Thursday 5 April 2012

Mini Reviews- Edward Scissorhands, Straw Dogs and Oldboy

             After a female-themed mini reviews post back when, I think it is time to do a "men, men, men, manly men" one. Don't ask me where I get these ideas from- I am highly jobless and my brain is dying. Also I am like high on Ron Swanson.

Edward Scissorhands (Dir: Tim Burton, 1990)

Basic plot- Edward was created by a scientist who gave him scissors for hands. He lived alone in the creepy-looking Gothic mansion until a kind-hearted make-up saleswoman, Peg Booths, decides to take him in. Her little colour-coordinated town with the gossiping housewives is swept with curiosity at this strange, yet meek man and try to use him best to their advantage. In all this Edward starts to develop feelings for Peg's teenage daughter Kim. But the fickle town soon begins to create trouble for the scissor-handed man.

             I have loved this film for a very, very long time for which there are a number of reasons. The story combines many tales that we have all read or heard or seen before such as a need for love and acceptance, a beauty and a beast falling for each other, society exploiting those who are different and then crippling their genius and so on, but in a most singularly magical way. We feel for this strange man who could be very dangerous, but remains gentle and helpful throughout the film. It is only when he gets blamed for the wrong things do we see his carefully controlled anger, for being created in such a way, come out. Still, Edward is a beast of love and art and the film depicts that beautifully in all of his creations. His feelings towards Kim are pure as a child which make some of the most heart-wrenching moments in the film, like when he cannot seem to hold her lest he hurt her. That one tiny scene reveals the true heart of the film and the man- someone who should not love because he wasn't designed that way, but he does. The film has some really amusing moments too, provided by the residents of their town, especially in the form of the original Edie Britt, Joyce played by Kathy Baker.

              Even though I disapprove of his career choices at present, Johnny Depp still is my favourite actor and this was the film that introduced me to him, and also to the quirky and dark film maker Tim Burton. I am quite a huge Winona Ryder fan too, who plays Kim. Depp of course is Edward, a role that was as custom-made for him as his costume in the film. This film is the prime example of what the Burton-Depp team was capable of. They were absolutely unique here; there may have been various influences but they weren't remaking or adapting anything, and it worked wonders. This film was the true brainchild of Burton, who has on many occasions called it the epitome of his style of work. It is a fantastic looking film too- the dark is perfectly matched with the colourful.  It majorly influenced the Goth culture, but I think it is so romantic. I even wrote about it as a modern example of romanticism in today's world, where the idea of snow represents eternal love to an old lady. One of my favourite endings.

Rating- 10/10

Straw Dogs (Dir: Sam Peckinpah, 1971)

Basic Plot- A seemingly docile mathematician and his wife move into her old house in a quaint British village where they have a bit of trouble with the unruly locals, including the wife's ex. When things go too far, the mathematician decides to fight back.

              I love films in which the darker side of people comes out. I think that is precisely the reason why Batman is so famous. We are inherently violent and only because of that peace-loving icons like Gandhi are revered. The attraction to violence is in our nature but we try have to control it in order to live in a civilised society, just like Dustin Hoffman's character David Summer. We are shown how this "pacifist" has moved to this remote village in a different country because he did not want to take part in anti-war protests. He tries to avert conflicts as most of us do, but when one is constantly ridiculed, the facade of civility and even sanity may start to slip. Which is exactly what happens with him. The best part of the film is when this happens, but that is only in the last half hour or so of the film. But we see the build up to it, and quite perversely, we champion the violence when it takes place. That is precisely what the film maker wants us to do, and through the character of David, mirror our own secret savage desires.

              The film has been wrapped in controversy for a reason ever since its release, and that is my biggest problem with the film- the portrayal of women in it. They are represented in this promiscuous, nagging, needy, childlike way who have no problem being slapped around. Many people have tried to explain it by showing David's Humbert Humbert-esque tastes, but the only two women in the film are exactly his dirty fantasy type, which was a little hard to swallow for me. Apart from that, I was very impressed by Hoffman's acting in it. It is a fascinating character study. The film is all about him, and it's a crucial part of the 70s anti-hero boom. Hoffman and the final act make the film for me.

