Sunday, December 1, 2013

12 Years an Oldboy

   I saw 12 Years a Slave and the American adaptation of Korea's Oldboy.  Care to guess which one was heaping pile of garbage?
    Steve McQueen is currently my favorite director.  I've pretty much enjoyed all he's put out because of his unapologetic style and charisma.  Spike Lee has also been a favorite of mine for sometime now, also for his unapologetic style, but I find myself questioning his choices this time around.
   12 Years a Slave, was a gruesome film to watch.  I must say that I really appreciated the period dialog used in this film.  It wasn't just people trained to speak in Southern drawl, it was people actually speaking as if they were in that time, heavily influenced by the King James Bible.   Except for you, Mr.  Benedict Cumberbatch.  Good try, but your accent was a dead giveaway.   I'll let it go because you're such a charming Englishman and otherwise incredible actor.  
   This was quite the all star cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Adepero Oduye, Michael Fassbender, Michael K. Williams, Brad Pitt, Paul Giatmatti, Paul Dano--I mean the list goes on, and not once did I feel like I was taken out of the story due to an all too familiar face.  However…what was up with the dude from Raising Hope and an SNL funnyman making their way in this movie?!  
   Anyways, I appreciate McQueen for tackling such a difficult project but I absolutely commend him, Fassbender, and Dano for really showing the PSYCHOTIC MADNESS of it all so well.  If I was to shake either of Michael or Paul's character's hands, my inner monologue would definitely be saying "yeah….this motherfucker is crazy.  He's smiling, but he's definitely got some crazy behind the eye that I don't think I want to get to know…" and back away slowly.

   I had some issues with costuming....I always will because that's what I was trained in.  The aging and dying of the costumes appeared almost nonexistent.  I found it rather hard to believe that Patsy and her crew picked over 500 pounds of cotton a day and were never offered soap but still had nice outfits on.  The fact that we "are working in mud and dirt on a scorching hot super humid day in the South and our clothes look brand spanking new"  sort of made me give a side eye but what can you do...Some of the nicer period costumes looked a little off as well, but I can't really put into words why/how.  Sorry about that.  If I can figure it out, I'll be sure to update.  


   Oldboy….oh Spike, why'd you do it?!  As I said before, I do love Spike, but I'm sorry…I will be reading this movie for filth.  And…here we go:  Foreign films are better left as foreign…the language and the style used all supplement the story in its own unique way.  Just because a foreign picture is a huge success, doesn't mean we need an american version of it to make it more marketable!!  I honestly think American remakes are like a "dumbed down" version which makes audiences here seem rather....stupid...?  I will not fully blame Spike.  I know he was frustrated and lost a lot of creative control, to the point of even removing his usual "Spike Lee Joint" from the title cards.  
   The makeup was awful.  Do you know why it was awful?  Because I could tell it was makeup.  Bad makeup.  The wardrobe looked like it was all shopped at Walmart, in the clearance bin full of things from 1998 that no one would take, even after being marked down to nothing.  The effects were cheap.  The music sounded like the free loops you get on Soundtrack Pro or even Garage Band.  What the hell was up with Samuel L.  Jackson's look?!  Apparently, he's some sort of gay space alien who has his own boy band??  ....and I won't lie.  I was a bit offended by the asian ninja girl who protected Adrian...

   The whole way this relationship happened between Joe and Mari was so artificial and forced…I'll stop there and go back to what I know:  wardrobe.  We've already discussed Samuel L. Jackson….how about that flashback??  One of the best ways to convey a flashback is through wardrobe.  I feel like all they did was change the lights and hairstyles but kept the same shitty Walmart clothes.  Don't get it twisted…I'm not saying they should have been in head to toe Armani…I'm just saying it shouldn't have been so obvious that you had a shitty budget.  
Semi-Conclusion: 12 Years a Slave=yay; American Oldboy=nay
I don't think I could work with either director simply because the pattern I see in their work is that they don't really care what their characters are wearing and neither do their producers and probably cut as many corners as possible starting with wardrobe.  
I will say, I loved seeing both directors' trademarks in their respected films…its always good to see those.  McQueen's excrutiatingly long takes and Lee's floating actor

   While 12 Years was the better film, the experience of watching Oldboy was more fun.  The theatre was about three quarters full.  In front of me was an African man and his girlfriend.  To the right of me was a group of younger black adults.    (I only mention race here because of an interesting exchange of words that occurs later)  The group was being loud so the African man got angry and yelled at them.  So the group retaliated and they were at each other's throats during the movie, all while the African man's girlfriend was sitting there saying "seriously?"  over and over again in what sounded like her impression of The Nanny.  It doesn't stop here.  
The African man threatened to beat up the entire group and call the cops on them.  One of the guys felt hurt by this and walked up to him in the middle of the theatre, pointing his finger in his face, "Calm the fuck down, brah.  Don't even joke about calling the cops.  I am black just like you.  You ain't no different.   If they take us, they're gonna take you too.  WE ARE BLACK LIKE YOU. CALM DOWN."  The man actually did in fact calm down and even apologized.  It still doesn't end here. 
The group eventually got louder and apparently drunker.  One of them even drunkdialed his girlfriend, Josephine during the movie and started yelling at her.  In his frustration, he lit a cigarette.  This caused management to step in and force the group to leave.  They did not go quietly.  All of this was happening during the big sex scene in the movie.  The group was finally taken out right at the climax, to which the African man applauded, causing the group to call him and apparently the rest of us all 'faggots' and threw a water bottle at him.  Thankfully, I was not in the splash zone.  

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