Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I don't recall putting this in my queue; I don't remember who recommended it or how I heard of it. Until I put it in the player, I didn't know it was Vietnamese.

Cyclo is satisfyingly grim art-house fare. The driver of a pedal trike in Hanoi has it stolen, likely by the woman who rents it to him. In order to pay back his deposit he begins doing thug work for her criminal gang. Because he's lost his family's major source of income, his sister has to endure the perverse fetishes of old men for money, and things deteriorate from there. A goldfish suffers horribly. Strobe lights flash. A local club plays Rollins Band and Radiohead. The upper crust eat meals at an outdoors restaurant decorated with US military equipment. There are murders, rapes, thefts.

One of the first art-house flicks I saw was The Scent of Green Papaya. Cyclo has a peculiar beauty akin to that other Vietnamese classic; perhaps I should re-watch it after 20 years.

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