My mind searches for the reason I’ve ended up here instead of back home doing the laundry and planning out what I should wear for my date tonight. And though an excuse tries to form — the best my sleepy mind can come up with is something about a mouse, men and plans laid to the best of one’s ability. In the end, all the mice, men and plans were unable to defeat me from jumping on the N train and riding out to the beach on this perfect day.
So, sitting on the beach with my toes pushed deep into the sand I let the wind hit my face. Like that odd old song, the wind is hitting me but it feels like a kiss. The sun is attempting to burn across my face, but the warmth feels so nice. The couples are walking along the shore, the surfers are trying to catch the waves for a ride and dogs fetch sticks.
I press play on my iPod and close my eyes. The problems of my life seem to roll out with the waves and tho they try to return to me when the water rolls back again — they never quite seem to be able to reach me. They roll back out to the ocean with the tide.
I feel good. I feel free. I feel alive. I want to jump up and play with the little puppy that is nipping at my feet, but her owner is in a hurry and wants to get to lunch at The Cliffs. She picks the puppy up and they head toward the restaurant which seems to be waiting for the next earthquake to take it down into the ocean. That is why the new owners invested such little energy into making it more beautiful than it already is. Nothing is will last forever. I want to fly with the kite above my head — spinning in the wind. No caution. No restrictions — except those imposed by the string currently being navigated by the impossibly thin boy in the silly pants.
I embrace my knees as my iPod woes me with music that feeds my soul almost as well as this spot on the beach. And, I wonder — did the members of the band, HAL, have any idea of the simple but deep beauty created by their lyrics when they recorded this song:
“Put your hang-ups in the closet
Put the fears you have in a box
Come on baby, pull up your socks
And sunbeams will shine
They will give you light in the dark
Go get yourself a head start
Cause the radio’s beating its tune
with all the crackling through the waves
And there ain’t nobody to blame
So keep trying, baby be brave
Don’t listen to what they say
Keep going you’ve come all this way
It’s evident, do as you do
Cause you’re just so beautiful
Keep love as your golden rule
Keep loving the way you do
Cause that’s what those stars are saying
And count your many blessings
And sunbeams will shine
They’ll give you light in the dark
Let’s get ourselves a head start
Cause the radios beating its tune
All the crackling through the waves
And there ain’t nobody to blame
So keep trying, baby be brave
Don’t listen to what they say
Keep going you’ve come all this way
It’s evident, do as you do
Cause you’re just so beautiful
Keep love as your golden rule
Keep love as your golden rule…”
No sun screen — time to my shoes back on, catch the train back to Castro and kill time before my date.
And, I sit here at my cafe transcribing my notes from about an hour ago when I was on the beach. My problems are trying to find me again but I am brushing them away for the rest of the day. I wait for my cookie for the day. I wait for a frog to turn to a prince. I wait to win the lottery. I nod in acknowledgment to the cute student who seems to be here more often than me. But, I don’t have to wait for love. I’ve got that. And, really — isn’t that all that matters at the end of the day? If you can’t answer “yes” to that — then you need to get back to the water and suck in some energy. You know the one you need to serve as your golden rule.
iPod Shuffle on my way back from the beach:
“It’s All Me” by Holly Golightly (who is awesome! Thanks, Ing!!!!)
“Miss You” by The Stones
“Man Is The Baby” by Antony & The Johnstons
“Shores of California” by The Dresden Dolls
“Far From Home” by Tiga
“Gone to Earth” by Goldfrapp
“Corner Store” by Brazilian Girls
“Sacrifice” by Break 3000
…and, yeah, I’m too lazy to check my spelling or look for type-0’s. Be kind.
HOT FOR TEACHER OR HOW I AVOIDED JUNIOR HIGH DETENTION…
There were too many “bad” kids at my junior high. I went to the “poor” one in my home town. The nicer one was on Phelan Blvd. Mine was on some creepy side street — the name of which I’ve long since forgotten. Anyway, during my 8th grade year the school faced the challenge of finding a way to fit all of us “bad” kids into detention. Sitting us on the floor wasn’t working. Most of us would nap. So, our lame principal came up with the ever-clever idea of post-modern behavior modification. In his eyes poetry was equal to punishment. So, lesser offenses would actually merit a choice for the offender: for girls, you could choose to memorize a poem or run 8 laps after school — for boys, you could choose between poetry memorization, 10 laps or 10 “licks” from Coach Mendozola. The guys lived in mortal fear of Coach Mendozola spankings or “licks” — Coach Mendozola was stocky but hot Latino guy who probably opted to become a teacher because he could get summers off. He was about 6 foot and 200 pounds of pure hairy muscle. And, he seemed to take a sick sort of pleasure in spanking the boys.
