Home > Sunday Screening Films > Sunday Screenings #27: Oldboy

Sunday Screenings #27: Oldboy

This week, lets watch Oldboy (to celebrate the fact that Spike Lee is going to direct the American Remake).


  1. lmmskipper
    July 12, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    I’m going to forget you mentioned anything about Spike Lee and a remake in the same sentence. I love this movie and can’t wait to discuss. And this time, I promise to watch it on time.

  2. July 17, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    I’ll cop to it. I didn’t actually re-watch Oldboy. I watched it a few months ago and have seen it about six or seven times, so I feel able to discuss it sans viewing. Had it been Lady Vengeance or Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, well, that would be a different story…

    Korean cinema is in some sort of glorious place. Between Jee-woon Kim, Joon-ho Bong, and Chan-wook Park, they are making some of the best movies anywhere and have been doing so for the past 10+ years. Park’s Oldboy blew my mind when I first saw it and I still love watching it with people who’ve never seen it. At this point, I get just as much joy at anticipating their reaction to the ending as I do to watching the movie (the one exception to this was on my first and only blind date where the girl was underage and she wanted to watch Oldboy. Not only was there minimal chemistry between us, but watching a movie with someone you don’t know where the main character has sex with his daughter is pretty awkward. Yet I did nothing to stop it from happening).

    The set up is very Hitchcockian what with a normal, but drunk, man getting abducted and isolated for 15 years. From there, it unfolds as only the Koreans would think to present it. Some people don’t care for an “unnecessarily” dynamic camera, claiming it distracts from the film. However, as with most of Park’s work, I feel that the camera work in conjunction with the music really heightens the reality of the film. The content is already so over-the-top and convoluted that it fits quite nicely. What makes things more remarkable to me is that even when Park goes completely simple (technically) as in the hallway fight scene, it also feels like an “extreme” way to shoot because no one shoots fights that way either. Add to that the color and set design and the film almost feels like some a surreal dream (or nightmare, if you prefer.

    Min-sik Choi is an incredible performer (seriously, if you haven’t seen I Saw the Devil, you need to). It’s amazing to me how he goes from the hilarious drunk at the beginning to the stone-cold somber vengeance-seeker post release. He owns the screen and is a complete badass the whole time (he ate a live squid, for crying out loud!).

    I’ve had friends express disappointment that the film isn’t as brutal as its reputation. I think that has a lot to do with the intensity of the payoff leaving people with the impression that the whole movie is that intense. However, it’s probably more emotionally brutal than physically anyway. There’s not a character whose life isn’t dramatically altered in the end (or could be, since his daughter never really finds out). Everyone’s life is filled with some tragedy.

    As for the Spike Lee remake… I can’t imagine that film will have the balls of the original. It will be some watered down piece of shit. They’ll probably simplify the narrative and they will have to change the ending because it won’t be a surprise to the audience the studio is going for. Foreign language remakes in English are a waste of time and money. If someone can’t be bothered to watch the original, then they don’t deserve it.

    • July 19, 2011 at 8:44 AM

      I once had a girl choose Meet the Feebles to watch on one of our first dates…that was an interesting experience… It wasn’t as awkward as when a girl wanted to watch My Own Private Idaho on a first/only date…but still.

      • July 19, 2011 at 9:22 AM

        Why do girls pick such strange first date movies? Lisa?

        • July 19, 2011 at 9:33 AM

          The Meet the Feebles watching was actually really awesome (because said girl really enjoyed the movie, and so do I).

          I have no idea about the girl who chose My Own Private Idaho…but we didn’t hit it off at all.

        • Lisa
          July 19, 2011 at 9:42 AM

          Well, in my professional opinion, we pick movies that we like to weed out the non-compatible. But we’re not always to blame. I had a guy pick “Princess and the Warrior.” Don’t get me wrong, I love that movie, but not necessarily the go to movie for a date.

          • July 20, 2011 at 7:47 AM

            Maybe I shouldn’t question this, I did recently take a girl on a nearly-first-date to see Tree of Life. Neither one of us really knew how to process that film. I think she hated it, and I am unsure how I feel still.

          • Lisa
            July 20, 2011 at 9:52 AM

            Well Paul, that might not have been a bad choice. Those types of movies sparks conversation, usually, and that’s a good thing. At least I like the conversation movies more than anything. Okay, maybe not more than action or fantasy, but still.

          • July 20, 2011 at 2:43 PM

            Paul — You didn’t end up making out the entire time like Jerry Seinfeld at Schindler’s List?

          • July 20, 2011 at 2:56 PM

            No making out.

  3. Lisa Mejia
    July 17, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    I really can’t believe that Lee is remaking this film. I know he’s all edgy or whatever, and this is one of the modern envelope pushers, but come on! You’re right, they can’t do that same ending, not only because it won’t be a surprise, but because American studios wouldn’t let that happen. The only “remake” that I’ve seen that I actually liked was The Departed. Although, it wasn’t really a remake as a reinvention.

    Vengeance is an emotion that has me fascinated as of late. It’s one of those that once you’re set on it, you can’t be convinced otherwise. (Jealousy is the other one.) When it comes to vengeance, and it’s done right, you can sympathize with the victims. You may not ever go down that path, most of the time a violent path, but you understand when others do. You end up route for Dae-su, and you’re cheering for him when he does those horrible things.

