Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

13 July 2008

Re-Cycle (aka. Gwai wik), dir. Pang Brothers (2006)

NIKKI says:
So, Oxide Pang says it's not an anti-abortion film. And while that makes me feel a bit better about the whole experience, I don't know if he's entirely telling the truth.

Consider: Angelica Lee runs through a giant red blubber hole full of aborted fetuses that she's told are "discarded" things along the same lines as her childhood toys. She is informed of this by a little girl who reveals herself to be Angelica's aborted baby. "It's not that I didn't love you," Angelica says to the little girl, holding her, and crying. And she resists following up that thought, but we're aware by this stage of the danger of discarding things.

The whole movie about the place things go when casually tossed aside. Is it irresponsible of the Pangs to compare childhood toys with aborted fetuses? The movie is about a woman who is forced to confront the supernatural world where her discarded things reside -- most prominently, her discarded story ideas. She's a novelist suffering writer's block brought on by the pressures of writing another blockbuster. She's not in the best frame of mind to create, and what she does write, she invariably deletes or tosses into her wastepaper basket. The basket begins to stir, and she starts seeing weird things like dark figures and a broken elevator.

Soon, she's in a fantasy world where dead bodies hang in trees and deformed human figures squirm, twitch and unnaturally bend, following her, stalking her. She must get to the a place called the Transit for safety, and must venture through this land of discarded things. She meets characters from books she hasn't finished writing, images and ideas left hanging when she's hit the delete key. There's even a giant pyramid of discarded books, from which other books fall and slide -- so many discarded ideas, she could have written hundreds of bestsellers.

The Ideas Hell is a fascinating concept. And that part of the film kept me interested. As a non-practicing fiction writer myself, I know the hell of ideas conceived and lost, invented and left to languish. I know the horrors of the blank page. I have the repertoire of excuses. And I felt genuinely creeped out at the prospect of my ideas living in me somewhere, waiting for their opportunity to develop and grow.

But is this the same as the babies my body waits to have? I just don't think it is. If Oxide Pang is truthful in that he meant nothing more by the fetus-bubble than simply as a plot device that causes issue for Angelica, then fair enough. But it's the part of the movie that struck me the most. I can't free myself of it. When you choose to say something like that in your movie, you have to be aware of the wider effects. It goes beyond story telling and starts to become something else. Too sensitive? Maybe. Or maybe I just wanted my Pang movie to feature Angelica running from ghosts and bloody things, and not charging headlong into them.

It's an interesting idea. It's provocative, and absolutely beautiful to watch. It, too, makes me want to get some ideas out of my head, lest they fester and mould and start twitching.


After watching the piss-weak remake of The Eye earlier this week, I was excited - nay, burning to see another horror movie from the Pang Brothers.

This, however, wasn't it.

Re-Cycle starts out as a conventional HK-horror flick - young female writer, haunted by visions, etc. - but then takes a quick, unexpected turn into the land of Dark Fantasy. There were elements of horror all the way through, but elements don't make the whole, and I was left with a bit of cinematic whiplash, which is maybe why I didn't get into this one so much.

The concept was great - the writer finds herself in the Land of the Discarded, confronted with things from her past ranging from toys and books she had as a child to characters from her own unfinished stories and her own aborted daughter - but it got very heavy in the end, almost a Pro-Life PSA, which, having been duped once already by the Horror/Dark Fantasy bait-and-switch, I wasn't at all into.


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