Monday, June 14, 2010

Watch out! It's that slithery mutant monster

It’s been awhile since I tuned into TVO’s (TV Ontario to American friends) Saturday Night at the Movies. I remember when good ol’ Elwy Yost helmed the show – for years and years - and years. But Elwy these days no doubt is watching movies to his heart’s content on his houseboat in West Vancouver since his retirement from TVO over 10 years ago (!) (we're getting old).....In any case, after watching another DVD (A Little Romance; George Roy Hill, 1979 - not a lot to recommend it) the other night, I began to channel surf and landed on a film. The film was Asian and, in the frantic nature of many Japanese films, showed scenes of mass panic. At first I thought this was not much more than a cops and robbers flic. Then I realized the film was being shown on TVO so it had to be a notch above the ordinary. But there was also something that kept holding my eye. The scenes were emotionally-charged and fast-paced. As well, there seemed to be a deeply touching human story told against the surreal backdrop of the modern concrete cityscape – of overpowering freeways and viaducts and bridges.....It turns out this was a monster movie! But not just any monster movie, you see. It had a message......The film is called The Host (Gwoemul) made in 2006 by acclaimed South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho. (The film remains the country’s top-grossing movie.)....The plot revolves around a family – more particularly, a father’s - search for his daughter, who is captured by a slithery monster that jumps out of the Han River......In post-movie commentary I learned the monster was the creation of the dumping of chemicals into the river. So it’s obviously an environmental allegory. And of course the culprit is an American military base (gotta’ blame the Americans of course)......There are some non-Korean cast members including American Scott Wilson and Canuck David Joseph Anselmo.....All in all Joon-Ho impressed me so much with his direction that I’ve now rented his Memories of Murder (2005), Tokyo! (2008) and Mother, scheduled for release July 20.

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