Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sympathy/No Sympathy

Why are American critics coming down so hard on Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr Vengeance? It seems like it's feeling the pain of an Oldboy backlash, which is a little unfair, since it was made beforehand, and I think it's in many mays the better movie anyway. US reviewers just don't seem to have the stomach for this Korean director's brand of ghoulish hardboiled pulp, and you can be sure those slavering "fanboys" (is this us?) get blamed in every negative review for "predictably" going ga-ga over Park's grisly stylings. I'm hoping the estimable Walter Chaw at Film Freak Central, whose 4-star Oldboy review was one of the few to acknowledge Park's obvious debt to Greek tragedy - Aeschylus, he thinks, though I'd say Euripides - will right the balance. Yes, the movies are exercises in stylish torture, up to a point. But they deal in archetypes, they take care to build emotional resonance in every scene, and for anyone looking they culminate in astonishingly poignant ways. The whole point of the aptly titled Sympathy for Mr Vengeance is that it invites just that.
: A-
Sympathy for Mr Vengeance
: A-
Sin City (for the record, fanboys): B-

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