The Grey. I wish the poem at the heart of the movie was better. For me, there’s not quite enough there for the melodrama it’s asking for. I think maybe it would have been better without knowing the reasons our hero is so dour. But of course I like the survival bits. The surprises and set pieces are all great.
Zodiac. A serial killer is the impetus, but the theme is obsession. So good. If only all directors could use their minutes this well.
Stoker. When it comes to character and plot stuff, this didn’t seem very good. I got over the (I’m assuming intentionally) stilted dialogue. The problem for me was that I didn’t care what the truth was. I don’t need to like any characters, but I need to have a reaction to whatever the story reveals and develops. It kinda lands with a thud.
I wonder again how I would have liked the movie if the story were told linearly, instead of turning to distant flashbacks that cut into the movie after 80 minutes. There’s a distinct fun to the style of suspense where instead of feeling in the dark and curious, you’re in the loop, but powerless. It’s “Uh oh! I don’t know what’s going to happen!” vs. “I have a pretty idea what’s about to happen, but alas I am powerless to help anyone involved! Don’t go down that hallway! No seriously don’t open that door!”. It’s the shouting-at-the-screen instinct. When they withhold explanations for a long time and keep you out of the loop until the flashbacks, you end up as more of a spectator, less complicit.
So I have those complaints. But–and this is a big but if you like moving pictures for other more mechanical reasons–this movie was pretty engaging for its photography and editing and sound. I love how Park moves the camera around, all the blocking and pivots. Such a clever momentum with the timing. There’s a delightful climactic scene with parallel cuts between three locations. I had more or less the same reaction to Park’s movie Oldboy.