    One thing that I noticed after this viewing, I don’t know how I never noticed before!, is that both Dae-su and Woo-jin are on the same path. You go through the whole movie thinking that Woo-jin is just some crazed man, but then you realize he’s seeking revenge for his sister. Granted, it’s a messed up reason, but it’s still vengeance.

    Also, after this viewing I didn’t think it was all that violent. Yes, it still is violent and you cringe on some scenes, but I do agree it’s more emotional violence than physical.

    On to the Mi-do. So, she was raised by Woo-jin, pretty much, since she was 3. Does that mean she wasn’t in Sweden? That that story was made up? That’s the thing that I was a bit confused on. That has to be what happened? There’s no way that if she was raised in Sweden that she wouldn’t recognized that it was her she was searching for.

    I love the “One Against Many” scene, the hallway fight scene. It’s an awesome angle to see that from, and I loved that it was one take. I love when movies have one long tracking shot on the scenes that normally don’t have them. Think of how many cuts majority of fight scenes have. I loved this one. (They also do it in Hanna, which is amazing!) I loved the colors in this movie, the attention to the colors and the layout of the scenes was great. It was a good story, but also pretty to look at.

    Did you ever see “Thirst” by Chan-wook Park? Amazing!

    • July 18, 2011 at 11:54 AM

      The parallel journey is something I love about this movie. Woo-jin has spend the rest of his life trying to get revenge and when it’s finally done, he’s got nothing else (even though he seems to have the means for everything else). Not only do we not get to see Dae-su get revenge, but you feel a little bad for the bad guy. Then he kills himself. As far as traditional pay-offs go, it’s not very satisfying even though I find it completely satisfying.

      I’m having trouble following your paragraph that starts “On to the Mi-do.” Is there some pronoun confusion?

      I have seen Thirst. The actor, Kang-ho Song, is one of my favorite actors in all of film. However, I thought the movie was a bit too long. It was still good, just had a little excess fat.

      • Lisa Mejia
        July 18, 2011 at 8:20 PM

        You’re right, there isn’t a traditional pay-off, but I’m completely happy with it. Well, almost. This time around, I couldn’t decide if Dae-su was smiling at the end cause he was ‘happy’ or if he was smiling instead of weeping. It didn’t look like he walked long enough to forget about the secret. So, does that mean he still knows when Mi-do tells him she loves him.

        The paragraph was about the story of Dae-su’s daughter. When he went looking for her, Dae-su was told his daughter was adopted by a family in Sweden. Does that mean that when Mi-do was hypnotized she was made to not only fall for Dae-su, but that she forgot her upbringing? Or does that mean that the Sweden adoption was made up?

        The thing I loved about “Thirst” was that he became a vamp by a blood transfusion. Awesome.

        • July 18, 2011 at 10:57 PM

          Hmmm… I think she really went to Sweden. Aren’t there pictures of her there in that photo album? I don’t remember how much they delve into her past in the film, so maybe it just doesn’t come up between her and Dae-su. I’m not really sure. If not, then hypnotism could conveniently explain away the issue, probably to John’s chagrin.

          • July 19, 2011 at 9:31 AM

            I don’t think she went to Sweden…I think it was a ruse created by the bad-guy. I guess she could have been hypnotized to have forgotten it, but she seems pretty entrenched in Korean culture/life to have been raised as Eva by some weird* Swedish people.

            *Yes, Swedish people are weird.

          • Lisa
            July 19, 2011 at 9:45 AM

            But she was there when Dae-su found out about Sweden. I’m just confused as to why she didn’t realize it was her. Sure that would mess up the whole end, but still. I’m just going to say that they wiped Mi-do’s childhood from her memories when they hypnotized her.

          • July 19, 2011 at 9:47 AM

            See. I don’t think she ever went to Sweden. I think it was a fabrication.

    • July 19, 2011 at 9:35 AM

      I was really expecting a lot more grotesque violence then this film presented. The scene with the hammer+teeth was pretty excruciating, as was the de-tongueing. But other then that I didn’t feel that violence was all that gratuitous.

      I also really liked the hallway fight scene. They did a really good job making it one take, but continually interesting. Dae-su is a total badass.

      • July 19, 2011 at 9:52 AM

        That was my co-worker’s experience, too. Especially after watching I Saw the Devil. It kind of saves the crazy for the end, but even that is more psychological torment than physical (aside from the tongue cutting).

  4. John
    July 18, 2011 at 5:30 AM

    Well, this was my first time seeing this film, and I basically had a completely opposite reaction.

    I appreciated the moody cinematography, the grimy production design, the convincing action choreography. Striking performances, especially the one delivered by Choi Min-sik.

    However, I found the overall story, its flashbacks and reversals to be absurd, pure potboiler stuff. As more clues were revealed, the less believable and interesting it became to me. I think this is because most everything is played straight, and I just couldn’t take the plot points seriously. That the kidnapping, 15-year imprisonment, murder of his wife, and hypnosis of both Dae-Su and his daughter were all somehow orchestrated for the specific result of them meeting and unknowingly having sex was just too much.

    I also didn’t care for the violence and misery that the characters unleashed on each other. Maybe it was there to make us care about what happens to them, but for me it was just tiresome, handled with all the subtlety one would expect to see in an entry of the Saw franchise. I definitely was not cheering for Dae-Su, especially not when, in a completely gratuitous moment, the actor portraying him ate a live octopus as it squirmed for its life in vain.

    The movie just seemed to me a grim, cold exercise in empty torment and shock value. Maybe we’re not supposed to care about the characters, and just revel in the spectacle of suffering, but for me, that leads directly to boredom, and as a result I couldn’t wait to turn this movie off. Oldboy was just not my cup of tea.

    • July 18, 2011 at 12:10 PM

      John, I’m particularly fascinated by your response because I don’t know that I’ve met anyone who just flat-out doesn’t like this movie.

      I’m going to give you a cop-out of an answer for the “absurd, pure potboiler stuff,” one that I hate more than anything. I view the film as a kind of fairy tale. That’s what I was getting at when I called it a surreal dream. Yes, all of the plot points scream contrivance, but I don’t find them difficult to go along with because, to me, they don’t break any of the rules of the world the film creates. Everything does hinge upon the hypnotism and if you can make that leap, then the everything else falls into place. One question, though, is what if he had been killed on the journey, like in the big fight scene? But again, I’m reading Hitchcock/Truffaut and Hitchcock didn’t care much for the “plausibles” and more for the effect on the audience.

      I don’t find the octopus eating to be remotely gratuitous. I believe it speaks strongly to his experience over the past 15 years. He’s eaten the same thing every day over that time. His life has been taken away and finally given back. Some people might go out and get wasted, some might try to get laid, he ate a live octopus (apparently, it’s a delicacy, though usually served cut up). It’s some kind of release and a way of taking control of something.

      I can’t argue with your experience watching the film. I differentiate these films completely from the Saw franchise because I find that these extreme revenge movies tend to plumb the depths of the human soul, challenging how far we are willing to fall in a quest for something purely selfish and ultimately unfulfilling. The Saw movies are pretty much kill or be killed and usually both. I Saw the Devil may not be for you, but you may like Park’s Lady Vengeance and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance better as they are more focused on character, though by no means pleasant.

      • John
        July 18, 2011 at 5:20 PM

        I definitely still don’t like the movie, but your comments have helped me understand it better and temper my initial reaction. Thanks for reading over my points and trying to explain things I may not have considered.

        I’m OK with the idea of an over-the-top plot couched in a surreal environment…I’m thinking of David Lynch or early Cronenberg films in particular, even Terry Gilliam. But in those films, the fantastical element is so obvious and transparent that it’s, ironically, much easier to suspend your disbelief. In Oldboy, everything is meant to look and feel so gritty, realistic and contemporary that I had trouble believing what was happening. But if the film is treated as a waking nightmare of sorts, then the plot contrivance issues kind of make sense. Nightmares are messed up like that. I just wish that could have been conveyed a little more clearly somehow.

        I agree, it’s not completely gratuitous for him to devour the octopus given the fact he’s only eaten dumplings for the past 15 years, and has had no control during his life during that time. That’s something I should have acknowledged. But, the shocking nature of the scene took me out of the movie entirely, even if it was logical for the character. I couldn’t get past the fact that the actor just ate a live octopus on the set of this film, and for that reason, it felt like a scene that called too much attention to itself, a gross-out stunt to get a rise out of the audience.

        Back to Cronenberg and Lynch, I guess their films are more to my liking when it comes to exploring the darker corners of the psyche and our baser desires (such as revenge). I’m thinking Naked Lunch, Videodrome, Eraserhead (which I didn’t get much out of but liked better than Oldboy), even The Fly remake…there are definitely over-the-top scenes of violence and gore in those films (less so in Eraserhead), ripe with emotionally and psychologically disturbing material. Those films seemed to have more to them, more ideas, more thought (and emotion) behind the terror. And for me that helps make the extreme scenes more palatable, more balanced. I didn’t detect much thought or emotion in Oldboy…it seemed more concerned with showing horrible things happening again and again at face value, so that’s why I was reminded of the Saw films, but I agree that Oldboy is clearly nowhere near the mindlessness of those movies.

        As always, though, a negative viewing experience has its own special rewards and lessons, so I don’t regret watching the movie at all.

        • July 18, 2011 at 7:08 PM

          I’m a little flabbergasted as to how much Hitchcock/Truffaut relates to our discussions here. I guess that means everyone should read it (it’s quite good, though I wish it would go into a bit more detail much of the time).

          John, you’ll find this adds some credence to your opinion. Hitchcock was going to make a movie that involved hypnotism as a plot point, but “the reason I dropped the project is that I feel you cannot put hypnotism on the screen and expect it to hold water. It is a condition too remote from the audience’s own experience.” I don’t necessarily agree (The Manchurian Candidate), but it’s an interesting thought.