“Mr. Stanfield, we have advised you that smoking is not allowed on campus. Normally, you would be sent straight to detention but now you have to make a choice. What will it be?”
A 4 second pause…
“Um, well, er, I guess I’ll just take the licks.”
Gasps from my fellow students in the principal’s office waiting area.
Fast forward to 3:30pm. I am in Coach Mendozola’s little office located off the side of the stinky boys shower/dressing area. He always managed to leave his “Playboy” magazine sitting out on his desk to taunt the boys. I still don’t know how he avoided getting into trouble. But, this was 1982 and our Junior High Baseball team was always scoring touchdowns or some such. Anyway, it would usually play out like this…
“Stanfield. You again, eh? You better get it together, son or you’re headed for a heap of trouble.”
My every pore was beating with anticipation.
“Well, son. OK, let’s go.”
I would follow Coach M out into the boys’ dressing area. It smelled of sweat, bleach and that pseudo man-scent. There was the bench we sat on to put on or take off our shoes/socks. Coach M would motion to the bench, his paddle in hand.
“Get down and bend over the bench. You know this drill.”
I got down and layed myself over the bench —
Wham! Wham! Wham! Wham! Wham! Wham! Wham!
“Are you going to smoke anymore, Stanfield?”
…Smiling on the inside in more ways than one, “No, sir!”
Wham! Wham! Wham!
My butt was stinging but I was in love. I stood up.
“You know, Stanfield…” Coach M was cradling his warm paddle and looking at me with those intense brown eyes.
“…You really should just start dippin’ — you won’t get in trouble. I don’t blame you for taking the licks, tho. Who wants to memorize a fuckn’ poem, huh? Dumb shits. They are all pussies. I’d take a lickin’ any day over that crap.”
“Ok. Get out here. I got some readin’ to do.”
Not that I am into getting spanked or anything — but those were some hot times! Yes, sir!
MY LITTLE DOLLIE…
I don’t know why, but I really want — no, I really need one of the new Amanda LePore dolls! I know that they cost over $200 or something, but I think my life might end if I don’t own one. They should set up a charity for folks like me who can’t afford one.
Yes. It arrived today. The second series of NIGHTY NIGHT!!!! Alan and I just watched the first 3 episodes — and, I have to admit. My jaw fell a couple of times. And, I even cried. …with laughter. Ms. Julia Davis really cranked the dark/twisted humor meter up to 11 for this round! I think it so strange that Oprah aided in the production of series 2!??!?!? Color me impressed. Oprah — the dark side. Too bad she will NEVER be able to show much of this on American TV!?!?!
I can hardly wait to see what happens in the final 3 episodes!
Um, Dessie or Lubin — can you tell me what “Linder” was doing with that fish when Jill ran down the poor black woman? I think I might have an idea but am not quite sure. And, when they brought in the horse and the vid cam I got a wee bit worried about where we were heading.
God bless the BBC!!!!
I wanna live in London! Or, anywhere in the UK for that matter! The midlands! Maybe I could meet someone like Jill and be her PA!
Oh, this most worrying. Here I am sitting in my fave Castro cafe with a Diet Coke and my iBook — killing time. Waiting for my pal, Bethie, to arrive. I was typing a note to Meredith (that cool beauty who lives on a Rock) and this leather clad gent of a certain age (ok, he told me he was 74) — and a very handsome 74 I might add! Anyway, he walked up to my table and asked if I was “Matty of Matt’s Bit of Space”
Dead silence for about a minute as I scanned my mind trying to decide what I wanted to say. I wasn’t sure, so I opted to just say, “yes” — he asked if he could sit to chat with me for a few minutes. I said sure. I was curious. He told me he recognized me from the picture on my blog and that he had been reading my blog for about a year. He told me that he wished I was blogging more often these days. Then he told me that I had “inspired” him to go to Medium Rare and purchase the Goldfrapp CD which he told me he loves. He then really impressed me by telling me that he knew that “Ride A White Horse” was in reference to Bianca Jaggar and that time she was supposed to have ridden a white horse on to the lit floor of Studio 54. He then told me that he didn’t think that this ever actually happened and that he and his ex used to live in NY and spent many a night at Studio 54 when they were younger and hot. Color me impressed. We talked a bit about this never-ending rainy season. Then he asked for a hug and went on his way. Neat! I asked why he has never posted a comment and he said he doesn’t feel that he has anything of wit to share. I told him that I disagreed. Then he told me that I should start submitting some writing to publishers. I told him I didn’t know how and can’t imagine that anyone would want to publish my rambling and scattered thoughts.
