My stomach is churning. Its been a bad day for animals in this house. First up I am sent a copy of Jerry Hopkins' Extreme Cuisine, a repugnant if compelling guide to eating anything from monkey brains to stir-fried dog and then I am given a copy of Chan-wook Park's ludicrous Oldboy.
Oldboy is a violent tale of monumental stupidity. It staggers through its "Double Dragon" sideways scrolling hammer attack fight scenes to its implausible incest/revenge denouement via a risible hypnosis plot device. I don't really get this Asia Extreme cinema. I actually prefer the remakes of Ring and The Grudge. Maybe I'll prefer the remake of Oldboy when it inevitably appears in 2006. One thing that'll be missing in the remake though is the live squid eating.
I couldn't see the point in this scene other than pure mondo-style exploitation. That and the fact that a real squid is a hell of a lot cheaper than CGI. It's a far cry from the carved carrot as live goldfish trick beloved of cheap magicians.
Jerry Hopkins would eat live squid I am sure. Hopkins is best known for his biographies of Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley two of the most gluttonous rock slobsters that ever lived. Morrison in particular would have dug the macho posturing that runs through much of Extreme Cuisine. Hopkins' caveman like glee in being able to eat these animals is a fatal flaw in the book.
There is an interesting debate to be had about food and people. Hopkins touches on this but is more concerned in showing how "extreme" he can be. While insects would seem to be an environmentally sustainable way to deliver protein to the masses we are more likely to see them being continually force fed to micro-celebrities on ever more puerile reality game shows. Extreme Cuisine does nothing to change this attitude of base exploitation. There is a difference in eating wild animals because they are an indigenous source of protein than there is in serving bush meat to affluent westerners on African holidays. And delivering prepared live lobster that is still moving as its being devoured demeans both the animal and the diner.
Perversely, the only food that Hopkins seems to be actively repulsed by is Marmite. He loved eating his son's placenta. But then, I presume, he knows where it came from and he knows where its been. Unlike the unfortunate bats of Saigon.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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