Old Boy (2003): The last ten minutes I was up off the sofa and pacing around the room. Director Chan-wook Park puts together a story that is part Kafka, Tarantino, and Acker--in this order. A drunk loudmouth is inexplicably taken and thrown into a strange cell for fifteen years. He is given daily food, monthly haircuts, and a television to occupy his attention. Upon release, the man, now fit and eager for vengeance, sets out to find whoever locked him up. All this is well-scripted, but to me the best conceit was that he spent fifteen years isolated with a television. When he reenters the world, he has an encyclopedia of largely useless trivia at the tip of his tongue. The middle stretch of the film is the most action-filled. We have several fights. He falls in love. He catches the bad guy. When the mystery is finally solved, tho, it becomes clear that Park has used the conventions against the audience. He delivers a sinister final sequence that must make some viewers feel like it would be better to crawl back inside the locked room. Go back and turn on the T.V., etcetera.

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