Now, I have to tell you. I was in a really good mood upon my arrival here. I had such fun with Ingrid yesterday and last night. Tho, I always have fun when hanging with Ms. Ing (who, by the way can wear any/all French fashion! She rocked the house in this little French black dress!) Anyway, I was feeling really “up with people” as I am waiting for one of my dearest friends, Bethie, to arrive. She is flying into San Jose. I would have gone to the airport to meet her but I don’t know the way to San Jose. So, here I sit. Then Bethie called and her flight is delayed so I have more time to kill than expected.
Anyway, as the sun began to come out all I’ve seen are guys with their boyfriends/life partners — hanging all over each other and ordering/eating loads of food and chatting about going on shopping sprees or upcoming travel plans. And, here I sit. Alone and about 6 months from 40. Alone. $200 in the bank and $80 in my pocket.
I feel bitter, jaded and a bit annoyed. I don’t wanna be a bitter little pill.
I want to stop all of my sobbing.
I’d much prefer to be the one with the hand in my pocket but I fear I am the one who feels you outta know. You know?
I guess, really — I just wanna ride the white horse on to the floor of Studio 54. I don’t want to be able to walk for days. Maybe that is what it all comes down to — known of us have it figured out, but everything’s going to be fine, fine, fine. Props to Alanis and a bucket of that green slime from that kids’ show she used to be on…
iPod Shuffle Telling:
“Hollywood (Micronaught Remix)” by Madonna
“Lily” by Kate Bush
“Knocks Me Off My Feet” by Stevie Wonder
“Frederick” by Patti Smith Group
“Sugar” by Ladytron
“Bird In The Hand” by Har Har Superstar
“Heaven” by Eurythmics
“You Have Yet To Win” by Holly Golightly
“Action” by Saint Etienne
“I Won’t Change You” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor
“Sixteen Tons of Hardware” by Bodies Without Organs
I copied my pal, that Fash Mag Slag — Jon! …cuz he is most cool and I thought it best to steal his idea! Take my test!
I got to go with Ing to a way cool clothing store and got her try on some clothes I wanted to see her in! She looked awesome! She has the figure of a hot French actress! It was soooo much fun! Tho, Ing chickened out and refused to play “Pretty Woman” at one of the more snooty stores. It would have been fun! …well, maybe next time!
LIFE’S A STAGE OR MY RIDE ON A STREETCAR NAMED HOSTILITY
Yes, life is a stage and we are all actors stumbling about with the poorest of direction and are constantly forced to adlip our dialog. And, sadly, it is not always a production of something fun and whimsical of the Noel Coward variety. Hell, I’d be willing to settle for a few days of CATS or STARLIGHT EXPRESS from time-to-time. But, no. My Big Agent in the Sky seems content to have me stumble about in some pretty dark-ass plays. However, I have to admit that they are interesting and if I am properly back lit can be quite fun. …in their own sick little way.
At this very moment — somewhere in London — Dawn French and Alison Moyet are getting ready to step out on the stage and perform a new play written by Kathy Burke! It is called SMALLER and the critics are ripping it to shreds. I am reading rumors of an early curtain, but I refuse to accept this! And, just yesterday I received an email from my uber-cool pal, Michael, who is currently slumming about in Holland (poor kid!) telling me that he got to see Dawny and Ms. Moyet walk the boards! And, he loved it! I so wish my director would send me on an adventure in the UK. I would most definitely find a way to see this production! I adore Kathy Burke. She of Comic Strip/AbFab/Gimmie!Gimmie!Gimmie/Kevin & Perry fame. She makes me happy!
