Friday, May 31, 2013

New Korean Films: Behold, K-pop Star in Approach! (2013 Week 22)

Rockin' on Heaven's Door 
(뜨거운 안녕)

A K-pop star, Chung-ui, caused a scandal by being involved in a brawl after consuming too much alcohol, and so sees himself condemned to 300 hours of volunteer work in a hospital institute welcoming terminally ill patients. These people do not comply with the regulations, and the institute is threatened with closure. Only Anna still tries to maintain order, and she doesn’t hesitate to yell at Chung-ui as he always tries to do the bare minimum. When he comes upon patients rehearsing in their own band, he decides to personally get invested to help them improve.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Moving to the City: Urbanization in The Ball Shot by a Midget (난장이가 쏘아올린 작은 공, 1981)

Korean Cinema, especially when at its best, frequently explores pressing themes and social realities to thrilling effect. The deeper I delve into classic Korean cinema, the clearer it becomes that this has always been the case. Throughout Korean film history, the only real difference is that the issues mined by filmmakers have changed over time. One such trait has been encroaching urbanization and among the best examples of its representation on screen is Lee Won-se's The Ball Shot by a Midget (1981).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jeonju 2013: Lee Sang-woo's Thrilling EMERGENCY EXIT is a Poetic Gutpunch (비상구, 2013)

Every year, the Jeonju International Film Festival commissions a pair of omnibus features. The longest-running and most famous of these is the Jeonju Digital Project, which has featured a number of star Asian directors over the years. The other is the Short! Short! Short! series, which focuses on young Korean directors helming experimental works. This year’s edition of the latter featured three shorts and four directors tasked with adapting the works of popular local writer Kim Young-ha. Based on Kim’s idiosyncratic stories, the works, each original in their own right, all featured a strong sense of style. Of course, as with many omnibuses, they didn’t all hit the mark. Lee Sang-woo’s opening segment Emergency Exit was my favorite of the bunch and also the best thing I saw at Jeonju this year.

Bong Joon-ho to Set Sail as Producer with Sea Fog, Song Joong-ki in Talks to Star

We're all eagerly anticipating Bong Joon-ho's post-apocalyptic sci-fi opus Snowpiercer but while we wait for him to put the finishing touches on his summer blockbuster, it seems the ace Korean director has set his sights on a new project. Bong's career as a producer looks to set sail with Sea Fog, a stowaway drama based on a 2007 play that is in turn drawn from real events circa 2001. Enormously popular Korean Idol Song Joong-ki (A Werewolf Boy) is said to be highly considering the lead role.

Monday, May 27, 2013

New Korean Films: Save The Documentaries (2013 Week 21)

Dancing Forest
(춤추는 숲)

At the heart of the temple of globalization and consumerism that is Seoul lies a village created by some irreducible citizens gathered around the mountain Seongmi, who have been sharing during the last 17 years the mad dream of wanting to live in communion with nature. But the hard urban development is threatening in 2010 to raze the mountain to build a school. The community tries to oppose it by all means.

Korean Box Office: Furious 6 First with Franchise Best Opening (05/24-05/26, 2013)

Summer's heating with yet another Hollywood tentpole platforming. However, business dipped significantly to 1.83 million admissions, down from last year's 2.24 million. The local market share was also down to 30%.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Channeling the Classics: The Russian Novel (러시안 소설) 2012

Though I scarcely have the time to read these days there are a few classic works of literature I always go back to. On the one hand the French Naturalists taught me morality and on the other the great Russian novels forced me to grapple with existentialism and taught me about love. Tolstoy, Dostoyesky, Pushkin, Lermontov, and more had the ability to tip the balance of life from one extreme to the next, all in the flick of a page. Leafing through ‘Anna Karenina’ was a two-week journey through the human kaleidoscope of love and suffering, while the brief weekend it took to absorb ‘A Hero of our Time’ was like a torrid love affair, which, like its protagonist, shone bright and brief.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Korean Box Office: Iron Man 3 Makes It 4 During Crowded Weekend (05/17-05/19, 2013)

Business was strong again during the mid-May holiday weekend but local fare still found itself at a loss to match Hollywood's stream of tentpoles. Total business came in at 2.56 million admissions, up from 2.07 last year. Meanwhile the local market share was at 40%, down from 62% a year ago.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Jeonju 2013: The Ethereal Dear Dolphin Explores Guilt and Grief (환상속의 그대, 2013)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 14th Jeonju International Film Festival.