Rating- 9/10

Oldboy (Dir: Chan-wook Park, 2003)

Basic Plot- Oh Dae-su is kidnapped and imprisoned in a hotel room for fifteen years. When he is released, he starts the search for his captor and the reasons behind his captivity. He becomes involved with a young sushi chef Mi-do during his quest for vengeance, but the truth waiting for him is far more terrifying than anyone can ever imagine.

        Oh what a mind-fuck! In my lost podcast where I spoke about another Chan-Wook Park film, I talked about how I wouldn't be as shocked going into this because I would be mentally prepared for it. Boy was I wrong... It starts out almost innocently. Yes it is violent as hell, but nothing I couldn't handle after so many years of Fincher and Tarantino devotion. It is very stylized and all sorts of awesome (that hallway scene- swoon!). One starts to love the crazy Oh Dae-su as he seeks the truth, with his hammer. But then the film takes a very grim turn and all hell breaks loose, at least for me. 

            However, I love intricate films like this. The story is a truly twisted yet brilliant one. All the three main actors, Min-sik Choi as Oh Dae-su, Hye-jeong Kang as Mido and my personal favourite now, Ji-tae Yu as the diabolical Woo-jin are incredible. I don't want to give anything away because the film has more impact if you don't know anything about it at all. And you bloody well need to be shaken like that. There are things in it no one approves of, but it is presented to us in such an enigmatic way, that we are all blown away. I mean I really wanted to hate this film because that is how much I loathe the final truth of the film, but I just couldn't. The look, the feel, the dialogue, the music, and the acting have made me a fan.

Rating- 10/10


  1. My problem with Oldboy is that it started off great, but then ended with it being so outwardly ridiculous - an ending I guessed as a joke quickly when the *spoiler alert for anyone reading this comment* Mido was introduced.

    The first half hour of the film is great, and I love the look of it, but it suffered the same thing I got from Volver, too. That it started out great and just went into laughable territory.

    I've heard that the comic is great, though, and completely different to the film. Definitely does look good so I'll probably check it out at some stage.

    On the other hand, Edward Scissorhands is amazing, and I'll definitely always love that film!

    1. I had a moment when I guessed who Mido was, but then I brushed it off. But yes, I had figured out the main twist way before it happened and kept hoping I was wrong.
      I love the look of it too. I think it would have gone into the laughable territory for me if it hadn't been for the character of Woo-jin.
      Ooh comic. I may look into that too, if and when I find it.

      Edward Scissorhands is definitely amazing :)

  2. Seeing the above comment, glad I'm not the only one disappointed by Oldboy. As for Ed, it's a perfect film, Tim Burton at the absolute height of his career. It was all downhill from there!

    1. Oldboy is definitely not a film that everyone will love. I'm surprised how much I liked it.
      I won't say downhill from there, but it was his creative pinnacle yes. Still Ed Wood, Big Fish, Sleepy Hollow and even Mars Attacks were quite good.

  3. Heheh - I read men, men, manly men and immediately thought of the 'Men in Tights' song from, well, Men in Tights....*lapses into dream land.....* Ahem, anyway
    Would love to see Oldboy - in fact, I need to catch up on a lot of asian cinema!
    Loooooove Edward Scissorhands - I'm yet to meet someone who doesn't :) The day Burton and Depp go back to making films as good as that one will be the happiest of days!

    1. What is Men in Tights? It sounds awesome. Must check it out soon.
      Yes, I just realised how behind I am in my Asian cinema viewing, barring Bollywood of course.
      I know right. They were incredible. But seriously, they should go separate ways for a while, do brilliant things separately and then come back together and start afresh and then do something like Edward Scissorhands, which will make me very happy too :D

  4. I just hope the recent remake of "Oldboy" doesn't change the ending, but studios most likely will make them.

    1. They apparently are, I think. They might mute it down a bit, which is both good and bad.