          I think that you’re right that it’s not blatantly a fantasy world. Park does go to great lengths for the content to be as icky and visceral as possible. As far as actions go, there’s nothing inherently out-there to signify that it’s unreal. However, I think the key to getting that vibe is in the way the Oldboy is filmed (some might say it’s overly stylistic), the vividness of the colors and the geometry of the set design, and the way everything melds with the classical music. To me, all that creates an elegance that’s in stark contrast to the content. And yes, it probably removes me from the movie a step or two, but then fairy tales never suck me in that deep anyway (in general).

          Your comment about him eating those octopi in front of the crew is hilarious. I believe Min-sik Choi ate 3 or 4 of them.

          I agree that Cronenberg and Lynch are working on another level, though I’m not sure Park’s intention was much beyond visceral thrills. I kind of hope you do seek out his other films in the Vengeance Trilogy just to hear your opinion.

          • John
            July 19, 2011 at 11:53 AM

            I’ve read parts of Hitchcock/Truffaut…excellent book, I agree. The Q&A format is very readable and I think helps the reader digest all that information. To your point, Nate, it goes through so much info that you’d wish it settled on one topic every now and then and explored it further. I need to finish it one day, especially those sections about plausibility and the audience.

            That is an interesting comment from Hitchcock. I think my issue with hypnosis also has to do with the fact that it tends to be too easy of a plot device, like a magic wand to make a character do something he/she wouldn’t otherwise do. I think it works better in campier films.

            Good point about the stylized approach to the movie. I actually didn’t find it too stylized…in that the style didn’t draw that much attention to itself. The cinematography, the sets, the actors, the direction and the music all were consistent and worked together in presenting this hyper-realistic concept on screen.

            I was secretly hoping the octopus scene had been done in a single take, for the sake of the octopi. If I had seen that done live or in person, I might have been scarred for life.

            I will definitely check out other Park films…he definitely has a strong and clear vision, especially if he keeps returning to this theme of vengeance.

  5. July 19, 2011 at 9:25 AM

    So, I guess I’ll finally grace Sunday Screenings with my presence…been a long couple of weeks and I haven’t had a lot of time to watch any movies…blah-blah-blah…I’ll try to not make many excuses going forward (no promises).

    I’m going to be honest and say that I’m not 100% sure why I chose Oldboy. It probably was mostly the fact that I haven’t watched many Asian films lately coupled with the announcement that Spike Lee will be re-making this film (more on that later). I was struggling to figure out what to pick, so I kinda just went stream of consciousness and we ended up with Oldboy. I really thought I had a copy of this film, but I did not, so it came down to renting it or streaming it on my iPhone (I chose to rent a copy from Vulcan Video).

    So, Oldboy. Most of what I knew about this movie going into it (which wasn’t a lot) was that there was some connection between the movie and Virginia Tech Massacre (I just Wiki-ed that, and apparently there was no hard evidence that the shooter had ever seen Oldboy). Knowing that, I was expecting a fairly violent brutal film. So right up front, I don’t know that I necessarily liked this film. It was fairly entertaining, but the ending is just crap. I guess I can kind of buy that some guy who is intimate with his sister might try to avenge her death by locking a guy up for 15 years and then tricking him into sleeping with his daughter, but seriously…it really isn’t a very good ending to a film. Maybe I’m too brainwashed into the whole “American” happy film ending (although, this film sort of had that, didn’t it in the end?) but it just felt like it came out of left field to be shocking.

    There were parts of this movie I really liked, pretty much everything up until the 3rd act/reveal. But having watched the whole thing, I don’t think I’ll watch it again. That said, I’m interested in checking out some other films by Chan-wook Park.

    On to the Spike Lee remake. I haven’t watched many of Spike Lee’s films, but what I have seen I have mostly enjoyed. That said, I have a feeling he will turn in a pretty decent rendition of Oldboy. It will probably lose some of the aspects of the original, but I would very much welcome if the incest portions of the film are gone. I think some of us film-snobs (for lack of a better word) get too tied up in the whole remake argument. Yes, a lot of them fail to live up to the aspects of the original that we love, but what would you rather Hollywood do, Make Transformers sequels faster? We can tend to get tied up in the whole “we’d rather watch with subtitles…” argument and we forget that most of America has no interest in watching subtitled films. Yes, it’s stupid. But if I’m not mistaken most of the rest of the world watches dubbed versions of our films, not subtitled versions. Hollywood has become much more business/money oriented, and are spending less money on risks and more on what they believe is solid investments. So we will continue to see remakes of old films, sequels, and remade foreign properties. I’d much rather they give the reins of the remakes to some of our better filmmakers (which I think Spike Lee is) and let them make a quality remake/reinterpretation of a film. The Departed is a good example of this (not going to lie, never saw the original).

    My plan is to go back and watch Red Dawn and Shadows and add to those conversations, but I’m not going to lie…it might not happen.

    • July 19, 2011 at 10:13 AM

      Oh, Paul… but we’ll get to that.

      I can’t get on board with this movie having a sort of happy ending. Yeah, the guy and girl end up together, but the circumstances are tragic. Dae-su willfully allows his daughter to continue a relationship with himself because it’s easier for him to wipe his memory than for him to break it off and live with the knowledge of their true relationship. And I don’t think it came out of left field. Woo-jin’s relationship with his sister was incestuous and upon Dae-su’s finding out, she killed herself. So what better way to get revenge than to make who you perceive as the bad guy engage in an incestuous relationship? I can see how you might not buy all the plot points that lead to it, but I don’t think it’s too out there.

