Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm a Cyborg, but that's ok

The fact that there has been a month of great cinema on (10 films a night) in Santiago and I have made it to just one of them is testament to my current state of chaos. I've been getting ready to go to Cambridge and Dublin, with stops in London and Oxford, starting tomorrow and have had a great deal of work to get done in the meantime. All good though...

Spanish has also been coming along reasonably, though I will have to take a new direction for it next month. I've learnt around 1000 words of Spanish vocab this month (not that difficult as many are very close to English and/or French) though knowing vocab is vastly different from being able to speak a language. Next month I will cool it on the vocab and attempt to learn 10 or so new, useful phrases a day.

A test of my Spanish vocab came when I took a late evening out to see the film mentioned in the title. I'm a Cyborg, but that's ok, is a Korean film by director Chan Wook-Park (director of the revenge trilogy starting with Old Boy) is a strange but rather beautiful film. Telling the story of a young woman who believes she is a cyborg and is sent to a psychiatric home, the story revolves around her relationshop with another of the patients who believes that he can steal people's souls. This second patient is played by the Korean singer Rain. Anyone who has lived in Asia will probably have seen pictures of Rain showing off his six-pack and prancing around onstage, his voice drowned out by that of his screaming fans. So, I was a little worried that he was going to be a rather hollow actor.

Quite the contrary however, he really is a superb actor and a rather fine yodeler, and moreover, never uses his looks to cover any lack of skill on screen. The performances of the patients are knowingly over the top and play up the various behavioural eccentricities that they display. These eccentricities are in general suitably caricatured for this not to feel exploitative.

As is usual in his films, Wook leaves some loose ends but more for effect than out of carelessness. He wants you to leave the film feeling puzzled as well as satisfied. He also can't help but put in a bit of relatively needless violence for his personal touch and the balletic scenes of the 'cyborg' getting revenge are typically Wook with tongue firmly set in cheek.

The love story which develops is touching and as the film finished the audience was impressed enough to give a round of applause. This is my first time in a Spanish cinema so I don't know how unusual this is, but it felt well deserved on this occasion.

Luckily, the month of solid vocab learning I've put myself through seems to have paid off as I could understand perhaps 80% of the subtitles - not the grammatical subtleties, but at least the general meaning. Having the beautiful tones of the Korean language (which I like a lot) with the Spanish subtitles was rather confusing for the first few minutes, but became decipherable after that.

This success with reading spurs me on to continue the rather tiring effort that I've been trying to keep up so far.

Anyway, if you're a fan of love stories set in psychiatric hospitals then your sure to enjoy this rather curious film from Wook.

No comments: