Kim Bo-ra's House of Hummingbird is a coming-of-age story with a lot to admire, particularly how it traverses the commonality of its archetype to enunciate the fissures in the social fabric of society caused by South Korea's rapid industrialization and push towards modernity in the 1980s. The impressionable and transient temporal space of adolescence works well with the film's understated grammar, exhibiting through its narrative rhythms how the grand implications of modernization often distort and strain the familial unit and the social arrangements of society under the push for economic progress. Despite the film's narrative falling victim to over-dramatic moments, which are wildly unnecessary and somewhat out of place given its understated formalism, House of Hummingbird is a quietly affectionate story which touches on a litany of social issues while remaining steadfast in its over-arching message of self-love and self-worth for its young protagonist caught in a sea of change she cannot comprehend. The social transference of emotional and physical violence is displayed throughout House of Hummingbird, detailing how larger societal transformations subjugate and strain the social and familial cohesiveness, incubating violence within the communal spaces. While the film remains relatively empathetic to the acts of violence carried out by members of the family, fully recognizing these characters themselves are struggling to make sense of the world around them, the impressionably young woman at the center of our story becomes increasingly despondent given the conditions of her upbringing, bottling up her emotions and becoming passive towards any sense of injustice. It's through an encounter with a teacher at her school, who herself never quite fit into larger societal expectations, that this young child learns notion of self-worth, a notion which is fundamental to mental and physical health not only in a time of larger cultural transformation but to anyone who themselves may see the world differently.
Prescient in its depiction of post-war trauma, Bob Clark's Deathdream remains one of the greatest explorations of the effects of post-traumatic stress on the homestead long after the last bullet is fired. Traversing the horror genre in its biting commentary of the familial scars caused by Vietnam, Deathdream enunciates the coercive effects war-induced trauma has not only on the individual suffering but on the familial collective psyche, filtering it through a raw b-movie aesthetic in which Clark's use of blocking and framing is a under-appreciated highlight. Through a steadfast interplay between intimate close-up compositions and more voyeuristic aesthetic constructions that linger on a moment, Bob Clark's film grammar synthesis these two elements into a formalism that is poignant and penetrating, demonstrating an intimacy in its imagery while exposing the psychological and physical violence distributed across the collective spaces of family and locality. Through a horror film facade, Deathdream distributes a biting critique of the psychological casualties of war, deeply humanizing its characterizations despite the near finality of their trajectory towards inevitable doom. The family members who slowly succumb to their son's violent, heightened supernatural persona do so through largely through actions which are highly recognizable to anyone who has loved another, making their inevitable deaths all the more heart-wrenching and empathetic. From the father who struggles to find a sense of closure - feeling somewhat responsible for his Son's fate in Vietnam, to the deeply maternal mother characterization who refuses to see her son in any pejorative light, Deathdream traverses its horror genre construction emphatically to become of the best and most prescient films about War and the externalities it distributes on those in the periphery who never once fired a shot.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.