13
Sep 10

Two Blood Splattered, Mono-wardrobed Heroines – fight

Do You See2 comments • 238 views

I saw two films on Sunday. They were quite different but oddly they both featured strong female characters whose basically wear the same outfit throughout the entire film. As both films take place of a considerable period of time, it perhaps brings up an odd suggestion that perhaps strong women think less about their wardrobes than the average put-up second fiddle love interest. Fashion is for flibberty-gibbets perhaps? Though perhaps a closer look at both films would feed us a decent reason for them wearing just the one ensemble. And yes, closer examination may suggest that these women, whose single item of clothes coincidentally also get covered in blood at various stages in their respective films, do have some excuse to be wearing just the one item. One is a older woman, in a cold town who is wearing her most respectable outfit as she goes about clearing her sons name. And the other is a genetically altered superheroine dragging her franchise into its unbelievable fourth film. These twin movies? Boon-Jung Ho’s Mother and Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil: Afterlife of course.

Its odd that for all my disdain for the entire ouvre of Paul W.S. Anderson, I have not only seen all of the films he has directed in the cinema, BUT ALSO ALL THE FILMS HE HAS WRITTEN! You see secretly, even though all of his films are on the whole terrible, I have a very soft spot for the kind of films he wants to make. So Ia m usually annoyed that he hasn’t even attained the low bar he has set himself. But in Resident Evil: Afterlife I think he has finally cracked the kind of awful perfection he hinted at in Alien vs Predator – a yuk fest of unrelated action sequences, coincidences and unkillable assailants fighting unkillable bad guys. Bear in mind that the basic premise of the Resident Evil films by the time we get to Afterlife is pretty much the ALL LIFE ON THE PLANET HAS BEEN WIPED OUT IN A ZOMBIE PLAGUE. It is therefore unclear why the few survivors who are working for the Umbrella Corporation seem to be exclusively spending their time developing even more crazy viruses and weapons. WHO ARE THEY GOING TO SELL THEM TO?

I raised the wrath of a number of people when I ran through my list of unlikely coincidences which needed to be able to occur to make the Star Trek reboot work. While Resident Evil: Afterlife does not have interstellar distances to contend with, it still raises a number of whoppers. Such as Milla Jovovich’s Alice bumping into her old mucker Clare – bearing in mind at that point they appear to be the only people left on Earth. At least until they discover the people who are holing up Dawn Of The Dead style in a prison who only just happen to include Clare’s BROTHER!

Still what matters is Paul W.S. Anderson gets to prove his auteur qualifications by borrowing Jim Cameron’s special Avatar 3D cameras and insisting on using them to film scenes in murky tunnels, or even underwater where the extra dimming of the 3D glasses makes it nigh on impossible to see what is going on. But for a film with basically three sets, pointless mid film bad guys and without the copious slo-motion would run at about 60 minutes, it is fantastic fun. Nothing makes sense, but it all seems to work for Milla, who is much more important to this franchise than any zombies these days. Sure it answers the question “what if they made a bad Matrix in 3D” more thoroughly than we needed it to be (and we saw two bad Matrix films in 2D after all) but its much more fun than all that suggests. And therefore, I can’t hate Paul W.S.Anderson – having seen all of his films I am now sort of an expert. I can hate his face though, cos he looks like James Blunt.

Not looking like James Blunt but wearing the same oddly flowery purple waistcoat jacket most of her film is Hye-Ja Kim, the Mother in Mother. And whilst it continued Boon-Jung Ho’s run of tonally queasy films after Memories Of Murder and The Host, its intense character study initially promises a very different type of film. Focussing on the intense relationship between a mother and her damaged son, it soon intersects closely with some similar sequences in Memories Of Murder. Both of Boon-Jung Ho’s films about small town murder have at their heart similar questions about guilt, uncertainty and the law, though Mother’s trip into extreme melodrama could be seen to undermine the absurdities of the naturalistic style previously set-up. Its a terrific central performance, with Hye-Ja Kim as the Mother having the same sort of dour dogged determination and capacity for violence that – er – Milla Jovovich brings to Alice. And in the end the film deciding to plump for extreme melodrama makes it feel about as real as Milla’s post-apocalyptic (and extinction) afterlife. But sadly not quite as much fun. Though I think I’d prefer Hye-Ja Kim in the purple than the (relatively toned down for the franchise) fetishwear of Alice. You choose.

Comments

  1. 1
    Tracer Hand on 15 Sep 2010 #

    I thought Mother was extraordinary. I especially loved all the little textural moments, like Hye-Ja Kim’s feet as they spacked through the wet mud outside the junkman’s house. I wonder, as a famous guesser of twists, if you had seen the end coming from a mile away, and how that contributed to your feeling about the movie?

  2. 2
    Pete on 15 Sep 2010 #

    I didn’t see the end coming, and actually I needed help from Cis with what I thought was a plot flaw (why was the junk man on the kids phone – I hadn’t realised she was flogging sex for rice wine). I thought the use of flashback to say what actually happened was quite clumsy, because it privileged us to say what was actually true. And whilst junk man didn’t deserve death necessarily, he is at least partially implicated in her death as he did nothing (which makes him saying he would tell the police as a witness unlikely). Also anyone who has seen CSI would know even with lousy Memories Of Murder style Korean policing should be able to tell the difference between a nosebleed and a bashed in bonce.

    I liked a lot about Mother, but the plot seemed far to pat for me, it wanted to make a point about this kind of mother / son relationship and so the plot had to serve it. Something you can’t say about Resident Evil: Afterlife. Its plot (as such) serves no purpose AT ALL.

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