Even when she is breaking my heart is some somber and horrific Brit drama. She is always sublime. Remember when she stole that movie from Meryl Streep in the late 90’s? I can’t remember the name of that movie, but she seriously rocked it. God bless Kathy Burke!
Oh, and I was alerted that my copy of the second series of “Nighty Night” has shipped out! I shall be running to my mailbox every day in anticipation of its arrival! I am so excited to see the further adventures of Jill! My understanding is that this round of the series even got complaints to the BBC for going a bit too far! I love comedy that pushes the envelope! I just love it! Series one is now available in the US! Rent or buy it! You will not be sorry! And, I must stress to avoid it when it starts to air on Oprah’s network. I mean, I am quite pleased that someone was smart enough to pick it up to show in the US but I hear that they have had to cut it so much that it is now one episode shorter than the original BBC series. However, I do have to admit — folks either love it or hate it.
Oh, but I’ve strayed from my original topic! Yes! Life is a stage upon which we trip about doing our best to secure that Tony nomination. Well, my stage took a turn this morning when I boarded the M streetcar. At least it was labeled as the “M” train — however it was really the “Hostility” ride from Hell! We were rolling along. A group of surly young ghetto chic girls boarded. Everyone immediately hated them. And, I must stress that we all did hate them. Loud, obnoxious, surly and stinking of bad hair product and pot — they were so loud that I could not even drown them out with my iPod. I finally just gave up and turned it off mid-Beck (sorry, Ing!) —- Two rather soft boys boarded with a small puppy (which was muzzled) — however, I should stress that this was a small puppy. Everyone liked the puppy and the two gay boys were really friendly and allowed the children on the train to pet the little dog. I am not sure what sparked it. To be honest I don’t think anything sparked other than stupidity.
Suddenly the gaggle of ghetto-fabulous shut up. And, then the biggest of the spandex glad faux Gucci girls walked up to the two boys, dog and 3 small children petting the dog and belted out, “Hey, faggots! Get your mother fuckin’ dog off this train or I am going to kick your cocksuckin’ ass!” …the gaggle was most amused and started laughing and hurling similar comments. Then, one of the smaller of the soon to be crack-addicted prison inmates jumped up and spit on one of the gay boys. The mothers of the children scrambled to grab their children. The little dog started to whimper. Several of us told the girls to shut up and sit down. I ran to the conductor and asked him to call the police. Now, there were 6 of these horrid girls and about 40 of us. But, that didn’t stop the gaggle of hair weaved madness from raging forward on the boys, the dog and any of us who dared to try to calm them. The puppy lurched when one of the girls spit at it. Suddenly the girls turned what can only be called “nastier” — all screaming that the dog was attacking them. Then the train grinded to the sort of halt that tosses poor senior citizens on to the floor. The conductor screamed into his microphone that the police were on their way and that everyone needed to calm down.
The conductor was kind enough to let people off the train one by one (if they chose to exit) …and within a few minutes a MUNI truck pulled up and three men escorted the two boys and their puppy off the train where a cop was waiting to take a statement. But, not before one of the girls managed to kick one of the boys in the butt and spit at them. …the spit landed on a baby in a carriage. The mother totally freaked and MUNI assisted her. The gaggle were informed that they were not leaving unless to go to jail to cool off. The gaggle just went bezerk. Screaming of civil rights violations, discrimination and police brutality. It was sort of funny because one the MUNI guys commented, “We are not cops and no one has touched you” …to which the biggest girl who started it all screamed “Mista! I can’t go back to jail! I don’t have time! Let me the fuck off this train!” This elicited more than a few laughs from us — to which the girl screeched, “Fuck you all! You’re all a bunch of faggots anyway!” …Um, as far as I know — I was the only other faggot on the train. Everyone else was painfully straight.
An elderly woman screamed, “Officer, I live by these bitches and I will gladly make any statement you need! They were attacking those poor boys and that little dog!” …to which most of us bellowed the equivalent. The gaggle began to look a bit nervous. Now, I think it might have been a bit of over-kill when 3 cop cars showed up and armed cops came on board and “walked” the girls off the train. A hot looking guy in a football jersey called out to the gaggle as they were being escorted from the train, “It is you sort of bitches that hold us back! Go fuck off and die!” …oh, my. MUNI asked him to stay calm.
