Sunday, April 18, 2004

Movie: Hellboy (2004)

What struck me most about this movie was how visually beautiful it was. Tentacles descending from the sky at the apocalypse, lovers enshrouded by flame; it’s packed with arresting images.

Guillermo del Toro successfully conveys the rhythm and energy of a graphic novel, a task at which many others have failed. (The further away I get from Ang Lee’s THE HULK, the more I detest it. I actually had to get away from it while it was still unspooling in the theater.) The movie has its problems: the plot’s clunky and repetitive, Rasputin isn’t that interesting a villain, and I don’t need to see another superhero film about the tragedy of being a freak. But the Clockwork Nazi more than makes up for that.

Video: Joint Security Area (2002)

A terrific South Korean military drama. There are a few scenes in English that are awful. Try to look past them. (And make sure you have the subtitles on when the movie starts, so you don’t have to double back like I did.) A Korean-born Swiss military attorney investigates a brewing international incident involving a South Korean soldier who may or may not have been kidnapped and dragged into the demilitarized zone by North Korean forces. The closing shot is extraordinary.

Video: Dirty Pretty Things (2003)

Watched this for the second time. It got a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Steven Knight’s original screenplay. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance is nothing short of miraculous; he takes a character whose every action renders him a saint and makes you believe him as a man. If you want a noir universe in the here-and-now, this is it. Every character in this movie is at the whim of fate every second of the day.