Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

In my previous post I talked about how lovely it feels when the CGI introduced into a film is imbued with a specific narrative value. This is true of Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) as well.

Most reviews online readily point out that this is a film that tries to embody the look and feel of the 1960s by making it not just the film’s subject matter but by infusing the form of the film with recognisable signs of film stock used in the 1960s – i.e. the use of “cigarette burns” in the top right hand corner of the cell that indicate the end of a reel of film; and the use of the old Universal logo.

But what I found most satisfying about the film was that the seemingly run-of-the-mill use of CGI to lengthen the creepy little girl’s jaw and turn her eyes a milky white in the trailer was not run-of-the-mill at all. These specific effects were chosen because of the specific nature of the ghosts in Ouija.

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The other thing that I really liked and appreciated about the film was the use of the ear as the point of entry for evil. It’s a very classical choice of body orifice to use.

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“Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole
With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leperous distilment” (Act I Sc V, 59-64)

It is how Claudius poisons Hamlet’s father, the king, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is also a very gender neutral body orifice to use, and one that is grossly under utilised in horror films.

Most possession horror films, you will find, feature possessed women, girls or girls on the cusp of womanhood. Regan from The Exorcist (1973), Rosemary from Rosemary’s Baby (1968), little Carol Anne Freeling in Poltergeist (1982), and even Carrie from Stephen King’s Carrie (1976), whose mother believed her telekinesis came from her being possessed by satan.

In more recent films you have Angela Vidal from [REC] (2007), Mia from the Evil Dead (2013), Jennifer from Jennifer’s Body (2009). The filmmakers of the The Exorcist even made a production choice to change the gender of the possessed child which was based on a true story about the possession of a boy, Roland Doe (a pseudonym given to the victim by the Catholic church to protect the boy’s identity).

The reason why females are the preferred possessed is because of the fluid nature of their gender. This is especially so in the case of the classics. Carrie and Regan were both female protagonists on the cusp of womanhood. Their adolescent natures and the fact that they are both menarcheal women makes their identity especially fluid and impossible to think of them and their bodies as closed vessels. In the case of Rosemary, she is in the unique position of being with child and again this is a time of great change in a woman and a state that suggests an openness to her identity because where does mother end and child begin in a pregnant body?

In the case of Ouija, however, even though the three main protagonists are women, the use of the ear as the orifice through which evil is spread seems to raise the stakes as we see male characters falling prey to possession and the insidious forces at work.

In addition to this, the spread of evil is not from some messy exchange of fluid that we’ve come to expect in horror films (no projectile pea soup vomit or gushing fountains of blood). Instead, evil is spread through these sibilant whispers poured into the ears of ambushed victims.

We never hear what these words are, but one would assume that they are some kind of language. And I thought this was so interesting because language exists in the realm of the Symbolic, the most codified and rational of the three phases of Lacanian psychoanalysis (Imaginary, Symbolic, and the Real).

However, the forceful removal of words, language, and a means of communication from the souls of the victims of torture that have been forced to live out all eternity in the walled off cellar of the house, forced the re-emergence of language to perform an inverted role of giving form to the Real. The Real, according to Lacan’s translator, Alan Sheridan, can be thought of as “the ineliminable residue of all articulation, the foreclosed element, which may be approached, but never grasped: the umbilical cord of the symbolic.” In other words, that which escapes language.

This violation of the order of the Symbolic through the return of the Real represented through a kind of reverse language that the spirits speak then represents a different kind of abject that comes to the fore in the film.

The words, the whispers, the spirits, the shameful history that America gave asylum to many a war criminal fleeing from Germany after WWII to find safe haven amongst its masses becomes the effluvia, the abjected bits that the characters are forced to confront, and for the audience where the horror resides.

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I suppose it’s customary to end off a film review with a conclusive statement about whether I liked the film or not. So in case that wasn’t clear in how I waxed theoretical about it, YES, I LIKED IT! It’s a good horror film. It manages its share of jump scares pretty well too, but towards the end the film felt like it was trying to overcompensate a little for the lack of jump scares at the start. So consider yourself warned.

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The Conjuring 2: The Tension between Seeing, Not Seeing and Seeing Too Much

James Wan has done it again. The Conjuring 2 is a horror success and as far as I can tell the franchise is on an upward spiral. It’s got more or less the same formula with its episodic structure, the Warrens, the two intersecting cases and a family in peril. But this time, the plotting is tighter and the themes of family and familial love and support are more tightly woven into the plot structure with the conscientious use of doubling and parallels between the Warrens, the pre-credit case, the main case and even the ghosts.