      And the eternal remake argument (oh, Paul…). Here’s the deal: yes, there have been plenty of good remakes. The Thing is one of my favorite movies of all time. However, to suggest that remaking foreign films is a better alternative to another Transformers sequel strikes me as different sides of the same coin. It’s still a bankruptcy of ideas. They only remake the immensely popular foreign films because they think they can cash in on the notoriety they already have. If there are new films being made that are good enough to remake, then doesn’t it hold that we should keep making new films? Especially since history shows that most of the time the remake is not going to be that good. Plus, Hollywood has a tendency to over-value the fanboy market for a film like Oldboy (and Let the Right One In, for that matter). I don’t feel like the public is clamoring for a dark, twisted, incestuous mindfuck of a movie.

      As for movies in Europe, yes, many are dubbed, but they also show subtitled movies. You just have to look for VO on the poster outside of the theater. I saw many movies all over Europe and never had too much trouble with that (and never had to watch a dubbed movie… in fact, I saw Batman Begins in Belgium and it had French and Flemish subtitles… it was crazy).

      And The Departed sucks (never saw the original).

      • July 19, 2011 at 11:56 AM

        Yes, the ending is just as twisted, but in some ways it does harken back to the “happy-ending” does it not? I don’t think the incest was quite the revenge, I more think that it Woo-jin’s real revenge was making Dae-su fall in love with Mi-do, and then revealing their true relationship. Through this he causes more pain onto Dae-su then merely killing her would cause. This way does leave Dae-su living with his guilt/pain being compounded by his daughter.

        To remake or not to remake, it really isn’t a question. For as long as they’ve made movies, they have predominantly been based upon an existing property. Be it a book/short-story adaptation, or a “translated” version of a foreign film. Yeah, it’s not the greatest way to further the “art” of filmmaking, but it’s kind of always been the case. I’d much rather see a foreign film remade by a quality director then sit through another Michael Bay explosion-fest. Hollywood is very much only really interested in profits. They are taking less and less chances with new properties, and relying on remakes/sequels to fill their release schedules. Even with the success of Inception we’re lucky to get one or two studio produced original films per year. I have a feeling that Let Me In will end up being marked on the “win” column by Hollywood (estimated 20mil budget, 24mil box office+Home Video+cable=DuhWinning!). Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of this fact, but it is pretty obviously a fact. That said, No I don’t think mainstream America is ready for an Oldboy remake, but I’d like to see what Spike Lee does with it.

        How did The Departed suck?

        • July 19, 2011 at 12:47 PM

          …Their true relationship: that they are related! I see what you’re saying. The falling in love part has a lot to do it, but it’s still about incest, just not entirely about fucking. I’m still not seeing how it harkens back to a “happy ending.” Because Mi-do and Dae-su are together?

          Adapting a book/short story to film is nothing like adapting another film. Aside from using the story, movies often diverge because elements of the book aren’t cinematic enough (Hitchcock and Kubrick were kings of molding books into their visions) and are streamlined in a way few books are. But you know this and aren’t really making that point.

          I don’t think comparing foreign remakes just to Michael Bay is fair. God help me for defending him, but until Transformers 2, he had only done one sequel and the rest were original films (not even remakes!). He’s got a cash cow now, but that’s more symptomatic of Hollywood than him. Why WOULD he leave that franchise? I agree, I don’t want to see any more of his films either, but that’s personal taste and I’m certain you can find many people who would defend him (after all, Criterion did release The Rock and Armageddon).

          I’m not even totally against the idea of remakes, but when the original does everything it sets out to do, there is no need to remake it. The Fly and The Thing both tackled the subject in ways that just couldn’t be done in the ’40s or ’50s. But films like Psycho, Halloween, Let the Right One In all work perfectly. There’s no need to try to improve them. I can totally get on board for a remake if the original wastes its concept, but remaking because it has a built in audience is crazy-talk. But then, I don’t view remakes any differently than I view sequels.

          I haven’t watched The Departed in years, but here’s a bit of what I hated: the silly jump-cuts, the psychiatrist character, the rat, the fact that Nicholson doesn’t suspect the new guy more even though shit started getting crazy when he joined the crew, the texting from the pocket, the terrible cartoon of a performance by Mark Wahlberg (that got him nominated for an Oscar for crying out loud!)…

          • John
            July 19, 2011 at 1:53 PM

            I’ll add to that list of grievances about The Departed: Nicholson’s uneven performance and the last 10 minutes or so of the movie, especially the last few minutes. Very unsatisfying, anticlimactic end to all that tension being wound up.

            Speaking of remakes, we’ve got a remake of a remake with The Thing later this year. Kind of ridiculous, and of course it could never measure up to the visceral and claustrophobic intensity of the 1982 version. Yes, the filmmakers protest that it’s technically a prequel because it’s not about the American researcher characters, but come on…it’s certainly a remake of the Carpenter version in spirit.

            And on another random note, Mark Wahlberg’s most hilarious performance that I’ve seen was in The Happening (although the script played a very large part in that hilarity).

