Sunday, February 01, 2009

Deconstructing a Hollywood Remake

The Uninvited vs A Tale of Two Sisters

This article contains spoilers about both films. Proceed with caution.

Based on Kim Ji-woon's 2003 chiller, A Tale of Two Sisters, the Guard Brothers' first feature, The Uninvited (2009), is, at its core a mediocre fright film aimed at 13 year old girls. And although it comes rather late in the seemingly endless J-horror (or, technically K-horror in this case) remake cycle, an examination of the differences between the two films actually manages to provide some interesting insights into the differences between Asian and North American culture and audience expectations.

The first major difference is, of course, the title. The Korean title of A Tale of Two Sisters is Janghwa, Hongryeon, which can be translated literally as "Rose Flower and Red Lotus". The Korean title comes from the Joseon-era folk tale on which it is based, about two sisters put upon and eventually murdered by an evil stepmother. The English title brings the relationship between the two sisters to the forefront, whereas the Korean title is actually the names of the two girls from the folk story. For the Hollywood remake, the name was changed to The Uninvited, which takes the girls out of the picture all together and puts the emphasis clearly on the haunting/ghost aspect of the story. It also thoroughly confuses those familiar with Lee Soo-youn's 2003 Korean horror film, 4 Inyong Shiktak, which was released in North American as The Uninvited. Other than both dealing with ghosts and being uncommonly elegant and moving, Lee's film and Kim's have little in common.

Another key difference is the shift in focus from the older, more assertive sister in Tale to the younger, more fragile sister in Uninvited. In Tale, Soo-mi (Lim Su-jeong) has just been released from a mental health facility after suffering some sort of nervous breakdown (which is never really explained), but upon returning home she immediately becomes confrontational with her step-mother, Eun-joo (Yum Jung-ah) and protective of her younger sister Soo-yeong (Mun Geun-yeoung. Eun-joo, frustrated by Soo-mi's insolence, turns her anger towards the passive Soo-yeong, which only fuels Soo-mi's teenage rage.

In The Uninvited, it is the younger sister, Anna (Emily Browning) who was institutionalized after a suicide attempt stemming from her having witnessed the death of her terminally ill mother in a (hilariously spectacular) fire. Upon returning home she immediately seeks out her older sister Alex (Arielle Kebbel), who is sassy, irresponsible and bikini clad for much of the film. It is also Alex who first raises suspicions about the role their father's new girlfriend, and incidentally, their mother's nurse, Rachel (Elizabeth Banks), played in their mother's death.

While a subtle difference, making the more "innocent" sister the protagonist plays directly into North American notions of purity and victim-hood. Were Anna to have been immediately confrontational with Rachel, one assumes that the audience would have felt less sympathetic towards her. This serves mostly to increase the shock of the final twist, which also greatly differs from the that in the original film. However, making Anna the "virgin" also better aligns her with the North American horror tradition of the "last girl".

Differences in attitudes towards sex and sexuality are also clearly evident in the way the protagonists are portrayed in the two films. Uninvited opens with a scene of Anna making out with a boy, but she ultimately pulls away from him as he starts to become aggressive. Older sister Alex, on the other hand, is implicitly more sexual and Rachel is clearly portrayed as a sexual temptress, complete with a drawer full of lacy underthings and a metallic dildo. Anna is also given a love interest who seems to hold a key piece of evidence to what really happened the night of her mother's death, a character that is completely absent from Tale. In fact, the concept of boys is altogether absent from the Korean film and burgeoning sexuality is hinted at. It could even be argued that sex and issues related to female sexuality are the major themes of The Uninvited, since it is implied at the end of the film that Anna's psychosis was triggered by her having caught her rather engaged in a sexual act. Not really that surprising as this is a standard preoccupations of North American horror films.

The mood an tone are also strikingly different between the two films. Whereas Tale is a baroque fairytale set in a dark and mysterious house, Uninvited is much more glib and sunny which ends up undermining much of the intended horror. Tale is as much a tragedy as it is a horror film and the prevailing feeling of deep sadness inherent in the way it was shot and scored, as well as the actors' performances, are what ultimately fuels the horror aspects. It functions largely as a mood piece with minimal dialogue, while Uninvited didactically spells everything out for the audience and includes such charming lines as, "[s]he's like a crack whore, only without the dignity."

