• Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

    I'm a huge fan of the Vengeance trilogy by Chan-wook Park, comprised of this film, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and Old Boy. The latter is probably the most well known, but Sympathy for Lady Vengeance is my absolute favorite.

    A story about a young mother who gets blackmailed into taking the blame for a kidnapping and murder. Ultimately spending a chunk of her life in prison, getting free, then taking revenge. She doesn't just seek to kill him. 

    SPOILERS!: She infiltrates his entire life and creates a grand scheme, way more satisfying than simply killing him herself. END OF SPOILER!

    Watching her evolve from obeying societal rules, inextricably linked to asian womanhood. Then move on to doing what she wants, but still having moments of doubt and guilt. Her transformation and growth is reflected in wardrobe and color symbolism. Used as a fantastic plot device rather than a superficial last minute thought.

    The writing is incredible, the whole time i'm rooting for her. Rejoicing in her wins, and willing to throw punches (in my head) at the antagonists. The sideplots are incredible too: miscommunication between her and her daughter, a clueless bakery employee, her relationships between her jailmates and her bakery boss.

    Admittedly have a weak spot for food in film. So i'll leave you with this cake. Highly reccommend this film over the other two, if you only pick one from the trilogy. But once you see this, you'll be compelled to pursue Chan-wook Park's body of work. I'm a Cyborg, But That's Ok is next on my list.


  • Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

    Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

    Red hoodie, a nod to Little Red Riding Hood. A woman lost in society, becomes literally lost in the frozen scenery of a foreign Minnesota, USA. Chasing after her treasure like a confused Don Quixote. 

    Kumiko is out one day and she discovers a VHS tape, which happens to be distorted and damaged from being hidden in the sand of a damp cave-like tunnel. A very narrow entrance, where you could say this is where she’s being born into a new world. She becomes fixated by the tape, using it as an escape. Firmly believing that Fargo, the Coen Brothers movie, is somehow a treasure map.

    She even makes an embroidered map (of the fence where Buscemi buries the suitcase). Brings it with her to the USA and recklessly makes a voyage for riches. She risks a lot, i won’t say what, i won’t spoil it. But her delusional tenacity makes me cringe and fill me with a sense of wonder at the same time.

    Kumiko is relatable to someone who is a bit socially awkward and listless. Before her voyage she runs into a woman on the street claiming they hadn’t seen each other in a while. The woman demands her phone number. While Kumiko is quiet and seemingly hesitant, the over bearing woman begins to make a stabbing motion with her phone. Stabbing Kumiko’s stomach, which made me laugh uncomfortably. Recognizing it as an action of someone you’re close to, rather than someone you’re not. 

    The film gives you adequate time to contemplate everything. It moves slow, but i appreciated the time for reflection. Why aren’t we supposed to honestly tell someone we’re not interested in exchanging numbers? Doesn’t everyone chase things that seem ridiculous at some point? Does she have anything else to chase? Does society care if we fulfill ourselves unless it’s a financial pursuit? Do people want us to be just like them so they don’t have to question their choices?

    This isn’t a sunny movie, so if you don’t like asking questions, you might want to watch something else. Though there is a cute pet bunny in the film. Totally worth it.