What To Watch Thursday: Pieta and Old Boy

What To Watch Thursday: Pieta and Old Boy

Mar 21, 2013 |  by  |  Art, Event
About the author
Born and raised in this amazing city, Steven (25) remembers quite vividly the first film that as a young boy got him addicted to cinema: The Neverending Story. And it really is a never-ending story, his grand film study has gone on ever since. Since then his taste has extended beyond such a fantasy coming-of-age film and will now guide you to what to see and what to skip.

What To Watch Thursday is Overdose’s weekly film concept: every Thursday – which traditionally is Premiere-night in the cinemas across Amsterdam – we will review at least two films that are definitely worth your while. Our main goal is to shield you from horrible films and wasting your precious time. In the process we will try and give you as much in-depth background, without spoiling anything!


Anticipation: If you’ve never heard of Kim Ki-duk before, now is the time you get to know this (grand)master of South Korean cinema. A regular guest of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, Ki-duk delivers his eighteenth feature, Pieta. Expectations were already high ahead of this film’s release due to its winning the Golden Lion award (amongst three other prizes) at the Venice Film Festival. But now Ki-Duk, best known for Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter & Spring and Bin-Jip returns with something quite different. In this film the protagonist (Lee Jung-jin playing Kang-do) is a ruthless loan shark. Kang-do was abandoned as a child and, perhaps as a result of this, he spends his days in solitude. Completely disconnected from everyday life, he doesn’t shy away from breaking a few limbs and souls while collecting his debts. One day, however, he’s approached by a mysterious lady (Cho Min-soo), who presents herself as his long-lost mother. Once they are reunited, his neglectful mother becomes the target of all those poor souls who seek retribution for Kang-do’s sadistic acts of the past…

Appreciation: The word ‘Pieta’ (Italian for pity and referring to the Virgin Mary mournfully watching over the dead body of Jesus) sums up the general mood of this film. But brace yourself – there’s a reason many people walked out during its several screenings at Venice Film Festival. It’s not for the faint hearted. Ki-duk reaffirms his name as something of a provocateur. The result is quite a controversial and bleak film but if you’re into such a thing, it certainly delivers. Perhaps the most interesting trick Ki-duk pulls is adding a new dimesion to the typical Korean revenge flick that the industry’s been known for for the last decade. And it’s precisely for this unique approach that I found this film so strangely compelling because ultimately, what we’re dealing with is a great and moving study of loss and vengeance.

Length: 104 min.

Verdict: 3/5 – Perhaps not the greatest introduction to Ki-duk’s amazing oeuvre, Pieta gives a unique approach to the Korean revenge genre.

Where to see: Watch this film in Cineville’s The Movies and Rialto.

Old Boy

Anticipation: It seems that this week has a special Korean theme so get out your Soju and go enjoy these brilliant revenge films! Old Boy is another definite must-see. Quentin Tarantino named it as one of his favorite films of the new century and it seems that Hollywood has finally caught up with him – a Spike Lee remake of this brilliant South Korean film is set to be released this November. There’s no doubt in my mind, however, that the new American version can come anywhere close to the utter brilliance of Park Chan-Wook’s blisteringly inventive original. Old Boy is the middle part of a vengeance trilogy and puts Park Chan-Wook firmly on the map. After its European release in 2004, Old Boy won the prestigious Cannes Grand Prix which is perhaps somewhat remarkable given the nature and premise of this film where Dae-su (Choi Min-sik), an ordinary idiot, suffers draconian punishment for a crime he didn’t commit. He is locked away for fifteen long years in a hotel-like cell. When released, he sets out to hunt down those that locked him up – the perfect set-up for a revenge saga…

Appreciation: Very stylish and ultra-violent, this is perhaps Park Chan-Wook’s greatest film. Remarkably, Old Boy is far more comical than you would expect it to be on paper and for the most part this can be credited to Choi Min-Sik’s mesmerizing performance. There is so much to say about this uniquely twisted film that I’m just going to let you decide for yourself! No excuses, go watch it!

Length: 120 min.

Verdict: 5/5 – Maniacal and exhilarating: Old Boy can count itself amongst the best Korean cinema has to offer and beyond.

Where to see: Watch this film Friday March 22th 23.00 in Cineville’s De Uitkijk.

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