Manhole (2014)

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Directed by Shin Jae-young

Starring Jung Kyung-ho, Jung yu-mi, and Kim Sae-ron

“Go straight home, don’t worry about me!”

Words: Desmond Childs, with minor spoilers

The premise of this film is actually one I found intriguing; but for some reason by the end I felt like something was lacking. A serial killer who operates from underground essentially would totally have access to a large number of potential victims. He would probably be savvy enough to rig the surveillance system and lighting to work in his favor as well. I could have done without the ‘tramatic’ experience; i.e. family perished in a fire that father fueled with gasoline because he was…stressed at work? I dunno. Everything about the premise and villain of this film was on point.

My biggest problems with Manhole definietly stem from the police force and even the general public at large. South Korea’s known for it’s horror/thriller genre; and the fact that there always seems to be an incompetent representative of the police force (if not the police themselves). My question is why? I understand the tropes that come with this particular type of film–but it should not excuse the continued use of these worn, tiresome tropes. A police captain who doesn’t believe members of his team, simply because he doesn’t really seem to like them is not only unprofessional; it’s unbelievable. I had a lot of trouble believing that something as nefarious as a sewer dwelling predator could exist in the same world with a police force as sloppy, incompetent, and dull as the one portayed in this picture. They were in two different movies–heck, two different universes. And when the two different tones/dynamics mix down in the sewer it becomes something even more unrecognizable than it already was. At one point, there are over 4-5 individuals down in this sewer who are trying to figure out, “what’s going on” in addition to the killer and his dozens of victims. It’s so bizarre. Is this man that clever, or are the cops that stupid? We never really get a definitive answer either–as the movie quickly sends the climax over the side of a metaphorical cliff (flames and all).

Not only does the ending put a tragic spin on something it tried to put a happier ending on was also strange. And so when we do get the ‘tear-jerking’, ‘that’s that’s not fair’ moment–it feels tacked on because I guess this movie needed to fully let me down? Again, I don’t really know. Honestly, this movie showcases two things clearly about the state of the genre in South Korea:

  1. There is a formula for horror/thriller films
  2. This movie would have done better to break away from that expectation, at least a little, to tell a compelling, more coherent story.

But the film isn’t a bad one by any stretch. The issue stems from the mediocre execution and middle of the road; luke-warm representation this movie gives off. And for a thriller that ain’t all that great, but too well put together to be ‘So bad, it’s good’–there’s a little something I like to call film purgatory. Manhole is exactly the kind of film that fits squarely on a shelf, within film purgatory.

TRAILER BELOW:

Friday ?????: “What scares you?”

As many who have followed me over the last six years or so have learned–I don’t necessarily scare that easy. Whether it’s the absurdity or excess gore, over the top scripting, or cliched jump scares; I’m generally okay while watching these types of films.

What will generally get me kinda of nervous is horror of the psychological fare. Give me a story about my dreams running out of control. Or the man who forces me to make an incredibly difficult, “damned if I do or don’t” decision.

My question to all you readers is simple:

What is it–whether movies or in general–that SCARES you? Why?

Send me emails at:

pztroupe@gmail.com

For my NexusGen readers: You can simply reply on the facebook post.

Oh yeah—HAPPY HALLOWEEN.

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Fukushima’s Kids: Screened Vision[s] for Global Giving

Here are the numbers…

– 21, 586 

– 18, 498

– 3, 088

The first figure speaks toward the total number of deaths from the March 11, 2011 Tsunami disaster. The second is the number of people who died in the disaster itself, and the third figure refers to the individuals who died of stress or illness that was attributed to the disaster.

I was reading about how the Tsunami had just completely devastated the people in the near by area so badly that certain survivors are suffering from ‘night terrors’ or flashbacks that physically injure them. For something to be so traumatic that it hurts thinking about it–wow. What bothered me about this whole situation aside from the loss of life, was the indifference that many people had toward it when it was brought to their attention.

“Let the unaccounted for just be lost, the families need closure” and comments like that were made around several of the websites I had been following the situation on. I can’t believe there are people on this planet that are so callous enough to say things like that. Imagine never finding out what happened to your loved one who got caught in that disaster. They aren’t dead–they’re just gone…not among those killed, not among those injured, their just…gone.

One way I know we can all help, is by donating our time, money, and hearts toward the people suffering out there on the other side of the world. With social media being what it is, we can do something as simple as sending money just so the kid has a ticket to get from Fukushima to Hokkaido (and the care they need). If you want more information, and may even be interested in donating to the cause–click on the link at the bottom of the page to get to the charity’s Global Giving webpage.

