Movie Reviews: Decision to Leave, Vesper

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Before there was a Korean wave, there was Park Chan-wook. His Vengeance trilogy, especially Oldboy, led the West to believe that Korea was a land of incredibly sadistic violence, yet beautifully shot and elliptically arranged.

His latest is a detective melodrama in which a sweet, upright, and meticulous detective (Park Hae-il) finds himself falling in love with a Chinese femme fatale (Tang Wei) whose Korean is “insufficient” and who is suspected of murdering his much older wife. husband. The insomniac sleuth goes above and beyond the call of duty, performing all nighttime surveillance duties while watching her sleep. It’s a masterful reworking of film noir clichés, replacing sweaty desire with a stash of wet wipes and calm courage.

In Decision To Leave, Park moved away from the visual opulence of films like The Handmaiden and Lady Vengeance. The look is more naturalistic but still incredibly detailed. There is so much information in each image that you need eyes everywhere. It’s not a movie you can jump into halfheartedly. Special attention should be paid. But it flows so well. There’s always a visual connection or association to make the next scenes easier for you, or make you connect with something you’ve seen before. It’s extraordinarily assured cinema, surely as good as anyone in world cinema, though you might be wondering if the film is just Basic Instinct with bells and whistles.

It’s a very good crime drama, with a plot that holds a lot of surprises and twists on its way to a truly surprising ending.

But we’ve traveled these roads before, so rarely so well. Park Hae-il is excellent as the haggard, insomniac detective, a figure of indomitable courage. Just as he makes a funny detective hero, Tang Wei is a counter-type femme fatale. In the few performances of her that have made it to Western cinemas – Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution; The long day’s journey into the night of Gan Bi; Black hat by Michael Mann; – she has always been presented as a figure of desire.

Here, they’re an odd couple, but together they spawn one of the most powerful on-screen romances of the year.

Directed by Park Chan-wook. With Tang Wei, Park Hae-il, Go Kyung-pyo, Yung Yi-seo and Park Yong-woo. In cinemas. In Korean and Mandarin with subtitles. Duration: 139 mins.

Vespers (15)

***

There’s no novelty at World’s End, but this week’s post-apocalyptic dystopian vision – eco-collapse, domed cities for the lucky, delve into the desert for the rest – offers the novelty of a British cast transplanted into a Lithuanian bass. low-budget sci-fi film.

Overall, I would say the process went well. Vesper (Chapman) is a 13-year-old bio-hacker trying to survive in the woods with her bedridden father (Brake), who sees her chance to turn their situation around when someone from the Citadel crashes into the nearby forest.

The striking, abandoned War of the Worlds-style metal mushrooms feature more in posters and trailers than the film itself, and hint at something a little more action-packed than the real thing. The film is more understated and contemplative but still absorbing. His New Dark Age vision blends medieval imagery into a landscape where flowers and wildlife have mutated into a much more overtly menacing presence. The film often resembles David Cronenberg’s agriculture-oriented work.

Directed by Kristina Buozyte and Bruno Samper. With Raffiella Chapman, Eddie Marsan, Rosy McEwen and Richard Brake. In theaters and streaming. Duration: 114 mins.

Go to http://www.halfmanhalfcritic.com/ for a review of the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of David Lynch’s lost masterpiece, Lost Highway.

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