Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

Sympathy For The (Lady) Devil

Having already seen the first two installments in Korean director Chan-Wook Park’s so-called “revenge” trilogy – Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (review) and Old Boy (review), it went without saying that I’d be seeing the final film – Lady Vengeance – eventually. But this wasn’t something I was especially looking forward to. I mean I was, I really enjoyed the first two films, but they were also some of the most violent and shocking films I’d seen in recent memory. I did not anticipate the last one would be a breezy walk in the park (pardon the pun).

Somewhat to my surprise, Lady Vengeance is actually easier to take than the first two. Mr Vengeance was unrelenting with misfortune upon misfortune laid on the characters, often quite bloodily, but without a real hero or villain to the piece – there were just casualties and bad luck. Old Boy was a more conventional action/thriller though ratcheted up to outrageous levels of audacity (hammer fight!). Lady Vengeance, on the other hand, is actually quite a black comedy. Like void of space black, but still. Geum-ja Lee has just been released from prison after serving 13 years for kidnapping and killing a 5-year old boy. But, of course, she didn’t actually do it so she’s spent the time plotting revenge on the real guilty party and once on the outside, puts her ruthless plan into effect. Hilarity and bloodshed ensues.

Actually there’s far less violence to this film than the others and the overarching theme is more one of redemption than of revenge. Those who liked the bloodiness of the first two might be disappointed by this, but there’s still a goodly amount of Park’s trademark stylish unflinchingness and audacity – he’s not gone soft. He’s actually grown quite a bit, offering up a truly complex and complicated protagonist in Geum-ja. It’s not as tightly plotted as its predecessors (or maybe over-plotted) and the jumping around in time and place isn’t as tidy as one might like but the payoff is still there, particularly in the final act (which, incidentally, is where most of the blood is as well). There’s revenge, yes, but there’s also a goodly amount of heart in this film, and not just in the sense of being ripped out of one’s ribcage and spurtling blood all over the place.

Trailer: Sympathy For Lady Vengeance

Eric Bachmann talks to Aversion about living in a van down by the river. His solo record To The Races is out August 22 and you can see the guy from Crooked Fingers and Archers Of Loaf at the Horseshoe on September 16.

Also in town that night at Lee’s Palace are Mates Of State. Stereogum proves he’s good for more than just celeb gossip by ponying up an interview with Kori Gardner.

And further down the road, Jolie Holland is at the Horseshoe on October 13.

Looking a little closer in time, if you need something to do tomorrow night your main choices would be Mission Of Burma at the Horseshoe or The Futureheads at the Phoenix. Chart talks to Roger Miller from the former and while the latter is technically headlining, people seem much more interested in openers Tapes’N’Tapes. The AV Club and Chart have interviews with the band and AOL is streaming their album The Loon, which is being re-released this week. But there is one Futureheads interview at Philadelphia Weekly.

Stream: Tapes ‘N Tapes – The Loon

Sad news from The Concretes – in the week of an aborted, somewhat disastrous North American tour (though one that started well enough), frontwoman Victoria Bergsman has left the band to pursue a solo career. While Maria Eriksson and Lisa Milberg are both perfectly capable vocalists, the appeal of the Concretes was definitely in the sum of the parts and though the band intends to continue, I have my doubts as to how well either party will fare on their own. It’s hard to replace Bergsman’s peculiar brand of anti-charisma.

Happier news from defunct bands – Goldenfiddle points us to this, which confirms that the Pavement reissues will continue this Fall with a double-disc redo of Wowee Zowee. Looks to be the same deal as the first two – remastered album, loads of demos, b-sides and live stuff. Look for old copies of Wowee Zowee in your local used CD bins soon.

np – Golden Smog / Another Fine Day

By : Frank Yang at 8:46 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post5 Responses.
  1. sean says:

    That Pavement news brings to mind something that bothers me – do we really need reissues of albums that are still widely available? Jeez, it’s not like Wowee Zowee is tough to find. Plus, I think it was less than 10 years ago when I bought it the first time…

  2. Paul says:

    I think they’re unncessary under most circumstances, but Pavement fans are hardcore nutjob completist types and I imagine the only reason the band and Matador are releasing these is because the demand is already there.

  3. max says:

    i too was saddened by the loss of victoria, and i agree, i don’t think either will fair quite so well on their own

  4. Bruce Levenstein says:

    I love the thee Vengence films.

  5. Sean says:

    What a coincidence, I just saw Sympathy for Lady Vengeance tonight myself. I thought it had some pretty amazing visuals, although the slow pace of his movies really get to me after a while.