It’s Cold Outside…

…There’s no kind of atmosphere. I’m all alone, more or less.

/sigh. It is currently below zero outside, nothing new to those in the northeast or midwest but quite rare up here in the Asheville area. My internet has slowed to a crawl – do bits travel slower as they get cold?

The inside of the house is in the 40s. We have a very energy efficient heat pump so our electric bills are quite reasonable but when it stays below freezing, the pump can’t keep up.

There are plenty of cold weather choices for you on Netflix. I strongly suggest

Snowpiercer

 

Snowpiercer (2013) – Rated R

The Earth’s remaining inhabitants are confined to a single train circling the globe as revolution brews among the class-divided cars.”

Quite simply one of the best films I saw last year and sadly neglected by the Academy. The Grand Budapest Hotel was better but I felt Snowpiercer should have been nominated. Turn off your phone and your iPad and go watch it.

Last of the New Streaming Releases for October

A little bit of this, a little bit of that – the big winner here is Snowpiercer

Comedy: Sordid Lives

Bound By Flesh

Documentary: Birdmen: The Original Dream of Flight, Bound by Flesh, Cocaine Unwrapped, Ethos, Burt’s Buzz, Lost for Life

Drama: Rain Man

Radio Free Albemuth

Fantasy & Science Fiction: Radio Free Albemuth, Snowpiercer

Foreign: Violette

Beneath

Horror: Beneath

Television: Reckless, Salem, Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond, Life in Our Universe, Understanding the World’s Greatest Structures, and new episodes of George Gently and 30 for 30

Thriller: Cleanskin

Snowpiercer and the Korean Invasion

I recently had the opportunity to catch a few movies in the theater. Snowpiercer is currently in theaters.

Snowpiercer

 

Snowpiercer (2013) РRated R

Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges.”

I have really enjoyed a lot of Korean cinema over the last decade. My favorites have been “The Host”, “The Good, The Bad, The Weird”, “I Saw the Devil”, and “Mother”.

I Saw the Devil” and “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” were directed by Kim Jee-woon. The former is a wonderfully dark and twisted tale of revenge and a serial killer. The latter is an epic Eastern Western. Both are currently available on instant Netflix. Obviously the success of these films caught the attention of Hollywood.

As with many successful Asian directors, Kim Jee-woon was brought over to direct a Hollywood picture – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback, The Last Stand. While there are some nice visual flourishes, The Last Stand is not very good and not just because of Johnny Knoxville.

The Host” (2006) and “Mother” were directed by Joon-ho Bong. The former is a wonderful horror tale about a pollution monster with some oddball humor. The latter is a dark movie about a mother’s efforts to clear her son of murder charges. The Host is currently available on instant Netflix.

Joon-ho Bong chose the more independent route of making an international picture, neither Korean nor American. Snowpiercer is an English-language film starring Chris Evans, John Hurt, and Tilda Swinton. It also features some Korean sequences with Kang-ho Song, star of “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” and Ah-sung Ko, star of “The Host”.

The ever fickle Weinstein Company chose a new strategy for this release. Two weeks after the theatrical premiere, Snowpiercer was made available on Video on Demand. Since it takes about two weeks for independent films to trickle down to Asheville, this meant an almost simultaneous release here. While it may mean less revenue for them theatrically, Weinstein gets a much larger share of the profits from the VOD end.

I applaud whatever arrangements allow Joon-ho Bong and other directors to realize their visions without the obvious compromises caused by the Hollywood corporatization. Here I feel it results in the difference between The Last Stand and Snowpiercer, just as decades ago it resulted in the difference between John Woo’s The Killers and Hard-Boiled and his Hollywood movies like Windtalkers and the aptly named Paycheck.

Snowpiercer is a fantastic science fiction masterpiece. Every scene is wonderfully crafted. Each car on the train serves a different societal purpose. Special effects are omnipresent yet are understated and serve the story rather than detracting from it.

The movie has a lot of interesting things to say about the (inevitable) class system that develops but never becomes pedantic. It also has quite a number of interesting revelations along the way. I really enjoyed the power of self-delusion shown in several of the characters.

Acting is wonderful from the ensemble cast. They make Chris Evans quite scruffy and tone down his charisma so fits right in. Jaime Bell makes an earnest second-in-command for the revolution. John Hurt is a charmer and a scene stealer as is Tilda Swinton though she is perhaps a bit over the top. The aforementioned Kang-ho Song and Ah-sung Ko are great as well despite speaking in Korean without subtitles (for the most part).

Snowpiercer is the second best film I have seen this year, behind only The Grand Budapest Hotel. Catch it in theaters if you can. If not, it is available through Amazon and other VOD services.