I want to spend some time talking about how Wan plays with the tension between Seeing and Not Seeing through his use of jump cuts and long takes. While I’m sure he’s not the first horror director to do this, he does use these techniques very effectively.

The thing about jump cuts in horror where the camera doesn’t move and the frame remains completely still but the ghostly figures within it seem to cover incredible distances in the blink of an eye creates a sense where even if if you have your eye trained on something, there’s no way of seeing what is happening or piercing the veil into the other side, so to speak. It’s a helpless kind of fixed staring that you force yourself to do, thinking you can master the horror by seeing it but the camera work shows you unequivocally what an exercise in futility that is. So to me, these sort of jump cuts are set up with the intent of letting the viewer ‘see’ something only for them to realize that they still can’t, even if the camera work, the mise en scene/framing seems to be attempting to help the audience ‘see’ better.

On the other hand, the long-takes that do foreground the horror happening in real time whether the character and the audience is watching or not, ALSO hark back to how futile the use of sight in place of mastery is. I want to use two examples from The Conjuring 2, but I also don’t want to spoil it? So I’m gonna go with 2 clap-clap game sequences from The Conjuring (2013) instead.

In the sequence where the mother unintentionally plays hide-and-seek with the ghost, her vision is compromised but ours and the camera’s is not. We see her walk towards the cupboard that has opened on its own and through which two ghostly hands have reached out to draw her over to them with two resounding claps in the echoey, empty house. Trapped on the other side of the screen, all you can do as the audience is sort of curl up in your seat and hope nothing happens to her.

In the other sequence, where the camera pushes in on the mother’s terrified face as she’s trapped in the basement, back against the door, illuminated solely by the flickering match in her hand, the long take ends with two hands reaching out from the shadows behind her to clap twice right beside her face before the candle gets snuffed out. As a member of the audience, you know it’s going to happen, the music and the tension the director has ratcheted up in the scene all tell you it’s going to happen and you see it happening but you still can’t stop yourself from screaming.

(ok. I know. It’s a jump-scare but omg it was the best moment in the film I can’t not talk about it even if it’s a little out of point… I’m sorry)

So these long-takes seem to indicate how even if you could see the horror unfolding (which the jump cuts deny you), it’s completely, utterly and absolutely useless anyway. So both positions, Seeing and Not Seeing become equally terrifying to the point where you don’t know what to do with yourself. Now, that’s a good horror film.

The Conjuring 2 does something more with who gets to see that makes the film even more interesting and called to mind one of the elements that Ju-on (2002) did really well and got credited for when that film came out.

So this brings me to my last point about Seeing Too Much because both Conjuring films seem to break down at the climactic moment because the power of suggestion is set aside in order to show you the horror, to give it an actual visual representation. And this externalizing of the demon and giving it physical/visual form turns the the possession narrative suddenly into a monster narrative. I don’t understand why he does this but assuming there’s a reason, why doesn’t it work?

When horror is in the mind of the viewers it’s much more frightening than when it is given physical/visual form because what’s scary to one person may not be scary to another. Especially, when you have horrible, uncooperative, desensitized horror film fans like myself (I’m sorry! C’mon! My earliest film memory was watching Poltergeist (1982) on TV when I was three!).

As an example, the demon in Insidious (2010) looked like Darth Maul; and the Crooked Man in this film just looks like Jack Skellington dressed as the Pumpkin King from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) to me. And the effect it produces is not so much horror but more, “Oh wow! That’s a cool monster design!” And an accompanying desire to see more of the monster. Not quite the right effect for a horror film I think.

Anyway, the way these films that Wan puts out with their fantastic build up that keep collapsing at the climactic moments got me thinking about how past monster movie directors got it right. And I came to the conclusion that this is why Body Horror as a genre is something that’s always fascinated me.

One of the major struggles early horror filmmakers struggled greatly with (before the boons of CGI came along), was the creation of a monster that did not look like a man in a suit. But with Body Horror, you completely sidestep this problem because the horror is the human body, in particular the defamiliarisation of the human body, the making strange of it.

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That’s why movie monsters like H.R. Giger’s designs for the aliens in the Alien franchise (1979 – 1997) have infected the dreams of so many. The recognizable bone structures like the ribcage and vertebrae found on the outside of an alien species, human fingers used as legs for the facehugger, not to mention the phantasmagorical glimpses of human genitalia infused into the design of these creatures.

