A new month, a new round of home-videos. After the rich dish of the blu-ray releases Plaion Pictures of Aprile 2023 (here’s you can find the latest releases for April), even in this bizarre month of May 2023 the courier rang to deliver to Freaking News the long-awaited package tagged Plaion Pictures, with many new releases fresh off the press to add to our increasingly overflowing home-video collection.
As always, the offer is extremely rich, with the return of cult greats from the past, new masterpieces and reissues in prestigious 4K steelbooks of Hollywood action from the early 2000s: spotlight of course on Park Chan-wook’s Decision to leave, which after the award-winning debut in Cannes 2022 and the successful passage in our theaters a few months ago debuts on home-video in dvd and bluray, also offering the perfect excuse to a blu-ray re-release of the iconic Revenge Trilogy, encased in a box set that includes the newly restored versions of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vendetta.
In addition, today we will also discuss F. Gary Gray’s The Italian Job, which arrives shelling out in a prestigious 4K Steelbook package.
Park Chan-wook’s Decision to leave
There is a colossal idea of cinema within Decision to Leave, a new film directed by Park Chan-wook who returns a full six years after the previous glorious feature film The Handmaiden and four from the giant TV mini-series The Little Drummer Girl: the gaze as an extension of the physical, of matter, seeing as proximity, closeness, intimacy.
In the neo-noir story of a sleepless detective who falls in love – reciprocated – with the woman he is investigating, suspected of murdering her husband, the author deforms genres by leaning comfortably on the melò, postponing the mystery as much as possible, hiding the detection under the sentiments (to the point that we could speak of melo-noir) but above all deforms the gaze, reducing distances and breaking down the space that separates bodies: what is seen is at hand, or rather draws to itself, captures, blocks, shifting the comparison in a reality created from seeing; what is not seen, on the other hand, alienates, closes, separates forever, as made explicit by the unforgettable ending.
Two-man story of dualisms and connections (two protagonists, two languages through which they communicate, two murders, and even two narrative blocks, when at one point the film seems to stop and start again from the beginning), of visual and thematic trompe-l’œil, of deconstructions and vertigo.
Park Chan-Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy
What links a deaf-mute boy who kidnaps a little girl to obtain a ransom with which to save his seriously ill sister, a man mysteriously locked up in a private prison for 15 years and then mysteriously released and the murderess Geum-ja, who spent 13 years in prison for kidnapping and killing a child? Desire for Vengeance, of course, but most of all the legendary cinema of Park Chan-wook.
With Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – the most beautiful film in this very famous thematic trilogy, which together with Memoirs of a Murderer by Bong Joon-ho helped bring South Korean cinema to the world – Park Chan-wook’s true art is born (who came from the almost unremembered flops The moon is…the sun’s dream and Trio and then from the national success of JSA – Joint Security Area), here definitely an already formally and thematically mature author, fierce ruthlessness and crushed by a pessimism seemingly without return.
With Oldboy – trivia that not everyone knows: it is based on a Japanese manga – comes the ultimate consecration, a Grand Prix at Cannes and commercial success far beyond national borders: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance’ brutalities and virtuosities return to expand a world without mercy that defeats the protagonists (and viewers) also and especially with its moral chess. Poignant, self-deprecating, and ruthless reinterpretation of the themes of The Count of Monte Cristo, with the topos of imprisonment flowing into that of love and an existential emptiness that opens from claustrophobic and asphyxiating anguish to a sense of freedom destined to remain only illusory. With its pounding pace – literally – Park Chan-wook’s play is a coercion of the gaze that imprisons both the protagonist and the viewer in a world of exaggeration and visual explosions, ranging from violence to eros, the two fundamental themes of the author’s poetics.
Finally – but Park Chan-wook’s cinema is not yet finished, quite the contrary – Lady Vendetta turns the themes of the Trilogy to the feminine, with a more rarefied rhythm and especially by accentuating more blatantly than ever before the grotesque features of the affair: the abyss of the human soul is an inconceivable mask, of which there is nothing left to do but mock.
F. Gary Gray’s The Italian Job
With Fast & Furious 10 still available in theaters, Plaion keeps engines warm with new version 4K steelbook edition of The Italian Job, celebrated modern remake of the classic The Italian Job from 1969 (of which it retains the premise but adds an original story, as well as all-new bolides) released in 2003 directed by F. Gary Gray (which also came out in 2003 with A Man Apart, starring that Vin Diesel who years later would recruit him to direct Fast & Furious 8).).
With an incredible cast composed by Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham and Edward Norton, as well as Seth Green, Mos Def, and Donald Sutherland, is the story of John Bridger (Sutherland) and Charlie Croker (Wahlberg), leaders of a group of skilled robbers who come together for the last time for the purpose of pulling off the most important shot of their careers: stealing $35 million in gold bullion from a safe located in Venice, Italy. The robbery goes magically smoothly, but accomplice Steve Frezelli (Norton) turns out to be a traitor and has all his comrades eliminated so he does not have to share the loot.
But little does he know that Charlie survived the dastardly attack and, determined more than ever to get his revenge, he makes contact with Stella (Theron), Bridger’s daughter, and in turn assembles a new team of exceptional robbers to steal the bullion from his rival.
A different kind of revenge, compared to Park Chan-wook’s violent masterpieces, but a real icing on the tasty cake of Plaion Pictures’ home-video releases for May 2023.