marți, 4 iunie 2024

The Sympathizer (2024)

"Nothing is more important than independence and freedom."

The Sympathizer is on Max / HBO Max. All Seven Episodes of it. And it won't be a second season. Why? That's how the book ends.

Based on Pullizer prize winning book by Vietnamese writer Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Directed by Korean master Park Chan-wook (Sympathy for Mr. & Lady Vengeance, Oldboy, Thirst, The Handmaiden, etc.), but only three episodes, created by him and Don McKellar (Last Night).

Produced by Robert Downey Jr. with his wife, Susan (Team Downey) with A24 & Rhombs Media, tough sell for HBO/Max but it's there, like Ripley was for Netflix.

The best stunt in it is Downey pulling a Dr. Strangelove, meaning he plays not one but FIVE characters, and all explosive, the exact opposite of his acting in Oppenheimer, he's all over the place (literally).

My favourite of these characters is Niko Damianos, the director absolutely based on Francis Ford Coppola, whose film The Hamlet is a wanna-be little Apocalypse Now.  Starring an absolutely nuts Method Actor named Ryan Glenn played by a crazy unshaved David Duchovny, a mix of Nick Nolte, Lee Marvin and with a wink to Downey's own character in Tropic Thunder.

Hoa Xuande is the protagonist known as The Captain, caught between two worlds. He is also a mongrel, his father being white (The Frenchman Priest, another pose for Robert Downey Jr.), his mother Vietnamese. He is also a mole, working for the Vietcong but posing as an Intelligence officier for the South Vietnam American allied. He has to leave the country with the Southern bigshiots, seeking refugee in America after the fall of Saigon. He tells his story in many ingenious flashbacks Together with his childhood friends Bon and Man, they have a pact, "All For One and One for all". Then, things change...There's something out of Once Upon a Time In America here, especially in the last episode. 

Absolutely great score by Chan-wook Park's collaborator, Cho Young-Wuk. 

And amazingly enough, most of the film (miniseries that is still a film) is in Vietnamese (& English surely). How did a Korean direct Vietnamese actors (as far as I know Park Chan-wook works through a translator, at least that's how it went 8 years back or so when he also came to Romania to Anonimul festival-he came in Bucharest way before, at Fantasia 1st edition with his 1st film, JSA). He did Stoker in English (2013, through translator) and the mini-series of The Little Drummer Girl (2018, for AMC). 

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