Boasting a tagline of “Based on a shocking true story” Foxcatcher features comic actor Steve Carell who disturbs as the millionaire benefactor of two Olympic gold medalist brothers who turns his patronage into a murder story. Audiences do not need to be aware of the background of the senseless and shocking death of Dave Schultz in 1996. While the film Foxcatcher merges some facts and time periods are shortened or not made clear, the tale is chilling, disturbing and upsetting. This is a personal and somewhat fictionalized version of what happened between the two brothers and John du Pont, who approached the older brother and shot him three times.
The first YouTube annual music awards ceremony on November 3 is featuring some big names and some big suprises. With the Google owned site moving into the paid digital music arena they are focussing on pulling in more mainstream, big name artists for their potential audience. Arcade Fire, Eminem and Lady Gaga are just three examples of the calibre of entertainer that will be there on the night of the YouTube Music Video Awards debut.
Justin Bieber has posted a video “teaser” trailer for his next movie. In the clip, he sports a new mustache, aka upper lip hair as it really isn’t full enough yet to be called a mustache. He also jokes about drinking coffee now that “he’s a man.”
I pretty much follow a routine with my blog. Before I even think of writing anything I read the blogs I follow (well skip read if truth be told, I follow a lot of blogs) and I always read the latest entries in the Freshly Pressed arena.
I will admit a certain puzzlement as to why some of the blogs that are ‘pressed’ have received the honour of being singled out (this includes my own blog which was freshly pressed not so long ago). But to be very brutally honest, I don’t really care. It is nice just to read other folks blogs and learn new things or learn old things presented in a different light.
I read the Freshly Pressed today and right at the top of the list was I Grew up Gangnam Style. Because of the thumbnail I realized that I had seen this chap before. In fact the most recent image of this fellow and his natty outfit was a Lego rendition of his music video.
Now the blog post that had been Freshly Pressed did not go into the music video or the chap who made it (PSY if you’re interested). It did give a brilliant parallel reveal of what life in South Korea was like living in the province where the video was shot. It’s a good read, if you didn’t follow the link before, have a look now. It’s in the first paragraph.
But on to the video. I had seen the odd reference to Gangnam Style here and there and it did not arouse enough curiosity for me to look it up. Then the article today appeared and I just had to look this phenomena up. I’m glad I did. It is brilliantly funny and vastly entertaining. Don’t believe me? Just have a look:
Not to your taste? Then have a look at the Korean film The Fox Family. Made in 2006, this supernatural fantasy musical (that’s right, I said musical) is funny, and the musical numbers are brilliant. Just look at the ‘Money’ song:
So you can see that Korea has been blending music and humour for a while now. It took PSY and his music video to make the fact known world-wide. At over 290 million views the video now holds the record for viral videos. It is interesting to read the blog post and the authors assertion that South Korea has just discovered irony. That may well be true, but, I think that South Korea has always had a sense of humour.
If you watch their TV shows, it appears that all the participants (especially those in the entertainment business) love to laugh and make fun of themselves. Not everyone of course, but a huge amount do appear to enjoy not taking themselves too seriously.
I review Asian horror films on YouTube and I’ve had a few people tell me that they don’t get ‘Korean humour’ citing it as being too slapstick in origination and ‘over the top.’ I did not then and still do not understand that statement. South Korean Humour is more than ‘3 stooges slapstick’ it can be sly, surprisingly subtle and in the case of the PSY video, funny and ironic.
The message of the PSY video is that South Korean’s are incredibly concious of how they look when they intermingle with one another in a social setting. Clothing, hairstyle, fashion sense, body weight and plastic surgery are all important facets of Korean social life. I’ve watched a huge amount of YouTube videos (mostly Eat Your Kimchi – Simon and Martina Rule!) that explain what living in South Korea is like.
These informative videos made the Gangnam Style music video all the more humorous. The word on the street is that South Korean’s are well aware of their cultural foibles and this self awareness is what has made the video both ironic and just downright funny.
My daughter has been a fan of KPOP for years and has shown me just about every boy and girl band manufactured over the last ten years in Korea. I have also discovered, through my daughters influence, M C Mong and other solo artists. PSY I discovered via Freshly Pressed and Quartz’s fine post about growing up in that area of Seoul.
Humour is a world wide common meeting ground. Sure some places in the world practise a different sort of humour. A sort of ‘home-grown’ or topical humour that doesn’t always translate well into other countries or languages. But laughter and the ability to laugh at ones self crosses all language or topical restrictions.
It is amazing to think that a music video can become the worlds most viral video until you factor in that is was a funny music video. It’s a shame that the whole world and it’s leaders cannot learn a lesson from these humorous videos. Like the old saying goes, “Laugh and the world laughs with you.”
What a nice thought.
- Gangnam Style by Psy (magnetised.wordpress.com)
- PSY finds his success with ‘Gangnam Style’ unreal (sacbee.com)
- Gangnam Style: South Korean rapper PSY’s social commentary (thestar.com)
- The Wholesome Hidden Message of “Gangnam Style” (business.time.com)
- Even North Korea Catches ‘Gangnam Style’ Fever (theatlanticwire.com)
- Gangnam Style could be UK’s first K-pop number one!! K-ool (desight.wordpress.com)
- ‘Gangnam’ mania: The meaning behind the song (mercurynews.com)
- The social commentary behind PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ (miamiherald.com)
- Gangnam Style’s Psy finds success unreal (todayonline.com)
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 Seo, Seong-won Ji and Min-ho Hwang, Bedevilled 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.
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.