Cousin Franz: Serial killers, like mass shootings, are not exactly endemic to America, but we ARE one of the biggest exporters of the concept. South Korea caught on to the trend in 1986, with a serial killing spree that terrified the rural city of Hwaseong and led to the death of 10 women, aged 14 to 71. All were bound and strangled with their own clothing. Bong Jon-Hoo’s 2003 thriller “Memories of Murder” turns the real life case into a fiction that expertly mixes Hitchcockian suspense, slapstick humor, quiet observational drama, and genuine psychological insights. Good Cop (Kim Sang-kyung) and Bad Cop (Song Kang-ho) are the two main detectives through which we witness a blundering manhunt that involves a variety of dead end alleys, ethical trespasses, and coerced confessions.
Pug McClure: This movie is from the monster who made “Barking Dogs Never Bite”! Do not trust anything that comes out of his snout!
Beatricia: The investigators in “Memories of Murder” only target a handful of distinct suspects, which is one of the ways in which Bong distills a story of unimaginable horror and uncertainty into something we can more easily grasp. The real-life case that terrorized Hwaseong eventually spawned a suspect list that included over 21,000 individuals. Imagine trying to puzzle out THAT Agatha Christie novel! Bong also compresses the timeline to increase our sense of urgency, and adds a layer of political commentary, (in the ‘80s, South Korea was, shall we say, not at its most democratic.) If the cops flounder about in their efforts, the director implies, it might be an echo of much wider sociopolitical uncertainties.
Trent: I really like the way these dicks, (that means detectives!) just go ahead and try kung-fu on every mentally challenged sad-sack in town. If you can’t depend on the police to enforce authoritarian brutality, then what a country even depend on?!? We’re making great strides in our own nation on this topic, improving our police brutality on a daily basis. As a certain celebrity recently told our cops in an inspiring speech, “When you arrest someone, don’t be too nice! Screw the law! Just bash their brains in! Pulverize their loser, non-wealthy faces! Rip out some fingernails for a quick and easy confession! Get creative, have some fun with it! (I’m talking about what to do with white suspects, of course. The blacks, just keep on shooting them in the back of the head as per ush!)” I may be paraphrasing a little.
Tracey: Disturbingly enough, I think that might be the official transcript of THAT speech. As for “Memories of Murder,” it is haunting and horrifying, specially knowing (SPOILER?) that there is no possible happy ending. Much like in David Fincher’s apt companion piece, “Zodiac,” the only satisfying resolution of these killings would be the resurrection of the victims.
Hank: Song Kang-Ho (“Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” “Thirst,” “Snowpiercer,” every other South Korean movie ever) commands each scene. We should dislike a brash, abusive cop who is more concerned with wrapping up a case than with finding the RIGHT rapist. But we end up mirrored in his character. Like him, we would rather believe we’re on the right path, than face the overwhelming evidence that says we’re often wrong. His character has always prided himself in being able to tell guilt or innocence from people’s faces. By movie’s end, he’s discovered that he can’t even tell guilt or innocence from his own face on a mirror. As for evil, (he learns with a shock), it is simply too ordinary to be remarkable.
Beatricia: I’m shocked, darlings. Did we ALL like this movie? This is a breakthrough! The Judge might reprieve our sentence!
Pug McClure: HATED IT! BARKING DOGS WILL NOT BE EATEN FOR HUMOROUS EFFECTS!
Beatricia: You’re not part of the Picksherry Family, Pug McClure. Don’t persist.
Grandpa Felicius: I wasn’t impressed. One scene has an apologetic cop offer “NIKE” shoes to a cleared suspect. On closer inspection, the tennis shoes turn out to be “NICE”s. South Koreans know knock-offs, is what I mean. I liked this movie a lot better when it was 1931 and it was directed by Fritz Lang and it was called “M”! Bong Jon-Hoo even has the killer do a signature WHISTLING, much as Peter Lorre’s terrifyingly human murderer whistled Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Fear the Vampire of Dusseldorf!
Blurbarella: “Memories of Murder”– Expertly Mixes– Hitchcockian suspense, slapstick humor, quiet observational drama, and genuine ethical insights– With– Loser, Non-Wealthy Faces.”
5 out of 6 Cherries