[Review working & alternative title: “Moebius: This Film Will Knock Your ‘C*cks’ Off”]
Film: Moebius (뫼비우스)
Director: Kim Ki-duk
Running time: 89 minutes
Shown as part of the Terracotta Far East Film Festival 2014… 2014 being its 6th year. MMM also witnessed the film at a Press Screening, ahead of its run in cinemas.
*NEWSFLASH*… The film has also been announced as featuring as part of the London Korean Film Festival 2014, amongst a season of the famous director’s films – details here:
The film’s subject matter – and in fact what the film would be trying to say – was more than hinted at in an exclusive Kim Ki-duk video introduction at TFEFF14. This was a real treat for the audience & indeed something the Terracotta guys themselves managed to get him to do – but a little more of what kind of statements the film is trying to make can be found at the end of the review.
Okay. Open… On:
A traditional house ‘stands on a street corner’*, it would seem. *This phrase though perhaps a not-very-nice definition for how a woman is treated in this film later on… Prostituted? Worse – used, abused and ultimately bruised.
One of the first internal scenes is of a woman. She’s wine-Sipping and almost porcelain dog-Sitting at the top of a set of stairs. ‘Stairs’ or ‘Stares’? Both… She stares forth too. The dog’s mouth is open, just like her’s as she ultimately guzzles rather than sips. That is just an analogy, although not one of the woman compared to the ceramic four-legged friend – that would hardly be nice.
Very soon is another shot, the 3rd in the film, I believe. Perhaps ‘shot’ in both the cinematic terminology and sporting.
A golf ‘SHOT’ is ‘PUT(T)’ upon us, you see.
A couple of ironics here maybe. Or ‘IRONics’ perhaps is more apt… for one of these:
1) It’s film shot number 3 in the film – So, as it relates to golf too could the number ‘3’ be the irony? Recall Kim Ki-Duk’s “3 Iron”?
2) A golfing ‘iron’ club, as in ‘iron-ic’…?! Only ironic if such a play on words were not exclusive to this reviewers own warped reviewing and re-telling. This is not a first bizar-re-view.
Next? The kid does a blazer button, or two up and the father appears to be gazing at this young lad – or maybe he’s simply a ‘blazer-gazer’, or a ‘glutton-for-buttons’!
Lets not forget the toast moment. The two are both seen taking a very uninterested bite of the rather boring slices of toast. Like father like son. This could be a metaphor-for how similar they are, or indeed how connected they become later… That’s not to say they’re not connected already, and I don’t mean ‘bloodly’… by ‘blood’… because we guess at this stage that they are blood-relations.
But… Who knows?! This is Mr KIM KD.
In the room, which appears to be some kind of study or living room area, a phone soon rings.
I spoke of a blazer before and a blazer of a fight starts over the phone which has rung. It must surely be ‘the other woman’ who’s calling!? This blazing fight is more a wrestle actually, but no holds are barred between the couple.
Yes, lower leg nudity aside (hers… not his), and KKD’s perhaps penchant for showing knickers [panties to you American folk], the man and woman wrestle. She even puts her bare feet on his face, to which he does the same to her… EXCEPT he’s wearing shoes. Cringe inducing indeed. And at least one audience member visibly or verbally ringed at this point.
The son – the superb & ‘young’ Young-ju SEO – watches a little inanely as the wrestle takes place. He’s probably seen this many a time.
Fast forward to ‘the other woman’ in-person, rather than in-phone-land. Who is she? Well, it seems she works in a store, and is seen in that shop acknowledging the aforementioned father and in particular, the arrival of him in his car.
But wait… Is that the same actress… albeit in completely different ‘get-up’? Well…
It’s not important right now.
The cheating pair (well, he’s definitely a cheater, even if she’s not) meet, and it’s obviously not their first meeting. Cheater he may be but perhaps he has good reason. I don’t mean that there’s justification in the possibility that they’re Doppelgängers of one another – that would be absurd – and we’ve all seen the type of film where such mistaken identify occurs… but what I mean is that perhaps she looks identical and so he feels she’s pretty much the same person, in looks and maybe therefore it may not be actual cheating!
So… We then see these too on a dangerous liaison enjoying a glass of fine (presumably fine anyway) red wine. But… There’s something else these identical ladies have in common – both like a sip, swig or snifter of red wine. However, these liaisees go further than just a red wine and a meal. We soon see them making a ‘meal’ of one another, in a car. But we are not alone in seeing them – The son also spots all or most of this cheating.
Seemingly though, both the son AND wife… Errr… ‘seem’ to witness the later car/sex-ness. Even a window is seen to be smashed, but a car window, house window or what? And… by whom?
Skip to later on in time and the perhaps justly angered wife fancies some revenge on her husband. But does it have to be him?? Well, it’s clear that night at home that the thought of spouse-spares crosses her mind. ‘Spares’? Yes, I mean in the form of a body part or two. What on earth could I really mean?
