It took Mother to wipe the taste of the abominable Tsubaki Sanjuro out of my mouth — which it did, and then some. Every year for over a decade now there’s been at least one wallopingly good Korean movie. This one ranks as the entry for 2010, at least until I see how I Saw The Devil holds up against it.
Mother is a fine example of how a movie can be both conventionally entertaining and unconventionally intelligent. The bare outlines of the film are a thriller, but the blank spaces between them have not been painted in by the numbers; they’ve been given the tics and quirks of both real life and artistic fancy. It makes sense when you realize the director is Bong Joon-ho, he of The Host and Memories of Murder, two other Korean films that were among the best movies of their respective years regardless of country. Read more
I am not, in principle, against remakes. I am against them when they add nothing to a movie that was perfectly good all by itself. The problem is that the economics of moviemaking no longer favor storytelling, let alone individual expressions of ideas. They are, more than ever, all about pumping out a product that can be pre-sold on the basis of its name before a single frame is shot. Remakes are one of the easiest ways to accomplish that.
I’m also convinced every country’s moviemaking industry eventually enters a phase — maybe even a terminal one — where that kind of moviemaking becomes prevalent and drives out most everything else. Japan seems to have entered this phase in earnest. Why else would we have a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Sanjuro, a movie which proved that even when Kurosawa was not at his best he was still miles better than most other directors? Watching this retread was one of the most depressing experiences I have ever had in front of a screen.Read more