Or what about John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) where every part of the human body from blood to skin to organs can be made monstrous with gaping mouths finding a home in a person’s thoracic cavity while a decapitated head sprouts spider legs to scurry away on?

Or why is it that even with it’s much weaker storylines the cenobites of from Clive Baker’s Hellraiser franchise (1987 – 2011) continue to fascinate and horrify us?

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And what about The Exorcist (1973), greatest possession film of all time? No visual/physical representation of the demon at all other than what we’re offered through the tortured body of poor unfortunate Regan.

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I think the simple explanation for why these monsters are effective horrific-inducing  monster designs is because they point out that the horror is not out there but it’s in here, inside us and with us all the time. And while our eyes are looking outward trying to guard against an external, encroaching, invading horror, we’ve left ourselves blind to the horrors residing within us, that potential for monstrosity that we all carry within us.

So here’s to hoping that James Wan might consider some body horror for a more successful monster design for his next horror film.

Ps. I recognize that a lot of this is wishful thinking because possession narratives are about invasive, encroaching, intruding horror that tries to defile the human vessel but hey! if The Exorcist could do it… maybe Wan will find a way too?

Blitz Reviews: TMNT: Out of the Shadows (2016), We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), The Chaser (2008)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles : Out of the Shadows (2016)

I caught this with a friend last week knowing full well that it wasn’t doing too well at the box office and hadn’t been able to garner many favorable critical reviews. So I walked into the cinema with my expectations set pretty low and already expecting to be disappointed. I guess it comes as no surprise that I found that there were some things that I did like about the film and I thought I’d just devote some blog-space to that.

I was surprisingly pleased with the characterisation of Casey Jones. From what I remember of the cartoon I grew up watching, this dude is crazy. Or if not full-fledged crazy, definitely  a little off-kilter. So while some reviews that I’ve read talk about how Casey’s mood swings could give a member of the audience emotional whiplash, I thought the unpredictability of his character was kinda apt. I particularly appreciated his discomfiting level of comfort with the use of violence to get what he wanted despite being a member of the police force because as far as I can remember, Casey Jones has always been a good guy with a strong sense of justice but a very bad temper.

I also thought the consistency in the characterization of the turtles was also very well managed. From Leonardo’s struggle to make the right decision in order to keep his team of brothers with their varied temperaments together, Mikey’s and Raphael’s outgoing personalities and their desire for recognition, and Donatello just being the science dude.

I thought some of the plot points were surprisingly deep too. In particular the way in which the film handled the fissure in the group between those who want recognition and those who don’t mind staying in the shadows. For example, when Ralph and Mikey go off on their own to retrieve the purple goo from the Evidence Room at the police headquarters (that could potentially make them more human-looking) and make a complete mess of things, April and Casey, have to take the fall for them. The fact that their desire for recognition, which is not an unreasonable desire, met in a headlong collision with the dire consequences of their actions genuinely gives the audience pause and a moment of lovely ambiguity over whose side to take.

However, the film as a WHOLE, really could stand to benefit from more of this ambiguity. Instead, heroes that were actually pretty decently characterised spent most of their time facing off against such ineffectual and idiotic villains it just felt so disrespectful both to the audiences and to the franchise.

There was nothing grey or sympathetic about the two-dimensional cardboard villains the turtles had to go up against.

Baxter Stockman was a completely useless scientist who didn’t do anything of real value in the film at all yet expected to become a legend in the field of science. His greatest claim to fame is that he found Krang’s alien technology and had to assemble it to create a wormhole large enough to bring Krang’s Technodrome through. C’mon! Anyone who’s assembled an IKEA product could’ve done that…

Shredder “evilly” betrays Baxter Stockman only to be more “eviler-ly” betrayed by Krang… Like we didn’t see that coming a mile away… This move just served to demote Shredder from iconic villain of the franchise to little more than pawn and errand boy.

And Krang like some two-bit alien invader from the 80s with a one-track-minded, world-domination complex which the scriptwriters didn’t bother updating at all, couldn’t even get his Technodrome assembled in time to do anything before he was sent back through the wormhole.