Whether you’ve heard of a perhaps forthcoming ‘injury’ caused by the wife [from anther review or even hearsay] on one of the men in the family or indeed not, I’ll keep the details as cryptically vague as I can.
I will say that a knife is involved and one lifted from under a Buddhist head statute thingy – a reference to Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring, we believe (and hear in the Q & A which followed this very special screening). I will also add that on one particular night a Buddhist edifice type object is shown inside a shop window. A person his kneeling, worshipping and / or praying to it… It is lit up in the shop by way of the person having angled a torch from the walkway or path up into the shop window The ‘wife’ sees this. Why do we care? He’s just a stranger surely?
Right. At home. One of the guys is resting… the other is masturbating. Both in beds, separate ones.
Now, I guess it’s clear who of the males should deserve punishment more than the other. Either way, a certain little snip under the covers is attempted but only for it to be prevented and another fight ensue, just like the one at the start. I guess you know now which male I refer to, and indeed who deserves the ‘cut’ – although the word ‘deserves’ is debatable.
Is the other male – the son? – now deserved of an attempted castration, instead of the other? Yes, you read that correctly.
One thing’s for sure… How would one act to such a gross act of misconduct on a male’s genitals?
Act? Yep… I deliberately used that word so as to refer to both the character AND the young actor (Young-ju SEO) because again this was mentioned at Terracotta. Yes, not in the Q & A but the interview with yours truly and the ‘gang’… see here: Young-ju SEO Interview
Speaking of acting, the two women (but really the same one?) are very convincing, and I don’t mean the breasts. What?! In fact, that’s how I identified them… I mean, identified her. I’m not being derogatory to her or indeed women in general, but I’m suggesting that even now, after all these films I’ve witnessed – Korean and other Asian or World ones – it’s still not easy to tell the difference between certain characters or actors, let alone try and take in the fact that this character is actually played by the same actress as another character, in the same film! So… it was the breasts which appeared to be similar on both persons.
‘Unreal’ – take that with whichever meaning you like “wow that’s unreal man” or ‘fake’. Either way, her acting is really good and I subsequently heard that for this very [great actress] reason, Kim Ki-duk suggested she play both parts. Versatile, you could say too.
Where was I? Oh yes, the castration incident.
After the aforementioned *OUCH!* where we all felt pain and gained stimulation from it – or not, as the case may be… and indeed I guess the men in any audience would feel such pain, more than women – the film proceeds into bizarre territory. Wait, what am I saying? It’s been bizarre pretty much since the start!
You see, firstly, there is the attempted eating of a certain body part.
Secondly, the father starts paining himself, but is he really paining or simply blaming himself? Is there a message here? Perhaps there is a message of how a family hurt themselves or all involved when a marriage breaks apart. I’m only assuming this.
It should be stated here though that he may be blaming himself inside, due to his son’s loss of losing a body part… Yes, I’ve had to give the game away by saying that it IS the son who has that thing happen to him – sometimes it’s essential for MMM to reveal just to continue.
It should also be stated that somewhere amongst all this KK-D-N [Kim Ki-Duk-Ness] the father goes to surgery, for his own reasons. What are they? I’m not giving that away… I’m deliberately steering clear, or even trying to confuse the matters at hand.
BUT he also starts physically hurting himself, perhaps due to blame or maybe something else. This is, however, whilst he’s reading up on the internet on various things – Some of which may raise a chuckle to the viewer.
This theme of self-harming for stimulation – HUH?! – continues from now on, as bizarre as it may sound. But not only with the father… the son and one of the females too.
With the latter ‘territory’ or terror-story now way on its… err… way it could be fitting to bring into this review a very personal link to the film. What can I mean? Well, I mentioned castration… No it’s not that? Could it be masturbation? Why? Because one can’t masturbate without a non-castration…?
But seriously, it’s not that either, although castration and masturbation could indeed be linked in this story. How? By PAIN and the excitement, anticipation & the pleasure of it.
Let me get up close and personal for a minute… Well not up close, as we would be veering into the sexual side again, one could say… But definitely personal!
What I’m ever so uncleverly trying to do here is both explain a little of what happens in as MOEBIUS progresses as well as what ‘could ‘ have occurred to me – a tenuous kind of link or interlink of both / many / various things.
Essentially, as a sexual substitute – although not for me – this self hurt in the film, and to yours truly all oh so many years ago (and occasionally these days) is an intense, painful but often necessary ‘scratching’ evil.
Let me extend. From 6 weeks old… Or young [oh yes, you could say I even remember those days?!] it was clear I had eczema – and years later there would be asthma too – Those are often twinned towns of pain. From a baby through to adult life upon getting ‘the feeling’ begins a brief destruction of oneself’s body. Indeed, it CAN be brief, I must say but the itching and scars can last.
To those (un)fortunate enough to meet / have met me may – if eagle-eyed – notice a slight jaded-ness or faded-ness of eyebrows on moi OR even a vague ‘strangled’ appearance on thee neck, where once there was a line of eczema. It’s tough to ‘spot’ [joke intended? No, this is not spot-related but scar; skin; scratching].
