THE DISH BEST EATEN COLD James Mottram meets PARK CHAN WOOK, the mad, sad and bad to know director of OLD BOY.
‘l’m not addicted to the revenge drama’ says Park Chan-Wook - though it’s hard to believe him. After the success of his second film Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, the South Korean writer-director has returned to the theme with Old Boy, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes this year. It was a mind-blowing thriller that was easily the highlight of the festival, and rumour had it jury president Quentin Tarantino secretly wanted to give it the Palme D’Or - but was persuaded to plump for Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/ 1 1.
It’s easy to see why Tarantino - who Park believes is a ‘genius’ - would fall for this piece of extreme cinema. Like a waking nightmare, it’s the surreal story of a womanising businessman who is kidnapped and held in a room for 15 (yes, you read that right) years. Released as suddenly as he was taken, with no idea why or by whom he was captured, he vows to find some answers.
‘There are so many films that deal with 'OI *ance and love, and there are comparatively few films that deal with hatred c r revenqe,’ says Park, a shy and shaggy looking 38-year-old. ‘As r web as love is human, hatred is very
explored by other directors. Revenge is a feeling that everyone has in his or her mind, but it's morally forbidden. So maybe I’m just letting it out, through movies.’
With torture scenes that include a teeth pulling to rival anything in Marathon Man and a tongue slicing as stomach churning as the infamous ear scene in Reservoir Dogs, Park is keen to play down the already- swelling notoriety the film is gathering. ‘First of all, the pulling of teeth and the cutting of the tongue, I don’t think it’s violent,’ he states. ‘The very moment the teeth are pulled, or the tongue is cut, is not shown. When I make these violent scenes, I always think the most important part is the mental state of the main ﬁgure. The violent scenes should connect to the man’s feelings.’
Since making his debut in 2000 with Joint Security Area, a thriller set around the assassination of two North Korean soldiers, Park admits his greatest advisor is his wife. ‘lt’s not that she’s a muse for me, or gives me inspiration and makes me comfortable mentally. It’s not like that. Her role in making this film is very concrete and realistic. She gives me very concrete advice when writing a script. When I don’t know where a film should go, or what to choose, she gives me a lot of help. She doesn’t work in the film industry - she’s a housewife - but she does have a great eye for stories.’ Judging by Park’s films, I’m not sure I’d want to eavesdrop their pillow talk.
natural for humans to feel - bu: it’s not dealt with. It should be more
All tickets £7.95 (£5.20) unless otherwise stated
The Motorcycle Diaries (Diarios de Motocicleta) 00.. Years before he became one of the leaders of the Cuban Revolution. Ernesto ‘Che' (iueyara took a formatiye joumey across Latin America on a rickety motorbike with his friend Alberto Granado. Inspired
WW BookFesﬁvalO1316245050 ange01312260000
International Festival 0131 473 2000 Film Festival 0131 6238030 Jan Festival 0131 4732000
by (itieyara's journal account. Brazilian director Walter Salles lovingly recreates this epic cross-continental trip. in a film that grows in stature as it progresses. Minus the iconic cap and beard. Mexican man-of—the-moment Gael Garcia Bernal plays [5/ ('he’ with a quiet assurance. while Rodrigo de la Serna is the perfect foil as the lusty Granado. A film that pays its respects without resorting to crass cliche. (James Mottram) L’GC 7. 9pm ('(i‘C 2 ck 8, 9.30pm.
The Girls of San Fredlano (La Ragazze di San Frediano) 000 And so it begins. The Valerio Zurlini retrospective starts here with the great man‘s I955 debut. Based on a bestselling novel of the time. The Girls ofSun Frediuim is a kind of Italian version of Alﬁe as it chronicles the adventures of a
54 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 12-19 Aug 2004
I Old Boy, UGC, 623 8030, Thu 79 Aug, 8pm and Ff! 20 Aug 70pm.
neighbourhood wannabe Don Juan who goes from one lover to another. Lightweight for Zurlini but it does hint at the darker satire to come. (Paul Dale) Film/muse I. l2pm. £5.50 (£4.20). Walter Salles Reel Life The filmmaker behind (’cniml Station. Behind the Sun and The Alum/“(wile Diaries shoots the breeze about his working practices. his beliefs and his inﬂuences. He will also be tlichssing his recent remake of Hideo Nakata's Dark Water. l,'(}(' 6. 2pm. £10.45 (£7.70).
World Animation 1 The very best of animation produced around the globe in the last 12 months. Film/muse 1. 2.30pm. £6.45 (£4.20).
Antipodean Shorts Ahh mate. we're a long way from home? Great shorts from the land down under. Cameo 1. 3.15pm. Passages (Lu Cheng) 0”. Intriguing Chinese road movie that details the naughty. sad times of a couple of
country bumpkin students who get lured to the big smoke by a magic mushroom selling scheme. As an investigation of a slowly diseased and diseasing friendship. this is comparable to Nuri Bilge's superb L'mk. Beautiful to look at — this is a fascinating slice of quasi magic realism from first time director Yang Chao. (Paul Dale) Filmhnuw I. 5pm.
Black Box 1: Space Defined Let us go towards the ayant garde. people. The Black Box segment of the Festival gets off to a hanging start with this showcase that investigates the many perversions of the domestic space. Highlights include Courtney Hoskins‘ remarkable The (Juli/can Stile/lites. Film/muse 3. 6pm. Control Room oooo Set during Operation lraqi Freedom. this fascinating documentary directed by Jehane Noujaim (one half of the team that brought Us Star!- uprmn) takes a look behind-the-scenes of Arabic news channel Al Jazecra (the station