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20 Years of Potstickers Will Do That To You: OLDBOY

Monday, December 9, 2013

My timing was off for seeing Dallas Buyers Club, but was on for Oldboy so saw it instead.  Had no idea Spike Lee even had a movie out.  How can a movie just sneak into theaters Thanksgiving weekend?

If you're wondering if it's the film he got all that Kickstarter flack about, the answer would be No.  That film is still in the works.

Turns out Oldboy is an update of a Park Chan-wook movie that's considered a cult classic.  (Would love to hear from anyone who has seen the original, particularly anyone who has seen both).

Tinsel & Tine plot summary - Joe Docette (Josh Brolin) is not a bad guy, he's just kinda a douche, a drunk and a womanizer. All of which makes him a not-so-good husband or father, although he does care deeply for his 3 year-old daughter.

We see Joe almost make a good impression on a potential client, but he's just gotta hit on the man's wife - blowing the deal.  Joe gets stinking drunk and then comes to the door of a friend's bar, Chucky (Michael Imperioli) to get more stinking drunk; but it's after hours and Chucky tells him to go home.  If only he'd heeded Chucky's advice, instead he sees a pretty woman under a strange yellow umbrella with tally marks...

Now remember, I walked into this movie completely blind, had no idea what it was about, no background, had never seen a trailer or read anything about it; so when I realized Joe isn't just waking up in some stranger's hotel room, but rather he's been imprisoned in this dank, depressing hole that can barely be called accommodations. I was stunned! Even more so as we watch him watch the years go by, watching TV.  It's 1993 when he's locked away and we see the Clinton years, 911 happen, Bush get re-elected, Obama get elected and re-elected and this man is still in the same room, eating the same damn Chinese food, brought to him and shoved through a slot in the door, day in and day out -  for 20 YEARS!

But it's not boring in the least, watching Joe plan escapes, keep himself busy with exercise and watching martial arts on TV, make friends with rats, write letters to his daughter, struggle to keep his sanity, lose his sanity, come back to his senses and make more escape plans is endlessly, oddly gripping.

It's when Joe is finally set free that the film takes a turn and becomes a kooky mix of both B movie thriller, Lifetime/martial arts flick with some over the top Tarantino-esque killing.  And you know what?  I enjoyed every minute.  It was like I knew it wasn't quite right, but it was satisfying and crazy! More so, as the reasons behind his imprisonment get brought to light, it takes on one of those Dateline news type sagas. 

Olboy also features Elizabeth Olsen (click for T&T post) as a former drug addict turned social worker who tries to help Joe "solve the case".  If you don't know her yet, pay attention, she's an actress to watch.  She's very natural, with an openly expressive pretty face.  Jennifer Lawrence has some competition in Olsen as another excellent ingenue actress on the scene.

The other little observation I had was that I recently watched Josh Brolin in another movie where he was put away for a long time and once again, more or less, wrongfully imprisoned - Jason Reitman's Labor Day (click for T&T post).  I wonder what he's trying to work out with this theme of loss of freedom?


As off putting as Spike Lee can be in an interview, it always makes for a good read -

Slant: Some people say it wasn't necessary to reinterpret the original South Korean movie. What do you say to that?

Spike Lee: Well, the people who say that aren't coming to see the movie anyway, so...

Slant: Speaking of 12 Years a Slave, as someone who's arguably the most influential black filmmaker in the business, what do you think about this year's narrative of so many popular black films being made by black artists? Do you think they're achieving what they need to be achieving in terms of equality on screen?

Spike Lee: Well, I haven't seen them all. But let me answer the question this way: Every 10 years, it's the same article. I remember when Denzel [Washington] won the Academy Award for Training Day, and Halle Berry won for Monster's Ball, and Sidney Poitier won the Honorary Oscar. It was all on the same Oscar night [in 2002]. The next day, it's like, "Oh, African Americans have arrived!"...and then there was another nine-year drought. So I don't get excited. I'm not trying to sound like a hater, but history has shown that it's a feast-to-famine thing. We'll get our shine for a year—there's a big new turnaround, a new day has arrived—and then for nine years there's nothing. Let's have it two years back to back. How about that? - READ MORE R. Kurt Osenlund Slant

T&T's LAMB Score: 3.5 outta 5

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About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?
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