. I love Neko Case and Martha Wainwright was brilliant too.

Also, probably one of the best stage banter I've heard. It basically revolved around Neko Case and Kelly Hogan deciding they would like to start a band called "Merkin Donuts" with Neko on Steinberger bass and Kelly playin' the rock flute while both wore harlequin body suits...with plans to play Dave Chapelle's block party if he ever does one had to be there honestly.

And Webster Hall is crazy. I always walked past it...never been in it. The outside totally fools you. I had the same reaction I did when I walked into Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago for the first time, and honestly it's got the same ballroom conceit, except I have to say, Webster Hall has interesting decor. Gold reliefs on the wall depecting astrological, Buddhist, mythological, and anything underthe sun figures. There was also a huge retractable disco ball...basically the type of place Merkin Donuts would play.

But back to my setup. So on my way there, I walk past Virgin and hear live music. Not weird since they have bands come in and play sometimes, but it was weird that the song was familiar. It took me ten seconds to realize it was Rainer Maria playing "Artificial Light." It was like I decided to walk into some hipster nexus/Bermuda Triangle or something...

...this setup usually requires a punchline...hmm, didn't think one BOY are my arms TIRED!

Thank you! I'm here all week, try the veal! Tip your waitress!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Korean "Brokeback Mountain"?

"Gay-Themed Film Gives Closet Door a Tug". Once again, a NYTimes article so will require signing and will probably be gone in a couple days.

"King and the Clown" is HUGE in Korea. Lee, Jungi, the actor who plays the feminine clown Gong-gil is so popular, it's not even funny.

One thing I find interesting is how weird the English title is. The original Korean title translates into "The King's Man." I don't see what made it necessary for the change.

The article mentions the incident with Hong, Suk-Chun. The mostly comic Korean actor who was ostracized from Korean television for coming out as a gay man. Tall, skinny, with his distinctively bald-shaven head, it didn't really come as a surprise when he did come out. He was a Paul Lynde type character, made famous by playing effeminate comic roles. If I remember correctly, his most popular being the fashion designer/boutique owner in the hit Korean sitcom "Three Men, Three Women."

Soon after Hong, Suk-Chun came out of the closet, he all but disappeared from TV. I still remember how one day, a couple of months after it had happened, my friend and I were out and about as usually in the E-dae (Ehwa Women's University) and Hong-dae (Hong-ik University) area, and while transferring at a subway stop we walked past someone who I was sure looked awfully familiar.

"Hey...I think I just saw Hong, Suk-Chun," I told my friend who hadn't seen him, but after a short while I convinced her we should go follow him. When took off in the direction I thought I saw him go in, and when we finally caught up with him at the tracks of one subway, gasping for breath, I asked, "You're Hong, Suk-Chun, right?"

The look on his face was indescribable. He looked nervous, ashamed, and unsure all at the same time. We could both barely hear him as he nodded and said yes, looking around to see if anybody else was looking at us. We asked him for his autograph and he signed our planners, still looking unsure about the whole thing. He had probably gone through a lot, and I don't know what things happened to him whenever he got recognized in the streets, but just as he finished signing the note paper in our planners, his train pulled in and we smiled and thanked him as he quickly slipped into the train. He didn't break a smile or look anything less than uncomfortable the whole time and I remember how sad I felt and wondered if we should've just left him alone.

I wish the article went more into detail about the transition of how homosexuality is viewed in Korea. Korea is a society where homosexuality is not accepted, true, but where it is being "accepted" in a sense is obviously with young people, and mostly in the realm of the arts. Nonetheless, I'm skeptical how this will really change anything.

For example, when in 1997 Wong, Kar-Wai's "Happy Together" came out, it was welcomed with acclaim, and people seemed to think, surely this will change how society thinks of homosexuality. But did it really? I don't think this movie was popular for the subject matter, it was popular for being a Wong, Kar-Wai film. It came out hot on the heels of "Chungking Express" and "Fallen Angels,"

How about the popularity of Ha, Ri-Su the transgendered singer? Honestly, I was skeptical because she didn't seem to be more popular than as a novelty act. If Ha, Ri-Su wasn't a beautiful looking woman, and was a bald gay guy like Hong, Suk-Chun had been, would she have been as accepted for coming out? This was something a lot of people pointed out, and frankly I agree with them that this didn't show any real acceptance on Korean society's part, but more or less she was pretty, and good for show biz. On top of that, all it did was play into the stereotypical role of transgendered/cross dressing people as being only suitable as entertainers. You can visit clubs in Itaewon with all transgendered/cross dressing revues and nightclub performers. Many of them "imported" to Japan to perform at clubs there.

Interestingly, Ha, Ri-Su did pave the way for an all transgendered group known as Lady.

So back to the point of "King and the Clown." Do I think the popularity of this movie means anything? Maybe, who knows, but the cynic in me wants to speculate that the producers were also trying to pander to the popularity of yaoi comics among young women in Korea. It was a slow evolution really. So you have the gorgeous pretty boys were already popular for a long while now, so the popularity of yaoi doesn't really surprise me because it's almost like the exact same reason why guys like girl-on-girl action.

Anyhow, I don't want to be too big of a cynic. The movie managed to find an interesting topic within the usually stale historical drama category by dealing with the lives of travelling entertainers. I highly suggest reading up on these folks. They were mostly outsiders of society also so the change in how society viewed these people is another topic on its own.