Wednesday 16 Apr

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

No Holds Barred

RLJ Entertainment's new Blu-ray for No Holds Barred begins with what seems like dozens of trailers for movies starring pro wrestlers from the WWE talent pool. Each flick went direct to home video, but once upon a time — aka 1989 — one had to go to the multiplex to catch such a spectacle.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Knights of Badassdom

In 2008, the third act of the guy comedy Role Models used LARPing — live-action role-playing, that is — as a backdrop for our protagonists' lessons learned. Today, Knights of Badassdom extends that half-hour into a full feature, to the point where viewers are left not smiling, but exhausted. 
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Switched on

Not everything on television has to appeal to mass audiences. In fact, with the further fractioning of viewership thanks to alternatives like Netflix and VOD, more series can afford to become more niche. Here are five examples of shows both past and present — and new to DVD and/or Blu-ray — that encompass some of the more outrageous ideas ever to go beyond boardroom discussion.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0

Confession of Murder

Seventeen years after slaying 10 women and getting away with it, the charismatic serial killer Du-sok (Park Si-hoo) comes clean with a Confession of Murder, in this 2012 South Korean crime thriller. He does so by publishing a book that dishes all the grisly details.
04/02/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Drama · Poetry


South Korea’s award-winning ‘Poetry’ contains a lead performance so powerful, it transcends any boundaries of language.

Rod Lott July 20th, 2011

5:30 and 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch, 236-3100

It’s ironic that “Poetry” would open with the image of a dead body floating near the film’s superimposed title, but the best of world cinema subverts viewers’ expectations. Director Lee Chang-dong (“Secret Sunshine”) does that through the entirety of this Cannes-blessed work from South Korea, even before it begins: Doesn’t a drama about a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s and who longs to write verse sound terribly dull and boring?

And yet it’s quite the opposite. “Poetry” is one of the more compelling films you’re likely to see this year. It plays Friday through Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Yun Jeong-hie embodies the character of Mija, a senior citizen working part-time as a maid/caretaker for a lonely, elderly man whose body no longer responds to his wishes, post-stroke. Combined with a pittance of a government subsidy, she gets by, enabling her (barely) to raise her ungrateful snob of a teenage grandson (newcomer Lee Da-wit).

Mija slowly realizes that her inability to remember certain words and phrases in simple conversation — bleach, wallet, bus terminal — represent small steps toward inevitable dementia. She’s drawn to poetry readings to appreciate words while she can, but try as she might, is unable to craft any poems herself beyond a title.

But “Poetry” is not “about” writing. It’s about all the things that the kind, old woman cannot change. Functions of her brain are one thing; a shocking, terrible crime is another. I dare not spoil it, allowing you to experience and process the news as Mija does. Needless to say, it takes her crumbling world and shakes it violently.

Absent from the screen for almost two decades before taking this role, Jeong-hie delivers a remarkable performance. While she won an award for it in Asia, she lost several more, yet it’s difficult to believe any actress could have delivered anything better that year. She so disappears into Mija that one forgets her character is not real. Jeong-hie not being known on these shores is a benefit to the film’s power, whereas a recognizable actress might detract from it.

Chang-dong goes for the slow-burn approach over the course of “Poetry,” although he arguably could have shaved several minutes off the running time of two hours and 19 minutes by nixing a few of the poems read in full by other characters. His often-handheld direction — not shaky-cam, thankfully — emphasizes the piece’s intimacy of the piece, and his last few scenes together pack quite an emotional punch. The ending will haunt viewers for quite some time.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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