However, it is the treatment of the mentally ill that most distinguishes The Uninvited from its Eastern inspiration. In Tale, Soo-mi's father (Kim Kap-su) is a doctor and his inability to help his daughter is what fuels his frustration. Although we are never told what kind of doctor the father is, it is clear that he feels he should be able to help her, either as a doctor or as her father. His emotional impotence and his compounded guilt is heartbreaking, yet his silence in the face of what is revealed to be an incredibly ill girl could be seen as too foreign to a spoon-fed Hollywood audience. And so in Uninvited, the father (David Strathairn) is given the much sexier occupation of writer and his frustration with his daughter is portrayed more as a result of the disruption to his life her return has caused than out of any real concern for her health. Because his exposure to to the true depth of Anna's illness does not happen until the very end of the film, we never get the sense of heartache that Tale exploited to such marvelous effect.

In Kim's film, the fact that Soo-mi has multiple delusions only serves to reinforce the horror imagery and the audience ultimately feels great sympathy towards her, especially at the end of the film. The Guard Brothers' take, on the other hand, feels much more like a case of bait and switch and the result is that the viewer feels manipulated and unmoved. Whereas Soo-mi is a girl struggling and ultimately unable to come to terms with tragedy, Anna is a cartoon psycho, straight out of central casting.

Whether the failings of The Uninvited are the result of studio interference, mediocre film making, or the Hollywood need to dumb everything down to the lowest common denominator is unclear. But the original premise and a capable and talent cast could have yielded something much more interesting. But then again, I guess it already did.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Weekend Round-Up: Bloodshot Bill, Goodbye K.C. & Whisky

Friday: Due to a problem with the internet at work I got to take off early, which was awesome because it meant I could crack open a couple beers and continue my full frontal assault on my laundry which had been collecting on my floor for the better part of three weeks. Once things were approaching sanitary, I made my way down to the Esco for Bloodshot Bill, a one man rockabilly band.

The opening act was also super fun, they're called The Kid and had a sort of psychedelic 60's sound to them. Also, the lead singer was hilarious in his skinny pants and pointy white loafers. He even let me shake a maraca during Bloodshot Bill's set.

Thing I'm learning is that I need to start being careful going to rock shows by myself. While the attention is certainly flattering, it ends up being distracting to the show. I had no less than three suitors vying for my attention, but I just wanted to get my dance on, which I did.

Saturday: Feeling the effects of my over indulgence, Saturday was a decidedly slow moving affair. L came to pick up the cat around noon, but instead of starting the de-fur-afying of the apartment I went back to bed since my meeting had been pushed to Sunday. At some point I agreed to meet MJ to try to help her with her computer, but slept through the appointed meeting time and agreed that it would be better if I just stayed home.

Made a couple calls out West and then curled up in a blanket and set about catching up on the mound of films piled under my TV. First up was Little Miss Sunshine, which I really enjoyed, but probably not as much as most people. However, it was the perfect antidote to my foul mood, so there was that.

Next up was Sidney Lumet's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, which while well acted and written, suffered from some technical flourishes that ended up being rather distracting. The nonlinear plotting was fine, but the forced strobing effects used to signal a change in time/perspective were pedantic and useless. Also, Ethan Hawke was so fucking twitchy I wanted to see him hurt, badly, which didn't really happen. At least not enough for my tastes.

Sunday: Another pretty lazy day. Went for my weekly bagel run. Finished off Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and made some calls out West. Tidied up the house a bit and then made my way to the office for my meeting with MJ and Taien. Since MJ is going to leaving for Korea for close to 6 months next week, we needed to have a sit down to discuss who would take care of what. Didn't take too long and afterwards we contemplated going for a drink together when Taien pulled out a bottle of whiskey, so we opted to do that. A few drinks later MJ and I stumbled over to Sago for some sushi and then I walked home. Made some more calls West and started watching the Darjeeling Limited, which I plan to finish tonight.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Long Weekend Round-Up: NYC, Canadian Thanksgiving & Fletcher Tattoos

Photos pending

Friday: Got up bright and early to catch the train to NYC to spend Canadian Thanksgiving with my Fletcher brethren, Rock, Slim and Linda. Packed entirely too much stuff to occupy myself on what ended up being another 12 and a half hour ride through purgatory (actually, Upstate New York) and ended up mostly listening to Broken Social Scene, knitting and reading The Atrocity Exhibition.