There was definitely some potential with Laura Linney’s Chief Vincent who could’ve been a credible commentary on the hindrance of bureaucratic red-tape and discrimination based on looks, if only she was actually a credible character herself. Instead from the get-go she was dismissive, close-minded, unnecessarily angry all the time, and completely incompetent. So when she did have her moment of emotional growth and reversal of opinion about the turtles not being monsters despite their “monstrous” appearance, it counted for absolutely zip.

Bebop and Rocksteady I thought was another wasted opportunity to function as counterpoint to the turtles’ own desire to come “out of the shadows.”

They could also have been effective doubles for the turtles during the portion where they were struggling with team unity but instead the audience got treated to a highly forgettable fight scene down some rapids that ended in a sharp drop over the edge of a waterfall, not unlike the long sequence in the first film where they tried to outrun an avalanche.

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

So I actually wrote like a 4000 word final paper on this film for my Psychopaths class so I’m sorta up to my ears in it already and don’t have much else to say about it unless I decide to cut and paste the essay here. But I do want to recommend this film to anyone who might be reading this blogpost because the film, while slow, is so formally aware it really plays with your expectations and makes you think you’ve seen things you really haven’t.

It’s well-acted, well-scripted, well-edited, it’s based on a great novel (I actually finished it… all 470 pages of it… I can’t believe it myself because I was so short on time during this summer class O_O) and just such a great little film I wish more people watched it because it totally deserves an audience.

I suppose one thing I wished I could have done in my essay but couldn’t because of the restrictiveness of the thesis I was working with, was to sit down and catalogue all the ways in which the film and the novel used literary and filmic doubling strategies to capture and portray the way in which trauma can simultaneously create a split in the self and a collapse of one’s self-identity.

Maybe that description will give you some idea of what it’s about? It’s a slow film but it doesn’t get boring. Really, do give it a shot.

The Chaser (2008)

Another film I celebrated the end of my first session of summer classes with was The Chaser – a dark film noir piece based on a real Korean serial killer. I was quite won over by how formalistically aware the film was for the most part until the last third of the film where the director seemed to have caved in to this need for melodrama with his use of manipulative musical crescendos and excessive slow-motion.

However, for most of the film, there is a seething, understated sense of horror bubbling just below the surface of an already seedy noir setting. While the film’s color palette serves to make everywhere appear dirty and grungy, coated with a layer of aged filth that no amount of scrubbing can get out, the lighting decisions sometimes bathes a scene in such stark lighting that one cannot look away from the horror.

I’ve included here in this short, blitz review the scene of a murder which received a very thoughtful treatment at the hands of director Hong-jin Na with its clever sound editing and intercuts to illustrates what I mean when I say this film is pretty subtle and formally aware:

Theory Challenge: Cartooning Violence

I wanted to see if I could use Vivian Sobchack’s argument about the viewer’s lived body as the site of the “reversible (or chiasmatic) processes of perception and expression” (60), from her essay “What My Fingers Knew,” to explain in a step-by-step manner how we come to understand the cross-genre nature of Yudai Yamaguchi’s The 10th Night contribution to the filmic adaptation of Natsume Soeseki’s Ten Nights of Dreams (2006).

When Sobchack suggests that the “lived body is always already engaged in the… meaning-making capacity of its senses” (60-61), she makes clear that this process of meaning-making is always a result of acculturation (61). Hence, when we first see the protagonist stagger down the street with his insides on his outside, there is a palpable increase in tension in the lecture theatre as our lived bodies anticipate the torture-porn cinematic experience we have been acculturated to expect when we come in contact with such cinematic sequences. This is seen in the similarity between the screenshots below of Shotaro’s enucleated eyeball dangling by a nerve and a similar screenshot from Eli Roth’s torture-porn masterpiece, Hostel (2005).

However, the sequence that I am really interested in comes immediately after the title when Shotaro’s friend pulls on his eyeball, snapping it back into position:

The audio-visual cues perceived by the lived body such as the visible tension in the nerve as it is stretched, the subsequent speed with which it moves when it is released, coupled with the sound of rubber stretching and the popping sound it makes upon impact when it re-enters the eye-socket, all come together to communicate the notion of elasticity through audio-visual cues. However, more important than this multi-sensorial, synesthetic experience perceived by the lived body, is the instantaneous, non-verbal expression of laughter elicited from the audience during the screening.

Laughter here is important for several reasons. Firstly, it is a reflexive expression that happens “without a thought,” thereby illustrating Elena del Rio’s idea of “body and image no longer function[ing] as discrete units, but as surfaces in contact” (qtd. in Sobchack 65), that allow for such an instantaneous expression given the non-existent gap between body and image or perception and expression. Secondly, this non-verbal expression is an example of the “‘obtuse’ meaning that Roland Barthes suggests escapes language yet resides within it” (qtd. in Sobchack 60). And thirdly, it is an expression that still “resides within [language],” especially if we see “language” as representative of the Lacanian realm of the symbolic, and therefore functioning on the same tier as acculturation, because it is the body realizing before the mind the acculturated familiarity of such elastic bodies that can bounce back from an insane amount of abuse as being a feature of cartoons – a tame, non-threatening, child-friendly genre.

As such, the release of tension in the stretched eye nerve that snaps back into position parallels the flood of relief experienced by the audience that finds expression in involuntary laughter.

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Works Cited

Sobchack, Vivian. “What My Fingers Knew.” Sobchack, Vivian. Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture. Los Angeles; London: University of California Press, 2004. 53-84.

Ten Nights of Dreams. By Natsume Soeseki. Dir. Yudai Yamaguchi. Perf. Ken’ichi Matsuyama. 2006.

Heartless City (2013) Review Cont’d

Time and Excess

Manipulation of time within the melodrama in terms of the constant negotiation between being ‘too late’ and arriving ‘in the nick of time’ creates the tension between whether the character experiences a paroxysm of pathos or the exhilaration of action (69). And because of this negotiation, moments of high dramatic tension often take on a dual nature wherein the shortness of diegetic time gets prolonged by the formalistic elements of the scene (73), such that seconds within the diegetic world could be presented as minutes in terms of screen time.

Time in Heartless City, however, moves differently. Instead of embodying the immediacy of successful action or failed inaction as suggested by Williams’ choice of phrases “too late” and “in the nick of time,” the dramatic pleasure in the first half of the series comes from the exhilaration of action derived from Baksa Aduel being consistently and comfortably “one step ahead” such that the character appears almost omniscient, while the intense, almost hysterical, paroxysms of pathos in episode 14 & 15 comes from his impotence at being able to affect positive change in a key series of events entrenched in the distant past.

To illustrate what I mean by the character’s omniscience and mastery over potentially disastrous situations I will refer you to 3 dramatic fight sequences in the series that consistently involve Baksa Aduel’s early, unseen and unexpected arrival on scene, resulting in an element of surprise, which he then uses to triumph over his opponents single-handedly.

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In this instance in the first episode, the mid-rank drug dealers, Scale, ‘Meth’ Kim and Halibut, are meeting to discuss a replacement for Baksa Aduel’s position because he had made known his ambition to ascend the ranks within the drug cartel at the start of the episode. Baksa Aduel is the first gangster to arrive on scene putting him in a position to spring a successful ambush on ‘Meth’ Kim, and be the only character to leave the scene unscathed, leaving Hyeong-min’s Special Branch task force in the dust.

In this instance, both the audience and the characters don’t even realize Baksa Aduel is on scene until he reveals himself. This fight is the first time we get a sense of his dualistic nature. As rising crime boss, his goal is to stop the influx of drugs from a competing supplier, and as undercover police officer, his goal is just to stop the inflow of any drugs. There is also a growing sense that this character’s competence and single-handed successes arise not out of proficiency or superiority, but out of necessity because of the isolation that surrounds him due to his dualistic role.

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As we move further and further along into the series, the buffer zone that allows Baksa Aduel to be comfortably “one step ahead” begins to shorten. As it is, this fight is a reaction to an attempt on his romantic-interest’s life and actually forces him to form a partnership with Hyeong-min in order to secure a positive outcome.

This shortening of the temporal buffer zone that attributed a kind of comfort and ease, control and mastery of situation to the character has a direct relation to the second half of the drama where there is a collapse of time whereby the past intrudes on the present and throws the character into a paroxysm of pathos over his own impotence to change past events.

One of the lines of narrative in the series is Baksa Aduel’s deep-seated hatred of the drug trade because he own mother died of an overdose. This is coupled with a side quest to find out who killed his mother. Unfortunately, in episode 14-15, he finds out that he has been misled by his handler into believing that Safari Moon, a father figure of sorts to him, was responsible. Worse still, Safari informs him of his own culpability in his mother’s death by naively ferrying drugs between his mother and Safari for distribution in the neighbourhood in exchange for “errand money.”

The fissure in Baksa Aduel’s composure is built beautifully throughout the 2 episodes in a series of shots reminiscent of women’s dramas from the 50s and 60s that show the character out of sync with himself (the effeminizing of the male body through suffering represented through formalistic elements often associated with a female dominated genre):

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Before finally culminating in an explosive paroxysm of pathos where inner torment finds outward expression when he smashes his own hand with a rock.

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This is an interesting use of action in a melodrama because it is non-productive and brings the character no closer to reclaiming his lost innocence. Instead we see an excess of inner turmoil that can only result in futile and impotent outward action.

However, because of the excess of emotion, the (female?) audience is encouraged to step out of his/her identification with the character such that where we might previously have taken pleasure in identifying with the character’s unflappable nature and mastery of situation, we can now sadistically take pleasure in his pain. Which is why I look like this:

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…when things like that happen. Hence why I continue to repeatedly come back to j/k-drama which spends so much time focused on the male body and encourages audiences to objectify it on several levels:

As sex objects

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As suffering and effeminized male bodies due to physical trauma

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And psychological trauma

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To be a little bit less perverse, let me just tie this back to Williams. All these suffering male bodies seems to also hark back to what Williams says at the start of her essay in defense of melodrama, oftentimes it is not the physical that affects us so and to concentrate on the linear and the logical is a limiting and reductive misrepresentation of human reality that ought to come together with the search for a “fullness of signification.” It’s just that to me, this “fullness of signification” is a different kind of pleasure that one can find in and get from the melodrama in j/k-dramas that keeps me coming back despite their oftentimes, glaring lack of realism.

Sub-point on Romantic Excess or Lack Thereof

On a slightly softer but related note on romance in the series, Heartless City chooses to disengage almost completely from the tension between “too late” and “in the nick of time” which largely characterizes the romance plot in other K-dramas I’ve watched and termed the “will-they-won’t-they,” or in more Singaporean terms, the ai-mai-ai-mai plot line.

The negotiation of whether romantic leads will get together or not coupled with scenes of near-misses and the final consummation of the romantic (sub)plot is completely disregarded and refashioned in Heartless City.

The first time the two characters meet, happens purely by chance. As if to emphasize how passing the encounter is, there isn’t even a meeting of the eyes. Just this fleeting brushing of two lives against each other in the bustling city that is both brief and ephemeral, with all evidence of contact between the two characters quickly dissipating into the ether before either character and the audience even realize how interlinked their lives are.

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This is of course juxtaposed in their extremely melodramatic second encounter where he saves her from an attempted stick-up despite having been all but gutted in a previous altercation only to almost accidentally slit her throat when she tries to help him up. Despite the melodrama though, the brevity of their encounter and the chance-nature of their meetings remain and continue to characterize the overall development of their relationship.

These accidental encounters seem, to me, more intense and more charged with meaning precisely because of their serendipitous nature that constantly leaves the audience wanting more. The absence of the contiguous progression of time to mark the development of their relationship serves to imbue each encounter with an excess of meaning whether it be romantic feeling or carnal desire because there is always the lingering sense that the transient nature of their relationship will take over and dissolve all ties between them. And this, to me, helps to keep audiences more engaged than in the typical K-drama where the characters practically share the same time/space continuum as the drama progresses because they almost invariably end up living together.

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Lastly, the almost non-existent nature of their love affair and empty fuck near the start of the series belies their intimate connection in the dramatic plot over Baksa Aduel’s supposed involvement in the assassination of Soo-min’s big sister, Kyung-mil. This bait-and-switch tactic that exchanges the romance subplot for the actual dramatic plot opens up the narrative by giving the female lead far more to do in terms of interaction with the other characters, particularly Jin-sook, and creates a more rounded characterization for all the characters involved.

On that note, finally, on to character and characterization.

Paul McCarthy’s “Family Tyranny” (1987)

I’m supposed to either be reading Siegfried Kracauer’s “Basic Concepts” essay or sleeping right now but all I can think about is this clip we watched in class on Wednesday which was an excerpt from the documentary, The Destruction of the Body (2001) about Paul McCarthy’s work. The clip is an excerpt from a film called “Family Tyranny” that was originally made by said man in 1987.

I want to give fair warning that it’s explicit but at the same time it’s not? Well, at least it’s suggestive of something explicit… so if you’re squeamish… turn back now.

Continue reading “Paul McCarthy’s “Family Tyranny” (1987)”