Friday, June 22, 2007


Yesterday, after safely navigating the US Special Passport Issuance Office, and my lunch, I took the train to AFI's Silver Theater* for a double-feature. The first was Ichikawa Kon's very compelling film the Makioka Sisters (Sasame-yuki, 1983),* a melodramatic tale of four orphaned sisters of the distinguished Makioka family, struggling to maintain an antiquated lifestyle in modernizing Japan. Well, its about a lot of things: one sister rues the onus of being eldest while another sister strives to maintain family harmony (by marrying off a third sister, in love with the second’s all-too-obliging husband). The fourth sister is the youngest and the brassiest: she cannot marry before her reluctant elder, though she keeps getting engaged just for attention. The movie includes many wonderful moments of realism within society's strict confines: a pretty obi squeaks annoyingly or a sister graciously picks tea leaves out of her teeth, examples of the surefooted relationship these women have with their breeding. Throughout the movie, these characteristics mount effortlessly to render the intertwined nature of the rich main characters, backed by the seasonal precession of Japanese holidays. I thought the plot complexities untangled themselves rather too conveniently by the film's final Cherry Blossom Festival, but this did not diminish my enjoyment at all. The second movie of the evening was Sang-soo Im's pitch-black and Kubrickian comedy the President's Last Bang (Geuddae geusaramdeul, 2005),* fictionalizing the people and events leading to the October, 1979 assassination of South Korean president Park Chung Hee. The blood-soaked and largely impromptu conspiracy comes to a head during a drunken night in a Korean CIA compound, revealing the quirks and ineptitudes of Korean law enforcement and further demonizing Park's despotic presidency in particular, and the government in general. The bracing stuff is just as interesting as the horrifying humor. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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