The most anticipated film of the Jeonju International Film Festival’s Korean Competition this year, Kang Ji-na’s feature Dear Dolphin, was also the most polished. With its themes of love, loss and loneliness, as well as its vibrant colors, strong mise-en-scene and well-judged flights of fancy, its appeal is universal.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Magicians (마법사들, 2005)

(by refresh_daemon)

Magicians started out as one of three short films in an omnibus produced for the Jeonju International Film Festival in 2005, following writer-director Song Il-gon's international acclaim with his films started with his remarkable debut Flower Island (2001). However, when making his short version for the film festival, director Song also make an extended 95-minute feature version bearing a remarkable restriction that the film be shot in one seamless take. Yet, rather than ending up as a mere gimmick, Magicians gains a stage-like abstraction at times without losing the intimacy of the camera, which turns the strong performances of its cast into an emotionally resonant meditation on grief and living in the aftermath of loss.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New Korean Films: Lotte and N.E.W. Join the Party (2013 Week 20)

Happiness for Sale


Kang Mi-na is making ​​many envious with her position as a public servant in a municipal district office. But overnight, her father becomes injured after falling in his stationery store, and she is asked to take over the management of the shop. She has Ever since her childhood she has hated the store named after her and hopes to sell it as soon as possible to get to her dream job, but she doesn't count on its loyal customers, some elementary school students, who insist that the shop keeps its doors open

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Grand Heist (바람과 함께 사라지다) 2012

The heist film is a unique offshoot of the crime genre. It inhabits a region where the violence is all style, the risks are all calculated, and the group trumps the man. In this postmodern media-drenched world that we live in, the heist genre can probably lay claim to being the first to tear down the fourth wall and poke fun at the artifice of cinema. From Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery to the wheeling-dealing hustler Danny Ocean from the Ocean’s Eleven franchise, viewers have been addicted to the hip style of the caper.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Korean Box Office: Iron Man 3 Threepeats up Top (05/10-05/12, 2013)

Iron Man 3 stood strong for a third week but overall business took a dive as it fell under the two million mark, with only 1.8 million tickets sold. Good weather and a lack of strong new titles were likely to blame for the slow cinema traffic. That said the Korean market share shot up significantly to 33%, still not a great result compared to the past few months but nonetheless a slight increase over last year.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Look at Korean Comedy and Mr. XXX-Kisser (아부의 왕, 2012)

Many films passed through Korean theaters last year and a great number of them made their presence felt. But of course for every chart-topping hit there were many projects that failed to make their way to profitability. One such film that came and went during the sweltering summer months was Mr. XXX-Kisser (aka The King of Flattery, and I can’t see why they didn’t stick to that far superior English title), a mid-level comedy with no huge stars and very modest ambitions.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Korean Films: Local Studios Fight for Second Place (2013 Week 19)

Boomerang Family

Following the recent commercial failure of his debut film, a 48 year-old director, In-mo, has no choice but to return to live with his mother. He meets up his older brother, Han-mo, who has never left home and is still not working. But their younger sister, Mi-yeon, was just divorced from her second husband and is coming with her teenage daughter to spend a few weeks with her mother, until the formalities of her upcoming third wedding are settled. All of them will try to coexist as they did during their childhood, but their respective personal comfort has now become much more pervasive than before.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

UDINE 2013: Korean Horror Comedies and Ghost Sweepers (점쟁이들, 2012)

Korean cinema has proven on many occasions that it can be quite brazen when it comes to generic codes. It can sometimes seem like a kid has been let loose in a well-stocked kitchen as he begins to mix and match the most incongruous ingredients in an oversized pot. While many concoctions have succeeded in offending viewer’s delicate palates, just as many bizarre recipes cooked up in the studios have delighted and surprised film lovers around the world.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Korean Films: The Thin Line Between Film and Advertisement (2013 Week 18)

Born to Sing

Bong-nam, a man who lives only on the wages of his wife as one of her employees, dreams of becoming a renowned singer and enrolls in a famous televised song contest, hoping to win first prize. He will meet many opponents, including a energetic grandmother, a young woman and a little girl encouraged by her grandfather.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Korean Box Office: Iron Man Still Top Dog (05/03-05/05, 2013)

The story at the Korean box office was much the same as last week with Iron Man 3 continuing to reign supreme. Total admissions came in at 2.47 million (a fraction below last year) while the local market share was once again weak at only 14%, about half of last year's figure.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

MKC Thought Leaders' Corner: April 2013

How well does Josh Brolin fit in the above picture? With Spike Lee's Oldboy almost upon us and the announcement of possible remakes of Confession of Murder, New World, A Bittersweet Life, Lady Vengeance and more, it seems a good time to ask the experts:

How do you feel about remakes of Korean films?

We would also love to know what you think about remakes of Korean films! Please leave a comment or start a discussion with us on facebook or twitter.

Many to thanks to all the contributors for their time and insightful comments. Responses listed alphabetically, followed by the thoughts of MKC's teammembers.