Earlier this week I said Brooklyn Castle was probably the best film of the festival -- well, I may have to amend that statement. While still topping the documentary charts, another horse has pulled ahead in the over-all category: the Korean blockbuster My Way.
Selected as one of the festival's Centerpiece screenings, My Way is more than two hours of tense, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking storytelling, and it's no wonder there has been so much buzz about it at the fest. The most epic of epic epics, My Way is the most expensive movie in Korean film history (yet it still cost less than Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, so figure that one out).[jump]
The two lead characters, Korean Joon-sik and Japanese Tatsuo, are marathon runners who meet when they are just boys, and the film chronicles their relationship as they go from rivals to enemies to friends and brothers in arms -- literally. The guys battle their way through Nomonhan, China, Germany, Russia and, yes, even Normandy as members of three different armies (the perks of being a prisoner of war) and through the carnage they repeatedly cross each other's path as their hatred grows into respect. Just a warning -- grown men were crying, so be prepared.
This year's soccer flick of the fest was Heleno, starring the disgustingly handsome Rodrigo Santoro. It was obvious that a lot of the crowd came out to see the telenovela heartthrob, but by the time the lights came back on, Santoro had transformed before our eyes into all the good and bad that was Brazilian soccer legend Heleno de Freitas. Shot in beautiful black and white, the film recounts Heleno's exploits in the '40s and '50s as a hotheaded striker by day and a ladies' man by night. A man who was loved and loathed by all who knew him, the film does an amazing job of showing the man behind the myth during his great rise to soccer stardom ending in his death in a sanatorium -- yay neurosyphilis.
We closed out the night with Craig Zobel's Compliance. The controversial film, based on a true story, was all the talk of Sundance this year. At Sundance, the moviegoers who didn't walk out of the film stuck around to see the cast and crew berated for producing such a polarizing depiction of the stupid that people are, but here in Dallas we just stuck around to say WTF with actor Pat Healy.
Based on the strip-search prank call scam that ultimately ended in the sexual assault of a fast-food worker in Kentucky in 2004, Compliance shows a disturbing real life application of the Milgram experiment. When a man via phone identifies himself as a police officer and accuses a young woman of a theft, her manager takes a series of (wrong) actions and, over the course of several hours, detains, humiliates, strip searches and indirectly allows a sexual assault to be committed on the victim, foolishly unaware that the whole thing is a prank. If you want to see what all the hubub is about for yourself, Compliance screens again tonight at 9:30 p.m. at the Angelika.