Now, the most annoying thing is that we had to sit for close to 30 minutes while the police talked with MUNI. The gaggle stood closely together — several now faux crying in hopes of sympathy and the two gay boys w/dog chatted with two police officers who were now playing with the puppy. Then we were told to exit the train and board the one behind us. This made everyone mad. The vibe was really not cool. what would Kathy Burke have done?
Anyway, here I sit at my fave cafe. Updating my blog and about to catch up on my emails. One of my dearest friends, Bethie!, will be arriving from Boston tomorrow! She and her beau will be hanging out for a good week. I’m so excited to be seeing her. And, I think, she is curious to see me some 60 pounds lighter. She a big health nut. And, soon I shall be meeting up with Ing. Ing is going to be trying on some way cool clothes in those funky stores in the Folsom Street area. Then I think we’re going to probably meet up with Alan. Maybe we will see a movie or maybe not. Either way, we will have fun on this stage of life. I just hope we get some good lighting!
…I need a boyfriend. And, we all know how important lighting can be when it comes to attracting love.
I stayed up really late watching this. I was expecting it to be great. It was not even very good. However, I am in love with Eol Lee. Can someone let him know!?!?? …yes, this is what kept me watching. Yummmy! I also sat thru this because I think Joseph Gordon Levitt is cute. Tho, far too young pour moi. But, he is over 21 so I guess it is OK to look. Right? I really hated BRICK, tho. I didn’t hate Ki-duk’s film. Brick was like an R-rated BUGSEY MALONE without the shit musical score.
My stage director has advised me to be lazy and not check my spelling/typing/content. …I’ve been “blocked” to select “publish” and move forward with the production. More adventure awaits even if Eol Lee is not involved.
SOME CRACK HO’s, CRAZY HOMELESS, ME & OPRAH…
Well, it is another month before my employer provides me with insurance so I had no choice but to return to the free clinic in that scary ass part of the city. However, as always, I kind of enjoy the experience. I can lament on and on about the odd luck of my life but I will never claim my life is dull. It is interesting. After a day full of faux drama at my wondrous big fat gay job, I left 2 hours early to head to the clinic. If my bosses and co-workers saw where I had to go I am certain that they would break the rules and just give me insurance now.
After letting them inspect my messenger bag to ensure I was packing no heat, knives “to cut uuuuuuuu” or pnp supplies and signing in — I took my seat. So, there I was. Me, 4 street workers clearly in need of some meth, crack or H, several insane homeless men and an interesting woman who we will call “Ida” Ida was my friend for the 3 hours I was there. We chatted. She tried to cut her hair. Told me it was far too long and matted. However, much to my relief — one of the guards came and took Ida’s shears away. Actually, they were not really shears — they were little scissors that one sees elementary kids use. Anyway, she was upset about not being able to style her hair while we waited.
“Ida. Shut the fuck up!” an exasperated crack girrrrrl said after Ida continued to complain to me that her hair was in need of “some workin'” — before an argument broke out and the crazy dude to our left started crying even more — a lady at the front desk announced that it was time for Oprah.
I swear — there was a wave of excitement that went thru the room as “Gladys” got up and changed the channel to Oprah. For the next 30 minutes or so we watched Oprah complain and lecture that we were all living beyond our means. Oprah never mentioned that her outfit probably cost as much as the annual budget for the free clinic and I swear it looked as if someone was changing her hair between commercial breaks.
“Poor thaanng. All that money and the bitch still can’t dress, do her hair or be thin.” …wisdom from Ida. Hair seemed to be heavy on Ida’s mind today.
I was bored. I don’t enjoy Oprah. She is starting to impact me in a way that I thought only Enya could. …or, maybe Yanni. Anyway, as Ida went on and on about Oprah’s set, which, Ida felt was too brown. Actually, she had a point or it might have been the poor reception of the TV. I decided to pull out my journal and write all of this magic moment down so I could share it with you because that is what I am all about.
“Hey, Matt-Boy, I like your bag!” …Ida then stroked it.
“Thanks. It works” I replied.
“Can I have it?” she asked.
“No” I answered.
One of the crazy men started laughing. Ida reached over and slapped his head. I am not sure if the hair cutting or the slap caused it, but Ida got to see the doctor before me. …we never saw her leave.
