Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bullet movie reviews

Barefoot in the Park with Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. Made in 1967, the movie has lost none of the hilarity and universality that made it such a hit 45 years ago. Anyone who's ever been married will probably be able to relate.

Sadly only available on instant streaming via Netflix at this time is the well-worth-seeing Castaway on the Moon. This South Korean comedy is about a man with enormous financial debt. Believing he has no other way out, he throws himself from a bridge crossing the Han River in Seoul. Instead of his dying, the current takes him to an uninhabited island in the middle of the waterway.

At first he tries desperately to escape the island. However, after several funny failed attempts, he decides to make the best of it, and after a while even decides this is where he'd like to stay.

Meanwhile, a recluse woman living in her parents' apartment, whose photographs of the moon are her only connection with the world outside her bedroom door or window, accidentally notices our castaway one night. From there, the two find several humorous and creative ways of communicating. Will he get off the island? Will she stop living inside her bedroom's four walls (and using her closet and bubble wrap inside a box for a bed)? Will the two wounded souls meet? The answers are pretty obvious, but how the two characters get there isn't, and that's what makes this film so much fun.

Not so much fun is The Red Chapel. This documentary deals with two Danish comedians who work as a team and travel to North Korea as part of a cultural exchange. Both men were both born in South Korea and adopted as babes. One self-identifies as a "spastic," and he is the main ... maybe even only ... reason to watch the film. The guy's honesty and observations are just so funny (so are, occasionally, his comedic partner's).

His manager and the documentary's producer, on the other hand, eventually comes across as pathetic as he slavishly plays the game put before him by his North Korean hosts. In the end he claims to have uncovered the evil of the regime, but how? With some stock footage of North Korean starving children? With his allowing some regime culture aparatchik to pretty much neuter the duo's act and planned performance? By participating in an anti-US parade (wearing a Mao suit, no less), giving a quasi-Fascist salute, and exclaiming anti-American slogans ("I have to do this," he says. "We have to do this. Just go along." Note: This is a paraphrase of what he says, but I judge it to be a chillingly accurate one.)?

The only thing that comes across as evil is the example he gives of what happens when you don't stand up to evil or bullying or the like when confronted by such phenomena. He repeatedly caves, throwing his talent under the bus in the process. The spastic partner's words of disappointment toward the end of the film are very telling, but one wonders if this man gets it.

The North Koreans? The one we see the most is the regime's host/watchdog, a very sympathetic lady. While her calling the spastic comedian her "son" is, as he puts it, a little creepy, she comes across, at least, as quite sincere. I found myself thinking, "If I ever made it to the DPRK and had to have an official minder following me everywhere, I would want her." (I've actually found myself thinking that about several of the regime-appointed hosts I've seen in various and better executed documentaries on travelling to North Korea.)

Also disappointing was the documentary, The Eye of Vichy. However, I'm to blame for that disappointment. I was expecting a typical documentary with interviews and such. Instead, it shows Vichy France (the name given to the Nazi-collaborationist government headed by Field Marshall Philippe Petain during World War II after Germany conquered the French) as the Vichy propagandists tried to portray it. So it's really should have been called Looking at World War II Through the Eyes of the Vichy Collaborators with the Nazis. It's interesting as far as that goes, but it leaves unanswered so many questions that I and other history buffs have. As just one example, how could a war hero like Petain so brutally betray his nation and his fellow countrymen?

Finally, don't miss John Rabe. This film is a really well done tale of a German man who saved some 200,000 Chinese from being massacred by the Japanese during WWII. You could call him the Oscar Schindler (as in Schindler's List) of China. Really, don't miss this one.

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