Saturday, October 29, 2016

Movies: The Handmaiden

(Drivebycuriosity) -  Park Chan-wook is a magician of cinema.  The Korean movie director has a reputation for complex and provoking movies and his masterpieces "Old Boy" and "Stoker" belong to the strongest movies of the recent years.

After "Stoker" Park Chan-wook (family name first) went back to Korea where he shot "The Handmaiden" which is now running in US cinema theaters (imdb). He used the novel "Fingersmith" by Sarah Waters and transferred the plot from the Victorian England into Korea under the Japanese occupation in the 1930s. A young woman gets a job as a handmaiden for a wealthy young lady as part of a scheme (this is a spoiler free blog). I was fascinated by the twists & surprises of the plot and cared a lot about the characters.

But what makes the movie really outstanding is its intoxicating visual power. In my opinion Park belongs into a league of visual masters like Kubrick, Lars von Trier & Paul Thomas Anderson. He - and his cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung - drove the intensity of Asian cinema to a new peak and cast a spell on the audience by a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of pictures. The film is highly erotic & esthetic.

I was amazed by watching the lead actresses Kim Tae-ri & Kim Min-hee and Jo Jin-woong as the dubious uncle & Ha Jung-woo as the greasy "count" will also stay in my mind for a while.

"The Handmaiden" is a milestone of cinema and I hope I will see more by the Korean master in the future.

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