(2004) dir. Fruit Chan, Chan-wook Park, Takashi Miike
Oddly, these anthology style films, which always seem like an interesting concept, always seem to mostly suck. It’s usually that one director does particularly interesting work, maybe another does so-so work, and then the rest are pretty awful. Still, it seems like a good idea. In the case of Three… Extremes we have at least two pretty fascinating directors, Chan-wook Park and Takashi Miike (I am not familiar with Fruit Chan), and the idea of some short horror films by them strung together could make for interesting stuff. There was another anthology flick that came out the same year, 2004’s Eros that included work by Michelangelo Antonioni, Steven Soderbergh, and Wong Kar Wai, which I have been vaguely interested in. Though I have read that Wong Kar Wai’s segment was the only good one of that film. Really, it’s essentially watching three short films by different directors. Being a bit of an auteurist, I figure that if I like the director, I’ll probably be interested in the movie. This is the case in point.
But the results a typically mixed. None of it is terrible, I guess. Fruit Chan’s segment, “Dumplings”, is amusing in its transgressively gruesome abortion/cannibalism/eroticism thing. Christopher Doyle, who shoots all of Wong Kar Wai’s amazing cinematography shot this segment, and it’s interesting. Bai Ling is pretty creepy in it, but I don’t know if that was just her or the way she was dressed or something. It has a pervasive gross-out creepiness that earns some credit.
Chan-wook Park, who had become my newest of my favorite directors after watching Oldboy (2003), delivers the weakest effort in the mix, “Cut”. It’s a revenge theme again, seemingly focusing on some self-reflexive aspect of film-making that I didn’t totally understand. It starts with a nice shot of a vampire woman sucking blood from a frozen, mannequin-like man, which turns out to be a scene from a movie that eventually becomes the set where action takes place. The set reflects to some extent the director’s home. There is a lot going on with artifice and there are some comedic things. It’s weird. I just didn’t totally get it.
Takashi Miike’s segment, “Box” is the most interesting of the films. It’s a very arty piece for him, I would say. It has nice cinematography and has all these strange themes in it, people in boxes, twins, live burials, ghosts…it’s kinda wacky. But it’s quite poetic in its open-endedness, and it struck me as the most interesting of the three “extremes”.
This film was overall a little disappointing for me, and really it’s only gone on to support my notion that while the anthology film is an interesting form, it’s rarely turned out rock-solid movies.