Bedevilled (2010): A Bitter Pill to Swallow

Bedevilled (2010 film)
Bedevilled (2010 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is not often that I find a Korean film that angers me as much as this film did. Directed by Chul-soo Jang  it is his first time at bat in the motion picture arena. Starring Yeong-hie SeoSeong-won Ji and Min-ho HwangBedevilled  starts off slow, like a roller coaster moving up the long climb before dropping like a stone on the other side.

The picture starts off in Seoul. It is broad daylight and a young woman is being savagely beaten by two thugs. The woman breaks away and runs to a car for help, but the occupant rolls up the car window and ignores her pleas for help. The thugs then drag the beaten woman away.

Later we meet Hae-won (Seong-won Ji) she is a loan officer in a bank. She is turning down an older woman who she evidently told earlier that she would give a loan to. The old woman is upset and Hae-won could care less. She gets a call on her mobile phone and she answers it angrily, “Stop calling me.”

We think that perhaps it is a boyfriend or lover, but no, it turns out to be the police who want Hae-won to pick out the two thugs in a line-up. Hae-won goes to the police station and refuses to admit that these two men are the ones who beat the woman.

When she comes back to work, she gets trapped in a toilet cubicle and when she gets out she strikes a colleague in the face, thinking that she had trapped Hae-won in the stall. Her boss then sends her on a mandatory holiday.

When she gets home she throws some envelopes in the trash and drinks several tins of Guinness.  She finally decides to visit her old childhood home, an island called Moo-do.

Arriving on the island she finds childhood friend Bok-nam (Yeong-hie Seo) and discovers that she is a virtual slave on the island. A sexual plaything to any of the men on the island as well as a work horse for the rest of the island’s occupants. Bok-nam has a ten year old daughter who is also being mistreated by the islanders.

Before Hae-won ever comes to the island, she is portrayed as cold, distant and unfeeling. She is completely self-centred and, as such, she is an extremely unpleasant and unlikable character.

Bok-nam is hard working, compassionate and desperate to get herself and her child off the island. Two of the three men who live on the island are cruel, lazy and addicted to chewing a narcotic leaf. The third is an anciently old fellow who does nothing but eat and sleep.

Bok-nam begs Hae-won to help her and her daughter, telling her that her husband is having sex with her child. Hae-won accuses her of lying and refuses to help her.

Then Bok-nam enlists the help of a prostitute that her husband regularly brings out to the island and everything goes horribly wrong.

This slow to start film had me firmly gripped. My emotions went all over the place. I was in turns shocked, dismayed, angry, horrified, indignant and repulsed. The very fact  that this film could make me feel so many different emotions is a testament of how well the director and actors performed their jobs.

I was along for the ride. I was caught up in the film completely. Right up to the last half hour of the film, I was there.

Then, in the last half hour, I hated the film. The ending infuriated me so much, that if I could have reached into the television screen and throttled the life out of Hae-won, I would have.

Never has a film so disappointed in the last few minutes. My daughter and I both felt like screaming at the screen. It was so bitterly wrong.

I suppose that the film makers and the actors should be congratulated on bringing their characters so to life that our emotional reaction to them was so strong.

But in a film where only one or two of the cast were characters that you could care for and relate to, it was very hard indeed to have one that you despise come out on top.

My final rating on this film would be two popcorn bags for the first three quarters of the film and an extra large Coke to swallow the bitter pill that is the ending.

Bitter Pill

Gorging Myself on Books

books
books (Photo credit: brody4)

I am reading four books at once. Well, not at once, more like at the same time. I’m like a hummingbird darting from one nectar filled flower to another.

I open a  book, a quickly read a chapter or two, then set that book down and open another. I will do this until I have tasted each book. I will then pause and reflect on what I have just read.

This process will continue until I get to a chapter that hooks me. This is the defining moment. I have found that part of the story that so enthrals me that I can no longer continue my hummingbird reading. I will then have to finish that book. Preferably in one sitting, regardless of the books length, regardless of the topic, regardless of what else I might have to do.

I have always read this way. Partly because I am a very fast reader. Back when I was younger and had better eyesight and my concentration was total, I could read two thousand words a minute with seventy percent comprehension and eighty percent retention. I know this because my then girl friend was taking a speed-reading course.

My girlfriend, who incidentally later became my first wife, was an incredibly slow reader. It drove her to distraction. So when she started university, the first thing she did was take the speed-reading course. Part of the course was to take a test. You read an amount of prose and then you were tested on what you had read.

My Girlfriend wanted me to take the test as I could read, according to her, incredibly fast. That was when I found out exactly how fast I could read.

I don’t think that I can reach the dizzying heights of two thousand words per minute these days, but I am still damn fast. I have, though, improved my retention rate. I am not sure what that means. Of course the important thing about all this is the fact that I still love reading.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The four books I am dipping into at the moment are by all contemporary authors. Two are Scandinavian, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo seems to have opened up a whole new market. The other two are American writers. The books are:

Burned by Thomas Enger, She’s Never Coming Back by Hans Koppel, Gone by Michael Grant and Nightmare by Stephen Leather.

So far it has been a tie between Leather’s Nightmare, another in his Jack Nightingale series and Grant’s Gone, the first in his series about a world with everyone above the age of fifteen ‘gone.’

I still haven’t hit that defining chapter yet. But when I do, you’ll be the first to know.

Don’t read your old posts

Fun With Dick and Jane
Fun With Dick and Jane (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have learned the hard way that I shouldn’t read my old posts. Every time I do, I find something I don’t like about it. Or I’ll edit and re-edit the damn thing.

I can spend ages fiddling around with the sentence structure because on my second viewing I decide I put the comma‘s in the wrong spot or (God forbid) I didn’t use a comma at all where I should have.

Mind you, my nemesis is the comma. Well more accurately it is the ‘comma splice’ and all it’s annoying-ness. When I took Introduction to Writing at the University of Maryland it was my most common error.

My tutor would hand back my assignment with lots of little red circles scattered over the page like random holes made by a miniature shotgun blast. He would always tell me that I would have gotten the top grade on my little writing projects if I could just curb my incessant misuse of comma’s.

My excuse was always the same. “If I read the sentence in my head and I have to take an abstract, or metaphysical breath I insert a comma.” My tutor would shake his head at my ignorance and say, “Then stop breathing when you read or better still make your sentences shorter.”

I decided that short sentences were the answer. I became the Ernest Hemingway of English 101. Although to be honest I began to feel more like the author of the  “Dick and Jane” text books that occupy the first grade school library. Of course this Hemingway type of writing did not last long. In a very short time I was popping so many comma splices in my sentences that my tutor began to call me “Splicer.”

Ernest Hemingway in Milan, 1918

Eventually I mastered (a little) the use of the comma, but I still feel the overwhelming urge to insert them whenever I have to take a mental breath while reading the sentence. I graduated with a B average which was okay by me.

Comma splicer I might well be, but, I never dangled a participle or mixed up my tense’s. That would have been unforgivable.