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Oldboy (#110 of 12)

Harmony Korine Directs Rihanna in Spring Breakers-Style “Needed Me” Video

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Harmony Korine Directs Rihanna in Spring Breakers-Style “Needed Me” Video
Harmony Korine Directs Rihanna in Spring Breakers-Style “Needed Me” Video

There was so much pomp and circumstance surrounding the impending release of Rihanna’s Anti—false-starter singles, months-long Samsung campaigns, a freaking global treasure hunt for fans—that the small, intimate, and insular nature of the eventual album took some getting used to. The music videos, then, have been helping that acceptance along: “Work” was just two clips of her and Drake, whining first in a club and second in someone’s pink-hued living room, while “Kiss It Better” went even more minimal, and traded up: Drake for a sheer white sheet. The brand new “Needed Me,” directed by Harmony Korine, injects some of the Oldboy-accented revenge verve of last year’s “Bitch Better Have My Money,” spiked with Korine’s own Spring Breakers, but that only comes to a head in the last minute or so. Mostly the clip is concerned with how a topless Rihanna looks glowering into windows and strolling, emotionless, through a strip club thick with gyrating naked bodies. It works, in much the same way “Work” and “Kiss It Better” do: by representing the body as the most direct visual expression of the self.

The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013

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The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013
The 20 Best Movie Posters of 2013

What were the common threads among the finest film posters of 2013? Mustaches. Sunglasses. Font that boldly monopolizes the center of the design. And plenty of pink. A great movie poster can do a great many things, but it’s most important attribute is always the reminder that there are more ways to enticingly sell a film than with famous faces. Virtually every genre (and budget level) is covered in this roster of 2013’s best, proving that great marketing in this industry is by no means exclusive to one type or size of film. And though an ethical issue had a pivotal effect on the final results, it couldn’t tarnish a collection of vastly diverse aesthetic triumphs, which helped to richly enhance the cinema-going year.

Box Office Rap Frozen and the Frost-y Showdown

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Box Office Rap: Frozen and the Frost-y Showdown
Box Office Rap: Frozen and the Frost-y Showdown

Some say the box office is going to end in fire, but some say it’ll end in ice, as Disney’s Frozen looks to unseat Catching Fire over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend. For Catching Fire, the lack of a significant improvement over the opening weekend of the first film suggests many viewers could have been holding out to round up the family for a viewing over the long weekend; nevertheless, almost every box-office prognosticator had Catching Fire pegged too high (especially yours truly), making talk of “catching” The Avengers appear foolish in hindsight.

Frozen goes nationwide on Wednesday, entering a marketplace that hasn’t seen a legitimate animated contender since Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 nearly two months ago. Although trailers make the film look rather pallid, reviews have been white hot, which should boost interest among core demographics and adults alike. In fact, interest could be high enough for Frozen to top Tangled’s $68.7 million opening three Thanksgivings ago.

Box Office Rap The Best Man Holiday and the Scrooged Marketplace

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Box Office Rap: The Best Man Holiday and the Scrooged Marketplace
Box Office Rap: The Best Man Holiday and the Scrooged Marketplace

When Paramount announced a few weeks ago that The Wolf of Wall Street would be pushed back until Christmas due to runtime and “trimming” issues, The Best Man Holiday was left as the only wide release slated for a November 15th debut. The departure of a new Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle surely meant another equally high-profile or even several smaller-profile releases would be flocking to the date. Prime candidates were Homefront and Oldboy, both hard-R difficult sells which appeared destined to get lost in the Thanksgiving shuffle; Delivery Man, too, could have gotten out of the gate a week earlier to beat The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’s impending box-office hurricane; or perhaps George Clooney’s The Monuments Men, which would undoubtedly have attracted a similar audience as Scorsese’s film, but instead retreated to a 2014 release date. Conspicuously, no studios were willing to bump their films into the slot.

The only thoughtful explanation for these trepidations is that no studio dared sandwich one of their films between blockbuster juggernauts like Thor: The Dark World and Catching Fire, with the pair looking to gross a combined $250 in their opening weekends. Fair enough, yet clearly Paramount originally showed no real concern with offering up a prestige, $100 million film in this slot, but even their refusal to shuffle Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit forward to the date is baffling, especially considering the recent press generated by Tom Clancy’s death.

