Comments, Rotten Tomatoes and the like

There is always room for improvement; leave a comment tell me what you think. And please, be brutal. Nothing like being eviscerated by the general public (though in reality no one reads this so maybe not so general public).

26 10월, 2007

The Heart of An Artist

It is the late 1800's and Korea is falling to bits. Dealing with both the Japanese and the Chinese nipping at their heels, the people needed a hero, someone who idealistically they could rally around as a source of pride for a nation battered into submission. What better medium than art, which holds universal appeal to rich and poor alike? Ohwon Jang Seung Ub luckily is on hand to provide such a service. Im Kwon Taek, one of the most respected names in South Korean cinema helms Chihwaseon (2002), meaning Painted Fire, and creates a compelling, somewhat meandering picture of Jang Seung Ub.

Dare I say it? This movie bored me just a little bit. Maybe because I was watching the movie a little too close to bed time or I was not in the mood, but about halfway through I started to fast forward the bits with conversation to get to the bits with no talking at all. When it all just focused on the painting or on what I must admit is some fantastic cinematography, I was enthralled. Im Kwon Taek really captured the dual nature that you find in the paintings themselves; stark backgrounds and landscapes with its winter references (North Dakota never looked this good in winter), accented with exotic dragonflies, lush greenery, like spring. I guess I just liked the sexy bits.

You get the vibe that Jang Seung Ub is a lost soul, constantly alone in his world where nothing is permanent. His women, his companions, his talent, and the favour he receives are all beholden to his whims and folly. A man constantly complimented for his extraordinary skill, he has this overwhelming need to test himself, to create from what the masters have laid down. He wrestles internally to be creative, to be new and fresh, but can't quite figure how to totally break from tradition and from what he already holds to be true about himself and his work. Even when he breaks free and becomes an individual he is criticised as a commoner with no respect for what came before, where poetry or words must accompany a picture in order for art to have meaning. Im Kwon Taek really does manage to portray the essence of the man on screen, thanks in no small part to Choi Min Sik.

What was quite disconcerting and probably what made it a tad difficult to get into the movie was Choi Min Sik playing someone supposedly in his 20's somewhere which I'm sure he would have been able to pull off when he was 15, maybe 16 (I kid! No, actually, it was more than just a bit creepy. The man should not have attempted such) but not so much at the age of 40. It made it hard for me to connect with the story of his early years because all I could see was some old dude who couldn't get his act together. However as the story progresses he becomes more age appropriate and you can actually feel his desperation as an old man who realises his mortality and tries to perpetuate himself through the time honored way of procreation, hanging on to the very last moment.

The movie is like a 2-hour character study, where we follow this man through his life and see him as he is. A national hero to be sure, but at the same time a man who was selfish, choking on talent, brash and dared to defy the norm. I guess maybe the tortured artists and the rise and fall never ends well was why I wasn't so keen on this movie, but I liked most of it. Maybe I wasn't so bored after all

4.5 out of 5 for truly great insight, and some kick-ass cinematography (is kick-ass hyphenated or no?)

댓글 없음: