Tag Archives: detectives

Memories of Murder – Review

19 Mar

In the years between 1986 and 1991, 10 murders were committed in the Gyeonggi Province of South Korea, marking the first serial killings in the country’s history. Memories of Murder tells the story of the detectives who were charged with finding the killer and potentially saving more lives. This movie had potential to be a derivative detective film, but the history and consequences is what really brings Memories of Murder from being average, surpassing good, and becoming great.

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When a young woman is found raped and murdered in October 1986, it seems a little out of the ordinary in such a small and peaceful village as Hwaseong. Detective Park Doo-man (Song Kang-ho) is put on the case, but is soon joined by Detective Seo Tae-yoon (Kim Sang-kyung) from Seoul after it is determined that they might have a serial killer on their hands. With such a danger lurking about the streets, it is imperative that Doo-man and Tae-yoon find the culprit as quickly as possible, but this is made almost impossible with such crude forensic technology. The two detectives are then forced to you their own intuition and, often times, brutality to find the killer and save any potential victims.

Memories of Murder is a near perfect detective/crime film. It’s pretty standard now to have a detective or police procedural movie that implements all the different kinds of technology and resources available to find their suspect. This is exactly what this movie is not about. It was so refreshing and startling to see an environment where there are so many hoops to jump through and people to hurt in order to secure what’s best for the common good, especially in a modern era. At times, the policing is brutal and often wrong, but the stress of the detectives comes through very well and makes Memories of Murder all the more effective.

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In my honest opinion, South Koreans have the best eye for cinematography than any other country. Memories of Murder is visually stunning. It really covers all the bases, with beautiful slow motion shots to excellent uses of color. Sometimes it’s not important if a movie looks great, but other times the better it looks, the more impactful the material is. That’s the case with this film. Some of the most beautiful scenes involve highly desaturated rural landscapes with either a red ribbon or a red coat that draws your eye. This may sound like a cliche, but when done right it look fantastic.

Much like with the lack of forensic technology making Memories of Murder unique it its brilliant use of comedy. With a story that tells of South Korea’s first serial killer, you would think that it would be somber and serious at all times. I was expecting that. I was pleased to see that there was some scenes of comedy throughout, both lighthearted and dark. That right there is a sign of an exceptional screenwriter, and I have to give this credit to the writer/director Bong Joon-ho. Joon-ho uses the same kind of comedy mixed with seriousness in his next feature, the phenomenal monster movie The Host.

Memories of Murder is an exceptional film that will horrify you, move you, and make you laugh. It tells an interesting tale of detectives doing everything they possibly can to catch a serial killer, even though it seems apparent that their attempts are futile. It’s easy to make an average detective film, but it’s not so easy to make one as memorable as Memories of Murder.

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The French Connection – Review

1 Dec

I can’t believe I haven’t seen this movie until now. I feel almost ashamed of myself, missing out on a classic like The French Connection. Better late than never I suppose, and I can’t believe what I’ve been missing. This is a fast paced, intelligent thriller with foreign intrigue and tough but likable characters topped off with an ending that will leave you speechless. “Did you ever pick your toes in Poughkeepsie?”

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After a mysterious murder in Marseilles, New York detectives “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Scheider) start up on a case connected to the murder which involves an obscenely large shipment of heroine and a French criminal, Alain (Fernando Rey). This isn’t a typical investigation, but more so a psychological and physical test that will push the detectives out of their comfort zones and into an elaborate maze of cat and mouse.

I love watching a movie where it’s literally one excellent scene after another. A couple scenes stand out in particular. One involves a comedic bust in a bar, but there’s also an adrenaline fueled car chase, powerful shootouts, and suspenseful tailings through the underbellies and upper echelons of New York City. There’s never a dull moment in The French Connection and many times you’re left sitting in your seats dying to know what’s going to unfold in the next five minutes.

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Hackman gives the best performance of his career as the tough talking, mean spirited, yet strangely likable cop, Doyle. His whip smart attitude and outstanding physical acting shows just how deep he is in character. Roy Scheider also gives a great performance, and is the perfect yin to Hackman’s yang. They’re so much more than good cop/bad cop because neither of them are especially “good.” One’s just a bit more heated than the other, which makes for some funny and often dramatic character scenes.

The drama in this film is heightened by its incredible shock value. This doesn’t mean its over the top, but it certainly pushes the limits of what is normally seen in some movies, like innocent people getting killed without any remorseful reactions. The car chase featuring an elevated train is also thrilling even after all these years and hundreds of car chases later. The ending scene alone left my mouth wide open in this weird shock/smile combo. Definitely one of the top 5, if not the top 3 endings off all time, but that’s a list for another day and another time.

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I loved The French Connection and I can’t believe it took me this long to finally see it. The wait paid off because I was totally engaged by the thrills that were taking place before me. It’s a gem from the past that earned 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was the movie to see in 1971, and I’d say it’s still the movie to see in 2012.