Last night I finally caught Bong Joon-ho‘s Snowpiercer — the opener of the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival. Don’t kid yourself — the geeks have hailed this political-allegory thriller as some kind of visionary masterwork, but it’s not entirely successful or satisfying. Harvey Weinstein‘s concerns about length and commerciality were not unfounded. It says the right things but says them over and over again. It knocks you out conceptually during the first half (maybe for the first 60% or 65%), but during the last 25% to 30% you’re wishing it would just wrap things up already. The social satire stuff is magnificent, but after a while the obsessively violent conflicts and blood stylings wear out their welcome. On one hand Snowpiercer is a riveting, totally-on-target class-warfare flick (the 1% elites and their henchmen exploiting the 99% on a high-speed train hurtling through ice and snow and heading straight to hell) with magnificent sets, delicious production design, wintry CG vistas and noirish atmosphere to burn. On the other hand it turns obsessively violent — not just tediously but fetishistically with character after character getting stabbed, chopped or gutted like livestock. Or shot to death. Like many other Asian directors who are into action wanks and slaughtering for the sake of slaughtering, the gifted Bong Joon-ho is queer for swords, knives, axes and bullets slicing into and/or shattering human bodies. It gets him off, and after a while it becomes a drag to have to sit through a longish high-concept epic by a guy who either can’t control himself or has no interest in trying, especially during the last 25% to 30%. Thumbs up for the concept, A-plus for the first 70 or 80 or 90 minutes, and C-minus for the last 25% or 30%. The nihilistic finale leaves you with absolutely nothing except a shot of a polar bear. Big effing deal — a polar bear is alive and so we all have a chance. Let’s go out and drink some Moet & Chandon to that!

Prior to last night’s screening of Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Standing outside LA Live on Olympic Blvd. after the conclusion of Bong Joon-ho’s Snowcatcher.

Taken during the filming of Alfred Hitchcock’s Pyscho, sometime in early ’60 or thereabouts. Obviously some kind of commercial photography pose for some product or whatever, but for what I know not. Quite the juxtaposition.

I figured I had to find some nice new wheels but I hate the idea of paying $15K or $20K (or more) for that comfort. So I went for this slightly used 400cc Yamaha scooter. Less than $5K all in with tax and license and a trunk/box added to the rear. This is the only way to get around Los Angeles with any haste. I wouldn’t dream of driving it on a freeway, but it goes really fast if I ever want to risk that.