Park Chan-Wook – Oldboy
Well, one good thing came from Spike Lee’s ill-advised and apparently dreadful remake; it gave me the chance to finally see the original Korean film, which a local theater screened for a few days. In a year when Chan-Wook made his English language debut with the intriguing but ultimately unsatisfying Stoker, it was great to see the film that made his international reputation. Well, what to say about the direction here? Chan-Wook is some kind of insane genius; it’s a visceral, completely bizarre, nightmarish directorial style. I can’t even begin to discuss the sequences that are directed in a completely insane way. At one point, Dae-Soo has a completely hilarious elevator ride, followed by one of the best suicides I’ve ever seen on film. But then death scenes are generally brilliant; there’s a wonderful late death scene that only slowly reveals the blood underneath the skin. And then there’s the astonishing action sequence at the heart of the film as the protagonist battles his way down a long hallway through a group of thugs; he’s armed only with a hammer and Chan-Wook brilliantly shows the entire fight in one long, unbroken shot. This film is one of the most exciting I saw in 2013 and Chan-Wook’s off-beat, discomfiting, intense vision for the film is astounding and breathtaking. There are other great directors on this list, of course, who did great jobs on their respective films, but if I had to pick the absolute best direction I saw in 2013, it would be Chan-Wook’s visionary, grim, consistently surprising job on this ten year old film. It hasn’t aged a day; if, like me, you just let this one keep escaping you, it’s time to step up to the plate and let Chan-Wook mess you up. This has to go down as one of the most visually striking films I’ve ever seen. After all that, it’s probably no spoiler to say that I’ll be talking about this one again as I go through the other award categories. For now, we’ll leave it at that.
Next time, it’s a directorial debut from a fellow I already knew was hugely talented in other areas. Turns out, his talent extends to direction. Can’t wait to see what comes next from this guy.