I speak of ‘brief’ and I mean it in two ways. Firstly, it can be for a short amount of time, rather than years and years. More importantly and aptly for the film under review, the scratching sessions [sounds like a recording session for New York DJs] can be seconds or minutes, but sometimes so much longer through the sensation, stimuli and stress all combined. Then – and to quote a film title – ‘There Will Be Blood’, followed by scars, bandages, covered fingernails and / or other results.
Oh yes, the amount of times I’d hear the phrase [“Stop] Scratching Yourself To Bits”, either from family or friends, or perhaps those hardly knew me – some may say that even my friends didn’t REALLY know me. That phrase was couple or replaced by the ever so annoying and grammatically incorrect* “Stop itching!”
* One can’t necessary STOP itching… they surely meant ‘Scratching’. Itching is a verb explain a sensation, even an urge. Unless… Unless… Unless… they had an incomplete phrase to tell to me – i.e. “Stop itching to scratch” – as the term could be used in that way. Ironically, that phrase irritated me as much as the sensation and skin disease itself. Oh and NO, it can’t be transmitted! Poor educated acquaintances of mine back then, yes YOU… you thought THAT??! Shame on you.
That said, there is a definition out there of “Itch” described as ‘INFORMAL’ (so… I pertain to what I previously said – it’s not correct, or at least ‘formal’ English)…:
Informal. to scratch (a part that itches):
e.g. To itch a mosquito bite.
But those ‘Itch’ remarks to me were more along these lines, to yours truly:
to annoy; vex; irritate:
e.g. Her remarks itched me.
… to the film at ‘hand’ (or other body parts!), there is hurt, pain, self-sensationistic harm and more. But none of my past skin problems could compare with a knife being driven into one’s *back, body or bone. What? Yes, come see and witness the odd (and large) knife being pushed rapidly into a person’s bone, shoulder, flesh etc.
Whether you do ‘see’ this or look away at the time, you won’t escape the subtle but [over?] realistic SOUND, squelching and seething of a blade cutting into the skin, flesh and bone. In fact, it’s not just the sound of the knife hitting such the place and slicing through [SORRY IF YOU’RE EATING WHILST READING THIS!] but the following movement of the blade back and forth as it slightly grinds on a shoulder-blade, internal organs or what have you.
“WAIT”, you are thinking and exclaiming, “I READ THAT THIS WILL IS A SILENT FILM!”
Wrong. It’s Devoid of Dialogue, Dears & Darlings.
There are the odd human vocal sounds but almost minimal of music. It’s pretty unique in that respect, although Mr KK-D is known for having little dialogue, and music. It’s even semi-true of his self-styled-semi-selfish-documentary, “Arirang” (which MMM reviewed from 2012’s Terracotta Festival).
[SERIOUS EPILOGUE]: With Kim K-Duk’s artistic and filmic background one could expect anything from the guy, even if it’s a movie which includes subjects such as bullying, sex, family, incest, violence, adoesnence – all the latter being apparently a reflection on modern Korean society or indeed the social society of the world itself.
[LIGHTHEARTED EPILOGUE]: To conclude, it’s definitely difficult to be happy or even laugh at any of those subject matters, but a film which includes a man chasing after another down a street to get a certain body-ailment back to him it could raise a big smile – a Gentle or even Gentile one if you like – if not a Giggle whilst clutching one’s own Genitals.
Since drafting this review and article, those little guys over at Terracotta have announced some fantastic news!
What could that be?
Well, if I say that Terracotta previously acquired the UK rights, for DVD and more, for 2 of KK-D’s films [ http://terracottadistribution.com/films/crocodile & http://terracottadistribution.com/films/arirang-0 – individually or as special double-bill box-set ] does that give you a MASSIVE clue?
Yep, they’ve done it again!
And again, Terracotta have got some great Special Features lined up for its 13th October release:
– Exclusive Introduction by Director KIM Ki-duk.
– Exclusive Interview with Actor SEO Young-ju.
– 45 minutes Q&A with Actor SEO Young-ju at Terracotta Far East Film Festival, London.
– Moebius UK trailer.
If that weren’t enough, it will also be available to Rent and watch on VOD (Netflix; Curzon on demand; Filmdoo).
BUT I MUST ADD that whether you are thinking of watching once or many times, it – like all feature films – should be enjoyed on the BIG Screen first. Even more reason to catch it at the forthcoming LONDON KOREAN FILM FESTIVAL 2014 (details: Korean Cultural Centre, UK / London Korean Film Festival).
More? You say…?
* Filks. A combination of Film and Folks.
I will add that like any film it may not be to everyone’s taste – and that’s partly why I don’t give an overall rating on reviews, as I like to leave it up to the reader / viewer, but this is what well-known publications had to say on “MOEBIUS”:
“enjoyably perverse” – EMPIRE