Monday, June 27, 2005

Three... Extremes (2005)

It's one for three on this omnibus feature, which is fine if you're batting cleanup for the New York Mets. For a feature film, though, that's a pitifully low percentage. Unexpectedly, the two ringers disappoint: Takashi Miike's opener Box is a lovely and delicate bore, though the epilogue does redefine the film's meaning for the better, while Chan-wook Park brings up the rear for a good reason with Cut, an execrable tonal disaster made barely bearable by Park's extraordinary talent for creating memorable images. Sandwiched in between these two whiffs is Fruit Chan's Dumplings, and it's here that the film starts to cook. Christopher Doyle's cinematography is the short's true MVP, as his unerring eye accentuates Chan's off-kilter compositions and allows stray bits of beauty to peek out from underneath the awesomely grotesque scenario. Sticking Chan's film in the middle is actually quite instructive, as it allows us to see how difficult it can be to truly stick the landing when trying to hit the hallowed ground between ravishing and revolting -- Miike's film is too aesthetically determined and obscure to make much of an impact, while Park's swings too far in the other direction and ends up as a hysterically stupid Grand Guignol collapse. My only criticism of Chan's segment is that, in fact, the short-film format isn't enough for it -- just as it starts to build up a creepy-cool head of steam, it's at the end of the line. I'd really be interested in seeing a full-length version of this material... and hey, whadaya know, one is in existence! I guess that makes this omnibus all but useless, dunnit? Oh, what a shame.

Grade: C


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