Got to Penn Station at 10 PM where I met up with Phil and Tina and jumped on the train to their place in Astoria. Got to meet their doggy, Trixie, drank wine and ate greasy food at Mike's, then passed out on the couch.

Saturday: After a suitably late start, Phil and I headed out to the East Village to price tattoo places on St. Marks Place. Met up with his friend Amber in the park and ate stupidly delicious hummus with sauteed mushrooms at a restaurant called, appropriately enough, Hummus Place. Hung out for a bit and then called my old UBC drinking buddy Andy to arrange a meeting place in Williamsburg.

Met up with Andy and got some cheap and delicious tacos and frozen margaritas, then headed out to Greenpoint to catch his buddy's show. I felt super bad because I ended up nodding off during the set, but it turned out my brief siesta was much needed because the evening ended up turning into quite the adventure.

After leaving the Red Star bar we went back to Manhattan for someone's birthday at the eleventh street bar. Unbeknownst to us it was actually a costume party, although only about half the bar seemed to be participating. Costume highlights include the woman dressed as Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction, complete with a stuffed rabbit in a pot, a guy dressed as Alex my droog from Clockwork Orange and no less than 3 Sarah Palins.

After several cocktails we moved on to someone's loft in the area, but while everyone else was at the convenience store buying more beer I opted for an extra large bottle of mineral water. Partied on the roof to a DJ spinning tunes and managed to sticker one of the Sarah Palins with an Obama/Biden sticker. At about 4 AM I was ready to pack 'er in, but Andy talked me into sticking around to enjoy potato latkes and perogies at some 24 hour dinner in the neighborhood.

Got back to Phil & Tina's at around 6 AM and promptly passed out on the couch.

Sunday: After waking briefly to grab some breakfast with P & T, I passed out again until 3 PM when Bess called to organize meeting up that evening. Ended up choosing to attend an evening of indie/experimental music at the Issue Project Room at the Spiegeltent on Pier 17, which was an eclectic mix to be sure. First up was a noise-rock band from Boston called Neptune who make all of their instruments out of scrap metal and other various things. Next was Tony Conrad, who worked with the Dream Syndicate and krautrock bank Faust, who basically played a modified violin with reverb for about 45 straight minutes. After that was 5 piece blues band.

Being that we were both starving, we ventured up to the lower East side to grab cheap and delicious Chinese food at the Congee Village, where I also enjoyed my first ever apple martini (I know). After catching up over congee and yummy tofu and veggies we both conceded defeat and went our separate ways to sleep.

Back in Astoria I opted to give Louie a call since his plane from Vancouver should have landed by then. Chatted briefly as he was in a cab back to his apartment and once he was settled he came by Phil and Tina's to hang out. Ended up at Mike's again and stayed up until about 1 AM talking.

Monday: Slept a decent amount for the first time my whole trip, then set about helping Phil with his preparations for Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner that evening. I was in charge of desert, so whipped up an old fashioned Quebecois sugar pie & a yummy & spicy sweet potato pie. Other yummy things we prepped included samosa stuffed twice baked potatoes, and a stuffed pumpkin.

At about 2:30 PM Louie came by and he and I made our way to St. Marks Place to arrange for our group tattoos. Luckily they were able to accommodate all four of us and the quote was slightly less than we had originally been told. While we were waiting for the artist to get ready, Louie went up to The Onion offices to grab a copy of the issue with the Sukiyaki Western Django review with my pull quote in it while I waited for Phil. Snuck into Search and Destroy to grab a thank you gift for MC for making sure my cat didn't starve.

Around 4:30 PM Tina showed up and the artist did up sketches of our tattoos. Mine was a little bigger than the others because I opted to get a banner under the house. They were very sweet at the tattoo shop, letting us all take a million photos like the bunch of nerds we are. Phil and Louie left after getting their tattoos to finish the preparations for dinner, so us girls had to tough it out on our own.

