Thursday, May 19, 2011

Update : A Question About The Underground Banker Post

Lam has a question for you!

As a postscript to the review and after thinking some more about it, I have decided to pose a question and play devil's advocate. We all know that most category III films are exploitation movies pure and simple. In my review of The Underground banker I mention how much fun the Dr. Lamb character is. Is the "exploitation" of a real life murderer acceptable as a comedic character?

It must be hard enough for the victim's families to have a true life crime movie like Dr. Lamb made but for the character to then be played for laughs must be even worse. I understand little is off limits in Hong Kong but this did really make me think hard about if I should be finding it amusing.

So what do you think? Funny is funny, tasteful or not but does this cross a line?

15 comments:

Dr. Lamb said...

The for me, the film watching experience is already an exploitative one to begin with. You’re completely at the mercy of the filmmaker and his or her point of view.

Now I haven’t seen the film, but judging from your review it seems as if the filmmakers do a decent job in making the Dr. Lamb character a fun one. Is that more exploitative than making him out to be a monster? How about if a film turned out to be more realistic and humanized him, would that be exploitive? I think it really all just comes down to the intention of the filmmakers and viewer. Even though I haven’t seen the film I get the sense that the Lamb character is incorporated into the story to make you laugh and not to be malicious.

I mean I use the name for my moniker but not in a mean spirited way. I use it because it’s silly and it comments on the type of cinema I’m drawn to.

Wes M said...

Martin, that's a doozy of a question, and not easy to answer. I haven't seen The Underground Banker either but as I understand it, it's a piece of dramatic cinema - not a vile propaganda film like The Eternal Jew. Is it insensitive to the victims of the real life character its based on ? Sure it is, but if we shackle Cinema down with issues of morality and conscience, we will end up with a worthless sterile medium. Jesus, that sounds like Captain Kirk wrapping up an episode of Star Trek, but you know what I mean. It can be painful, it can be offensive but isn't this the price we pay for Art and Culture ? The debate will go on and on...

Anonymous said...

Well, there was a film in the UK called a "Clockwork Orange" which if I am not mistaken, was very controversial too when released. Of course, that film was suppose to have some real merits and wasn't a "exploitative" film as such.

Coming back to your question, these Cat III films came at a time when anything goes in HK cinema, the period of the late 80's to early 90's. It's not that HK audience accept such films so much as they don't seem to be able to do much about it. It's much harder to make such film now in HK, since it can't be released on the mainland, the main market.

Wes M said...

I think we need a Cinema that is offensive and does break the rules - political correctness has scaled new heights of absurdity in today's society. I think that's why 70's Cinema, and Exploitation Cinema are still so vital - because it’s exciting to experience a rougher sensibility than the kind of cotton wool shielding we're used to today…

YTSL said...

Hi "A Hero Never Dies" --

Let me play devil's advocate too! ;)

"We all know that most category III films are exploitation movies pure and simple."

Do we? I actually don't -- or don't think so. Sure, there are many that are indeed that -- I think especially of the sex ones. But I'm not sure about many of the more crime-oriented films, and especially the crime dramas. For it seems to me they often have social messages and commentary embedded in them -- and I don't just mean such as "From the Queen to the Chief Executive" or "Queen of Temple Street" either, those are two that spring to mind.

A hero never dies said...

Dr. Lamb, When posing the question, I was trying to think from the victim's families point of view. Any use of him as a character is exploitative but is seeing him as a comedy device more so than as a monster? That's an equally difficult question but seeing him as the monster he was, is at least more truthful than seeing him as a comedic character. I did find it funny but the fact that I did made me feel a little uncomfortable, which I'm sure was not the intention of the filmmaker.

A hero never dies said...

Anon. I would argue that despite it's reputation A Clockwork orange is an exploitation film, but is considered much more than that due to the quality of it, the director and the source novel. It is amazing how times change regarding what is and isn't acceptable in all forms of media.

A hero never dies said...

James T. Wes, I agree that for the most part morality and conscience are areas that can hold cinema back, they should be explored on screen rather than before the script is finished. As for Political correctness it's a strange concept, everyone suggests it's gone too far and yet it seems to still be a moving unstoppable force that tramples all in it's path. All your points are valid Wes but I am still left with this nagging feeling that this movie somehow crossed a line and carried me with it as I did find it funny, I don't believe this is to the film's credit as it's such a cheap and nasty little (fun) time waster.

A hero never dies said...

YTSL, Okay, I was thinking more along the lines of the kind of movies Kingwho? loves so much, such as the one discussed here, and I would say many more category III's are that way inclined than the way you suggest, but point taken. What do you think to the question?

Wes M said...

See, Mart, that's where things get more complex. That you found the film funny is not so much a reflection on the film, but a reflection on you ! So, there's are complicated feelings going on there, hidden on a subsconscious level, about how you view the world and how you see things arranged...

A hero never dies said...

Wes, You're probably right about that, like I said funny is funny however distasteful you may find it.

YTSL said...

Hi again "A Hero Never Dies" --

So... guess you were thinking more the sexploitation Category III movies...

Re your question: I think funny isn't always tasteful -- and, in fact, often isn't. In the particular case you raised, I'm guessing that those who think that the movie crosses a line usually wouldn't think to watch it. It's interesting that you chose to do so but that while watching it, something got you pondering the question that you raised. Now my question for you is: will your feelings of unease make you stop exploring these kinds of movies or continue -- and either way, how come?

A hero never dies said...

Hi YTSL, It was after viewing the movie as I was thinking about writing about the Dr. Lamb character being funny, I started to think about how the families of the victims would feel with a comic portrayal of him, now as you say the chances are they wouldn't ever see the film, but if someone drew their attention to it maybe they would HAVE to watch it?

In answer to your question I will continue to watch almost anything, I don't mind feeling uneasy about watching something. However there are movies that I just don't want to watch, for what ever reason and I will continue to avoid those!

Charlie Parker said...

Watched UB a few weeks back. It's a bit of an off choice but for me it added to the farce of the film. I guess you could say the True Crime Cat III films do this as a whole.

The only genre of films that offend me are those god awful Nazi Camp ones.

A hero never dies said...

Charlie, they are exactly the kind of movie I choose to avoid, I don't see myself getting anything out of watching them.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...