Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Akmareul boatda (I Saw the Devil) (2010)

I Saw the DevilThe movie rolls after nightfall. A lone woman stranded in a remote area in her defective auto. A helpful stranger appears. He offers assistance. Her father is a retired cop & her husband is a covert agent; she knows better than to take an offer from a stranger. In her most polite fashion, she thanks him and waits for the tow truck. That tow will never arrive.

Kim Soo-hyeon (Byung-hun Lee) goes on a quest to avenge his wife’s murder. He stalks Kyung-chul (Old Boy’s Min-sik Choi), the serial killer responsible. Kyung-chul has eluding police for a long time. Soo-hyeon’s is obsessed with revenge. He operates above the law. The two brutalize one another in this human hunt to see if “good” will triumph. I Saw the Devil contains many graphic & violent scenes. Often hard to watch but equally compelling to wait for the outcome.

The only missing aspect are background details. The killer has been at it a long time but how did this start? What motivates him? At one point, you meet one of his co-conspirators, another serial killer. They engage in a conversation about the savoriness of human flesh. Serial killers don’t have social clubs. They don’t go to the bar and admit to the bartender the issues s/he is having with a compulsion to kill. It’s a solitary, lonely habit, yet here, colleagues? It’s a peculiar, yet fascinating, exchange. The only way to describe the ending is artistic savagery. If you’ve finished reading this review, you must see I Saw The Devil.

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Country: South Korea

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Run time: 141

Scale: 4

Friends with Benefits (2011)

Mila Kunis as "Jamie" and Justin Timberlake as "Dylan" in Screen Gems' FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS.We were flanked with the trailers, interviews and dates with the military folk. Did this saturation make me expect more?

Justin Timberlake was okay in The Social Network. After watching Friends with Benefits, I realized that Justin Timberlake is like George Clooney—he doesn’t act as much as play himself.

Head-hunter/recruiter Jamie (Mila Kunis) scores big when she convinces Dylan (Timberlake) to relocated to NYC from LA to take a job at GQ. The two hang out and become BFFs. They have a discussion about having sex sans strings and voila, it’s a friends-with-benefits arrangement. They seem to pull this off for a good long while. During this love fest, we also learn why both Jamie and Dylan are a mess in the relationship department.

Here’s the real mess—Friends with Benefits is lackluster. Even with some the quirky and heavy-hitters like Patricia Clarkson, Jenna Elfman, Emma Stone, Richard Jenkins, Andy Samberg and Shaun White (the snowboarder), this movie still manages to fall short. Even Kunis, who is enjoyable in comedic roles has a hard time. Her lines are read with knee-jerk speed and without authenticity. It takes on too much. Some of the sub-plots were interesting but there are too many doors opened, not enough time (despite being long for a rom-com) and the ending wraps too conveniently.

Director: Will Gluck

Country: USA

Genre: Romantic comedy

Run time: 109

Scale: 3