Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On the Opening of 'The Host'

Joon-ho Bong's "The Host" feels less like a movie than a dream inspired by a day spent watching too many movies. The satirical Korean political-monster-family-bonding comedy/drama might not always have a firm grasp on where it's going, but it has a hell of a fun time getting there. Bong opens his film with an absurdly hilarious scene that's so good that he spends the rest of the film trying to top it.

It begins with a wide shot inside a mortuary, where an American doctor on one side of the nearly symmetrical frame lectures his Korean subordinate on the other about his strong dislike of dirt. The outside of all the formaldehyde bottles are coated in dust, so there's only one solution: Dump the formaldehyde down the drain.

The creepy comedy builds on the impending realization that the doctor knows the consequences of what he's doing, but isn't concerned. Every time his subordinate points out a hazard, like "but it drains to the Han," the doctor responds with an affirmation of his insanity. "Yes, let's dump formaldehyde in the Han." It leads to one of the most masterfully insane lines in cinema history: "The Han is a broad river. Let's try to be broad-minded."

With an opening like that, I'd sit through "The Hills Have Eyes" in the off chance that such brilliance would make an encore appearance.

1 comment:

Janean said...

I am so glad I saw 'The Host' with you. It's such an unexpected gem of strangeness.