Monday, March 9, 2009

Monday's Movie: The Horror and the Heist

Over at A Novel Menagerie, Sher is hosting Monday's Movie, in which she invites everyone to "write about any movies, television or big screen, that you’ve seen over the past week."

This is my first time participating, and as I only have a couple of movies to mention (we don't go out to movies much anymore, and I'm trying to keep myself focused on reading instead of staring at the TV screen), I'm going to combine them in one post.

Acacia
Korea, 2003
Written and Directed by Ki-hyeong Park
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language

Synopsis from SundanceChannel.com:
"Korean filmmaker Ki-Hyung Park (Whispering Corridors) serves up an unsettling tale of muted dread about a childless couple's attempts to forge a family. Despite her mother's disapproval, Mi-sook (Hye-jin Shim) and her husband (Jin-geun Kim) adopt Jin-seong (Oh-bin Mun), a quiet, artistic six-year-old boy. Soon Jin-seong evinces an obsessive attraction to a dying acacia tree in the backyard, which he associates with his birth mother. Yet even more unsettling events are in store when Mi-sook unexpectedly becomes pregnant."

My Thoughts:
Strange and definitely "unsettling" film with two adorably spooky kids who looked a little too much like the wraiths in The Grudge for my taste. Pretty good psychological suspense drama with a supernatural touch. One of those films that make the viewer work a little to figure things out. Kept me guessing about what was actually going on, and it delivered surprises right up to the end. Gorgeous cinematography and nice spare settings; even though the film was in color, it almost comes across as black-and-white so that the violent splashes of red in the final scenes are all the more shocking. If you're contemplating adoption, you'll probably want to stay away from this one.

This film kept me watching all the way through, even with its unpleasant subject matter and some pretty graphic violence (including, it should be noted, one rape scene), so I'd give it two bags of popcorn, out of five.

The Thomas Crown Affair
USA, 1999
Directed by John McTiernan
Screenplay by Leslie Dixon and Kurt Wimmer
MPAA Rating: R for some sexuality and language

My Thoughts:
Part of my ongoing attempt to watch some of the movies I missed during the 1990s. This is a remake of director Norman Jewison's 1968 classic starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo in the lead roles. The original Thomas Crown was one of the greatest "heist" films of all time, and arguably Steve McQueen's best on-screen work. Playing against type as the urbane, well-educated and fabulously wealthy Crown, McQueen brought the role to life in a performance that's a thrill to watch, even forty years later. Brosnan, although he's a fine actor and an appealing screen presence, never really sizzles here. And where Dunaway was beautiful, brainy, alluring and classy, Russo is abrasive, unkempt and just downright trashy at times. As my husband said, if you haven't seen the original version, this newer film would be a perfectly acceptable entertainment. But if you haven't seen the original, you're missing a great movie experience.

I'm not quite sure why directors want to try to tinker with film classics; it seems a shame to waste all that money and talent. I wasn't as charmed by this one as the hubby was. I thought the best things in it were Faye Dunaway (doing a cameo as Crown's rather unorthodox psychiatrist) and the reuse of the original's signature song "Windmills of Your Mind." So I'd give it a single bag of popcorn, out of a possible five.


Cross-posted on Joy's Blog.

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