The last movie I saw this year, and a darned good one at that.
It was the last day of the festival, only hours after seeing the fantastic Symbol, and I had a hankering to see the new Bong Joon-ho film, Mother. Only one problem, when I went to buy tickets beforehand it had already been sold out for a while. It was nearing 5 pm and the movie was set to start just after six. Dare I try the rush line? After debating (with myself) for another 15 minutes I decided, what the heck, the theater's a short walk from where I live and the worst that can happen is I won't be let in. So with my trusty iPod in hand, playing the book podcast from Mondo Movie, I headed out to try my luck. Upon my arrival I realized there was no fucking way in hell I was getting in. I had convinced myself that it was the last day of the festival so maybe everyone had gone home and there would be seats galore. One look at the ticket holders line, then the rush line told me I'd been an idjit to think as much. But I had to try, it was Bong Joon-ho for crying out loud.
I approached one of the film festival volunteers and asked what she thought the odds of me getting in were. Much to be expected, she said she didn't have a clue, sometimes they let in 50 people, other times nobody. Well, I guess you can figure out that I was headed to the rush line.
Wait! But you're wrong fuckers! Much to my amazement (the volunteer's too) a nice lady came up to me and asked if I was looking for tickets to Mother. I managed to say, "yes" before my jaw hit the ground. I thanked her and reached for my wallet, but she would have none of it. She had been given them and she would not accept one penny in return. Luuuucky (imagine being said in the voice of Napoleon Dynamite). I walked with my head held high to the ticket holders line, laughing at all the fucking losers standing in the rush line. Goddamned assholes.
So then the movie started. Right from the opening credits it's apparent that Bong Joon-ho is behind the camera. Not that it is similar to his other works, but every frame of this film exudes the confidence he's seemed to have since his Memories of Murder (I still haven't seen his debut). Surprisingly, though it starts out peculiar, it settles into what could be called a borderline mainstream Hitchcockian thriller. Kim Hye-Ja turns in an amazing performance as the desperate mother out to prove her son's innocence after he is arrested for murdering a schoolgirl. Her son is slow-witted, suffering from memory loss and is easily coerced by the police into signing a confession. The movie moves along at a nice pace while still maintaining quiet moments as the mother uncovers clues and suspects leading towards the devastating conclusion.
With this film Bong Joon-Ho has skyrocketed onto my shortlist of favourite directors. Though I still prefer Memories of Murder and The Host, Mother shows a director who is willing to take chances while telling a great story. Also, whether the film is about murder, or a giant monster, there is a very human element and a deep sense of sadness. I anxiously await his next film, and will try and get the tickets beforehand, I can't imagine getting that lucky twice.