Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Isle (2000) New York Asian FIlm Festival 2015

Kim Ki-duk’s The Isle was the first of his films I saw. It was a moment in my personal history that kind of marked me forever, kind of like the first time I saw the sun. Somewhere over the course of the film, I think the moment where the girl pops up through the trap door of the fishing house, I fell in love with the director. I haven’t looked back ever since.

The barest description of the plot has a man going on a fishing holiday on a lake and renting a floating house. He ends up getting involved with a woman who runs a bait shop and turns the occasional trick. This being a Kim Ki Duk film you can expect sex and violence.

Ki-duk is an underappreciated director. Slaving away he turns out mini-masterpiece after mini-masterpiece. Small chamber films about the human condition full of our baser instincts that move us, rattle us and get us thinking. His films are no designed to leave us passive, they are designed to provoke a reaction- even if it’s just an exasperated gasp of “What the hell was that?” which is followed by several hours of discussion. His film Moebius, despite my not being a fan resulted in hours and hours of discussion.

If you’ve never seen a Ki-duk film this is the place to start. This is a film that will reveal the mix of humor and horror that you find in all of Ki-duk’s fiction films. Also what you’ll find is the lyric beauty with which he shoots his films. His films are gorgeous and magical. The opening of his film The Bow is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and every time I watch the film I’ll re-watch the opening minutes five or six times before I move on. All of Ki-duk’s films are like that and The Isle is no exception. You know when I talked about the moment where I fell in love with the film, that’s an image burned into my psyche. If you mention the film the image of the woman’s head in the trap door instantly springs to mind.

This is a great film. If you’ve never seen it you must- especially if you can see it on the big screen where the images will really burn their way into your being.

The film plays at The New York Asian Film Festival on July 9 . For More information and tickets go here.

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