Emo Philips & My Scary Girl

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EMO PHILIPS & MY SCARY GIRL

 

               I’d like to talk more about I’m a Cyborg but that’s okay, I won’t.  It’s not that Emo is crazy, it’s just I’m a Cyborg, but That’s Okay is such a lovely film.  And Emo is crazy.  Voted most popular in his ward, though admittedly, the imaginary friends’ votes shouldn’t be counted.  Anyway, I decided to choose something unique with subtle violence, something that made me happy.  My Scary Girl (My Sweet, Yet Brutal, Sweetheart) also fits that description.

               Emo Philips, I probably first saw him in UHF.  He cut off his own finger with a table saw and sprayed blood all over “Weird” Al.  He was just talking about how careful you have to be and then Town Talk’s George Newman screams.  Emo is not so emotional.  “I think it’s on the floor somewhere.  Is my face red.”  That’s Emo.  Violence and puns.  If you have a problem with that, I’ll stuff you in a giant kimchi fridge.

               My Scary Girl begins with a teacher named Dae-woo (Park Yong-woo).  He’s fine with his lonely life.  No, really.  Everything changes, though, when he’s morally forced to help an old delivery man with a large appliance.  He finds himself resting because of his bad back and looks around.  His new neighbor Lee Mi-na (Choi Kang-hee) seems cultured with intellectual interests.  She has no idea why Dae-woo is inside her new place, and he attempts to explain his intrusion with the delivery man magically out of sight.  He likes Mi-na.  Maybe our protagonist isn’t fine with his lonely life.

               I’d love to see Emo Phillips’ love matches.  He had a short marriage to Judy Tenuta, but he’s kind of the opposite of her type, straight with no muscles.  His hair used to look like Amelie (from Amelie) and his voice probably won’t be on anyone’s one’s Top Ten list concerning charisma.  It’s slow with each word pulled like taffy.  He takes little notice of how dark his material can get or how surreal as he plays with social norms.  It’s a web of educated weird and you’re stuck in it quickly.

               Having not done it, almost ever, Dae-woo loves to kiss.  We’re quickly moved by his infinite appreciation of Mi-na, but Dae-woo has no idea what he’s getting into when attempting to date her.  There is a nice symbolic back problem that he has when things aren’t going so well.  Like a headache or cracking your neck.  Mi-na has a secret that will stay bold.  Though she gets a bit sidetracked by the sweet English teacher, Mi-na is only in Dae-woo’s building to commit a murder.

               Though the amount of baby and child abuse, light-hearted racism and just plain darkness has gone up in the intellectual stand-up world, Emo was easily a pioneer of it.  Even that stated, it’s hard to look at any comedian and say, wow you’re like a young Emo Philips.  As he sings his jingle for a place called Downers Grove that had a contest, I consider it is impossible for smart people to perfectly contour themselves into society.  The rules must be bent to give life any interest at all.  The jingle ends with the loss of an eye, dragged away by way of a truckload of puns.

               Son Jae-gon’s My Scary Girl takes on romantic comedy with surgical precision, but in a slightly different way than a Jang Jin-style parody.  In the classic, My Boyfriend Is Type B, I was introduced to something I’d never heard about.  Blood type, like the month you were born, giving information about personality.  During a double date Dae-woo realizes that Mi-na knows nothing about art (one of her modern art prints is upside-down) and worse yet starts talking about blood typing.  Dae-woo is furious, knowing that besides it being a pseudo-science, eugenics is racist and has been abandoned by most of the world.  Everything about her starts to unravel.  In the end Dae-woo catches up with Mi-na after she has done a lot of body disposal in the mountains.  He meets her in Mina’s other more expensive apartment with a bullet-proof vest on.  Finding out who she is he finally leaves, but cries in the elevator.  “Why did it have to be so many?”  I love the idea that one death could be something he could work out.  He obviously loves Mi-na, just not the situation.

               Emo’s appearance is very different now, much like “Weird” Al.  In 2005 a joke he wrote was voted the best religious joke ever.  Sadly they didn’t credit him, so I won’t credit the people that had the contest.  Maybe they couldn’t find him, because he looks so different with his short grey hair and glasses.  You can him find at a website with a http://www.com as the bread and EmoPhilips as the crunchy peanut butter.  If you’re ever down you can push his random logic generator.  It’s better for you than an energy drink and hurts less than a slap in the face.

On lay over from a business trip in Singapore, Dae-woo runs into Mi-na two years later.  He thinks about her every time they find a body in the mountains.  Mi-na is on her way to Australia, she can’t risk returning to Korea.  Though fate brings them back to together, they probably won’t ever be a couple.  There is something personal that just happened that kills me when I think about it.  Life isn’t about the pieces that fit together.  It’s all the pieces from another puzzle that you just can’t throw away and you just can’t use.  You just put them back in the box with a sigh.

There is a glimmer of dark hope though.  Dae-woo says maybe they’ll meet again much later, though he’ll probably be with someone else.  Mi-na replies, “I’ll just kill her.”  She kisses Dae-woo and walks off.

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Margaret Cho & Green Chair

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MARGARET CHO & GREEN CHAIR

 

     Sexually explicit.  Parental Guidance is advised.

     I thought it would be fun to do one non-South Korean film because Margaret Cho is Korean.  Green Chair is a perfect choice though.  I mean, Margaret is already the All-American Girl.  What an interesting time. 

     There is often a news story in the states about some hot blonde teacher being taken to jail after relations with a student, but what happens afterwards?  What if the student picks you up, now almost at the age of consent?  What if the student really loves you and never felt violated or molested?  Well, maybe a lot of forbidden sex.