Fukushima Kids – Global Giving

Kevin Hart: What Now?

Directed by Tim Story, Lesie Small

In Philadelphia,  50,000 spectators were treated to a pretty solid stand-up routine from superstar comedian Kevin Hart. The special had a little something for everyone, and is somewhere between Steve Harvey and Katt Williams. Very family-centered, with plenty of silly, anecdotal gags sprinkled throughout.

So we get a Philly-cheese steaked addition of Hart’s latest stand-up. It comes sandwich between to silly, action packed skits—where we see Hart and co-star Halle Berry (looking fantastic!) In a James Bond-styled setting. Kevin the agent, Berry his sexy partner, and even Don Cheadle makes an appearance at the standard poker playing scene. It’s a silly affair, and provides plenty of chuckles and the occasional hardy laugh. 

That’s also how I felt about the meat and potatoes of this comedy special as well–it was a mostly silly affair that kept me entertained, but never brought the house down. Again, lots of observational comedy about his wife, kids, other friends and family plus insight on some of his more irrational fears.

Funny, but Kevin plays it pretty safe and there were times when the audience I was with was quiet even as Kevin delivered several predictable punchlines or drubbed up another gag from twenty minutes earlier in the routine. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it was definitely noticeable. Not sure you’ll wanna spend eleven bucks to see it–but you should see it. There is something to say about seeing people of all walks of life coming together to laugh. Hart himself astutely points out that, “If we can laugh together, we can live together”. I’ll definitely agree that comedy has a way of bringing together the masses for a night of entertainment; and  Kevin Hart’s ‘What Now?’ does just that.

Check out the trailer here:

Dr. DRE and the issue of Indifference

(Full disclosure, I have not seen the BET film)

It’s way too easy to write a joke here about how it will be nearly impossible to forget about Dre now. I mean, here we are, once again embroiled in yet another celebrity domestic abuse scandal.

Okay, so Michel’le’s new film, “Surviving Compton” shines a blacklight on Dre’s shady past with her. Am I surprised by the seemingly recent revelation of Dre’s treatment of Michel’le? Ehhh…maybe?

Now, my first thought was why word of this hadn’t got out sooner. The music industry, Hollywood, family and friends—whoever knew about this abusive relationship and chose to remain silent should be ashamed. In my opinion the indifferent nature of the “everyman” toward domestic abuse and rape culture is THE biggest problem after the crimes themselves. Similar to when people are indifferent to the Dakota Pipeline situation or the Black Lives Matter movement—Indifference is what keeps these problems afloat. Let’s just be honest about it–We Americans really don’t care as much as we think we do. We don’t. We’ll holler and complain fo a spell, but after awhile it’s back to business as usual so to speak.

With that being said, the latest efforts of social media to oust rapists, child molesters, bullies, and bigots has been encouraging. My biggest concern, however is what our next step is. This election has ousted countless individuals as closeted bigots and racists—but now what? What’s our next step? I believe we move toward removing them from their platforms obviously, but there needs to be contingency plans to be honest. What do you suggest? Now that America’s gross underbelly is being exposed–what steps should be taken to scrub away at the dirt and dead skin (if you catch my drift)?

Agree? Disagree?

Send me your thoughts:

Pztroupe@gmail.com

Nate Parker

I have not seen Birth of a Nation. I probably will not. Is it because of Parker’s rape case? Initially, no. Learning the details about that certainly did not help persuade me into an $11 viewing–but I honestly didn’t want to see another movie about slaves. As for my whole stance on Mr. Parker and the rape case—I believe he should apologize. Now his supporters/fans are going to ask why, and my answer is way more complicated than it seems. Obviously, many people’s perception of Parker is similar to that of how other’s perceived OJ Simpson (Post-murder trial). The legal system has deemed many things legal, and a great number of people have taken issue with that. I believe Parker’s lack of sensitivity toward his own court case is disgusting. His accuser, post-trial some years later commited suicide. If I were “innocent”, and proven as such–why not go the extra mile to at least acknowledge the severity of the aftermath? She’s dead. Something clearly affected this woman so negatively, that she no longer felt life was worth living. Media be darned–Parker does not seem too worried with…well…any of this. To make matters even more maddening-Parker felt he needed to criticize the POC community for not supporting his project. Is this guy human? Can he truly be this self-centered, and not comprehend how his attitude is part of the problem? 

What are your thoughts on Nate Parker, his movie, and his rape case? Let me hear it!

Pztroupe@gmail.com