Archive for January, 2011

The Korean Tarantino?

Last night I watched Oldboy (Oldeuboi), a movie by the Korean director Park Chanwook (or Chanwook Park, as we would say in English).

There were moments when I expected the main character, Oh Dae-su, to go “Kill Bill” on his enemies.  And he does.  In fact, there are two scenes in particular, in which Dae-su uses a regular claw hammer with rather gruesome results.

Oldboy is essentially a story about revenge.  Dae-su must find out why he has been held captive for years, but he also wants to get revenge for the years he was locked up.  The funny thing about revenge is that it never quite turns out the way one expects it to.  Perhaps we are all better off not trying to get it.

The charm of stuttering?

From everything I’ve heard about it, The King’s Speech sounds like a good movie.  I do much anticipate watching it, though I fear it will have to wait until its DVD release.  Are we going to get the movie in Jamestown?  I haven’t heard any such rumors.  Will I have time to go to Bismarck or Fargo to watch it?  That is not looking too promising at the moment.

That all makes me sad.  I would like to see the movie in the theater.  After all, it has two of my favorite British-ish actors in it–Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush.  (I say British-ish because Rush is an Aussie.)

That’s strange

I’m sure this is for a role, but I’ll admit I was taken aback when I saw this picture of Christian Bale.

Where did all that hair come from?


For those of you that are interested, here is a list of the Golden Globe winners (and other nominees).

Grammer [sic] police!

This doesn’t pertain to movies, but since a blog involves writing, I thought this was appropriate.  I started reading a book called The Accidents of Style by Charles Harrington Elster.  It is informative, engaging, and hilarious.  I’m going to share a couple of examples, so that you all can see what the book is like.

ACCIDENT 58: Avoid the hackneyed but hey

The interjection but hey is a trendy and vapid locution much favored by protégés of the What’s-Up-Dude School of Insipid Writing.  These ‘casualistas’ think that readers want a writer to sound like a regular Joe, so they are enamored of whatever verbal tic makes their writing seem more like speech, especially the most lifeless, laid-back speech.  The worst literary sin you can commit, they believe, is to make your writing read like writing–in other words, something you actually thought about and revised before unleashing upon the world.

But hey, maybe I’m going too far with this whole but hey thing.  I mean, do you have issues with what I’m saying or are you down with it?  If you’re chill, that’s cool, and if you’re not…well, then be that way.  Whatever.

You catch my drift?

But hey is a kind of vacuous shrug that reckless casualistas put in a sentence to signal that an attempt at humor or a smart-alecky remark is on the way: “[The movie] seems to function outside of logic, cohesive plot structure and the laws of gravity, but hey–this being the fourth film in the street-racing series, such niceties have long since been tossed out the window” (Dallas Morning News); ” ‘I hate that show,’ says Jessie, before departing via Suburban back uptown to her red-velvet-wallpapered home. But hey, at least she has parents to go home to” (The New York Times).  Use the but but eschew the hey.

ACCIDENT 79: Don’t use in my humble opinion

As far as I know, I’ve used in my humble opinion only once in all my published writing, and I regret it.  This phrase–abbreviated to IMHO in that particular trimmed-down, puffed-up brand of English known as Blogosphere Blowhardese–is wordy, pretentious, and hackneyed.  It draws unnecessary attention to itself, and if the humility it conveys could be converted to a liquid, it might barely fill a bottle cap.  Use I think or some other more concise and direct phrasing instead.

Those are two examples of some 300 in the book.  It’s quite an entertaining and enlightening read.

1.  “His name’s Gwin. And I know he looks charming, but you know what they say about books and covers.” – Dustfinger, Inkheart

2.  “You! I swear to God, I’ll dismantle you! I’ll soak your motherboard, turn you into a wine rack!” – Tony Stark, Iron Man 2

3.  “I do not like the cone of shame.” – Dug, Up

4.  “Well, you know what they say. You cannot make an omelet without breaking a few legs.” – Ziva David, NCIS

5.  “Father, Father I’ve been shot!” – “I’m very happy for you.” – Deputy and Ned, We’re No Angels

The Green Hornet

There has been talk in the entertainment circles about how Seth Rogen “changed” for the role of Britt Reid in The Green Hornet.  Yes, he lost weight, but that’s probably because of the fighting he’s supposed to do in the movie.  For those that are fans of Rogen, and his “aw-shucks” appeal, should not worry that he’s changed.  It is a little removed in type from his previous starring roles.

The surprise of the movie, for me, was Jay Chou as Kato.  I think The Green Hornet may be his first major American movie.  Apparently, one of his favorite actors is Jet Li, and it’s not surprising.  Chou, while perhaps not as good as Li in martial arts, has a similar simultaneous steadiness and quickness.  (But perhaps that’s just illustrating my love of martial arts as incorporated into movies.)

As to plot:  The Green Hornet is rather typical for its genre, but it is amusing.  And the cars are lovely, too!

The Great Queen

I’m not sure how I found it, but I came across a show on called The Great Queen SeonDeok. It’s a historical drama about the first ruling queen of Silla, one of the early kingdoms in Korea.

Of course, I have to watch the show with subtitles, since I don’t speak Korean.  However, it’s an interesting and entertaining show.  It is a little hard to keep some of the characters straight at first, but I imagine that’s really no different than watching Band of Brothers for the first time.

Queen SeonDeok is a good show, and a refreshing change of pace.  Of course, I might be in a minority of viewers, since I actually enjoy watching movies and shows with subtitles on occasion.

The ones that stay with you

How do you know a story is good?  One way to tell is if you keep thinking about it, and going through it in your mind.

Which brings me to True Grit. I want to see the movie again, because I really enjoyed and I keep thinking about it.  I want to see if it’s as good after a second viewing.

I did it.  I watched Gulliver’s Travels.  It was actually a little better than I expected it to be.  However, that might not be saying much, since I expected it to be rather abysmal.

I never enjoyed the book, so I’ve had trouble with the movie versions that I’ve seen.  This version is, of course, quite different.  Not only is it a modernization, Gulliver is played by Jack Black.  The thing about Jack Black–he can be funny, or he can try too hard and not be funny.  I think he manages to do both in this movie.

Gulliver’s Travels is rather predictable for the type of movie it is, but it’s not as bad as it could have been.  I’m sure some of the viewers assumed that the book never had Gulliver dousing a fire with urine.  Well, think again.  In fact, the book was very crass in some spots.  Of course, this movie is crass in other places, so I guess it about evens out, wot?