Poster Lab: Spike Lee’s Oldboy

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Poster Lab: Spike Lee’s <em>Oldboy</em>
Poster Lab: Spike Lee’s <em>Oldboy</em>

I hate to take the easy road and say that the designers of the latest Oldboy poster thought outside of the box, but, hey, if the metaphor fits. This beauty of a one-sheet, which heralds Spike Lee’s remake of Park Chan-Wook’s decade-old modern classic, has antihero Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) emerging from a trunk, whose seemingly bottomless nature makes Joe look like the Mary Poppins of vengeance-seekers. As most already know, Brolin is playing the role made famous by South Korean actor Choi Min-sik. Based on early reports, Brolin won’t be emulating Min-sik by eating a live octopus on camera, but he will be similarly playing a businessman inexplicably imprisoned for 20 years, then suddenly released and bent on finding his captor(s).

Compositionally, the poster is a dream, from the way the trunk’s lid aligns perfectly with the horizon to the way its corner meets a tuft of grass that also serves as the billing block’s nest. With a runner’s stance and a clump of dead grass in his fingers, Brolin looks at once like a ready-to-pounce cat and a madman who’s clawed his way out of a hellish pit. You can feel the movement in a pose that implies instinct, focus, and primal rage.

Sundance Film Festival 2013: Stoker

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Sundance Film Festival 2013: <em>Stoker</em>
Sundance Film Festival 2013: <em>Stoker</em>

Korean director Park Chan-wook, perhaps best known in the West for his “Vengeance” trilogy, makes his English-language debut with Stoker, from a 2010 “Black List” script by Wentworth Miller. The film plays out from the point of view of India Stoker (Mia Wasikowksa), a teenaged girl whose father dies suddenly, leaving her to grieve with an emotionally distant mother Evie (Nicole Kidman). An uncle she’s never met before (Matthew Goode) arrives shortly after, a man who India finds herself attracted to despite a suspicion of his motives. When his mysterious arrival coincides with a series of disappearances, India becomes determined to find out whatever secrets he might be hiding.

Park’s eye seems to capture the banal, the beautiful, and the grotesque all at once. The opening shots of the film are especially striking, taking in the large gothic landscape on the grounds of India’s father’s sprawling, ominous-looking estate. Another scene in, which India and her uncle play the piano together, is claustrophobic, disturbing, and strangely beautiful thanks to sumptuous cinematography by Chung Chung-hoon. The entire atmosphere of the piece seems to suggest a looming danger, the potential and aftermath of violence. And while the violence here is more understated than that of Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, it’s handled with an unflinching lens that simultaneously tantalizes and implicates the viewer.

Poster Lab: Stoker

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Poster Lab: <em>Stoker</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Stoker</em>

Park Chan-wook’s Stoker is one of those films that’s heralded with uniform allure, its bevy of talent advertised in a tantalizing trailer, and now, one artful, remarkable one-sheet. Joining the all-too-slim club of illustrated ads, this black-and-white, apparently pencil-drawn beauty thrives on minute detail, taking the risk of drawing in the eye rather than brashly broadcasting its goods. Sure, there’s bound to be a more marketing-friendly version, with Nicole Kidman’s wrathful face blown up for all to see, but, for now, Chan-wook’s fans can savor Version 1, which, ironically, bears the lines and hues of currency.

Stoker, of course, marks Chan-wook’s English-language debut, and his most buzzed-about work since Oldboy. Co-penned by Prison Break heartthrob Wentworth Miller, it explores the sordid secrets of one very dysfunctional family, whose fan-the-flames surname gives the film its title. The poster, it would seem, depicts a gnarled family tree, dressed with brooding glances, angry birds, and skeletons from closets.

15 Famous Movie Savages

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15 Famous Movie Savages
15 Famous Movie Savages

Oliver Stone returns this weekend with Savages, a nasty crime thriller based on Don Winslow’s drug-cartel novel. The dictionary defines “savage” as “an uncivilized human being,” “a fierce, brutal, or cruel person,” and “a rude, boorish person.” In other words, it covers just about every villain who’s ever graced the screen. To whip up a list of 15, we set our sights on vicious characters as fierce as they are remarkably uncouth. There are no classy rogues here, folks. These are teeth-gnashing, eardrum-piercing, elbows-on-the-table types, and from a child murderer to a furry monster to two more Stone creations, they comprise a choice selection of scoundrels.