          • July 19, 2011 at 3:38 PM

            I was about to jump on you for the “prequel,” but you’re right, in spirit, it’s a remake. Especially since the ’82 remake is so vastly different from the original (even though they are both based on a book). The problem is that they can deliver a legitimately good movie, but we know exactly how it ends, which removes tons of tension. Plus, I have major issues with them speaking English in the trailer.

          • July 19, 2011 at 3:54 PM

            I read somewhere that The Thing prequel will end with Kurt Russell et al arriving at the camp.

          • John
            July 19, 2011 at 4:29 PM

            I also dislike the use of English for the supposedly Norwegian characters…and also the fact that they simply titled it “The Thing” again and made Joel Edgerton look like Kurt Russell. How very unoriginal/remakey of them.

            But…sort of interesting that they are trying to go an Ellen Ripley route by having Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a lead role. I have my doubts about whether she is right for the part but I’ll reserve judgment until I actually see the movie at some point.

  6. Lisa
    July 19, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    I hadn’t heard that there was a connection between the VTech shooter and Oldboy. Interesting. I don’t think there is one, I can’t image where people came up with that. Always looking for some outside source for a reason.

    It seems that both Paul and John can’t believe the ending, that it’s too far out there. But, I think that’s the point. This whole movie was a bit over the top, so the ending had to be just as over the top.

    I wonder if the reason why you guys didn’t like this movie as much is because since it’s come out there has been talk about it. It wasn’t as much of a shock watching it now as it was when it first came out. I don’t know, maybe I’m stretching.

    Being a writer, the remakes and sequels are annoying. There are tons of talented writers out there that have original ideas, they just need the chance. Of course, there are the sequels that I love (X-Men First Class is a great example.) As for The Departed, it was a good remake. It was different than the original, incorporated the Infernal Affairs 1 and 2. And honestly guys, you have to see the original. Infernal Affairs is amazing! You HAVE to see it. Tony Leung is my favorite Asian actor, and he’s so good in this movie. When you see it, then compare it to The Departed, TD ends up not being that bad. I’m sticking to that comment.

    • July 19, 2011 at 12:19 PM

      Wikipedia: “the Associated Press, even raised questions and speculated the similarity between a stance in one of Cho’s videos, which showed him holding and raising a hammer, and a pose from promotional posters for the South Korean movie Oldboy.[58][59][60] Investigators found no evidence that Cho had ever watched Oldboy, and the professor who made the initial connection to Oldboy had since discounted his theory that Cho was influenced by the movie”

      I can kind of see how they might have drawn that conclusion if he had USED a hammer, but since he used all guns…I think they were just being shitty journalists, grasping for straws that weren’t there. The media is quick to blame, well, the media for anything bad that happens.

      The whole movie was fairly over the top, but it just gets to this ending and it’s like “I watched a two hour movie for this?” I’d have been happier if Dae-su had just found Win-joo dead in the street and decided to get drunk.

      There are a lot of times when outside influence can ruin a movie. I’ll probably never watch Donnie Darko or Identity because of hearing so much about them before seeing them. Especially with Donnie Darko and hearing how everyone though it was the best movie ever over and over again, there’s no way I can do anything but nit-pick it to death, so I’ll save the time/effort for something else…like Intolerance I guess…

      If there were really tons of talented writers with original ideas that would make money, I’m sure that Hollywood would be producing those films. Yes there are probably a handful of spec scripts out there that could be produced and make lots of money, but they are a really big risk, and when you’re focusing on continuing to make a profit taking chances on another Alvin and the Chipmunks movie is a lot less risky then jumping into the fray with Screenwriter X. (Side Note: I don’t know that I’d really drop X-Men First Class into this, it is based on a comic book property, but it is also it’s own thing. Also: I didn’t really care for it.). I’m a big fan of The Departed, I like it so much I can actually stomach Shipping up to Boston by the Dropkick Murphy’s now (Nate will get that reference). Someday I might watch Infernal Affairs, we’ll see…isn’t there also a third?

    • John
      July 19, 2011 at 12:28 PM

      I agree that sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, etc., are symptomatic of the same impulse: go with what you know. It’s safer than trying something new, both in a commercial sense and even audience comfort level sense. These kinds of movies have always been around, and in principle there’s nothing wrong with them…wanting to see your favorite characters in a new story, or being intrigued to see a familiar tale done in a different way, is pretty innocuous. But I think the problem is that the prevalence of these kinds of films have grown steadily over the years, to the point that they seem to be the most dominant form of entertainment. If you look at the top-grossing films of the past 10 or so years, they are almost all franchise films. I enjoy entries of certain franchises and pay money to see them, so it can’t be said it’s all the Hollywood studio executives’ fault. But it would be better for the sake of our film culture if we had a more balanced original story to remake/sequel/etc. ratio.

      Lisa, I know what you mean about expectations or discussions around films messing with a person’s initial impression of it, and that has happened to me, definitely. But, amazingly enough, I had heard very little about Oldboy’s reputation and story before I saw it, only that it was a stylish revenge flick, so in this case I really was just reacting to the film itself.

      I am interested in seeing Infernal Affairs, because the core premise of The Departed I liked. Just the execution of it, I really didn’t like.

