Movie Reviews

Review: Memories of Murder (2003)

memories-of-murder-2003-movie-reviewAfter a string of 2017 releases, it’s quite refreshing to blog about a movie a little older! Let me tell you about a cool website I stumbled across the other day. It’s called Taste, and basically how it works is that you complete a profile by rating movies that it throws at you. Once your profile is complete, you’re left with a list of movie recommendations based on your tastes. Simple, huh? I wanted to give it a try, so I completed my profile, and the number 1 recommendation for me was Memories of Murder (2003). There was only 1 way to find out whether the site was any good really, wasn’t there?

Directed by Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer & Okja), Memories of Murder is based on a real life serial murder case in South Korea. In October 1986, a young woman is found raped and murdered in a field. Detective Park Doo-man (Kang-ho Song) is first on the scene and has never dealt with a case like this before. It’s clear that him and the rest of the department are well out of their depth, so another detective, Seo Tae-yoon (Sang-kyung Kim) from Seoul, volunteers to help.

If I remember rightly, this might be my 2nd ever foreign language movie. It’s shameful actually, because the only other one I’ve seen (Incendies) was absolutely incredible, so I’m definitely open to suggestions. In fact, I almost enjoy a subtitled movie more, because my mind simply isn’t allowed to wander, or I’ll miss a huge chunk of what’s actually going on.

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Memories of Murder is a reasonably long movie, but it doesn’t ever really slow in pace. From the opening of the movie, we’re presented with the first victim, and the way the story flows it really does feel like we’re part of the investigative team as they desperately search for clues. Once the team work out that these murders only happen at night when it rains, the tension really ramps up. I felt just as frustrated as the detectives when things didn’t go their way, although Park Doo-man’s investigate techniques are extremely questionable!

In fact, his character started out as quite unlikable for me. He was presented with a decent lead, but rather than work with the suspect to gather as much intelligence as he could, Park Doo-man actually creates false evidence to make the suspect look even more guilty, and actually tortures him until he gets a confession. It’s quite hard to watch in some parts. By the end of the movie though, you can see how much his character has grown.

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Memories of Murder is up there with Zodiac as my joint-favourite detective movie I think. As far as that website goes, it was spot on with recommending me something to watch! I’m not affiliated with them in any way by the way, just to make that clear. I just like sharing interesting things with you. This movie gets 4 out of 5 Nike (or should that be Nice?) sneakers from me.

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By the way, in case you’re curious, it’s also recommending me Persepolis, Letters from Iwo Jima, Short Term 12, In Bruges and City of God, to name a few. I’ll be tracking these down soon!)

Movie Reviews

Review: Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2 (2003 & 2004)

I’ve been putting this review off for a while, because I’m a little scared of what you might all think. Let me introduce this in my usual way to put my nerves at ease first however.

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My New Year’s Eve was extremely tame, I spent it at home with my ill husband. It was still a good night though, we had take out pizza, played a few board games, and we decided to watch a movie too. There was nothing on Netflix that took our fancy and rather than bringing in the New Year flicking through every movies going ‘no…no…no…’ we grabbed a DVD off the bookcase which we’ve been putting off watching for ages. Kill Bill: Volume 1!

I’m not well versed in Quentin Tarantino movies. I watched The Hateful Eight and Django, and really enjoyed both. Other than that, I’ve only seen Pulp Fiction, and that was alright too. More than anything, it was nice to see where all the references I’ve heard over the years came from. In fact, I’m not even sure why we owned Kill Bill, but I’m guessing that we’ve been told so many times what a classic it is we thought we should see what the fuss is about.

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Perhaps it should have been obvious, but we didn’t realise that Kill Bill is literally a 4 hour movie split into two halves, so we ended up watching Volume 2 the very next day, because we knew if we didn’t, we’d probably never see it.

For those who haven’t seen it, Kill Bill is essentially the story of ‘The Bride’ (Uma Thurman) working her way through a kill list. Her assassin colleagues and boss tried to murder her on her wedding day, but they’re clearly not the A-Grade assassins they make themselves out to be because they failed, and she’s out for revenge.

Let me start with Volume 1. This was a whole barrel of fun. Knowing nothing about the story, the non-linear story really pulled me in, and it’s always enjoyable to watch some bad-ass fighting! In particular I loved the origin story of O-Ren (Lucy Liu) when the movie turned into an anime style animation. The over exaggeration of the bloodiness reminded me of an anime I used to watch called Bleach!

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It felt like everything was leading up to The Bride’s fight with the Crazy 88, which there weren’t 88 of, which is funny in that ironic kind of way. The fight itself was incredible to watch, and the violence doesn’t hold back in the slightest. We ended up watching and going ‘ooh, ouch’ along with it, as if we could feel those blows ourselves! All in all, it was something I normally wouldn’t watch, and although some parts were quite slow, I enjoyed it.

Which brings us to Volume 2…

First of all, I really liked the opening sequence, where we learn what happened at the chapel those 4 or so years ago. That brought me the closure I needed. What stuck out like a sore thumb though, and perhaps I just didn’t notice it in the previous volume, these camera shots in black and white, for reasons I can’t work out. In the buried alive scene, the screen is much smaller and that makes complete sense, but the other shots seemed so random.

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What else felt random? The Bride is buried alive, and she’s about to punch her way out of the box. How is she able to do that? Training montage! It just wasn’t very…subtle. If that scene was much sooner in the movie it would have been a ‘eureka’ moment, but instead it just felt lazy. I fully except at this point that I’m the minority here whinging about a universally accepted great movie!

Even the finale with Bill felt a bit lacklustre. With such a huge build up in Volume 1 to the fight with O-Ren, I was expecting something even bigger for Bill, but it was literally *SPOILER* a punch to the chest that killed him. *SPOILER OVER* I was expecting something a little more…showy?

I still enjoyed both movies, but they just felt overrated to me. Volume 1 was far more enjoyable, but paired together as they should be, Kill Bill gets 3 out of 5 pussy wagons.

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