     An Asian comedian was a rare commodity when Comedy Central began.  Any white comedian would have the luxury of doing their act about whatever they chose, black too.  A Korean female comedian had some explaining to do.  Margaret walked that line of trying to be the All-American girl that she was, but noticed quickly that doing some material about her mother and the accent people were used to, as well as innocent prejudices that she witnessed, created consistent laughter.  Additionally her openness about sexuality and ties to the gay community made her an anomaly and interest grew.  She didn’t have to say, I’m a feminist, she just described an aggressive grasping at equality on all levels.  It was beautiful.

     Park Chul-soo is a very non-judgmental director.  He doesn’t seem concerned with opinions, he just lets the characters go, and they go.  I don’t know how easy this film would be to watch with others.  Have you ever been watching a movie and a sex scene begins and things get very quiet.  In Green Chair, Kim Mun-hee (Jung Suh/Jung Seo, who has had the most interesting indie career I’ve seen) has only received a small sentence for her crime.  She’s not sure now if she’s doing the right thing.  She and Seo-hyun (Shim Ji-ho) are both our main characters, and both their opinions count, just like in any relationship.

     Margaret’s career exploded in Y2K once she got over a lot of her addiction and self-esteem issues, attempting to fit the Hollywood mold.  She released a book and performed a one woman show called “I’m the One That I Want” explaining her weight struggles, problems with her sitcom (one of the first to show an all Asian family, though mixed) and general misunderstanding of her lifestyle choices … and of course what her mom thought.  Cho’s impression of her mother always seems to make an appearance in her specials giving yet another opinion on they way a Korean-American feels and sees things.  Her act (Revolution, Assassin, Notorious C.H.O.) has become stronger and more open as the years go by and she’s become a strong activist.  Considering her tattoo obsession I’m not entirely sure she’s fully comfortable with herself, but we all have to be and do what we want and if we’re not hurting someone else … so be it.  Love is the key.  Hate is the lock.

     After many sexual climaxes our cinematic climax is a pure joy, a party where we debate the modern controversies dealt with in the film.  Every side is represented.  Some people won’t make it this far and I understand.  The film wasn’t released for almost two years until outside interest grew.  Why watch something new when we can be comfortable, lazily taking in the same old thing?

 

     Special Thanks to Tom Giammarco for assistance.

 

Kevin Nealon & A Brand New Life

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KEVIN NEALON & A BRAND NEW LIFE

 

     A guy writes a book from his own perspective during his wife’s pregnancy, while a young girl is given away to an orphanage.

     I used to think adopting was the way to go.  I love kids, but I don’t think the world needs more of them.  There are lots of children.  I never understood paying though.  I mean, I’m taking the kid.  You should pay me!  I could have one for free.  I guess I can grow tomatoes for free or buy them.   I’m talking myself out of my own point, while A Brand New Life is making me think that adoption is horrible.

     Dana Carvey said, hey man, I can’t do this Pump You Up stuff alone.  You need this guy Kevin Nealon.  He’s tall and super calm.  He’s been on Carson.  These aren’t exact quotes, but a nine year career was born.

     Ounie Lecomte’s personal project really captured me.  It’s about her real experiences being given away to an orphanage and adopted abroad like many Korean children.  The camera is always on the level of the heartbreakingly fragile Jin-hee (Kim Sae-ron).  This isn’t a film about anything except her confusion and pain over being given away by her thoughtless father (a cameo by Sol Kyung-gu).   

     Yes, you’re pregnant, but what about me?  This is the question asked by Kevin Nealon.  He decided to write a book, rarely written.  The thoughts of a man as his wife is pregnant.  As women read and obsess about their upcoming pregnancy, most men do not.  Nothing is happening to them.  They are busy getting a second job or running away and then impregnating someone else like a human dog.  Kevin is a pretty different guy, a very unique comic.  He’s serene like a Hawaiian breeze.  He’s done his stand up laying down.  That’s relaxed!  It’s probably all the subliminal messages that make me like KOREAN FILMS his act so much.

     Adopting a baby must be much different than a nine-year old girl, but that was my plan when I was younger.  I considered how great it would be to know the human I was buying.  I want the one with the glasses and the book!  There are some girls at the orphanage that are well versed in English and are totally selling themselves, but people want Jin-hee.  She’s adorable.  She’s the one you can’t have.  Of course not, her father is coming back.  This is just a vacation.  The original title of the film is Traveler.  I don’t know how a child deals with abandonment issues.  Even when new parents are wonderful, you still must wonder who gave you away and why.  To start again would be too much.

     In the mid-80’s Kevin Nealon made is way to the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  He still calls this one of the (if not the) proudest moments of his career that goes on to this day.  On the show he’s a bit speedier, the energy of youth and probably the stress of being on the famous talk show.  There is a point where he’s telling a story and has a map.  The map isn’t the correct map though.  The act becomes some of the most intellectual prop comedy I’ve ever seen as he folds the map a bit and it instantly becomes the shape of Nevada.  The comedy of Kevin Nealon is a bit off, but that is always a positive factor for me.  Off is my on.

     The success of Brand New Life abroad will be helped considering the short length of the film.  It’s rare to even find a less than two hour comedy, let alone a drama.  Ounie is a woman of two worlds and they collide well.  Her decisions, though personally driven, are thoughtful and pull you in well.  Though as Jin-hee makes a friend and starts to adapt you know by the end, with her foreign adoption, that there will always be a small hole in her heart.

     I enjoyed Kevin Nealon’s book.  It’s good to hear a male’s voice, a male who not only wanted to have a child, but planned it out.  Everything in his life seems rather thoughtful.  When he sucker punches you in comedy you smile.  He’s hitting you in the head and not the kidney.