Once we were all down we headed back up to Astoria and went straight to Louie's place because we were starving. As soon as we got to the door I was accosted by Louie's friend Heidi, who I hadn't seen in years. Once inside, I proceeded to drink much wine and mingle. Before dinner I helped Louie and his friend Carson from Sarnia put together a YouTube playlist of Canadian Heritage Minutes and Hinterland Who's Whos.

After dinner I chatted outside with a French girl who commented on my Quebecois accent, probably the best compliment I've gotten since I moved out here. I didn't really think about my accent until she mentioned it, but as I was speaking to her I suddenly really noticed the difference between my lazy, low, Canadian French and her more lyric, refined, continental French.

Back inside, things had degenerated into a Rock Band Party, as do most parties I go to these days. Once that started to wind down and people started to go home, Louie got out his Uke for the traditional post dinner Ukulele concert, which went very well, right up until the guy from upstairs came down to ask us to keep it down.

I had started to nod off on the couch when Louie suggested we make a conference call to his parents to tell them about our tattoos, which was funny and lovely. Finally, at around 2 AM, Phil, Tina and I stumbled back to their apartment so I could crash on their couch one last time before scrambling to catch my train home.

Tuesday: Got up at 6 AM and scrambled out the door with my little suitcase in tow and set about getting the supplies I'd need to survive the trip home: food, water, etc. Got on the subway and suddenly realized I didn't have my cellphone. Got off the subway, went back to Phil and Tina's, woke them up, searched the couch cushions and then realized that the damn thing had been in my purse the whole time. Went back out on the street to hail a cab. Forty minutes and $40 later, turned up at Penn Station in time to realize that I'd missed the boarding call for my train by half an hour. After briefly waiting in the Amtrak customer service line, decided to play it safe and asked an elderly police officer where the nearest Greyhound station was. Walked the six blocks to the Greyhound station and bought a ticket for the next bus, which conveniently was leaving in two hours. Put myself directly in the line-up for the bus, since I would be damned if I missed that too, and accepted my bus going fate.

As it turns out, the bus was quite pleasant, and despite leaving two hours after the train, actually got me back to Montreal at the same time the train would have, if not sooner. I even enjoyed our rest stop in Albany. Fuck the train.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Weekend Round-Up: Shows, Shows & Soup!

Friday: Being that I was starting to get a little homesick because I realized I wouldn't be going home for Xmas, I made a date with myself to go see The Evaporators at the Mint Records showcase at Bar St-Laurent 2. Conveniently the bar is a ten minute walk from my house so I spent the evening tidying up and then trundled down just in time to catch Wax Mannequin, a one man prog-rock band, which is exactly as ridiculous and awesome as it sounds.

Next up was The Buttless Chaps, I'd been hearing about for ages but had never been to see. About half-way through their set I noticed someone in the corner who looked strangely familiar. I'd expected to run into some Vancouver ex-pats so I made a point of introducing myself. Turns out she used to work at my local comic book store on Main Street and had been living in Montreal for two years. Just before the second to last act we zipped up to St-Viateur for fresh hot bagels (nom, nom, nom), then nipped back in to finish the show, then exchanged numbers so we could go to movie together some time. Yeah! New friends in town!

Got back just in time to catch one of my new favourite bands (at least they are now, after seeing them live), The Pack A.D. Two women: one on guitar, one on drums, playing amazing striped down blues. Great energy, great sound. Totally check them out if you get the chance if you like that sort of thing.

As per usual I bounced around like an idiot to The Evaporators and I made a point of telling Nardwuar how happy I was that he was in Montreal as I was starting to get a little homesick.

Saturday: Got up hopelessly late and spent most of the day not doing very much. At about 1 PM I went on my weekly bagel run to St-Viateur bagels and stopped off briefly on the way home at the Puces POP craft fair. I had finally tried out Bagel Beaubien last week, which while closer, does not offer flax seed bagels and were kind of lackluster, comparatively. Also, I like people watching in Mile End.

Around 3 PM I finally worked up the will to run the rest of my many errands. First I headed up to Marche Jean-Talon, but got caught up talking to a co-worker and didn't notice that the market was actually closing until it was too late, so I didn't manage to actually buy anything. After that I headed down to IGA to do a quick grocery and almost left without paying. Finally, I went and cast my vote since I'd be on a train most of the 14th and wouldn't be back in Montreal until well after the polls had closed. At least I didn't screw up one task, sigh.

Heated up some leftovers and made my way out to the Drawn & Quarterly bookstore for a vernissage by Jack Dylan (he did a bunch of posters for POP Montreal this year, including an awesome Obey style series of portraits of the four major Canadian political leaders), but there was nobody there so I decided to start walking down to the Just for Laughs cabaret to meet Chris and Lee for the Black Kids show.

Being that I was super early I killed some time drinking a vanilla tea later on St-Laurent and did my best to kill time window shopping/people watching. Ended up being even earlier than I'd counted on by virtue of the fact that the opening act was no longer on the bill.

Didn't realize how hung over I actually was until I started drinking my beer and the fact that my back was killing me didn't help the fact that I felt very, very old as I looked around. I guess that's what happens when I go to see new bands in venues other than dive bars... Didn't really get into the first act, the Virgins, who, as I mentioned to Ali when she arrived, I liked better when they were called TheKillerstrokeferdinands. Opted to leave my perch for the Black Kids, and did have a good time bouncing to the lively, joyful sounds, despite being tired and decrepit.

After the show I went for a beer with Chris, Lee and Ali, despite being rather exhausted, then walked home up St-Laurent.

Sunday: Got up around 9 AM and set about being productive. Went up to Marche Jean Talon and bought a ridiculous amount of vegetables, including some weird broccoli like thing that looked like an angry coral that Chris had dared me to buy the night before. As no one had called me back about going to Puces POP I decided to focus on my culinary plans and set about making 2 kinds of soup and a giant batch of chili. My freezer is now fully stocked for at least two weeks worth of delicious and nutritious lunches (not to mention thrifty!)

Then, to close off my POP Montreal weekend, MC and I went to the Cartune Xprez show, a cartoon-music-performance from the minds of Hooliganship. Difficult to describe, but definitely entertaining. Also, the last part was in 3D, which was super fun. I opted to keep my glasses in anticipation of my Mike Relm DVD, courtesy of the best sister ever since he played in Vancouver but won't be coming to Mtl.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Weekend Round-Up: Vamps, shopping and CAKE!

Friday: A fairly mellow night, punctuated only by a trip to Cinema du Parc to meet up with Chris, Lee & Alex for Daughters of Darkness on the big screen. I was super stoked because star Danielle Ouimet (a.k.a. Valérie) was going to be in attendance. She looked lovely and elegant, radiating the same beauty she did even in her early ingenue roles. She told some very entertaining stories about her difficulties with director Harry Kümel (apparently at one point things devolved into an all-out physical brawl) and her affection for her co-stars, particularly Delphine Seyrig.

I had wanted to ask her for a photograph after the screening, but I totally chickened out. She did seem super nice though, so hopefully by the time I do have my shit together enough to interview her she will be cooperative.

After the movie I opted to walk home, then watched some crap on YouTube before calling it a night.

Saturday: Got up much later than I'd expected, but considering how tired I was from the week I opted not to feel too bad about it. Met up with Alain & MC to walk around and do a bit of shopping. Made the mistake of going to H&M (which, for the record, is the devil) and walked out with what is probably the shortest skirt I have ever owned. I blame the fact that I was having a "skinny" day and everything I tried on looked really good. Also, I deserve clothes that fit me. Yeah, that's it...

After Alain was all shopped out we stopped for Indian food as we all had a craving. I stuffed myself stupid on onion bhajis, extra potato-y saag and some kind of delicious fresh mushroom curry. After dinner more walking was in order, but I'd eaten so much I started to get stomach cramps and had to beg off to take the bus the rest of the way around Mount Royal. Tidied the house a bit, then read and went to bed.

Sunday: Another lazy morning. Finally got around to my bagel run around 1pm, then headed up to IGA for a grocery run. Did a bit of work before meeting up with Gloria from work to bake cakes for Margherita's birthday on Monday. Gloria made an almond chocolate mousse and I pulled out the good-ole Red Velvet Cake. Got home in time to call the 'rents and ice my monster cake before stumbling into bed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Weekend Round Up: Meetings, JP & Markets

Sorry this is way later than usual, but working two jobs is really starting to kick my ass...