The doctor saw me for all of 3 minutes. Asked me how my day was going and refilled my two meds which I can’t wait to stop taking but will have to get a doctor to do so. Then I signed out and walked to BART and headed home.
The sun has returned. As has that wonderful SF wind. I love the way it feels. I sat out in Alan’s backyard when I got home. I wonder if Oprah would be nice to me and Ida if we went on her show. Ida could get a makeover and Oprah could teach me how to better budget and set me up on a date with Stedman. Well, a boy can dream. …I do believe this might be an actual ad for the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic circa 1969. I could be wrong. But, it is still fun to look at!!!
…came to me care of my pal, Dessie. He had a link to it on his blog and it is kind of cool how it seems to hit the mark.
Take it and post your score in my comments section! Share the warmth!
…I came out as —
“Romantic Dreamy Emotional
You are a very sensitive person. You refuse to view things only from a sober, rational standpoint. What your feelings tell you is just as important to you. In fact, you feel it is important to have dreams in life, too.
You reject people who scorn romanticism and are guided only by rationality. You refuse to let anything confine the rich variety of your moods and emotions.”
Interesting and I think this is me.
When Park Chan-wook announced that he planned to make a film trilogy studying the theme of human psychology and the act of revenge, few had much hope after the first installment. A twisted little movie called SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE. The film was oddly comical for such a sinister topic of body organ theft/kidnapping/accidental child murder/H addiction and love. Despite the originality and exceptional acting, the movie didn’t really quite work. However when the impossibly cute filmmaker released OLDBOY upon us, it was a cinematic revelation for me. I remember thinking I had not felt such a movie buzz since David Lynch saturated my mind with BLUE VELVET. It is that good and disturbing. Dark and drenched in metaphor — the complex story takes the audience on a psychological and horrific rollercoaster ride that is impossible to forget. It also finally brought much deserved attention to the talents of Choi Min-Sik. Now, Hollywood is readying a “re-make” for US audiences too lazy to deal with subtitles or too culturally-stunted to allow themselves to be challenged on a level that few US filmmakers try to challenge. I am dreading this remake, but I will see it. And, if nothing else, it just might make a few people decide to check out the original masterwork from which Hollywood has watered down.
At any rate, I am not sure why it has taken me so long but I’ve had a copy of Chan-wook’s final third of the trilogy on DVD for some time now. I am not sure how I secured it. I was so excited at the time it arrived but I had already heard it was not up to par with OLDBOY. So, I think I avoided looking at it. Well, SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE will be opening in US/UK cinemas over the course of the next several weeks and, if you look, you can even find DVD already available out there (just be sure you get one with English subtitles)
I finally watched it. While certainly not of the same power or cinematic genius of OLDBOY, SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE does not let the audience down the way the first of the trilogy did. In fact, this is a great film!
To step away from my topic for a few sentences. I’ve fallen in love with Asian cinema. If you’ve ever read my blog you know this. I am particularly fond of Japanese and Koren film. As a westerner and the quite possibly the whitest gay guy on the planet, I find film from Japan and Korea to be so interesting. All countries have complex, disturbing, sordid histories. All of them. All of us. However, Japan has more than its share of fucked up karma. And, poor Korea has suffered a great deal. And, there have been so many advancements/changes on the cultural, sociological and political fronts for these two countries in the past 30 years — the art that results is soooooooo odd. Japanese film is so totally fucked-up you can never be quite sure of what you might see. Miike Takashi, anyone? And, on top of that — the pure artistry is often hard to beat. The craftmanship that goes into many of the film productions is almost flawless. And, it all created for half the money and in half the time as what is created by film industries in the West.
But, then we have Korean cinema. Very close to the art of the Japan masters but without the pretention that one often finds. Korean cinema is more focused on pure entertainment value. And, this is what makes it all the more interesting. Everything about a typical Korean film is just so slightly off-center that Western Eyes are left blurry with confusion and conflict.
“Is it OK that I just laughed at that?”
“is it wrong that I just found that romantic?’
“Can I send a legion of therapists to Korea? ASAP!?!?”
A recent big hit “romantic comedy” was released. I am sorry. The title escapes me at the moment. However, the story follows the “cute and sexy” love story which stars a hot Korean pop star singing sensation and Yeom Jeong-A! Now, this movie did big business in the Korean market. …I have not yet seen it, but I am familiar with the plot. Drunk boy meets cute girl. Drunk boy date rapes cute girl. Cute girl falls in love with her cute rapist — oh, and becomes an alcoholic. Drunk girl tracks down drunk boy and true love awaits along with lovely pop songs. The end! Fucked up much?
