Once I achieve inevitable global superstardom and someone offers to make a movie based on my life, I’m going ask, nay DEMAND, that Park Chan-Wook direct it (I’m not sure who I’ll get to play me, maybe Peter Dinklage). The mild-mannered South Korean is, in fact, quite possibly the best film-maker of his generation (Tarantino is a close second). This point was rammed home to me last night when I saw his new movie Stoker.
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Stoker is Park Chan-Wook’s first film made in the West. Movie nerds will already know him as the director of Oldboy, Thirst and a ton of other awesome, fucked-up movies where people do nasty shit to each other but in the most beautifully-depicted way. Anyone slightly concerned that he might have to reign it in a bit for Hollywood can rest easy as Stoker has just as many unpleasant moments as some of his other work, but just like his other work, it is sumptuously filmed and every single frame could be a piece of art all by itself.
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I guess I should talk about the story at this point but I don’t feel like it. Stoker is the sort of film where the less you know about it the better, and I tend to find that these sorts of films are more enjoyable if you can discover the story as you go. I suppose I could describe it as a gothic family drama-thriller, but even that does it a disservice. This is such an exquisitely-crafted film, where the story is only one part of the experience. The imagery in the movie has a language all its own, to the point where you feel as if you can almost touch and taste the things being depicted onscreen. The camera is always doing something fresh and surprising, and I won’t spoil it but at one point there’s a transition from one scene to another that is positively breathtaking. One of the things that makes Park Chan-Wook such an exceptional director is that he is able to get a lot from very little. The film isn’t over-flowing with dialogue or action but the atmosphere remains fist-clenchingly tight throughout. Check out the clip below. Not a great deal is happening, but you could cut the tension with a knife:
It gives me lot of hope when a film-maker like Park Chan-Wook can leave his comfort zone and produce something just as memorable as his other stuff. Stoker is a brilliant film and it stayed with me long after I left the cinema. See this movie with all due expediency.
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