Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: The Delightful and Subtle Nobody's Daughter Haewon Proof of Narrative Genius

By Patryk Czekaj

Hong Sangsoo is an undisputed master of low budget, dialogue-driven, ambiguously satirical films that reveal the truth about human relationships in a most sincere and emphatic way. Due to the alluring but mostly down-to-earth ambiance on the surface, those pictures might look ordinary for first-time viewers. Yet, after subsequent viewings it becomes evident that the pleasure of discovering the genius behind Hong’s creations is a fascinating adventure in itself. Due to an impressive number of distinguishing characteristics, most notably maze-like storylines, uncertain timelines, specifically planned repetitions and well-developed characters, Hong has gained critical acclaim as one of the most imaginative and unconventional Korean art-house directors.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Korean Box Office: Friend 2 Wins Again as Hunger Games Fails to Catch Fire

Business was a bit slow this past weekend as all the holdovers suffered heavy falls and none of the new releases caught fire. 1.85 million tickets were bought over the frame, down almost 20% from last year. The market share was evenly spread as local releases took a thin edge with 51%, this was down from 72% this time last year.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: This Very Ordinary Couple Aims to Show You What's What

Grand romance, as depicted on screen, written on the page or sung into a microphone, is the stuff of dreams. We crave it and feel it vicariously through surrogate works. It happens in life too but scarcely as magnificently as we imagine it in our minds. Romcoms spoil us in a way, they invite us to expect something that doesn't exist, at least in a form as ideal as that which is represented in these films.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: The Slick, Manipulative and Disappointing Secretly Greatly

When a filmmaker makes a great debut, expectations are bound to be quite high for the follow-up. Such was the case for Jang Cheol-soo, who took the world by storm with his terrific island revenge saga Bedevilled in 2010. When word first surfaced of his next feature, which would see him adapt the popular webcomic Secretly Greatly, the initial buzz was one of excitement. However, as it progressed through casting and then production, it became more and more clear that this would be a completely different kind of film, and certainly not one aimed at the audience that was so enthralled by his debut.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Busan 2013 Review: The Fake Is a Bleak and Devastating Experience

Part of MKC's coverage of the 18th Busan International Film Festival.

Terrible things happen all the time but it's easy to ignore what goes on around us. Sometimes, we even fail to see what's right in front of us. Independent films, at least those with a realistic bent, frequently attempt to educate us by plainly us showing the realities of the world we live in but they don't always move us the way filmmakers would like them to. Sometimes it's the fault of poor storytelling, mise-en-scene or acting, but more often than not, the fault lies with us. Among the reasons that we avoid what is plain to see is the diluted effect of these narratives, after decades of similarly minded cinema.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: Pieta - What Does It Matter as Long as a Boy Loves His Mother?

By John A. Riley

A cavalcade of joyless masturbation, even more joyless coition, animal entrails splattered across the tiled floor of a bathroom, mutilation and misogynistic violence. And that’s just the first ten minutes of Kim Ki-duk’s 2012 film Pieta. Set in a grimy industrial area of Seoul, it deals with Kang-do, a brutal debt collector who meets a woman claiming to be the mother who abandoned him in childhood. Together they begin a deadpan, incestuous parody of domestic life together. This newfound love melts Kang-do’s heart, exposing his deeply-hidden vulnerability and leading to a visceral and tragic conclusion.

Korean Box Office: Gangster Sequel Friend 2 Posts Solid Debut

Compared with last year, business has been a little down but Korean films are as strong as ever as they commanded a 70% share over the past weekend with seven of the top ten films. 2.11 million tickets were sold over the frame, down from last year's 2.62 million, when A Werewolf Boy, the last Twilight film and Confession of Murder were vying for the top.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Busan 2013 Review: Mot Explores Youth in Revolt

Part of MKC's coverage of the 18th Busan International Film Festival.

By Rex Baylon

Water is the most malleable element in nature. It can inhabit different material states, i.e. liquid, gas, and solid. It can adapt itself to any shape it needs to be in and in purely literary terms water occupies a panoply of meanings, be it good, bad, or ambiguous. In Seo Ho-bin’s directorial debut, Mot (2013), water takes on the familiar meaning of a buried secret that won’t stay concealed. For Hyung-myung and his friends, the last day of high school should have been a happy memory. Hyung-myung’s friend, Sung-pil, envisions a future unrestricted by parents and teachers telling him what to do. For his sister Kyung-min the possibility of romance hangs heavily on her mind.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

DMZ Docs 2013 Review: Unique Shaman Doc Manshin is a Sensory Thrill

I’ve been a keen fan of Korean films for over a decade and have now spent about a year and a half living within the country’s borders, yet, though I’ve been exposed to it many times, shamanism stubbornly remains a difficult part of the nation’s heritage to get to grips with. Mystical and echoing an ancient way of life, it is not merely something that fallen in stature due to the ravages of time, it is a facet of Korean culture that requires a different way of thinking.

10 South Korean Production Companies Come Together To Form New Company

Of all the achievements that South Korean cinema has accomplished over the last decade its ability to go toe-to-toe with foreign juggernauts like Hollywood and keep it’s domestic products at the top of the heap has been its most remarkable feat. While its Asian neighbors struggle and fight against Hollywood hegemony only the South Korean film industry has consistently been able to produce content that are critical and/or commercial successes. A side effect to these glories though is that a split has formed within the industry, dividing blockbusters and small indie films into majority and niche markets.