TALES FROM THE RIVERBANK
In my movie picks for August I listed the excellent Korean movie Memories of Murder under the assumption that it was only available on import. Well, I was wrong, the North American DVD comes out this Tuesday.
Memories of Murder is based on an actual case from 1986 where a string of killigns alarmed a small country town. The local cops were ill-equipped to handle the case, and as portrayed in the film, they are endearing but bumbling guys who get off on shoving their badges around a little too much. A detective from Seoul is sent in to help out, and he's as overeager with his time as they are misspent in theirs. The grisly nature of the case--which is never dwelled on in gore-iffic detail (at least not that I remember, but I've been seeing a lot of disturbing movies this week and so things that don't compare pale)--ends up bringing two of these cops together. The film is darkly comic and emotionally on point. Add it to your Netflix queue or badger your local video store to get it in.
Yesterday, I saw the new Ingmar Bergman film, Saraband, a sequel to his amazing Scenes from a Marriage (an influence on my own 12 Reasons Why I Love Her). Set 32 years after the first cycle of films, Saraband shows the same couple re-establishing contact. They've not been communicating with each other as long as they have not been communicating with us. Their relationship picks up where it left off--meaning it's still rife with as many problems as there is love--and much of the reunion is spent trying to figure out what it was that connected them in the first place (Liv Ullman and Erland Josephson both reprise their roles). Further complicating matters, Josephson's estranged, widowed son and his daughter have moved into a nearby lake cottage, and their relationship is as tangled and torn as that of their elders. The title of the film, which in some cases refers to an erotic dance between two performers, is a description relationships, but with added danger and a selfishness that threatens to wreck them all. Bergman gives his characters no easy answers, but one does feel that his longsuffering lovers find some comfort in the end, however brief.
The construction of Saraband is excellent, told in ten vignettes, each successive one building on what went previously. It's an example of a perfect sequel, one that keeps in mind exactly what we liked about the first film (the complex characters, the long conversations, the heart-wrenching emotions) and hangs on to them while simultaneously thinking about what the logical continuation would be. In other words, it's a sequel that exists purely for story reasons and not to fill some slot on a studio's production schedule. Far too much art in this modern world is told out of some enslavement to the past (recapturing old glory, reliving the entertainment one loved as a kid, chasing a paycheck, etc.), as opposed to being born out of some need within the soul of the artist. If this truly is Bergman's farewell film, he has bowed out on the highest of notes.
Current Soundtrack: shuffle a deck of Divine Comedy, Beijing Angelic Choir, Depeche Mode, Queen, The Concretes
Current Mood: busy
[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2005 Jamie S. Rich