I have 498 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday or Tuesday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it!
What’s the movie? Doomsday Book (2012)
What’s it rated? Unrated for apocalyptic zombie shenanigans, overzealous aliens and some pretty heavy Buddhist thought.
Did people make it? Written by Yim Pil-sung, Lee Hwan-hee, Kim Ji-woon and Jang Jong-ah. Directed by Kim Ji-woon and Yim Pil-sung. Acted by Ryu Seung-beom, Kim Kang-woo, Song Sae-byok, Go Joon-hee, Park Hae-il, Song Young-chan, Lee Seung-jun and Doona Bae.
What’s it like in one sentence? Three episodes of Korean Twilight Zone.
Why did you watch it? I was going to do Cleanfix this week, but I saw this dropped on Instant and I had to watch it for Kim Ji-woon’s directing. I Saw the Devil is one of my top three Korean film’s of all time and Kim’s name involved means my Instant Watch. See what I did there.
What’s it about in one paragraph? It’s a three part anthology fascinated by the different ways the world could possibly end. The first being a zombie apocalypse, the second being death by angry, revolting robots and the third by planetary destruction from otherworldly means.
Play or remove from my queue? I would play it since it has some fascinating themes and I’m always a sucker for end of the world scenarios, but it really doesn’t add anything new to the genre like I thought it would. With Kim Ji-woon’s name attached I expected to see some shit I’ve never even imagined before and, while there are a couple transcendent moments, the film feels a bit recycled from headier concepts and material. Apparently, the film was supposed to have three different directors to cover each segment, but due to some scheduling issues the third filmmaker dropped out and Kim Ji-woon and Yim Pil-sung co-directed the third and final segment.
I’m not familiar with Yim Pil-sung’s Hansel & Gretel or Antarctic Journal, but I will definitely give them a look at my earliest. He doesn’t have a signature filmmaking style that I can put my finger on like Kim does, but the pacing of his first vignette was a lot of fun and I basically eat Korean film for breakfast (tastes like kimchi), so it’s a win-win for me to have found this guy. The first short is titled Brave New World and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. It follows a zombie outbreak from the accidental creation of the virus to the logical conclusion most zombie films end with. The problem is that it’s also a bit of a romantic comedy and since the segment is only around 35 minutes long, we never get to live with the characters long enough to be invested in their relationship, which the conclusion somewhat relies on. The segment wants a big “D’awwwwwww” from us in the end and all it really gets is a “mm, okay”.
The second segment (directed by Kim) is titled Heavenly Creature and it takes place in the near future where robots have become a large part of culture similar to I, Robot. The film follows a technician who comes to a Buddhist temple to do an inspection of the temple’s house robot, only to find that he meditates with them and teaches them while the entire temple worships the robot as the reincarnation of Buddha. Technically, the robot isn’t serving the function it was created for, so the technician has to decide whether it should be destroyed for not being of specific use. There’s some really heady ideas in this about our function as humans and our responsibility to creations that have the capability of surpassing us. This is easily the strongest segment of the film, but people looking for the fast paced zombie mayhem of the first segment will be disappointed by this film’s leisurely pace. I’m not sure if the ideas came together well enough for me in the end, but I was still fascinated by the film as I was watching.
The final segment is called Happy Birthday and it’s easily the goofiest of the three pieces. Kim and Yim co-directed this piece with Yim getting sole credit. It’s about a little girl who destroys her billiards-obsessed father’s 8-ball. She orders one off of the Internet without specifying the dimensions and the ball that is sent is the size of a giant asteroid, hurtling towards the Earth at great speed and deadliness. This one is super loony tunes with a few nice family moments, but it also feels rushed and a little undercooked. Doona Bae (Sonmi from Cloud Atlas) shows up for a 3 minute cameo at the end, which is a shame since she’s pretty much wasted. This one got some real chuckles out of me, but was forgettable, overall.
Doomsday Book is a good movie, but not a great one. With managed expectations, I think it will make for a fine evening watch for Korean cinema buffs or Kim completists.
Do you have a favorite line? Nothing specific, but some of the Buddhist ideas in the film, combined with the Asimovian ideals of responsibility and ownership, made for some really fascinating viewing.
How’s the music? A little bombastic at times for my taste.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Meatball Machine (I tried, but it grossed me out too much), Rammbock: Berlin Undead (in my queue), Helldriver (only made it 10 minutes into this one), The Guardpost (excited for this one) and Arahan (looks neatly generic).
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? Why the hell was Doona Bae in this for like 3 minutes? Seriously.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3.1
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 3.1
Can you link to the movie? It’s all I ever wan-ted!
Any last thoughts? I just want to hear your thoughts.
Did you watch anything else this week? Finished House of Cards (loved it) and played a bunch of Alpha Protocol (you ARE Sterling Archer!).
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, Interzone? Okay, who watched it that hadn’t seen it before??
Next Week? Cleanflix!