Amelie is one of those movies that I should have seen a long time ago and somehow didn’t until now. I will admit I made the first mistake of judging it by its cover in that I had read that it was a romantic comedy in a way and that instantly put me off. I’m not fond of what I would call a “chick flick”. Nevertheless I was extremely pleased at what I saw, namely a quirky and hilarious movie reminiscent of a book being read aloud. The story is fun and interesting with little surprises here and there and the almost Douglas Adams’ way of introducing every character with their particular likes and dislikes. The imagery is so rich in sound and color especially when describing Amelie’s small pleasures in life, such as dipping your hands in grain or cracking a creme brulee. It evokes the very sensation in you.
The various scenes throughout the movie vary wildly in theme and mood. While Amelie’s revenge on the callous grocer is classic Dahl’s Matilda almost to the point of villainy, the bar scene with the former tenant is poignant in a way that feels real in this movie. Everything slows down and focuses sharply on this moment. Every scene is presented as a full homage to its particular trope: the aforementioned bar scene with the wake-up call for the bar patron, the life-altering burst of revelation brought to a suicide victim, everything was done with full aplomb. This is a movie that runs at full pace nonstop but it still treats each and every scene with absolute care and delight. And while the more quirky scenes tend to be peppered throughout the film, it is the conversations with the neighbor that paints the restaurant scene every year where the film shines best. It is clear who the girl with the glass is, and in discussing her Amelie is establishing who she is to herself. She’s finally able to grow as a person.
But one of the best scenes filled with the most feeling is when you discover the secret of the neutral-faced man. It’s absolutely gratifying.
15 years of being imprisoned in this room, within these walls with nothing more than the blaring of the television my only companion. My pleas and cries fall on deaf ears when my captors slide the food through the small window at the bottom of the door. Every day the same plate of dumplings. Every night I’m gassed to sleep. How much longer can I endure without a single word from anyone? Why am I even here? What could I have done to anyone that would warrant this, the loss of my life and loss of my humanity?
I woke up today after being gassed and suddenly I am outside. I’m on a rooftop and the sun is so glorious, so bright that I wrench myself to the ground in tears. And while I bask in this freedom for a fleeting moment, I will discover all too soon that all this is nothing more than a larger prison and my warden will soon let my crimes be known to me.
Here is a movie that is both captivating and entrancing all at once. You yearn for the answers to Daesu’s questions: who is his captor, and what could he have done that was so horrendous that his punishment would be that severe? The clues and bits of information are presented at a good pace and only serve for you to more eagerly await the answers that are in store. But it is the full revelation of his captor’s plans that is simply mind-blowing. The lengths to which he went to enact his revenge and the full implications are astounding. While the cinematography or music can seem a tad kitschy at times with several scenes being almost unnecessarily long (such as the sex scene or the very real octopus eating scene) which makes them unintentionally hilarious, it can add to the story and cause the viewer to really watch and appreciate the scene. The fight scene in particular was the best for having been longer and was done entirely in one take. Despite this, the strength of the movie lays entirely in the story and the indescribably good acting of the protagonist, played by Choi Min-sik, who’s portrayal of a man on the verge of insanity being thrust back into society is incredibly real feeling. It’s genuine. And the lengths to which he goes to to protect his love Mido is visceral and desperate and insane, but shows us all too well that even a monster, a creature lower than a beast, can still feel and care for others.
I won’t lie, I’m very fond of psychological thrillers and the portrayal of a human version of Harlow’s monkeys is absolutely fascinating. The hallucinations he sees, his lack of social skills, and the near breaking of his mind was just too interesting. This is a movie that fascinates, intrigues, makes us laughs and makes us squirm all at once. It’s hard to not want to miss a single beat of this film as anything could be a potential clue.
“He was a hero to some, a villain to others… and wherever he rode people spoke his name in whispers. He had no friends, this Jonah Hex, but he did have two companions: one was death itself… the other, the acrid smell of gunsmoke.”
Such are the whispers told of Jonah Hex, the greatest and most ruthless bounty hunter that ever lived. A very paragon of the wild west. But Hex is no kind-hearted individual, though he is not without the occasional bout of empathy. Hex is merely indifferent to others, having been raised by an Apache tribe after his alcoholic and abusive father sold Jonah as a slave to the tribe where his face was burned with a hot-iron axe after a questionable duel with the chief’s son. He had seen the worst that humanity had to offer and accepted it as life. Hex drinks heavily, smokes often and sleeps with all manner of women though only a scant few would be able to lay claim to a portion of his heart. Talullah Black stands out as a female character done right: Tallulah went from having her family killed in front of her by a group of men hired to steal her family land and then later mutilated across her body by the same leader after she had turned to prostitution. She turns to Hex for help, who reluctantly teaches her gunfighting and other skills which enables her to track down the man who had wronged her so often and terribly and exact her revenge on him. She continued to live as a bounty hunter much like Hex and gained much notoriety of her own.
The thing in particular that I enjoy most about Palmiotti and Gray’s run is that each story is self-contained. While Hex does have an overarching narrative due to his being a regular human and therefore ages, you don’t need to know anything about Hex in order to enjoy his stories. All that you need to know is he is a bounty hunter and a damn good one. Every story is a tale unto itself and could easily stand as a movie by its own right, and while there may be the occasional recurring character here and there, the strength of the stories lie in tales about the human spirit, both the good and the bad. There are cannibals and thieves, roving bands of outlaws and bloody Apaches as well as innocent and simple folk, people who want nothing more than an honest job and food for their family. Sometimes one morphs into the other. The artists do their best to convey the stories contained within and the artwork tends to be clean and expressive. Even the title is worded with craft and it’s not uncommon for the title to not appear until the final page.
A movie was released in 2010 and it is an abomination that has little to no respect for the source material. Unlike his comic origins, this version of Hex lived an idyllic life on a homestead with his wife and kids before his faced was burned and his family slaughtered by Turnbull. Also Hex gains the power to talk to the dead for no reason whatsoever. Tallulah goes from being a mutilated half-blind bounty hunter dressed in a black trench coat to some random chick that wears a corset at the best of times.
While Jonah Hex officially ended his title with issue 70 (and a special issue 71 being released for the Blackest Night DC event), the series was revived as All-Star Western when DC launched its reboot. Thus far, even with Palmiotti and Gray still at the helm, it is not nearly so entertaining as it has traded its stand-alone arcs with a longer over-arching narrative typical of long-running comics. Having the weak and helpless Amadeus Arkham tagging along throughout every issue feels more like a hindrance and an annoyance than anything else. Still, the clever writing shines through at times and well worth reading regardless.