It’s no secret that I love a good zombie movie, which I define as one in which the zombies act as a setting upon which the truth of the characters is revealed. I freely acknowledge that this setting is, in the vernacular, “played out”. I should clarify, as I think that usage mostly means, ugh, zombie makeup and biting people, whereas what I mean is that there may not be anything new to say about the truths of characters in that apocalyptic situation.
That said, I still do love a good zombie movie, even if it’s one I’ve seen before (metaphorically or literally, although this time definitely the metaphorical version is at issue). Train to Busan tells the story of a hedge fund manager and his nearly-estranged young daughter, off to visit her mother (his ex-wife) on the occasion of her (7th? 8th? 6th? …let’s say 7th) birthday. The high speed bullet train is full of characters: elderly sisters, a C-level business executive, a high school baseball team and its cheerleader, a pregnant couple, some homeless guy who’s already seen too much on a day that most of the passengers don’t even know is unusual, oh, and a lady with a bite on her leg who just barely made it on before the doors closed.
Over the course of their trip to Busan, these people (especially the hedge fund manager, you understand) will learn a lot about each other, themselves, and what’s really important. Also, most of them (especially the ones I didn’t paint a picture of above) will die. Because that’s what happens in a good zombie movie. Both parts, I mean. My point is, this one was indeed a good one, and “seen it before” or not, I approve.
 Do I want to play a heavily-skinned remake of Tokaido based on this movie? Maybe!
The second outing of the weekend was to catch the one Miyazaki movie playing this month at the Alamo Drafthouse that I both had not seen and could fit in my schedule. Hence, Kiki’s Delivery Service, about a 13 year old girl sent out on her own to make her way in the world for a year, in the traditions of her people. Who are witches, I should probably add.
Based on the vehicles and architecture, and other clues, I’m guessing that the never specified timeframe for the film is in the late 1950s or early ’60s, and I’m also assuming the locale is Japan. The latter is more strongly implied than the former, but neither is by any means definitive. For most of the movie, I assumed the point was mostly to showcase the gorgeous animation and soundtrack, via long, contemplative shots of Kiki flying across the countryside on her broom, or walking through her new city, and that the job (she delivers things for people, as you might expect) and relationships she was forming were mostly beside the point.
But then my mental jokes about making a 13 year old run off and earn her own living were translated seriously onto the screen, as she quickly lost her [Japanese phrase that means joie de vivre] in the humdrum grind of using her heritage and passion as a means of keeping herself fed and housed. From that turning point and throughout the final act, the story turned into more of a meditation on whether and how she could come back to herself and find her happiness, and now I think the movie is a love letter to post-war Japan, unsure of herself and finding her footing after a resounding defeat.
But maybe it’s just a feel-good movie about a witch and her sarcastic cat. That’s cool too.
 The only other one I’ve actually seen was the only other one that matched up schedule-wise, sadly. (Mononoke.)
This movie night thing I mentioned, it seems to be real. At least, I’ve already been to it again and seen another movie, which is a pretty good sign. Then again, if it burns brightly and flares out, I won’t be offended by that either. In the meantime, it gives me the chance to catch a few things I missed or wouldn’t have known to look for, and in a setting where I can focus on my thoughts and perhaps give each film its due. (Horrorfest kind of kills me each year when it comes around, for true. At least next weekend, I can maybe take notes or even dash out a quick review between each entrant to the festival?)
But enough of that, it’ll be focus enough when it gets here. The night’s movie was Korean, which I assume to mean South Korean since there was no point at which the Glorious Leader was praised, nor did he descend upon a golden rainbow to render judgment or justice. Oldboy follows the tale of a gravelly-voiced narrator who, in diction rife with significant pauses, tells a tale of his horrible fate. He was kidnapped off the street, stuffed into a sealed-up hotel room, and kept there for fifteen years. He spent this entire period going gradually insane and/or training for his shot at revenge, with a side dose of tunneling his way to an exit. But on the very night that he broke through the wall into open air, he is suddenly released and given the wherewithal to divine and then hunt his antagonist in a brutally disturbing game of cat and mouse.
Or the whole scenario is a total mindfuck. Or both! All I can say for certain is that it was too engaging to turn away, and I don’t mean that in the train wreck sense.
 So, I’m sure this was dubbed instead of filmed in English, and it’s kind of unfair for me to judge a movie based on something that isn’t the original version. All I can say is this particular dub artist made the role his own, whether by entering the original voice or choosing a new one.