Monday, August 27, 2007

FTO 2/3: Future Time Orientation in The Damage Done

Damage Done is an autobiography of an Australian drug mule who got imprisoned in a Thai prison for 12 years. It also shows the strengths and weaknesses of short FTO: brilliant short-term tactical decisions combined with insane risk-taking and ignorance of warning signs.

FTO 1/3: Future Time Orientation in Oldboy (Korea, 2003)

Oldboy depicts a man with short FTO right from the first scene. In this scene, he's drunk in a police jail, noisy, impatient, resisting his chums and police, a disgusting and unempathic anti-hero. This image is strenghtened in later scenes.

The film also shows the strength of short FTO - namely, ability to make the best out of every situation. This is especially visible in his popularity with women. The film shows two successful seductions and hints at much more. (That bring this post by Bulletproof Pimp into my mind. In both Oldboy and this post, physical fitness was the only factor where the men showed long-termism.)

There are also two few scenes where long-term approaches turn out to be useless. The first of them happens at the imprisonment period, but I won't spoil it. The second happens some hours after the main character has been released. He faints and wakes up again. He utters a scientific-sounding hypothesis that lack of vitamin D and sudden sunlight made him faint. His girl answers "I hope you don't always talk like that." In the end, the hypothesis turns out to be false. Reliance to scientific explanations, a long-term strategy, turned out to make him unpopular and misguided.

The short-termist philosphy of life is also pronounced explicitly. In one scene, a gangster boss takes a tooth out of the protagonists mouth as a revenge. Then the gangster puts the pliers close the his mouth as if planning to pull another teeth. The protagonist shouts, expecting pain. At that point the gangster takes the pliers away and says "Don't imagine. You fear because you imagine what might happen. Don't imagine, so you don't fear."

The ending reflects well the main character's revulsion towards long-termism. The most important causes and consequences of the plot turn out to be arbitary and unbelievable. Things are not really explained in the end; they are messed up in the end. And in the eye of the madness, the short-term tactician wins over the long-term manipulator.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Smoking in Oldboy (Korea, 2003) and Lady Vengeance (Korea, 2005)

Oldboy and Lady Vengeance are two revenge-themed films by Chan-wook Park. They have the coolest smoking scenes ever.

In Oldboy, the main character has trained martial arts against a wall in prison, not being able to practice against opponents. When he gets free, he wonders if "15 years of imaginary training can be put into use". He goes to a gang of 5 juveniles, takes a cigarette from one gang member's mouth and inhales. In the next scene, he gets a strong kick to stomatch and falls on his back, arms and legs spread. He raises the hand holding a cigarette, puts it to his mouth, sucks a dose of Nicotine Power, and rises up to beat the gang with bare hands.

In another scene he's in a schoolyard. There is a girl riding bicycle around the yard. In order to see better under her skirt, he goes to a push-up pole, hangs upside down in it and lights a cigarette. A schoolteacher comes to say that he can't smoke in a catholic school, but the main character dismisses it with a cool rebel attitude by saying that he leaves the school tomorrow. After some minutes, he goes on to seduce the girl.

In Lady Vengeance, the strong and independent main character lights a cigarette after soul-shaking session of sex.

PS. 50% of Korean high school males and 30% of females smoke more than 5 cigarettes a day.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Life Is Full of Choices

On the one hand, there is Kiuas performing at Jalometalli festival at 18.8.2007. On the other hand, there is Culture Beat performing at D-Fest at 17.8.2007. These events are exclude one another, since if I go to the (chronologically) first, I'll drink so much that I won't be interested in travelling to the second. Is any of my dear readers willing to go with me to either event? If there are several readers, youung, fertile women are preferred. If no reader is interested, I may be too lazy to go to either event.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bang Rajan (Thailand, 2000)

The cover of the film advertised it as "the Braveheart of Thailand". After summarizing the plot, I'll compare it to Braveheart.

The film is set in 1800th century Thailand. Two Burmese armies are on its way to Thailand's capital Ayuttaya, destroying, looting, raping, killing and enslaving everything on their way. Bang Rajan has successfully resited earlier Burmese conquest attempts. The survivors from other destroyed villages are escaping there for a final showdown, having few other places left to escape to.

In Braveheart, I wondered why the Scottish preferred the abstract concept of freedom to a violence monopoly of the most successful and enlightened sea power of the time. In Bang Rajan it is more clear why people choose to fight. There are long flashback footages where the Burmese come to burn and loot Thai villages. There also seems to be a mutual acceptance of killing: both the Burmese and the defending Vietnamese are very keen on killing them all in the opposing side. However, there are two scenes where the Burmese imprison and enslave the Thais instead of killing them, so it's not all about genocide.

Braveheart concentrated on one heroic individual and his defining experiences. The main characters of Bang Rajan represent the wider experiences of the villagers. There are escapees from another village who witnessed the destruction of their homes and killing of the people with whom they lived. There is a squad of men who have successfully fought against the Burmese before. There are pregnant women who are worried about the future of their men and offspring.

The most striking difference between Bang Rajan and Braveheart is the total lack of sophistication in Bang Rajan. The motivations or the villagers are very simple, usually linked to survival, sex, security and food. When they choose a leader, the best justification they give for him is that he is "strong and hates Burmese". There's very little tactical reasoning, which could be compared to Braveheart's long spears that are used against a cavalery attack. Even the Western-style moral sermon - where a Buddhist monk claims that also Burmese are human beings - is quite naive.

I didn't watch Braveheart to the end, since the rugged individualism got too thick. But I did watch Bang Rajan. Despite its crudeness or thanks to it, it stays consistent ("pysyy kasassa") through the whole film. It is the perfect propaganda movie: There is nothing abstract or delicate or implicit, but instead it blasts its message to viewers' face in cat-sized letters in its long, unambiguous, repeated, gruesome scenes.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I Have Nothing To Say

During the last month, I've started renting movies, so this blog will become a movie review blog for a few months. The following three changes have caused me to rent movies:

1) No more any obligation to try to use my leisure productively. As a student, there was always some book to be read or exercise to be done for a test or something. Not that I ever did them.

2) Being employed, the cost of renting a movie is insignificant to the time cost of watching it.

And, most importantly

3) I've found a way to pick non-boring movies! I look at the country of origin. If it is Asian, the movie is probably ok. Firstly, they are not Hollywood movies, which means that they don't make you so bored you stop watching in the middle. Secondly, they originate from a different culture, which means that they have lots of oddity and strangeness in details and the way things are told. Thirdly, the filter is really tough: only a small fraction of films reach the renting store, so the level is high.