Barking Dogs Never Bite
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In Bong Joon-ho's directorial debut
film, Barking Dogs Never Bite, an
unemployed grad student with an
expectant wife is driven to distraction by a yapping dog located somewhere in his large apartment complex. Determined to relieve his annoyance, he sets off to take extreme action against his
tormentor; an action that will come
to haunt him.
About the Director
From the Award Winning Director Bong Joon-ho (The Host)
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Those are all terrific, but this this simultaneously depressing and exhilarating black comedy on the suburban rat race is still his best. It's got all the stuff that makes Bong distinctive - his caustic cynicism about human nature and human institutions combined with an unfeigned compassion for humans as individuals; an affection for marginal, oddball types that doesn't tip into sentimental idealization; snappy visual wit full of imaginative framing and editing; a finely tuned ear for enormously funny but penetrating dialogue; a glee in booby-trapping the plot with surprises large and small; a daring but exquisitely right mix of contrasting tones - horror and humor, slapstick and melancholy.
The actors are all perfect, particularly the two iconic leads. Handsome superstar Lee Sung-jae plays against type beautifully as a henpecked, career-stalled academic so spineless and full of repressed rage he seems about to curl into himself and vanish. And this was my first glimpse of the enchanting Bae Doo-na, Korea's #1 actress for playing endearing misfits and no-hopers, something she's never done better than here.
I could go on and on - this is a little-acknowledged modern classic. Whatever the hell "modern classic" means.
(But yeah, if you're supersqueamish about harm to cute, fluffy dogs, you might want to approach with caution - it's a major part of the story. That said, there's a disclaimer at the beginning that no animals were harmed in the shoot, and there's nothing onscreen that makes me think otherwise - it's mostly offscreen suggestion.)