Baby It's Cold Outside

Oh man! As much as I love the look of fresh-fallen snow on the ground, and the silence that accompanies an early morning when you gaze up and see lovely huge snowflakes drifting lazily down from the heavens, it gets to be a bit of a bee-yotch when you have shovel 13" of it!

This was the scene from my doorway around 8:00 AM, just after I spent an hour fruitlessly digging out the driveway and sidewalks so Gerri could get to work this morning. Curse you CVS for always remaining open! It's still coming down more than an inch an hour. Luckily I stocked up on provisions, and will be spending the day with books, movies, and heaps of hot food.

Seems like it's going to be an Asian festival all weekend here - saw two fantastic movies yesterday: SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE and 3-IRON.

SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE (the Korean translation is actual "Vengeance is Mine") is the first installment in director Chan-Wook Park's Revenge Trilogy, a series of films that each takes a different look at the theme of revenge (of which the spectacular OLDBOY is the second film).

Ryu, a young deaf mute is desperately trying to save enough money to afford a kidney transplant for his older sister. Due to the red tape at the hospital, he turns to a dubious back market organ service where he promptly hands over his life savings, gets hid kidney removed, and is left for dead in an abandoned building. After being fired for missing work, and at the end of his rope, Ryu and his militant leftist girlfriend decide to kidnap Ryu's former boss's daughter and hold her for ransom.

From here things continue to get worse and worse for Ryu in a series of episodes that build upon each other in a way that leaves you cringing and laughing at the same time. We've all had those days where things can't seem to get any worse, and then suddenly get much worse. Park throws this all together with a visual style that is part Tarantino, part Spielberg (the crane shot where we watch kidnappers and victim playing in the park as it slowly rises to shoe the enormous city is beautiful), and all Park.

There's much more to the film then Ryu's misadventures and gropings for revenge. Park's theme for this installment plays on a revolving door of who's entitled to exact revenge. Perspectives and protagonists shift and change, as we are taken to the viewpoint of another character (his former boss) and see how the search for vengeance is never how we expect it. The ending is the most tragic of the three films - at the end you're left feeling that it was all for nothing; no choices could have prevented the inevitable outcomes.

A great movie with unexpected twists and depths to it, and a perfect beginning to what will follow in the more over-the-top exploits of both OLDBOY and LADY VENGEANCE.

3-IRON is amazing. One of those films that is a shame to explain to someone - you have to see it. A cross between a film and a poem, it's the follow-up to director Ki-duk Kim's incredible SPRING SUMMER FALL WINTER...AND SPRING.

The basic set-up concerns a young man who spends his days breaking into people's houses and, well, living there. Wearing their pajamas, fixing their broken appliances, doing their laundry. And then leaving before the actual owners return. What happens when he breaks into a secluded mansion and discovers later on in the evening that a young, beaten woman is still in the house provides the foundation for Ki-duk Kim's meditation on love and the elusive pursuit of what lengths we will go to in order to reunite with our soul's mate. The style and pace of the movie is purposely quiet, slow but assured of it ultimate goal, echoing the actions the action taken by both the leads. The moments of humor that are interspersed throughout keep you secure in the knowledge that 3-IRON is going to stop at many places along the way, but will find itself in perfect balance at the end.

There's so much going on in the film that to go on too long would threaten the sweet surprises in store for a new viewer. So I'll end with some personal observations: When it was over, I spent the next hour giggling and jumping up and down, dying to talk to someone else about this movie. My wife was extremely patient and tolerant of my ramblings (reason #452 why I love her). Not being able to see where the movie ultimately winds up is one of the things that make 3-IRON so wonderful. I hesitate to say anything more, except that everyone should go out immediately (unless you're in NYC, where you should just stay inside, man!) and see this. You will laugh. You will cry. You will think it's better than CATS.

I have a lot more little updates to do - should get to them later. I have some pics and updates concerning the ongoing donation saga, and some other pics to put up as well. Right now though I think I have to go out and shovel again.

Damn, this snow is really a love/hate thing.