  7. Lisa
    July 19, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    Yes, there are 3 Infernal Affairs, it’s a trilogy. Like I mentioned before, there are some of part 2 that was put into The Departed, but I’m not sure about 3 cause I have yet to see that one.

    So, the new The Thing is a prequel? I’m so confused. I saw the trailer for it, and I wasn’t too excited. It’s too much compared to the original. The original was spooky, and this one is all in your face. Only redeeming factor is that Joel Edgerton is in it.

    I guess superheros can be put into a whole other category. Not to mention that each film reflects the time they are made, but also the different story lines they follow from the comics, which are always evolving.
    I really liked First Class. I thought they did a good job. Out of all the superheros, I’m an XMen girl. I used to watch the cartoon when I was little, and I was just as excited about seeing FC as when I was younger. All of them, really. Okay, except the 3rd, that was bad.
    As for the scripts, that what The Black List website was based on.

    I guess I just wish that the remakes and adaptations would be a new version, and not a copy. Does that make sense.
    I’m not a big fan of Spike Lee, so that’s why I’m worried about his version.

    About the VTech guy, if he did have a hammer, definitely see the reference.

    • John
      July 19, 2011 at 4:47 PM

      Re: remakes, if you’re saying that they’re better when there’s a significantly different spin on the original material, I agree. I think Nate made a point earlier up in the comments along the lines that to try to do the same exact thing as the original – especially to the extreme of copying the exact same shots, like Gus Van Sant’s Psycho – is pointless. This approach absolutely guarantees it will suffer in comparison to the original.

      And I agree that to expect people to realize the 2011 The Thing is a prequel to the 1982 The Thing, when they share the same title, is so utterly confusing. Looks like the studio execs couldn’t make up their minds about what they were really doing with this movie.

    • July 19, 2011 at 8:25 PM

      I’m not a fan of Joel Edgerton if only because of his involvement with The Square, a film I still can’t understand how it got good reviews. Maybe they re-edited it since I saw it at the Sydney Film Festival, but it was terrible.

      For what it’s worth, I know two X-Men uber-fans who like First Class better than the other three. I don’t much care for superheroes as it feels like we’ve been seeing the same basic stories for the past 10(+) years. Also, it gets back into that debate about hypnotism/magic. “Oh, Superman is invincible… except for this one thing…”

      I don’t really have an opinion on Spike Lee as a director. As a person, he annoys me, but his attachment to Oldboy just seems to be part of a larger trend where you attach a high profile director to a job that doesn’t fit with their filmography (see: Kenneth Branaugh). I don’t really have a problem with this, but it seems just as much out of publicity as creativity.

      • July 20, 2011 at 8:31 AM

        Not many movies aren’t better then X-Men 3. I think I personally like the first two X-Men films better then First Class, but I might say that I think First Class is the better film. I think that Superhero movies can be good and bad, and will always continue to seem to be a sort of re-hashing of the same thing.

        You better be careful with your Superman comments of @Melbotis might get upset…

        Spike Lee sold socks on the street to fund his first film. He’s one of the original Independent Film guys. He’s an Icon. He HUNG OUT WITH JORDAN. Not that I’m the best Spike Lee fan, I’ve only seen a handful of his work, but I think I want to try and spend some more time with his work. I was really excited to see Branaugh’s Thor, but was disappointed at the results. I wonder if the studio meddled a lot, in essence ruining that movie by making it too main-stream superhero. On a similar note, I think Ang Lee was maybe the WORST choice for director for Hulk, and the film proved me right.

        • July 20, 2011 at 2:50 PM

          Keith loved First Class and was down on the trilogy because they were largely Wolverine movies, which is definitely true and makes it 100% stranger that they had to make a Wolverine movie at all.

          And Spike Lee may be an Icon, but that doesn’t mean he’s right for the movie. I certainly wouldn’t trust Kevin Smith to just any movie (I’m not a huge fan, but he has a very distinct sensibility that I don’t think he’d do well away from).

          • July 20, 2011 at 2:59 PM

            There was a period of time where the X-Men comics were very Wolverine-centric…I think the first three films were aiming towards that time period.

            I think that Spike Lee is an odd choice, but I don’t think that he’d take on the film if he didn’t feel he could bring something special/new to the story. We’ll see.

            You might change your mind about this Kevin Smith comment when you see Red State (if it lives up to what I’ve read about it so far).

          • July 20, 2011 at 5:20 PM

            I haven’t heard much good about Red State, though little bad, too.

          • July 21, 2011 at 7:30 AM

            I’ve heard that Red State is really good, and REALLY a film that is different then anything Kevin Smith has done so far. I’m excited to finally see it (although not excited enough to drop $50/ticket when it was here in Austin earlier this year).

            Also: I am somewhat of a Kevin Smith fanboy.

          • July 21, 2011 at 12:16 PM

            I know this about you. And I’m not a huge fan of the guy, so the expectation probably falls somewhere in the middle. I’ll see it when it comes out, though. We tried to get the film to come to Portland on the tour, but the tour manager kept brushing us off like a dick.

      • Lisa
        July 20, 2011 at 9:49 AM

        What was it about The Square that you didn’t like? I liked that movie. Although, I loved Animal Kingdom better. That movie is amazing! Jacki Weaver deserved the nomination, and I haven’t seen The Fighter to know if she should of won. Besides, anything with Guy Pearce is a good movie. If you haven’t seen The Proposition, you must!

