Thursday, October 27, 2016

Quote of the Day

"... after I made Oldboy, I realized that the only character who is not privy to the entire truth in that film was the female character; she was the only female character in the film, and she was excluded from the truth. That made me so uncomfortable in such a big way that is spurred me on to developing Lady Vengeance. That was the genesis from which I went on to make other films with strong female characters. So to simplify things, I said it like that, that Oldboy was the moment when I turned into a big feminist." 

Even though I probably should've sooner, given Lady Vengeance and Thirst and Stoker, I'd never really thought about Park Chan-wook's relationship to feminism until a recent one-two punch - number one being his new film The Handmaiden of course, which (in my opinion, although I know people's reactions vary) walks a very fine line between being all Male-Gaze-y and subverting that gaze. I think it does the latter ultimately, even though it is yes shot by a man and therefore literally of the Male Gaze, by centralizing and mythologizing the romance of its leading ladies over all of its most feeble menfolk. Sisters, selves, do it.

The second part of that one-two punch was recently seeing Park's 1997 (that's pre-Oldboy) film Trio for the first time thanks to the fine folks at Metrograph - Trio tells the story three blasphemous criminals on the run, two men and one woman, that heaps so much misogyny of the female character that my not-so-dainty sensibilities were nevertheless left a little battered and bruised themselves. It is pointed and purposeful misogyny, most often, but punching and slapping the lady is still played as a punchline (bad pun, bad pun) way too often, and it got me thinking about Park's relationship to his female characters.

It is not always perfect. But the quote up top from his new interview with Interview Magazine shows that it's something he's actively been wrestling with, and it shows, clearly, over the arc of his career.

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