December 24, 2013

Armond on the Oldboy Remake

Armond White on Oldboy
Like the British filmmaker Steve McQueen, Lee is pledged to hipster art world cynicism, the liberal-academic-bohemian attitude that encourages Black artists’ commercialized rebellion–selling transgression, anarchy and anti-authoritarianism in the guise of Black political opposition and cultural privilege. Lee didn’t need to remake Oldboy as a Black man’s story because that phony rebellion is now cultural fashion–that’s why so many white hipsters embraced Lee’s fatuous The 25th Hour; it remade Do the Right Thing for wiggers.
When I watched the Korean version of Oldboy several years ago I was enthralled by it. The brutality of the story was so interestingly contrasted with the playfulness of the filmmaker. It was a film that I loved watching, but wasn’t sure if I would ever revisit.

Last year when I heard Spike Lee was directing an American remake starring Josh Brolan I was excited. I made up my mind back then that I was definitely going to go see it. I have not yet done so.

Initial reviews for Lee’s Oldboy were not great. One of my favorite film reviewers, Dave Chen, made this video that didn’t review the film favorably either. I decided I wasn’t going to take a solo trip to the theater to see it. I had previously decided I wasn’t even going to try to get anybody to go with me. I had recommended the Korean Oldboy to a few people and in no cases did that work out well for me.

Armond White usually has some extreme opinions. I always enjoy reading his reviews even if I don’t agree with him most of the time. However, having not see the film, it is amazing by how much I feel like I am going to agree with him on this one. I am definitely still going to see Lee’s Oldboy, but I will wait until it comes out on dvd for sure.

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