Monday, September 23, 2013

3 Extremes (2004)

Directors :
Fruit Chan (segment "Dumplings")
Takashi Miike (segment "Box")
Chan-wook Park (segment "Cut")
Writers :
Haruko Fukushima segment "Box"
Pik Wah Lee segment "Dumplings" (as Lillian Lee)
Chan-wook Park segment "Cut"
Bun Saikou story (segment "Box")
Bobby White subtitles
Production Company - Applause Pictures

One thing these 3 short films have going for them are they are all beautifully shot.  The rich colors in Dumplings and Cut are really gorgeous, and the creepy imagery in Box is beautifully done.

Dumplings - This was my favorite of the 3 films. It's a pretty darn sick idea that centers around Aunt Mei (Bai Ling) and a former TV star really wanting to feel and look youthful again.  Some people might find Dumplings pretty sick because Aunt Mei's two jobs are fetus collector and rejuvenating dumpling maker - so you do the math.

At first the former TV star who's never in the dark about Aunt Mei is slightly disgusted with herself at the lengths she's going to look and feel young again, but pretty soon her need for vanity trumps all sanity and she's asking Aunt Mei for her most potent dumplings.  A particular scene where Aunt Mei describes the perfect and most potent dumplings is pretty sick, she can even pinpoint the month that those perfect ingredients come from.

There are some gnarly scenes in here that include chopping, chewing, and a full on abortion.  The abortion scene happens fairly quick, and actually involves a whole side story in dumplings for some unlucky school girls, but I had already gotten over sick idea behind dumplings so it didn't sway me from finishing the film.

In the end things catch up with all parties.  You can only imagine what happens when that rejuvenated starlet finds out that after all her dumpling eating she's now able to conceive after being told for years it would never happen..

Cut - This is the story of a regular man looking up to someone who he thinks is not only more rich than him, but also more kind than him - and that really sends this film extra into overdrive.  How can someone who has everything like this famous Director  also be freaking nice!

I didn't particularly like this flick, I found it pretty tame and quite silly.  Sure there's torture, but it barely made me squirm.  The unlucky Director and his super unlucky pianist wife are both restrained throughout the course of the movie, and what seemed odd to me was that the Director's wife was strung up so gorgeously (you'll see), but this very strange way of being restrained didn't really play into the torture, our film extra still chose to simply do the obvious thing that you'd want to do to a concert pianist.

So why is she being tortured?  Well she's being tortured so that the Director will spill the beans on any unsavory things he's been doing in his life, the trade off is his wife can possibly keep her day job.  It takes awhile for the Director to break down, but when he does - his tirade ends up with him probably cutting his wife deeper to the bone then our maniac extra.  I definitely didn't like this part, seemed so obvious.

One redeeming part, sort of, involves a child whose been brought along for this wild ride.  The kid also is part of the bargaining used by our film extra and in the end, this  proved to be the only cool twist in the entire flick for me.

Box - I'm still a little bit confused on this one, but there's definitely some great imagery presented that kept my eyes glued to the screen.

This is a story about two twin sisters who had a small act that involved them, at very tender ages fitting into very tiny boxes for small audiences.  There's a lot of jealousy for Kyoko towards Shoko as their father seems to prefer her, this leads to Kyoko locking her very loving sister up into their performance box, and a freak accident occurs resulting in her death.

Kyoko is haunted intensely by this event and it follows her into adult hood.  The scenes started getting really confusing for me and they seem to jump around - or maybe my brain just couldn't compute all the information - or maybe I don't have quite the imagination to finish the story off myself.

I found it interesting throughout, even though the pace was really slow.

I would rank the films in this order - Dumplings, Box, then Cut.  I really enjoyed Dumplings, so that's why I rated this a 5.  Without Dumplings I would have given this a 3 or 4.

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