StreamFocus: Three Extremes

Three Extremes (Japan / China / Korea)
Runtime: 125 min, Grade: B, Netflix Page

Like a stream of scary stories told by the Manson family, Three Extremes gathers together a trio of Asia’s most talented directors -- Park Chan-wook, Takashi Miike, and Fruit Chan --and assembles a potent collage of starkly different styles and verbal rhythms. These directors, along with their films, share very little in common aside from one thing: recognition due their signature, bizarrely singular styles. At over two hours of lush photography and sinister motivations and grotesqueries, this is one of the more paramount onslaughts of differentiated styles that you can get encapsulated in one film -- one that’ll haunt and disturb in ways that only each director knows how to instill.

Of course, Miike’s Lynchian-esque ghost story Box and Park Chan-wook’s Cut, an exercise in thematic trap-torture cinema, are both phenomenal – I wouldn’t expect any less from the directors behind Audition and Oldboy respectfully; however, Fruit Chan’s Dumplings stood out with more resonance than it has in past viewings. Perhaps it’s because I went in expecting to see it as the weakest addition, but for some reason it really worked this time through. It blends a long stream of grotesque eating / preparing scenes of odd “health-enhancing” dumplings, while pairing it with themes revolving around society’s thirst for immortality and vanity. As the preparer of these treats, Bai Ling captures attention in much the same sinister ways that she does in The Crow and in an appearance in TV’s Lost. But, boy, watching Miriam Yeung Chin Wah consume those little, erm, disgusting treats has the same effect as it always has: indulgent, overused, but still very squirm-inducing with each bite.


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