#85 - Heeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!
1923 - 2009
Honesty may or may not be the best policy but it’s certainly one of the most valuable commodities a critic can have. If you’re writing an opinion piece, you owe it to your readership and yourself to be as open and candid as humanly possible. And so, Constant Reader, I feel it is incumbent that I level with you this week.
I could not bring myself to go see Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.
This was not a decision I came to lightly, believe it or not. After all, I’ve gone to see plenty of movies that I had little to no interest in for the sole purpose of writing them up in the Electric Theatre. But in this case, I felt that I had already decided months ago that I wasn’t going to like this movie. That attitude is the kiss of death for any filmgoer. You’re basically daring the filmmakers to prove you wrong and the only way they can do that is to make a movie so surprising, so engaging and so unique that you have no choice but to suck it up and admit you were wrong. And let’s face it, Transformers 2 is probably not any of those things.
Under the circumstances, if I were to write a review of this movie, it would be doing a disservice to the film, to myself and to all of you. Instead, I decided to bring in a guest critic. I wanted someone whose taste in movies I respect and trust but was also part of Transformers’ key demographic. Above all, I wanted someone who wasn’t just willing to see it but genuinely wanted to. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look very far.
My guest critic this week is seven-year-old Max Haaga. If the name sounds familiar, you may know his dad, Trent Haaga, from such movies as Terror Firmer, Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV, Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!, Gimme Skelter and many more. Trent and I co-wrote the book Make Your Own Damn Movie! with Lloyd Kaufman and his movie Deadgirl will be playing midnights in select cities July 24 with a DVD release from Dark Sky Films following on September 15 (it’s already available in Region 2, so snatch up a copy if you can). Trent and his lovely wife, Lynh, graciously allowed Max to cover Transformers for me. Here’s his report.
NOW IN THEATRES
Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen
Review by Max Haaga (age 7)
The movie was about the Decepticons wanting to blow up the sun. The Autobots were the good Transformers that wanted to stop them.
I liked when those little balls that the tiger Transformer, when he spit them out and they turned into little Transformers. It was funny when a chicken was on an army guy and the army guy said, “Get off of me!”
There was lots of explosions. There were lots of helicopters and army guys.
I’ll give the movie one thumb up. My daddy said the movie made his soul sick and he wants his money back.
Great job, Max! I’ve included Max’s unedited original review above. That’s pretty much what my reviews look like before they get formatted for the site, by the way. A million thanks to Max Haaga (and his mom and dad) for this week’s review. Check back in a couple weeks for Max’s thoughts on Brüno! (Just kidding…I can probably handle that one myself.)
TALES FROM THE QUEUE
In the past decade or so, a number of exceptional movies have been coming out of South Korea. One of the leading filmmakers of this new wave of South Korean cinema is Kim Ki-duk. I first became aware of Kim’s work with the gripping psycho-sexual drama The Isle and became even more of a fan after seeing the sublime Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…And Spring. Kim’s 2004 film 3-Iron is one of his very best and an excellent introduction to his unique, haunting body of work.
Jae Hee stars as Tae-suk, a young man who delivers menus door-to-door on his motorcycle. He later returns to the neighborhood to break into the homes that have not taken the menu off the door. Once he establishes that the homeowner is out of town, he makes himself at home, taking pictures of himself, eating their food and spending the night but never taking anything. One house isn’t as empty as he imagines it to be…the abused wife of a businessman is hiding and she silently follows him through the house. When the husband returns home, Tae-suk saves her. She joins him on the road and a tender, loving bond begins to form between them.
3-Iron is a hypnotic, virtually silent film. Jae Hee doesn’t speak at all and Lee Seung-yeon, as his companion, speaks only at the end. Both give astonishing, purely physical performances that convey volumes about their relationship. Kim’s images have an ethereal grace to them that hold you spellbound throughout. We don’t learn anything about Tae-suk’s motivations or past but I don’t think we’re meant to. The film blurs the lines between reality and dreams, which is precisely the point. Like all dreams, 3-Iron remains open to interpretation and whether you think Tae-suk real, a figment of the imagination, or something else entirely, all of those meanings are equally valid.
3-Iron is a very special film, one that lingers in the memory long after the closing credits. Kim Ki-duk has never made the same movie twice but all of them share this unforgettable, often eerie quality. This is a filmmaker worth seeking out and remembering and 3-Iron is a film you’ll find difficult to shake off. (* * * ½)
Thanks to Al for this week’s Tales From The Queue recommendation! I didn’t catch Al’s last name but I assume he knows who he is. As always, if you have a favorite flick that nobody else seems to know anything about, I want to know about it. TFTQ is an equal opportunity employer.