Category Archives: Television

80 of 366: The Housemaid (Hanyo)

World Cinema Project

Manipulation, infidelity, desire and betrayal are all themes explored in Kim Ki-Young’s 1960 film from South Korea, The Housemaid (Hanyo.)

The original negative of the film was restored by the World Cinema Project, an organization with the mission to preserve films with cultural and cinematic significance, and the Korean Film Archive.

The original negative was missing two reels and, after being combined with another print found in 1990,  was released two years after the restoration process started. There is also a remake of the film from 2010 with Kim Ki-Young as the writer working with a different director, Song-soo Im. Young both wrote and directed the original film, referenced in 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die as a marvelous discovery in film history.

The story centers on a couple in Korea in need of a maid to help care for their house and two children. The mother in the family, Mrs. Kim, is pregnant with their third child and is at first hesitant to have a maid there in fear it will be temptation for her husband, Dong-sik Kim to cheat.

Dong-sik is a piano teacher, often pursued by his female students, but the temptation of a younger woman doesn’t become real until they do hire a maid, Myong-sook, to help.

The temptation escalates solely because of Myong-sook’s obsessive and controlling behavior during the course of the film. It’s clear from the beginning she has deep desire to be more a part of the Kim family than a maid and will go to all lengths to take over the home and get what she wants.

The build to reveal her true character is slow in this suspense-thriller that uses its musical score to exemplify that something terrifying will happen at any moment.

The film’s visual style is complex with high angle and exterior shots through windows and doors that define the feeling you are looking in on a family’s secrets and struggles they don’t want anyone to know about. Dong-sik, at many points in the story, threatened to tell the police about Myong-sook’s obsessive and ultimately violent behavior toward the family but she, or even his own wife, influenced him not to act on his instincts.

The Housemaid is a haunting and beautiful story that delivers on the fact that something bad will happen, on many occasions, and goes full circle in exploring the idea of the problems temptation causes when put against people’s human instincts versus doing the right thing.


“Frank” and Such

Hello Folks.

I had to pull myself away from binge watching “The Good Wife” and listening to the new Ryan Adams album to finally update my blog. (Guess what? David Letterman really likes Ryan Adams, too.)

I will say that hearing critics like Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald gush about Adams’ new songs and how awesome he is just makes my day, almost as much as the time my sister and I saw him at Gluek’s bar after a concert many years ago.

Ryan and Greenwald also happen to be fans of “The Good Wife” and give regular shout-outs to homegirl Christine Baranski for some reason. I like it. Unfortunately before I realized what an addicting gem the show is I listened to a spoiler episode of their Hollywood Prospectus podcast that revealed a huge plot point from the finale of last season. Maybe it will make it a little bit easier now that I am prepared for the devastating news that caused fans to flood (Spoiler Alert!) Twitter with their 140-character reactions.

For those of you who are current on “The Good Wife” (anyone, anyone?) the season premiere is Sept. 21.

That’s right, it’s fall TV and movie season!

I may or may not have a Google doc saved to keep track of all the premiere dates of my favorite shows and a few new ones I want to watch (if you need a copy, let me know.) There are a lot of great shows airing soon, but I am really here to dish about what I did see during the past few months, fall movies I am so so so excited about and my recent viewing of “Frank.”

This summer was reportedly the worst at the box office since 1997 and not even “Guardians of Galaxy” (which is amazing) could save the day.

I guess I’m not helping because I work at a movie theater and therefore didn’t pay for any of the movies I saw this summer, except “22 Jump Street” (worth it.)

Most recently I saw “Frank,” starring Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Domhnall Gleeson and my boy Scoot McNairy.

I was hooked on what I thought was a completely fictional movie just from the trailer, only to find out at the end that it’s based on a true story documented in a newspaper article by Jon Ronson.

Ronson is the inspiration for one of the main characters, Jon Burroughs, an aspiring musician who stumbles upon an opportunity to play a gig with a mysterious band, the Soronprfbs.

The band leader is Frank Sidebottom, who always wears a paper mache head with a face painted on it.

The role of Frank Sidebottom is a departure for Fassbender, I think, but he masters the performance and the musical talent of the main character. Fassbender’s voice is key in the film as he performed many of the songs by the Soronprfbs and had to act, for the most part, without using any facial expressions.

After Burroughs lands a gig with the band Don (McNairy), the manager, invites him to record an album at a remote cabin in the woods. He immediately agrees and after a lengthy stay there sets his sights for the band on performing at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. The rest of the band isn’t aware of Burroughs’ goals for some time, much less the fact he is promoting the band on Twitter and YouTube.

In their time together the Soronprfbs experience conflict, tragedy and happiness, which are themes displayed throughout the film. On the surface the theatrical telling of this true story is portrayed with quirk and humor, but the filmmakers reveal the true persona of Frank, and all the characters for that matter, by the end.

Frank is still in theaters, including the Lagoon in Minneapolis and is coming soon to St. Anthony Main. It will be on DVD on Dec. 8, 2014.

Wow this is getting long, I guess that’s what happens when I don’t work on my blog for a really long time.

I have plans to go to brunch and play Bingo, yes at the same time, soon so I better wrap this up.

Looking back on what else I saw this summer, “Obvious Child” starring Jenny Slate was by far my favorite film. I chose wisely with the aforementioned blockbusters “22 Jump Street” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”and I enjoyed “Happy Christmas” and “Boyhood” as well.

As for what’s to come I’m pretty excited about “Nightcrawler,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a freelance crime journalist in Los Angeles.

Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher” starring Channing Tatum and Steve Carrell is top on my list as well and David Fincher’s “Gone Girl” is looking better and better. The first trailers make the film look pretty cheesy, for lack of a better word, but I actually think the on-screen version of the story will be better than the book. Author Gillian Flynn is also the screenwriter, so it will be interesting to see how she turns around her own novel.

if you didn’t know the film is especially creating excitement in Cape Girardeau, Mo., where the story takes place and the cast and crew spent time filming during the last year. My aunt lives there and said the local movie theater will show the film on every screen during its opening weekend and a lot of other events are planned around the premiere. Maybe Ben Affleck will be there, in which case I will be too.

Gosh, I haven’t even covered all the movies I wanted to (including “St. Vincent,” and “Birdman,”) but if I do I will be late for Bingo.

As John Hodgman says, “That is all.”


For Wiggles and Giggles

As far as I know, the phrase “wiggles and giggles” has nothing to do with movies but I did hear it a lot from the guy who was fixing the heat at my office this week. He was talking on the phone with his boss or someone to help alleviate the problem and repeatedly said well, for “wiggles and giggles” why don’t we try this?

So, for wiggles and giggles here are some movies and television shows I am excited about at the moment.

My buddies Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan over at Grantland said, during one of their many podcasts about Matthew McConaughey’s revival, that Jake Gyllenhaal is another fellow to watch out for on the big screen.

if there were a catch phrase like “McConaissance” that worked with his name I’d use it here.

untitled 3Post “Prisoners,” Gyllenhaal is working with director Denis Villeneuve again playing a real doppelganger role in “Enemy.”

Need I say more? The trailer is really all I needed to be on board for this film. Even though I didn’t like “Prisoners,” Gyllenhaal’s performance as Detective Loki did save the film.

Also of note is the upcoming “Nightcrawler” with Gyllenhaal as a man who discovers the underground world of freelance crime journalism in Los Angeles. Plus Rene Russo is in it. Maybe 2014 will be her year too. (No disrespect, “Major League” is one of my favorite movies.)

untitled 2I’ll conclude this stream of consciousness with another little tidbit I heard about on Grantland, the show “The Strain” coming out on FX in July. It stars Corey Stoll (who I really liked on “House of Cards”) as a doctor in New York City investigating, “a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism.” Guillermo del Toro will be behind the camera as a writer, director and producer working with vampire-trilogy author Chuck Hogan.

I don’t know anything about the books and I have not followed the vampire craze in Hollyweird, but something makes me think this small-screen debut will be where it’s at.

Okay, that is all for today.

Oh wait! I didn’t watch it yet but my coworker told me about the documentary (on Netflix streaming) “The Price of Gold.” If you didn’t already guess, the film dissects the story of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan before “the attack.”

Watch it, you know, for wiggles and giggles.