        I’ve come to realize that some people just aren’t superhero people. It’s one of those genres/topics that you either have totally for or totally against.

        Maybe I need to give Lee another chance. I didn’t really like his early films, and never saw the later because of that. He is an original indie director, but in that sense I like Ed Burns much better.

        For the record, and I’m sure the upcoming harassment, I liked Thor, and I liked Ang Lee’s Hulk. A different, more emotional Hulk, but still enjoyed it. Then again, with Thor, I might be brainwashed by my older brother’s influence who is a total superhero lover.

        The one I can’t WAIT for, The Avengers. I’m such a Whedon girl, it’s going to be amazing!

        • July 20, 2011 at 2:54 PM

          Oh, god… Once again, a movie I haven’t seen for years, but in essence, it was the plot contrivance. Cell phones being left behind, fires starting but the person sleeping in the living room near the door is never awoken, the car chase at the work site that just happens to reveal a baby in the back seat of the car (even though that means he left the baby in the car, in the heat, with the windows up) and 100 other things. I found the film miserable and tedious. It made me sad when we showed it at my theater.

          I, too, know many people who love Ang Lee’s Hulk. I’ve never seen it, but it can’t be much worse than The Incredible Hulk with Ed Norton.

          • July 20, 2011 at 3:03 PM

            Ang Lee’s Hulk is a lot ‘artier’ then is suggestable for a Hulk movie. A Hulk movie should be about 90 minutes of “Hulk SMASH!” and maybe 2 minutes of story.

          • lmmskipper
            July 20, 2011 at 3:38 PM

            You can nit-pick about stuff like that on most movies. Maybe the mother was a heavy sleeper and the smoke got to her before the fire work her up (that is a real thing after all). I’ve left the house without my cell before. I will give you that the baby in the back seat was a bit much.

            Hulk Smash! Hilarious. Have you seen the Adventure Time adaptation/funny skit about The Avengers? It’s awesome. (Adventure Time is a Cartoon Network show.)

          • July 20, 2011 at 5:26 PM

            Ah, but it wasn’t one cell phone, it was two. At the same time. And I’d agree on the smoke thing if she wasn’t sitting upright in the chair. When was the last time you fell into a deep sleep sitting upright? It’s not just thing nit-picking. I agree most movies don’t hold up to that sort of intense scrutiny, it’s just that every seen felt like there was some ridiculous contrivance. Like they said, “what can we do to ratchet up the drama?” without actually thinking about whether it worked within the story. I can tell you that nearly everyone from my Sydney Film Fest group hated the movie and we were all quite surprised by its good reviews.

            I’d re-watch it to give you a better review (I haven’t seen it since 2008), but it really was a miserable experience.

  8. July 19, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Completely off topic… we need to get Lisa and John some avatars!

    • July 20, 2011 at 8:25 AM

      I agree, I wonder if we can pick ones for them? Maybe if we pick embarrassing photos, they’ll change it to one they like.

    • Lisa
      July 20, 2011 at 9:39 AM

      Yeah we do. I’ve been trying to figure it out, but I’m lame and can’t.

    • John
      July 20, 2011 at 10:59 AM

      Nate Capp :
      Completely off topic… we need to get Lisa and John some avatars!


      • July 20, 2011 at 2:54 PM

        I approve.

        • lmmskipper
          July 20, 2011 at 3:33 PM


      • July 21, 2011 at 7:31 AM

        You look nothing like I’d expected… I was thinking something more like http://www.merrimanland.com/ But only because I thought you were him at first.

        • John
          July 21, 2011 at 9:16 AM

          Believe it or not, you are not the first person to mistake the Austin indie filmmaker John Merriman for being me. Clearly this is due to his Web presence. There’s also a Yale University history professor who shows up first if you Google my name. But I already nabbed my name’s domain name before any of them did. Suckers!

          • July 21, 2011 at 12:17 PM

            You are single-handedly responsible for that other John Merriman having a shitty domain name. Congrats!

  9. Lisa
    July 20, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    John :
    I also dislike the use of English for the supposedly Norwegian characters…and also the fact that they simply titled it “The Thing” again and made Joel Edgerton look like Kurt Russell. How very unoriginal/remakey of them.
    But…sort of interesting that they are trying to go an Ellen Ripley route by having Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a lead role. I have my doubts about whether she is right for the part but I’ll reserve judgment until I actually see the movie at some point.

    Joel usually looks like that, he’s a scruffy Aussie.
    I like Mary Elizabeth Winstead, so I’m interested in seeing what she can do.

    • John
      July 20, 2011 at 11:06 AM

      I like her too; she was absolutely great in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

      • lmmskipper
        July 20, 2011 at 3:33 PM

        That movie was amazing.

  10. July 22, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    I think this is kind of On-Topic for this discussion (regarding the octopus eating)…

    John may not want to watch…and if you’re squeamish you might skip it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxQmOR_QLfQ&feature=player_embedded#at=25

    • July 23, 2011 at 1:30 AM

      Dude… did they chop the top of its head off to make less likely to run?

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