“Together in hell, then,” as the vampire priest says. He could be summarising Chan-wook Park’s movies; where protagonists are tortured thoroughly by someone who knows how. Sex, violence, deviance, and a roving camera: that’s Park. Only, there’s nothing cynical about his approach. He’s allergic to cliché. He’d make blood look white if he could. His vampire story contains no fangs, no bats, no crosses…no first bite (the curse is transfused). The Thirst of the title is as much a thirst for death as a thirst for blood. Where others look to vampires for night life, Park sees them the way he sees all blood-letters: as people steeped in their own demise.
Hello Kitty doesn’t make coffins. And for good reason: it’s wrong to sentimentalize death. So why does Hollywood succumb so often? Why is Ghost the template for talking about the afterlife? (Wherein: the dead are dead… but not really). Why? Because you make more money that way. If you make it palatable, they will come. But to prettify death is to empty the coffin. That’s why Peter Jackson’s version of The Lovely Bones is doomed. Here is a story about death. The point of the story is not the narrator (a dead girl), but the fact that she is everywhere and nowhere for her family. It’s about grieving.
Colonized people see the world from inside a mirror. From outside, you’re oblivious (because: what changed?) But if you’re colonized – on the side that lost – life itself loses meaning. Imagine: the country you call home vanishes, you are invaded, and the invaders never leave. Even your name for your country is unwritten on a map. Aotearoa (“the land of the long white cloud”) is the Maori name for New Zealand. The name New Zealand comes from Europe (“old” Zeeland is a region in the southwest of Holland). Vincent Ward’s new documentary, Rain of the Children, is an attempt to get the view from inside the mirror. It’s the story of a Maori woman, looking back.
If I said the story involves: rape, incest, poverty, obesity, illiteracy and Mariah Carey; you’d be forgiven for thinking: maybe I’ll watch Avatar instead. But Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (to give it it’s full – and, yes, utterly ludicrous – title) is one of the best movies of the year. If you walk in expecting something “powerful”, you’ll get it. But you’ll also get a movie Prince would love; a movie which plays (in equal parts) like Purple Rain and For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. This is not a work of slit-wrist social realism. Or rather – it is – but not the way you’ve seen it done before. This is the story of a girl named Precious.