Friday, September 9, 2011

10 Years, 100 Movies: The 2000s Redux.

I've been gone missing for what seems like ages and I never did finish this list. It's now been revived, refurbished, and is relatively ready for a reliable readership. I don't know how frequent these posts will be but hopefully I can keep things steady (and intelligible). This is going to most likely be a pretty short post but as I move up through the list I'll try to expand on things more and more provided my free time isn't diminished by more immediate responsibilities. Now enough of my rambling and let's jump right back into the thick things and begin with some rough attempts at movie speak.

100. Oldboy (Chan-wook Park, 2003)

The second film in Chan-wook Park's vengeance trilogy is the one that brought the greatest attention to the Korean director even narrowly missing out on Cannes Film Festival's Palm d'Or award. An American remake is even in the works with Spike Lee recently announced as its director. Oldboy follows Oh Dae-su, a man locked in a hotel room for fifteen years without any knowledge of the reasons behind his imprisonment. Upon his release he learns that he has five days to find his captor and discover those reasons for his forced hibernation, but he soon discovers that his imprisonment was just the first portion of his mysterious tormentor's plan for vengeance.

Though Park's films are plenty provocative they are not merely exercises in shock and like the first installment in the vengeance trilogy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy is structured as a compelling counter revenge thriller unraveling to a thoroughly shocking, taboo shaking conclusion. As the film unfolds there is a curious shifting balance between Oh Dae-su and his captor both becoming hardened yet tragic figures by the the movie's end.

Based on the handful of his film I have seen from the past decade, Park may be at the head of the pack of Korean talents that include the likes of Ki-duk Kim, Joon-ho Bong, and Jee-woon Kim (among others). Park's films from the 2000s, including his vengeance trilogy and others, pack the same kind of verve, energy, and dynamic visual presentation as some of the films from a young 1970s Martin Scorsese and are even becoming more sophisticated as time passes. Oldboy seems to be the first step towards that eventuality after the highly satisfying, yet inferior, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance as Park moves onwards to even greater things.

Films from 2003 on List:

Oldboy (Chan-wook Park)

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