Friday, March 12, 2010

MOTHER Comes to America

Bong Joon-ho's MOTHER gets a limited release in the United States today, and so far the reviews are very good -- 87 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 80 metascore on Metacritic (which I find more useful than RT).

Manohla Dargis at the New York Times gives the film a glowing review. And even more interesting, the New York Times has Bong himself describing a scene from the film, talking about how and why he shot it the way he did.

I am not sure how big the release of MOTHER is (I suspect it is rather small), but will update this post once I find out.

I find it remarkable that a quirky film like MOTHER would get such a strong response in the West. MOTHER has almost none of the typical features you see in an Asian film that gets released in the West. No martial arts. No ghosts. No gangsters (well, almost none). It is like audiences in the West are growing much more comfortable with international cinema. Like it is getting normalized. Which I think is a great thing.

* * *

In a completely different vein, I just came across this fascinating little article about cinema in Saudi Arabia. Apparently all theaters there were closed in 1980 and just now some people are trying to bring them back. In general, I find the history of world cinema a great subject in general, and especially so in the Arab world. For instance, how many people remember that Egypt once had a very strong movie industry? I once met a filmmaker from Bahrain (perhaps the only filmmaker from that small island state), Bassam Al-Thawadi and he told me a lot of great stories about what it was like for him trying to make movies in Bahrain.

Maybe the same forces that are making Korean movies more normal in the West are also, in some small way, liberalizing the Arab world? Is this an example of the soft power of culture in globalization? Maybe not, but it is something I like to think about these days.

No comments: