This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Cannes 08: “The Chaser.”

Posted by on

05192008_thechaser.jpgA few ways to cut in line at Cannes: Get there late and drift in with the crowd at the front, looking lost or bewildered. Pretend to only be walking over to get a magazine off the table conveniently by the theater entrance, then glide in through the doors. Shove. Most often, though, someone will just wriggle into a line near the front, and then stoically pretend not to understand the people standing nearby telling him or her to fuck off in various languages. There’s a lot of press at the festival, divided into the strata of white, pink with a dot, pink without a dot, blue and yellow, and trying to get into screenings can be a brutal game. The other morning’s screening of Jia Zhang-ke’s “24 City” was preceded by a struggle resembling a meat run in the supermarket of a crumbling Eastern Bloc country, and when the doors closed and the smoke cleared I was still outside. Instead, I headed to Na Hong-jin’s “The Chaser,” a thriller about a serial killer and missing prostitutes that’s cruel in a way that’s pretty much unique to South Korean cinema. The antihero, with extra dashes of “anti,” is Joong-ho, a disgraced cop now running a call girl ring that’s faltering because two girls have, he believes, run away. He presses another into service despite her being sick, and the client she goes to meet turns out to be a boyish, handsome serial killer (“Time”‘s Ha Jung-woo) who’s got the corpses of her compatriots stored in the basement and buried in the backyard.

“The Chaser” overturns genre conventions like tables in a saloon brawl — for one, the killer’s nabbed in the first half of the film and, unprompted, quickly confesses. Most of the suspense comes from whether or not the astronomically incompetent police force will be able to come up with evidence to actually arrest him — since he was brought in without a warrant, they have to prove he did the things he claims within 12 hours, or he walks. “The Chaser”‘s condemnation of the police makes 2005’s “Memories of Murder” look marshmallow soft — its cops are lazy, careless, quick-tempered, deaf to what they don’t want to hear, more concerned with image than with results and therefore always in search of a way to shift blame. They ignore the killer’s inconvenient claim that one of the girls may still be alive, and achieve a sense of urgency only when it becomes clear that they have to close the case in order to take attention off the fact that earlier in the evening they allowed a protester to throw shit at the mayor during a public appearance. Joong-ho, carrying out his own more violent, though only slightly more competent, investigation, has the more compelling motivation of money to be retrieved, though he also prefers to believe that the girls were merely sold until the disturbing evidence otherwise becomes impossible to ignore.

From all of this, first-time director Na teases out some pitch-dark comedy that’s made even more uncomfortable by the fact that we, at least, know there is a victim in dire need of rescue. But there’s an unexpected third-act incident of such brutality that I was knocked clear out of the film. For all of “The Chaser”‘s bracingly unforgiving views on law enforcement and on life in the city in general, the development I’ll let you guess at pushes too far and too hard; it wasn’t necessary, merely manipulative. There are plenty of others who haven’t minded, though — the film’s this year’s biggest success to date at the Korean box office, and it’s in line for a U.S. remake.

[Photo: “The Chaser,” Fine Cut Films, 2008]

+ “The Chaser” (

Watch More

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

Posted by on

The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

Watch More

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

Posted by on

Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Watch More

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

Watch More