Now, Yeom Jeong-A …is a great comic actress. I guess the best analogy one could make would be a Korean Meg Ryan about 20 years younger and more gifted as an actress. She was also in the way-creepy horror film, A TALE OF TWO SISTERS! She is a big deal in Korea. She can sing. She can do great slapstick comedy. And, she can break your heart with a glance. And, she is fearless in terms of what she will tackle as an actress. My personal fave Yeom movie is LOVELY RIVALS. …a big hit romantic comedy that follows the plight of a spinster school teacher (she is 30 and not married!) and her 10 year old cute student — and the fact that they both have crushes on the new hot 4th grade male teacher. …who, tho not really revealed in the film itself is quite possibly a gay boy. Anyway, the film manages to plug in ample uncomfortable doses of chemical dependency, child abandonment, child abuse, inappropriate teacher/student relationships, sexualization of a child and the whole odd idea that none of this prevents the film from being a heartwarming “family” comedy. ?????? Gotta love it. Right?
Now, I had read that Park was in talks to cast Ms. Yeom as the lead in SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE. I am not sure if this is true, but it didn’t happen. And, that is too bad because I kept thinking how good she would have been as the Lady.
Damn! She would have rocked!
OK — there are some spoilers here. So, just stop reading if you plan on seeing the film. Be warned.
SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE is a very dark comedy about a young woman wrongly imprisoned for the brutal murder of a little boy. While in prison she cleverly lines up “friends” to help her extract vacancy on the true child killer, played by Chen-wook’s fave actor, Choi Min-Sik. The violence is beyond graphic. And, be prepared to squirm during some truly horrific and sad moments when grieving parents elect to watch videos of their children being murdered by Min-Sik. …and, then, one-by-one each parent is given the opportunity to torture the sick man who took the life of their child. Typical turn of a Korean film — the dark comedy goes all horrific and tragic on our ass without much warning. But, this is part of the power of the film. And, part of Chan-wook’s challenge.
“Is this OK?” ….would you be able or want to personally torture the man who tortured and murdered your innocent child? And, how comfortable are you as a viewer in being entertained by a film that takes such a turn? Do you feel guilty for enjoying the film? Are your liberal views on the death penalty shaken? Is there something more pathetic about the grief-stricken parents harming the obviously sick killer or is it justice? And, what to make of Lady Vengance? Chan-wook NEVER flinches or allows the audience to forget that our “hero” — while not the killer of the child — did have a hand in the killing of the child. …and, has killed while in prison. …and, thinks little of putting her own child in harm’s way to carry out her desire to seek out vengeance. Do you cheer her on? Do you pity her? Is she just as bad as the child killer himself?
I am dying to see how any one of my friends unfamiliar with Korean culture would respond when Lady vengeance trains herself to shoot her gun by picking up one of those cute little dogs that are a delicacy in Korea — and then holds the cute little thing up with the gun aimed at it’s head. Boom!
Personally, I was saddened by the film. And, I think this might have been the ultimate goal of the filmmaker. As horrible as the sins of the child killer are — the parents are reduced to something which may be much worse. Not that I felt pity for the child killer. …and, I have to admit, I am not sure what I would do as a parent if given that opportunity. Don’t pass a judgment till you’re in the shoes. You know? However, I felt sad to see these damaged parents trudging in to inflict torture on the man who took the most important part of their life away in the most vile of ways. …and, to drive the point home — one of the film’s most upsetting and darkly comic moments take place near the very end of the film when Lady vengeance gathers all the parents together for cake. Vengeance has been taken.
…But to what point?
You won’t find these sorts of issues in a Charles Bronson film!
Yeong-ae Lee portrays Lady Vegance. She does quite well — particularly with the comic turns. And, there are many. And, she totally has the look of an angel — which embodies much of the symbolism employed throughout the film. However, she is somewhat limited when it comes to dramatic acting. This would not be an easy role for a young actress, but she works it well enough.
In the end, I wish OLDBOY were not a part of a flawed trilogy. But, if you want to see something a bit different which is likely to be watered down for Jet Li any day now — check it out!