Friday:Since we had another colleague leaving our little translation family, another 5 a 7 was organized for our department. Lucky for me, everyone loved my suggestion of Vices & Versa for the last two 5 a 7s, so we opted to there this time too. However, even though I arranged everything, I had to leave early for a meeting with MJ. Got a little annoyed when she almost stood me up, but luckily we were able to connect and I was actually rather grateful for what ended up being an early, quiet night. Went home after my meeting and watched the penultimate episode of Season 4 of Weeds, which I had been saving for just such an occasion, then nearly pissed myself watching The Angry Video Game Nerd before falling into bed around midnight.

Saturday: In an effort to me more productive, I actually set my alarm for 8 AM, and managed to get-up before 9 AM. Gobbled some soy yogurt and walked down to St. Viateur for my weekly bagel run. I'm surprised they don't just hand me my half-dozen flax seed w/ smoked salmon spread when I arrive I go there so often. But I guess they get a lot of regular customers...

Since my back had been bothering me something fierce this week I forced myself to do some pilates, which actually seemed to do the trick. Then I finally got around to tidying my office and did a quick grocery trip. By about 3 PM I was finally ready to get down to business. Worked on the media package a bit before heading off to yet another meeting with MJ.

After my meeting I was able to hook-up with an old karaoke pal from Vancouver, JP, who was in town impromptu from Toronto. We got dinner in the Village and talked about lives on the Eastern side of the country. We both agreed that it was hard to compare our lives here to our lives there, but it was very nice for me to spend time with someone who'd known me in my former life. After dinner I went home, goofed on the internet a bit and called it a night.

Sunday: Another bright and bushy day, I managed to get showered and dressed in time to meet Rachael and Ben and their baby at the Jean-Talon Market. Got home in time to make up a big batch of potato leek soup with my freshly purchased veggies & finish off a bit of work before my previously scheduled dinner plans. Sadly, those were canceled at the last minute so I consoled myself with some instant ramen (chow mein style!) and Christian Bale & Alan Tudyk (3:10 to Yuma). Called a few peeps out West and tucked myself snugly into bed at a respectable 11 PM.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Weekend Round-Up: Garage Rock, Dinners and Smoochy

Friday: After a slightly more mellow week, had a quick sushi dinner with a friend after work and then hurried home to give mom a happy birthday phone call before zipping down to the Bistro de Paris for the B-Sides album launch party. After blowing $6 on a pint, realized that the half-pitchers were $7.50 and kissed my good intentions for the evening goodbye. Danced like a goof and put out my back and neck, but it was worth it. Good old fashioned, garage-y blues/rock-- my favourite dancing music.

After the show I introduced myself to a couple guys I recognized from Fantasia and followed them to some other garage bar on St. Denis for one last beer. Spent the evening talking to strangers and getting asked questions like, "what model are you?", the correct answer being "1979", which was followed by, "I'm old enough to be your dad". Awesome. Finished the night off with some greasy-ass french fries and a cab ride home.

Saturday: Woke up hungover with a mild case of whiplash. Realized that I am getting too old for this shit, but I doubt that's going to stop me. Spent most of the day in my pajamas watching Weeds, but I did manage to make a couple phone calls, but that's about it.

In the evening I met up with my friends Rachael and Ben from Vancouver and their new baby. They are recent transplants to Montreal and I've been dying for a chance to show them around. Had a nice pasta dinner on Mt-Royal and then called it an early night. Went home and watched the rest of Weeds, then crawled into bed.

Sunday: Got up late and wandered around in a lazy stupor until Alain called to invite me to meet him and MC at the Jean-Talon Market. Took the opportunity to pick-up some much need fruits and veggies & also remembered to grab cat food and litter for K.C. After the market we went back to Al and MC's place where they proceeded to make an excellent Pasta Puttanesca. Drank too much wine and some Turkish drink that tasted like anise & watch Death to Smoochy, which was much longer than we'd expected. Didn't end up watching Dirty Harry like we'd planned, but I guess there's always next time. Wobbled my way back to the Metro and called it a night after a quick call to Van.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Another Crazy Pull Quote!

