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See These at the Siskel: Daytime Drinking and Objectified

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 3, 2009 5:40PM

2009_6_3daytimedrinking.jpg A young man's oafish buddies convince him to take a bus to the countryside and meet them at a college chum's guest house, where "there's lots of booze and delicious barbecue." Of course when he arrives his friends are nowhere to be found; and getting back to Seoul proves to be an unexpectedly tall order. Among the problems he has to contend with are crappy cell phone reception, con artists, and the constant necessity of being polite by accepting drinks from strangers.

To really enjoy Young-seok Noh's debut feature you need to know the basics of Korean drinking. First: over three billion bottles of soju, the national spirit, are consumed annually; second: soju is usually between 20-45% alcohol; and third, it's considered rude to refuse a drink. That's enough to addle anyone's brain.

A hilarious and agreeably gentle comedy, Daytime Drinking plays like a Jim Jarmusch remake of After Hours. There's even a Catherine O'Hara-like character, a flaky woman with the power to help our unfortunate hero but who only ends up tormenting him. Shot on a budget of only $20,000 this film puts to shame most indie American fare, let alone the drek coming out of the studios. It's the funniest movie we've seen this year. The wry ending is particularly satisfying.

2009_6_3objectifiedjpg.jpg That OXO vegetable peeler in your kitchen drawer? Its prototype was an old-fashioned metal peeler stuck into a bicycle handle. Gary Hustwit's Objectified is stuffed with lots of other fascinating trivia. It's his followup to Helvetica, the highest-grossing movie in the history of the Siskel, which captured the hearts of typeface geeks everywhere.

This time around he examines the design aesthetic behind mass-produced, consumer goods, including Apple (Jonathan Ive), Ikea, and even the humble toothbrush. If Objectified doesn't quite measure up to its predecessor it's largely because that subject is too amorphous for a 75-minute movie. As one interviewee says, "Good design is as little as possible," and Hustwit simply tries to cover too much ground (including ergonomic design and sustainability considerations). Nevertheless there's a ton of food for thought here, especially the discussions of analog versus digital design and the concept of "design dissolving in behavior."

He intends to make a trilogy, so perhaps Objectified is best viewed as a transitional installment. At any rate, it's still well worth a look.

Daytime Drinking and Objectified both screen daily June 5-11 at the Siskel