My love affair with “Every Frame a Painting” is no secret. I mean, I’m writing about it on the internet for like the sixth time, so it’s the opposite of a secret. Tony Zhou’s most recent installment is centered on Joon Ho Bong’s Memories of Murder. After watching the video last week Emily and I ended up watching the movie later that day, because obviously.
The film’s story is closely inspired by the first recorded serial killer in South Korean history. It’s my third of Bong’s films following Snowpiercer and The Host, and while I still have plenty of his films to work through I would be really surprised if this doesn’t end up being my favorite. Even this early in the year I would actually be surprised if this wasn’t in my favorite ten films I saw for the first time this year, if not top five.
Memories of Murder is so visually competent, so beautifully acted, so haunting and powerful. It’s one of those films that I just couldn’t stop thinking about after it ended. It’s amazing that Tony Zhou can show six and a half minutes of a film in a video showcasing its brilliance and still barely scratch the surface. “Every Frame” was showcasing how Bong handles blocking and character positioning in a frame, but that’s just one small part of the amazing technical prowess on display here.
There were probably a dozen scenes I immediately wanted to back up and watch all over again immediately. Roger Ebert used to do this thing with auditoriums full of people where he would watch a movie and freeze it over and over to talk about a given scene or moment, and anyone could yell “freeze” and they would all dissect what was going on. This would be a really great film to do that with.
Also, Kang-ho Song is a fucking international treasure. All the acting in Memories was great, but Song is the highlight. He actually reminds me a lot of Toshiro Mifune. Although Song is physically more of an everyman to Toshiro’s handsome movie star looks, both actors display(ed) an amazing electricity as performers. Understated moments are imbued with an extra intensity and depth; large, crazy performances are layered with an impressive heart and wisdom. Watching either of these guys is a masterclass. I suppose that’s why each man stars in a disproportionate number of my favorite films from a particular country over a certain era.
Also, here is that installment of “Every Frame a Painting”: