Monday, April 27, 2009

World Movie Series - 23 - Bin-Jip



This is the third Kim Ki-Duk film I am reviewing, and seeing his films, something stands common to all his movies. The hardships of a relationship. The pain inflicted by the relationships is portrayed in most of his movies, and with a startling effect. He makes use of the other aspects like nature, surroundings, people etc... with ease to portray the sting of a relationship. That works out very well, and we are left with a breathtaking experience after watching his films. The same goes with ‘3-Iron’ as well.

The film begins with Tae-Suk, riding his bike. He works as a delivery boy with some restaurant, and his work is to paste the menus on the doors of the houses. In the night, he returns to the same area and breaks in to the houses whose menus have not been removed (assuming the inhabitants are away). He spends his night in those vacant houses hearing music and watching TV and in return to the hospitality, washes the cloths and mends the broken electronic instruments in the houses. He also takes a photograph of himself in every house he breaks into.

The second house we see Tae-Suk break in is a vast one, with a nice garden. He casually checks every room, and in one of those rooms, a lady sits against the door, crying. Tae-Suk, totally unaware of her presence, roams around the house, with the lady watching him. He learns that the lady is a model – there are lots of photographs of her in the house. While he is strolling, the phone rings and we hear the voice of an angry man – shouting that he has become an animal out of rage and this will not happen again. He repeatedly asks the lady to pick the phone, but hangs up (the first ever time we hear someone speak in the film – well over ten minutes from the start). Tae-Suk looks at an album, which contains her nude photographs, and after washing the cloths and playing some golf in the garden, he begins to masturbate looking at the photographs.


It was at this situation that the lady walks straight in to the bedroom. A startled Tae-Suk jumps out of the bed and afflicted by guilt, dresses up and starts to leave, when the phone rings again. The lady picks up the receiver, and after a long silence, lets out a terrible wail.

We then see her husband running in to the house. He starts to abuse her angrily when he sees Tae-Suk - silently walking across and starts to play golf in the garden - to divert the husband’s attention. When the husband runs to him, Tae-Suk hits him with golf balls and leaves him twitching in pain. He goes out, starts his bike, and accelerates the throttle repeatedly, as a sign to the lady to come with him. The lady comes to him and they both start on a ride.

Here begins an unspoken journey. Tae-Suk and the lady never talk with each other and the lady helps him in this night stints in the empty houses by washing the cloths and cooking for him. The couple continues to visit houses in this fashion until in one such house, they find a dead man.

The man is dead and has a pool of blood nearby. Tae-Suk gives a call to the dead man’s son whose number he found near the phone, but there is no response. The lady and Tae-Suk then pack the body in accordance with the Korean tradition and bury it. While they are having food, the son rushes in to the house calling for his father, and he finds the couple instead. He locks the door and calls the police.

In the police station, the police are able to identify the lady with her credentials and they call her husband. The husband comes and takes the lady home, and while leaving, tries to hit Tae-Suk with some golf balls for revenge.

The police learn that the death was due to lung cancer, and hence Tae-Suk is acquitted. But the police accept money from the lady’s husband and deliver a tied down Tae-Suk to him. He starts hitting Tae-Suk with golf balls and while an aggravated Tae-Suk tries to strangle the husband with his handcuffs, he is beaten and arrested by the corrupt cops.

Back in the station, Tae-Suk seems to play a game of hide and seek inside his lockup. Whenever the food arrives, he tries to hide himself by standing close to the prison wall near the gate, but the annoyed guard beats him up every time. Once, he climbs up the wall and stays perched on the wall till he is dragged down and beaten.

Back in the lady’s home, the husband tries to cope up with the lady but she moves away every time he comes hear her. He starts to beat her in frustration.

Tae-Suk, this time, starts to practice a type of a martial art in the prison where he tries to stalk the guard by standing behind him in the ‘180 degrees’ which is beyond the perspective of the human eye, so that he cannot be seen. The guard finds this out, turns, and beats Tae-Suk severely.

After some days, again we see Tae-Suk practice some mysterious sort of a martial art, by drawing the image of an eye in his palm, and trying to disappear. One day, while the guard comes in to supply his lunch, Tae-Suk had totally vanished! The guard brings in guards, and when they open the cell, they find Tae-Suk inside, and they finally decide to release him.

From then on, mysterious happenings are seen in the houses Tae-Suk visited previously. Things seem to be displaced from their location, and people feel the presence of a human. We also see the lady, entering a house they previously visited, and sleeping in the couch, when the house owner looks at her in amazement and decides not to disturb her.

The husband comes to know about Tae-Suk’s release, and he waits in the house, expecting him to arrive at any time. He feels the presence of a person that night, but is unable to locate him. While he is sleeping, the lady slowly walks to the mirror, and in the mirror, she is able to see Tae-Suk standing behind her. He gently kisses her.

The husband rushes to the mirror, but is unable to see Tae-Suk. The lady smiles at him and says ‘I Love You’, that was to Tae-Suk standing invisible behind the husband. The next day, the lady happily prepares food and while she offers them on the table, Tae-Suk eats them invisibly.

The husband leaves to the office, and Tae-Suk kisses the wife. We hear beautiful music being played in the background, and the movie ends with the caption ‘Sometimes, we don’t have a clue about the things happening to us are dreams or its just reality’.

‘3-Iron’ is a movie where we don’t get answers to some questions. It’s the sort of a film where the viewer has to assume certain facts. We don’t know who Tae-Suk is and how does he possess the mysterious disappearing skills. It is purely left to our conscience to understand.

The camera work is pleasing, and the lighting is perfect. The movie takes place mostly in the city, unlike Kim Ki-Duk’s ‘spring, summer, fall, winter…and spring’ or ‘The Isle’ but even then, he has donned a remarkable role as a director, with all those wonderful shots.

As like his previous movies, this film too is silent for most scenes. The protagonists don’t speak a single word till the end (when we hear the lady saying I Love You to Tae-Suk).

It’s a very different attempt in cinema. Not many of the contemporary directors can create movies which glorify silence. Silence has been depicted a very important role in the movie, and it’s like the personification of affection.

It’s to be noted that Director Kim Ki-Duk wrote the screenplay of the movie in one month, the movie was filmed in 16 days and the film editing was done in 10 days.

Again, Kim Ki-Duk proves his mettle, and ‘3-Iron’ remains to be a celluloid poem, crafted by one of the greatest directors the world movie industry has ever seen.

See the trailer here.


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