I feel as if I have just absorbed a great work of art. A. and I went to see There Will Be Blood at a nearby DVD Bang, a seedy but effective place (which one could say of the entirety of this country) where you pay about six or seven dollars per person to sit in your own dark little room, on a reasonably comfortable bed with plastic covers and plastic pillows and a thin zebra blanket, with a gigantic high definition television and some very decent speakers not four feet away from your outstretched legs.
The experience is better than most movie theaters, since you don’t have to deal with people on their cellphones, the blue-white glow of text messages, the ceaseless babbling of idiots; you can also spontaneously have sex or masturbate, if the inspiration strikes, as there is a convenient plastic sphere of toilet paper sitting behind you on the bedstead.
The selection at this place is barbarous, truly barbarous, but there are a few good films nestled in amongst the mountains of catalogued garbage and sublime Japanese pornography, and we managed to find a few.
As for the movie, the music is one of the most striking things about it—the synthesized humming ringing in the first shot says that this is something alien we are looking at here, something unnatural and cruel that does not belong to the world. But I think the film falters in its use of one of Brahms’ most famous songs, which it samples almost like a rap star, cutting here and there, fast-forwarding to the parts the movie needs—this song jerked me out of the movie both times I heard it; the first time it sounded like a last-minute addition, and at the very end the irony was so overwhelming a pair of black horn-rimmed glasses almost sprouted from my nose—the second time we hear the song it seems as if the director wants to let us know that yes, actually, he had been intending to use that little jig all along.
There Will Be Blood makes use of a song called “Fratres for Piano and Cello” by a wholly unknown (to me) Estonian composer named Arvo Part, who seems to have lifted every last note straight out of one of Bach’s greatest achievements; the violin music that was originally composed by Jonny Greenwood (from Radiohead) is better.
A. and I have found a way to ride out the rest of the winter. If we could afford to go every day, we would.
Yesterday we saw a Korean film called Dogani, or The Crucible, in English, a fairly bleak, black-and-white picture about child molestation in a school for deaf orphans—is it possible to get any bleaker? howabout robots raping blind-and-deaf puppies inside Auschwitz during The Holocaust?—but it’s based on true events, though I doubt the good guys in the real world were so perfectly good as they were in this film, and I doubt the bad guys were so horribly evil and soulless. The film is based on a novel written by one of Kim Jong Il’s long-distance admirers, whom I wrote about earlier, a woman who will never be famous in the outside world for anything other than her quirks, even if she claims that she will attain immortality when the government crucifies her; still, it was entertaining, and it jerked plenty of tears from the both of us, and its indictment of Korean society is far harsher than anything you’ll find coming out of the mouths of the disenchanted foreigners living here. To me it seemed as though a classroom full of deaf kids was probably the only such place in Korea where the teacher could hear himself think.
One of the more ridiculous things you see in this film is a $50,000 bribe delivered to the school principal from a teacher who wants to work there—it’s one of those commonplace Korean customs (according to A.) that makes absolutely no sense to me, since it seems to mean that there is no reason to get the job to begin with. I’ll pay you $50,000 now so you can pay me $20,000 a year while I work for you. Disgruntled foreigners occasionally refer to something called KLogic—this is KLogic.
Then there was something I watched on my own, called The Interrupters—I’m watching movies all the time now because I haven’t been able to watch movies for eight months (the boy slept from 9 to 7:30 without waking last night, hallelujah)—a movie great and remarkable for many reasons, one of the most notable being that it is full of black people, although unlike (ahem) most movies that are full of black people, it was clearly made for everyone to see. There’s nothing else I think I can say about it, or anything else, that hasn’t been said a million times before.