It was the music that got me the first time I saw this film, back in the days when BBC2 were showing films worth watching on a Sunday evening. The soundtrack to this achingly sad drama set in 1950s American small-town wasteland, coming out of cars and home radios, is the country music that was prevalent pre-rock and roll in the States.
The music elicits the mood of stultifying lives the characters lead; the only escape is the army, an affair or the picturehouse. The last film screened at the cinema, symbol of a dying town and of an era, is Howard Hawks' Red River. Impossible, naturally, but a romantic gesture from cinephile director Peter Bogdanovich and one of the many memorable scenes in this key 1970s movie.
The acting from Timothy Bottoms, Ben Johnson as Sam the Lion, Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges, here in his first Hollywood role, is uniformly excellent in a film made with real passion and commitment. Geoffrey Macnab writes here in the Independent about the film's lasting impact.
And here (and above) is Sam the Lion's famous monologue.
No2: I Saw the Devil (Ji-woon, 2010): Prince Charles Cinema, 8.45pm
This is part of the Prince Charles Cinema's 'A Taste of Revenge' season. You can find full details here.
Time Out review:
Korean revenge movies reached their apotheosis with Park Chan-wook’s violent but sophisticated trilogy – ‘Sympathy for Mr Vengeance’, ‘Old Boy’ and ‘Sympathy for Lady Vengeance’ – the last two of which starred Choi Min-sik. In director Kim Jee-woon’s monotonously brutal cat-and-mouse movie, Choi plays Kyung-chul, an amoral serial killer who abducts and butchers the pregnant wife of special agent Soo-hyeon (Lee Byung-hyun). Consumed by revenge, Soo-hyeon initiates an interminable game of catch-and-release, repeatedly capturing and maiming his prey, but refusing to kill him until the ‘most painful moment’.
A remorseless catalogue of calculated violence, casual cannibalism and sexual sadism, this inflicts over two hours of suffering on the audience – a cruelty compounded by the fact that its banal point is made early: per Nietzsche’s dictum, ‘He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.’ Choi’s ferociously deranged performance eclipses that of handsome Lee, as does Choi Moo-seong’s, as Tae-ju, the seedy hotel owner with a taste for human flesh.
Here (and above) is the trailer.