16 December 2013

Laugh And The World Laughs With You

Being trapped in a building with no hope of escape must be horrible. Some people are held hostage by terrorists where they have body parts hacked off and posted back to their loved ones. Others are kept locked up by deranged family members who use them as sex slaves for decades at a time. I had a similar experience to this myself once when I'd ordered a package off the internet and then had to wait in all day for the postman to deliver it. It… was... horrific. Enduring the experience with me was a close friend who I shan't name because firstly he doesn't come out of this story too well and secondly anybody that knows me will already have guessed that I'm talking about Graham. So the postman was meant to drop our shit off in the morning but made us wait presumably in the knowledge that his delivery was essential to the continuation of our existence. We thought the wait was getting bad after two hours... If they had told me then that it would be seven hours would it have been easier to endure? Or harder? As the madness set in I turned to my friend and both jokingly and rhetorically asked, “How long do you think we'd have to be locked in a room for before we just went mad and started fucking each other?” Without even skipping a beat, he turned to me and with a completely straight face answered, “At least a couple of days”... A couple of days? I was thinking more along the line of years or decades not forty eight fucking hours!  In the time it would take for most people to get a bit antsy, he'd have already gone mental and started seeing me as a huge, greasy, slab of hump meat! The reason I tell this is because it just goes to show how quickly the effects of enforced confinement can set in and how extreme the reactions can be. Having said that I'm pretty sure my friend is secretly also a bit of a bummer too.

Old Boy is a South Korean thriller that was released in 2003 to critical acclaim and which quickly became one of my all time favourite films. It tells the story of an anonymous pisshead named Oh Dae-Su who is randomly picked up off the street and then locked away in a small room for an undisclosed duration. He doesn't know who has imprisoned him, he doesn't know what he's done to deserve it and most importantly he doesn't know why he gets released after fifteen years of captivity. Basically, all I can say is that his kidnapping initially presents so little explanation that every possible detail has mystery spunked all over it. Once free, Oh Dae-Su only has a few days to answer all of these questions which is a puzzle he decides to crack with the use a blood stained fuck-off claw hammer. I watched this film for the first time on a portable DVD player when I was about fourteen years old and whilst sat between my parents on a long and cramped aeroplane journey. The film contains scenes of wanking, shagging, torture, violence and a few blatant titty shots. What an awkward fucking flight that was.

This looks like a man who has his shit together!
Sadly for its population, South Korea is forced to endure the neighbours from hell by being situated below the deranged fucknuts of the North. If this film is anything to go by though, it seems that living so close to the apocalypse-loving brain farts of Kim Jung-TossPot must affect their collective sanity because Old Boy is completely fucking demented. The problem with a lot of films is that we've seen it all a hundred times before with such lazy bullshittery resulting in a painfully chronic sense of predictability. However if anybody can guess where Old Boy is going from one scene to the next then I genuinely think that you should contact James Randi and claim the prize for his $1,000,000 paranormal challenge. One minute we're watching a fat man having a piss in a pot plant and the next his crazy hair is reaching for the sky as he devours a severely undercooked mouthful of octopus. Nothing is as it seems in this movie with every set piece being more raw and shocking than a bum-love session onboard the phallic tip of a lightening rod during thunder season.

Although the film is based on a Japanese Manga series the style and direction here is clearly the fault of director Park Chan Wooks twisted cinematic vision. From the face slapping musical outburst at the beginning to the mind-blowing one shot corridor fight and via a tooth crunchingly genius use of Vivaldi, Old Boy is a complete masterpiece. With names like Big Sleep and Breathless, the film’s soundtrack hints towards an appreciation of old school classic noirs which is also echoed by its gothic gloominess and a suffocating sense of bleakness. However if this is influenced by the mystery films of yesteryear then thanks to Wooks direction, it's more like watching a Humphrey Bogart thriller through the bleary eyes of a drunken rage.

However even amongst all of this chaotic insanity perhaps what lingers the most is not just the tongue snipping horror but also the epic journey of Oh Dae-Su as he falls into a mindfucking pit of soullessness. Sure this is expressed through the still-bat-shit-surreality of Kafkaesque giant ants and the trance induced repression of a schizophrenic reflection but that doesn't make the journey any less human. In essence I suppose one of the most prominent themes running through Old Boy is that which was previously summed up by Nietzsche in this handy little quote, “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you”. In honesty I've never read anything by Nietzsche but I figure I'll sound smarter if I keep dropping his shit into conversation.

This film is dedicated to our friend Squiddly Diddly.
If I could express my love for this film through an act of violence then I would have to perform something so horrific that it would leave hundreds dead. In fact it was a recent viewing that made me realise that if I were to compile a list of my top one hundred films then Old Boy would very definitely be in the top ten. Oh, and because I'm single and a geek I obviously and depressingly did then spend some time making that list. However I do have one issue with the movie and that is the discomfort I feel during the scene in which our main character munches down on a live octopus. I've been raised on Disney films to see animals as having human characteristics and I've listened to enough Morrissey songs to know that killing them is wrong. I realise that due to the fact that I eat meat I'm a huge hypocrite for this but if it's any consolation I do feel hugely guilty about it. If only I'd been forced to eat the green shit when I was younger I would happily convert to vegetarianism now, however my fussy eating and love of meat has sadly made this life-change unlikely to happen any time soon. I think the way I feel about eating animals whilst believing it to be wrong must be similar to the confliction that a gay chap feels if they've been raised to believe as fact the bullshit of a religion that hates them.

However, although I have a need to eat, I don't have a need to see films that in anyway harm or encourage the mistreatment of animals. I've pretty much decided to never see Cannibal Holocaust because I'm aware of the abuse and death performed on several creatures which is something I find so morally repugnant that it sickens the tits off me. The octopus scene here bothers me but I cling to the knowledge that eating them live is simply something that's done in South Korea that we in the West just don't do. Therefore although the octopus was murdered I suppose it was a fate that the poor bugger was always going to face and not one that it endured simply for the sake of the scene. I'm also aware that the characters motivation for eating the thing was due to him being so starved of life. This is obviously different to Cannibal Holocaust in which creatures living in the wild were caught, hacked up and mutilated solely for the titillation and entertainment of a heartless audience of screwed up cunts.

Horrific cruelty aside though this film is, in conclusion, sheer genius. It's taken about ten years to rehash but finally Hollywood has smelled its waft and decided to try and make a quick buck from shitting something out and then relying on brand awareness. I remained optimistically optimistic about the remake on the grounds that they were firstly going back to the original manga rather than the 2003 film and secondly it was to be directed by Spike Lee who at least isn't usually a turd. Inevitably though the new film has finally been squeezed through the lubed up hoop of unoriginality and according to all of the terrible reviews it is sadly not very good. I personally haven't seen the film and so can't say for myself but apparently it simply copies all of the beats from this original and then tones down all of the weirdness that made the story great in the first place. If you're wanting to make a mainstream film then perhaps this twisted tale of insanity, violence and freaky fucking might not be the place to start. If however you want to see something fresh, shocking, funny, cool and that champions a use of the underrated word “dick shit”, then Old Boy is your place to go! 

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