Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cheap & Thirsty

So this past weekend was movie-lite for me. I was only lukewarm about seeing All About Steve and so when the abysmal reviews started to pop up on Thursday and Friday, I decided not to go see it. Normally I don't let reviews get in the way of seeing something I really want to see. In this recession, however, I'm not going to pay my hard-earned money for a movie I'm on the fence about and everyone else says is crap. I'm not that rich, bitch.

But I did scoot over to Landmark Midtown Art Cinema to see Thirst, the latest movie from Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook who also made Oldboy. [In Atlanta you have to move fast to see foreign and art house films because they might not stay in a theater for more than a week.] Thirst is a vampire flick. But it's not like your kitschy True Blood fang-bangers or Twilight vamp-lite wannabes. For one thing, there are only two vampires and neither sports fangs.

The story focuses on Sang-hyun, a Catholic priest, who decides to voluntarily submit to a medical experiment to find a cure for a disease known as the Emmanuel Virus. But no cure is found, and Sang-hyun is the lone survivor out of 500 volunteers. Not only is he a survivor, but he has unwittingly become a vampire. The rest of the film focuses on Sang-hyun's descent into sin--lust, adultery, murder--despite his best efforts to hold onto his previously pious existence. His accomplice into hell is Tae-ju, the daughter-in-law of an old acquaintance. Once Tae-ju learns who and what Sang-hyun is, she hastens his and her own demise, and literally becomes a monster herself. Although the film is more concerned with metaphysical rather than physical transformations, there are still gory moments and strong sexual content. So it's not for the faint of heart or easily offended.

I liked this film, but as with any foreign film, I cannot help but wonder if I am missing some cultural nuance that simply isn't conveyed through the subtitles. Also, I wanted to know more about the virus which we are told only affects Asians and Caucasians. Indeed, all the medical team members trying to find a cure are African. And since there are no other vamps in the movie, it's not really explained why the other infected people died or why other vampires were not made. Any way, I guess I'll just have to ponder that. But if you liked Oldboy and Let the Right One In [a surreal vamp flick from Denmark], you'll probably like Thirst.

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