(DECISION TO LEAVE) - Park Chan-Wook
Park Chan-Wook has shown he is a visionary director, with an eye few can match (Ridley Scott being one of his few peers, in that respect).
His movies are emotional, often at a visceral level, even when we find ourselves shocked by the developments in the stories he depicts. They always involve the viewer, capturing and holding the attention of cinema-goers and home viewers, equally effortlessly, in a manner that few others, of this particular age of cinema, can achieve.
“Oldboy” was an astonishing movie - as were all of the “Vengeance” trilogy - while “Thirst” proved Park’s worth as a director (both Cannes winners). “The Handmaiden” was overlooked for award, in my opinion, as the entire cast, including Kim Tae-Ri (as the titular maid, Sook-Hee), and Cho Jin-Woong (a standout, as the sly uncle Kouzuki) were superb, and bested the performances & production of the actual award winners, that year (subjective, I know!).
Park coaxed a career best out of Nicole Kidman in his gloriously dark tribute to Hitchcock, the psychological thriller (English language) “Stoker”, in which Matthew Goode portrays one of the most charismatically dangerous and unhinged characters to cross a silver screen.
Park’s talent for picking up nuances and the most subtle of gestures, or flickers of emotion, from his cast, is as powerful as his gift for creating a setting, which is an extension of the storyline and serves to reflect and magnify the powerful characterisations he draws from each member of his cast, in every film he has given to us, to date.
There is always a delicious darkness, lurking at the heart of his movies. We know it is there and yet we cannot turn away, as he makes the dark and dangerous into something attractive, urbane and eminently desirable - often before bludgeoning our senses with a shocking act, worthy of Cronenberg, himself (coincidentally, one of his rivals for the award, this year).
His movies have grown in confidence and a richness of storytelling, with every submission, and his worth as a director (as well as a producer and screenwriter - and formerly a lauded critic, himself) has grown exponentially also.
He is a rare breed in world cinema. Someone who can cross cultural boundaries effortlessly, engage global audiences, drawing us in, shocking us, seducing us and then twisting a tale upon its head, while maintaining quality of performance, storyline and production. His detailing is nothing short of extraordinary, and his bond with his cinematographers shows through the gorgeous camera work, in each and every movie.
The “Vengeance Trilogy” stands as one of the greatest submissions from Asian cinema, in movie history. I challenge anyone to watch “Oldboy” and not be riveted by the extraordinary performances and camera work. All this comes from the director, who weaves a tapestry that delights, disgusts, shocks and, yes, ensnares us in its many subtle or crass threads, until we are left shocked and gasping, at the extraordinary and unexpected denouement.
“Lady Vengeance” similarly rivets the viewer, from the first scene, drawing us in and evincing a purely emotional response from the viewer. It’s is an astonishing movie, as subtle as it is blatantly brutal, and every detail, every nuance, every gesture, every hint from the wonderful cast, is captured by the eye of this visonary director, who evokes thoughts of Cronenberg, Coppola, Scorsese, Hitchcock, Scott and Kubrick, while endeavouring - and succeeding - in being entirely his own beast; peerless in Asian cinema, and shoulder to shoulder with both modern and classic directors of the global silver screen.
I cannot wait to see his latest offering, and have little doubt that it will be worthy of many awards, including the Cannes Palme d’Or.