So another review I wrote is being used in the advertising of a film. This time it's Montreal indie Who Is KK Downey, which opens this Friday at the AMC Forum. And you should totally go see it if you get the chance, it is hilarious!

Long Weekend Round-Up: Leatherface, Jazz & Work, Work, Work

Friday: After another psychotically busy week, I was rather relieved to have some time to chill out at home before going to see the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, on the big screen, at Cinema du Parc with Chris & Lee. It actually my first time seeing it (I know, I'm shocked too), and I'm very glad I waited until I had the chance to see it in 35mm. Despite some 70's fashion and dialogue, it stands up pretty well and while not nearly as graphic as it's reputation implies, I thought it was creepy as hell. Some of my viewing companions thought it was more funny than scary, but I know I'm not going to bother with the blasphemous remake. Also, Rob Zombie is a hack.

Afterwards we went to Benelux for some beers & Chris made the mistake of trying the homemade, non-alcoholic root-beer. I quite liked it, but I have something of a sweet tooth. However, it did have a rather too strong vanilla aftertaste that was a little off-putting.

Saturday: Decided to take a break from working and spent a leisurely day enjoying the warm summer weather that had suddenly decided to appear. Went for brunch near Parc Molson and spent the afternoon drinking red wine and eating sushi in a park. Watched a couple of squirrels fight/fuck, which was mesmerizing and inappropriate at the same time.

Later, a friend invited me to check out The Cinematic Orchestra at Club Soda, and although I am not a jazz fan I decided to be open minded and check it out. Turns out my instincts were correct, as even my friend was underwhelmed by the free-jazzy noodling, but I can't call the evening a total loss because the opening act was amazing. He's a singer-songwriter from Brooklyn named Grey Reverend and I totally recommend checking him out if you like that sort of thing. I think he's best live, where his fierce acoustic strumming carries the most weight, but his lyrics are poignant and clever and heartbreaking.

Sunday: After farting around a bit in the morning, finally got out to Mile End for my weekly bagel run. Managed to get some work done for my second job, but my meeting that morning got pushed to that evening and then to Monday. Thought about going to see Vengeance is Mine at the FFM, but opted instead to stay home and watch The Last Winter, eat baked potato chips and drink mineral water. I was impressed by what director Larry Fessenden was able to accomplish with what was obviously a minuscule budget, but an over abundance of wanky camera techniques took away somewhat from the creepy tone. Still, it was intelligent, well acted and socially relevant, three qualities sorely lacking in indie horror these days.

Monday: Had a meeting re: my second job where I discovered that I will have even less free time this coming week. Oh well, it's good experience with a (very) vague possibility of visits to film fests in the future. After my meeting I had my first bad experience with the Montreal Metro, but that was due in part to my poor listening skills. Finally made it home and cooked up a huge batch of Thai curry using my stash of homegrown basil, that I will be eating for the next two weeks. Made a quick call to my folks and then worked, worked, worked, until I found that crazy pull-quote I blogged about last night. Then worked, worked worked some more until I finally had to sleep.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Holy Crap - Insane Pull-Quote

Being essentially a freelance film critic (read: unpaid), I'm never really sure if anyone ever actually reads the reviews that I write and I don't really have any control over how those reviews are used.

So, when two people on Facebook got in touch with me recently to let me know they saw my review of Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django, I decided to look into it a little more. Apparently a pull-quote from my Film Threat review is being used in the American advertising campaign for the film, meaning my name is all over a bunch of NY papers right now.

Which is pretty crazy, to me.

Although, according to this website (about 3/4 of the way down) it sounds like I was kind of totally misquoted.

Investigating further, I found the American website for the film, including a larger pull-quote right on the friggin' home page! The only other people quoted on the site are Guillermo del Toro, Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino. Bizarre...

Not sure that this really actually means anything, but it is pretty cool to be associated with such a cool movie. And it makes me sound vastly more important than I actually am, which I suppose isn't really that bad.

Film Threat
Gelf Magazine
Sukiyaki Western Django Official Site