Yesterday morning, Kim and I set out to stain the new fence in our back yard. We spent a comical 90 minutes attempting to use a pump sprayer to make the job easier, but we gave up after a frustrating series of problems. Instead, we resorted to good old-fashioned rollers.
We managed to stain about one-third of the fence before we both decided to call it a day. We went inside to watch movies instead. It was my turn to pick something.
“What do you want to watch?” Kim asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Something Asian. Or something disturbing. Preferably something Asian disturbing.”
Left to my own devices, I watch a lot of Asian films. (And yes, I know that’s a very broad umbrella.) I’m particularly partial to Japanese classics. Recently, I’ve discovered I enjoy disturbing movies too. I have no idea why, but I do. I realized this after watching Ari Aster’s very disturbing Midsommar during my prep for seeing Barbie in the theater.
Ultimately, Kim and I did not watch a disturbing movie together. We compromised on a film that was neither Asian nor disturbing: the surprisingly amusing Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. I won’t say it’s high art, but it was fun.
Later, though, I indulged my desire for “Asian disturbing” alone. I watched Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance from Park Chan-wook. That’s exactly what I was looking for!
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is beautifully filmed. It is also very Asian and very disturbing. This shouldn’t be surprising, I guess, since it’s from the same mind that gave us The Handmaiden. I want to see more from Park Chan-wook. (I have Oldboy on DVD coming this week, and I bought “Decision to Leave” in the iTunes store last night.)
Since I started logging my films in Letterboxd on 01 January 2021, I’ve seen 220 movies. I’ve tagged 13 of those as “disturbing”. By this I mean that, for whatever reason, I found them unsettling at the time I watched them. (This could be for a variety of reasons.)
Here are those films in chronological order of their theatrical release date:
Like I said, I’m in the mood for movies like this right now (I have no idea why haha). I’m especially in the mood for the “Asian disturbing” subgenre. Those movies are just so inventive and twisted! In the coming weeks, I intend to watch (or re-watch):
- Zhang Yimou (To Live, Raise the Red Lantern)
- Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine, my first exposure to “Asian disturbing” thirty years ago)
- Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy, The Handmaiden, Decision to Leave)
- Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)
- And others I’m sure I’ll find along the way.
I also want to have Kim watch Ari Aster’s Midsommar with me. Then, I want to watch his Hereditary, which I have not yet seen (but which I believe to be even more disturbing than Midsommar). Denis Villeneuve might be my favorite filmmaker at the moment, and he has some excellent disturbing films, including the alarming Incendies.
Villeneuve’s Polytechnique and Sicario are also on my list.
Anyhow, if you have recommendations for other good disturbing films, let me know. I’m not looking for stuff that’s gross-out for the sake of being gross-out. I’m more interested in movies that are genuinely psychologically disturbing. Incendies is probably the best example of this. It might be the most disturbing movie I’ve ever watched, but there aren’t any gross-out moments.