I watched Poetry (Shi), which is a South Korean movie from way back in 2010, with Heather (my girlfriend (and I'm just going to go ahead and refer to her as Heather from now on in this blog because if you're reading this (are you?) then you probably know who I'm talking about)).
I'll start over:
I watched Poetry with Heather at home on Netflix the other night, and then, a few nights later, on Heather's birthday, we went to the theater and watched Hugo in 3D.
I will now attempt to compare and contrast these two movies in a very systematic, meaningful way:
- They are both movies.
- They both take place in countries that are not the United States of America (or Russia or Chile or Nepal, for that matter)
- They both have actors and actresses pretending to be people they are not.
- Heather and I liked both of them.
Contrasts (just one, really):
- Hugo is a happy kind of movie full of childish wonder, hope, whimsy, automatons, trains, croissants, and crotchety men who learn to love again through the gift of kindness. Poetry, on the other hand, is about an older woman who, over the course of a few weeks, is diagnosed with Alzheimer's and learns that her teenage grandson (who lives with her), along with a small group of friends, has been, for the past six months, regularly raping a classmate who recently committed suicide, and so now she (the grandmother) has to raise five million won in hush money for the girl's parents. Also, she quits her job as a caretaker for an elderly man after he tries to get her to have sex with him as she bathes him . . . aaaaaaannnd . . . it feels like I'm leaving something out. Oh yeah! She enrolls in a poetry class and writes a really great poem.
So, in the end, I'd say these movies are more different than they are alike, except to say that neither one really deserves the snide treatment I'm, for some reason, giving them here.
Truthfully, Heather and I liked both of these movies quite a lot. Poetry is slow and meditative and quiet and has what I think is the sweetest, saddest sex scene I've ever seen in any movie. We were really glad we saw Hugo in the theater in 3D because it is all about magic and innovation, and the 3D is used really effectively, which is to say it doesn't try to make you jump because somebody throws something at the camera, and it didn't make me motion-sick like The Polar Express, which is the only other movie I ever saw in 3D, did.
There's a line somewhere in Hugo where Ben Kingsley's character laments how the soldiers coming home from WWI "had seen too much reality" to enjoy going to the movies anymore. This really exemplifies how these two movies are operating on different cinematic planes. Hugo makes the case for movies as dream-machines; Poetry is a case study in how reality--cruel, ugly, stupid, frightening reality--can be faced head-on if you can locate the poetry in it.