Saturday, July 28, 2007

200 Pound Beauties and summer frivolity

I was over at my brother's last night with some friends to have dinner and to spend time together watching a DVD. The consensus pick was a South Korean comedy: 200 pounds Beauty. I don't watch Korean stuff at all, so I had never heard of it, but apparently it's popular.

On the surface, it sounds like this movie has been made a hundred times: ugly girl who aspires to be a singer and win the heart of her love gets a total makeover via plastic surgery and emerges as stunning beauty with a new identity. But in the process, who has she become? I have to say, though, I was pretty impressed with this one. It's very well-written, and avoids all the cliches that you expect of a film like this. They did well not to make the romance the main focus of the movie, although it still does, of course, play a big part. One of the obvious themes of a movie of this genre will have to be on the nature of true beauty, and they handled this really well, with a good dose of humour and no obvious preachiness.

The characterisation was surprisingly complex. A common pitfall of the Ugly Ducking Movie tends to to be the lazy treatment of the main character. Once the protagonist undergoes a physical transformation, she usually takes a turn for the worse, becoming arrogant and forgeting her roots without sufficient explanation. Thankfully, you don't get that here. She remains fundamentally the same person, although saddled with new insecurities. It helps that the lead actress is very charming and plays her role winningly. Nor is the villain some girl who's being evil for the sake of being evil, but we do, albeit briefly, get some insight into her motivations.

Yes, there is a big and arguably formulaic climatic scene of revelation, but by the time the movie arrives there, it has earned its dues. The payoff is rewarding, as we have gotten there without navigating through the usual routes.

But probably the biggest reason I liked it is simply because it's thoroughly warm-hearted. It's very sweet without (mostly) descending into sentimentality. There's a realism about it as well; it's not quite all lovey-dovey at the end, although it is a happy ending. And yes, it is very funny! (This is one for teens and above, though).

One of my favourite moments was hearing Blondie's Maria being belted out in Korean. I used to hear it on radio quite a bit in 1999 (I think), usually on the way to school! So I felt a little nostalgic upon hearing it again. Here's the video for it, which doubles as a trailer for the film:

I also went to have a look at the Global Cities exhibition at the Tate Modern this afternoon with another friend. Did you know that 50% of the world's population now live in cities, and this is set to rise to 75% in 2050? The exhibit was more or less a comparative study of some of the world's most well-known cities, including London, L.A., Cairo, Tokyo, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Istanbul, Mumbai and Johannesburg. Hmmm, wonder what the implications of an increasingly urbanized world are?

And I also succumbed to temptation and bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows today. I had originally intended it to be a reward for the completion of my thesis, but decided to use it as a reward for my hard work this week! :-p I also saw a rare second hand copy of Flannery O'Connors' complete stories and got that as well.

And that's the half-time report of my weekend. I'm BK, reporting live to you from London.

Labels: , , , ,

Post a Comment

<< Home

Links to this post:

Create a Link