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kenmorefield

Film Club March 2020: Poetry

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We haven't had much interaction with Film Club for a couple years now, but I thought it worth trying for a month or so given recent events and all the social isolation. 
Here is a link to the film at Tubi (free): https://tubitv.com/movies/149549/poetry

 

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It's also available on Kanopy.

 


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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8 minutes ago, Darrel Manson said:

It's also available on Kanopy.

 

That is true, though in my experience Kanopy availability varies depending upon one's library.

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What a curious film.  Honestly, I find it hard to get a toehold on this one, since the main characters all struck me as so shallow and repugnant.  

Mija seems like a tourist in her own life; it seems she joined the poetry class in order to find a self that doesn't really exist.  She alternately nags or neglects her rapist grandson, her shallowness made evident by her banal comments to him ("grandma is happiest if you're eating" and "clean body, clean mind').  

I'd like to think the widespread conspiracy by the parental figures and the school to cover up the repeated gang rape of the schoolgirl who suicided is an exception to the norm, but in the era of #metoo, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, and Penn State, sadly the opposite seems true.

This is only the second film of Chang-dong Lee's that I've seen, besides Burning.  Are wispy, insubstantial, drifting characters abandoned by their mothers the norm in his films?


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

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I don't agree with Andrew's assessment of Mija; I think she's a highly pitiable character to be sure, but she's a mild mannered, somewhat naive woman who suffers a complete mental breakdown--both due to the early stage Alzheimer's and the shock of her grandson's actions. The scene when she learns about the repeated gang rape with the callous, sexist fathers worrying about their sons' (and their own) reputations is phenomenal acting from Jeong-hie Yun as Mija attempts to process something that was previously unfathomable to her. And the rest of the movie is her attempt to process that information and see the world from another perspective (ultimately that of Heejin), and the poems serve as the bridge for her to get there.

The scenes with her grandson are a sort of five stages of grief--anger in waking him up in the middle of the night, denial with the babying of him.

I still don't know what to make of the tragedy of the ending (that she could only accept what happened by putting herself completely in Heejin's shoes), specifically whether the film views Mija's final act as some sort of triumph or failure.


"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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Like Burning, I can admire the craftsmanship on display, particularly in the cinematography and acting, but (also like Burning) I couldn't really find an emotional or moral connection with any of these characters to anchor me and allow me to become immersed in the story. That is to say, I can appreciate the filmmaking, but didn't really enjoy the film itself. A film doesn't have to be enjoyable or have likable characters to be a great and meaningful film, but this was off-putting enough that I'm really going to have to wrestle with its implications (and that ending) to discern what I really think about it.

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