Saturday, June 28, 2014

First Ten Minutes: OLDBOY (2013)

First Ten Minutes is a new feature here on the blog in which we pick a film and watch - you guessed it - the first ten minutes.   In nearly all the horror movies I watch I can tell within the first ten minutes whether it is going to be worth my time or not.  Generally most films start with the title sequence and/or critical credits, and sometimes even this is a valid indicator of the quality of the film - or at least the level of interest that I will acquire.  If it grabs my attention in that short of a time period, I'm probably going to finish it.

First off, the remake of OLDBOY.  I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this film, even though I am a Josh Brolin fan in most cases.  So I thought I'd take a chance and see what I get.  It's playing on Netflix Instant Watch, which makes this feature oh-so-much easier. I'm not really giving away too much by sharing the first ten, so let's break this thing down...

Right off we get a straight-forward title sequence that just spells out the title while attaching the star's name.  We move directly into the movie without further ado, which pleases me.  (Nothing grinds my gears more than a ten minute barrage of boring credits. Please stop, I'm already losing interest!)  As mentioned, Josh Brolin stars as the main character and we immediately find him leaving a bar with friends, making plans to get together again then promptly heading into the liquor store and following up with pissing in an alley.  You can already gauge that he's a real class act.  Furthering that example of impeccable breeding is a shot of him adding vodka to a plain-jane styrofoam cup to conceal an obvious drinking problem. He heads in to work (was he on a lunch break? is he just coming in?), late and being bombarded by the secretary with the irritated messages of people that probably count on him for one thing or another and are obviously being let down.  Getting the impression that he's more or less a loser.

Vodka. The breakfast of champions.
His boss enters his office and (after we discover our loser's name is Joe) explains in no uncertain terms that if he blows the important client meeting he has that night, he's fired.  Then he gets an ugly call from his unruly wife (ex-wife?) who growls at him about his daughter's 3rd birthday party that night, eventually screaming at him and calling him a fucking loser because he argues that he can't come because of work.  The call ends VERY badly with a shouting match of profanities and we cut to him getting ready for his big dinner meeting.  He's checking out his man-boobs and bulging tummy in the mirror as we hear the conversation between him and the client at dinner.  Cut to the dinner where he is making a fairly big ass of himself in a demonstrative and over-zealous pitch to a rapper about what they can do for him. We are also deliberately shown an Asian woman at the bar who gives him a wink.  We're meant to remember her face, so I tuck it away in my memory for later. Meanwhile, Joe and said client seal the deal and shake, and the rapper heads off to make a call, leaving his significant other at the table with Joe - who unhesitatingly hits on the beautiful lady.  She calls him on it, saying she'd rather fuck a corpse (good one!) and unfortunately his client overhears the insult and hits him, assuredly ending the deal.

At this point we're only 6.45 in and I'm fairly interested. That's not to say I like it better than the original because I doubt that could be possible.  But it's keeping my attention.

"I'll give you three reasons I'm an asshole..."
Joe is then seen out on the street, drinking right out of a bottle (of vodka?) and shouting about getting more alcohol.  I mean top-of-his-lungs shouting.  Soon he's lying on the pavement in the fetal position, puking all over himself and crying.  Wow.  This is almost like an adult after-school special about the dangers and embarrassments of alcoholism.  Joe manages to make it to Chinatown, staggering through the rainy streets talking to himself. He buys a crappy Chinese trinket for his daughter's birthday (father-of-the-year!) and wanders off into a dark alley and up to the doors of yet another bar (apparently owned by a "friend" who is in fact Michael Imperioli) but his pal won't let him in as the place is closed. He angrily saunters off until he sees the Asian woman standing under a yellow umbrella (with Chinese letters/symbols on it) and disappears under this umbrella.

At the 10:00 mark we see Michael Imperioli opening his bar door, ultimately changing his mind and looking for his friend.  Instead we see the Chinese toy Joe had purchased for his daughter on the ground at the door. 

Shades of things to come...
So. What we have learned is that Joe is a real asshole in pretty much every aspect of his life.  He chooses work over family and botched that up as well by being a dick.  He drinks 24/7 and likes to shout in the rain.

But it's also been a good ten minutes in my opinion, establishing the character, adding mystery and possible intrigue with the Asian woman (twice), and ending the first ten minutes in fine fashion by having Joe disappear.  I have to say, it made me want to continue to see what happens next. Obviously if you're like me and have already seen the original (which would be near-impossible to top) you know the story, but if not then it could still be a surprise to you.

The decision of whether or not this is a good film has yet to be determined, but for all intents and purposes, it's off to a decent start.  It's quite possible a full review will be forthcoming - which is the ultimate marker of whether or not a film is worth it to me. Stay tuned.


Queen Horror said...

Being a great fan of the original, I think this was done in a way to simplify the story line... It touches on a bit of cliche but in general it was a good attempt- not the best but ok.

Christine Hadden said...

I intend to check the whole thing out at some point, just didn't have the time to continue the day I did this post! Hopefully it will at least stay as interesting as it was starting out...

Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

I actually thought the Oldboy remake was good - they recreate some of the famous scenes very well - but it still doesn't touch the original!

Christine Hadden said...

Yes, hard to even imagine it coming close to the original, but I do think I'll be checking out the rest of it soon!