Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New Korean Films: Homages To Parents (2015 Week 16)

Clown of a Salesman

By Fabien Schneider

Il-beom worked many jobs in his attempt to pay back his loans but his bad reputation always come in the way. Most importantly, his daughter is in need of a treatment for her illness, and this won’t come cheap. That’s why Il-beom starts working at an “information center” despite his initial aversion, because under this cover lies a PR company that organizes events for older women in the intent to sell them healthy food and daily necessities. But he soon realizes that these women are mostly mothers who barely even get visits from their adult children, and that he’s making their lives merrier. One day, Ok-nim, who lives alone so as not to burden her prosecutor son, joins the center and becomes friend with Il-beom.

The purpose of this film is to deal with a matter of much concern in South-Korea as well as almost everywhere in the world: old parents being put aside in their children’s lives. In a country where work can be really demanding, it’s no surprise that this phenomenon can be so widespread. The makers of this film wish that their own work would bring together families in the theater - a noble cause. Director Jo Chi-un is not a rookie, as he debuted twenty years ago and his films, The Thief And A Poet (1995) and Barricade (1997), are hardly remembered. The same cannot be said of the lead actor Kim In-kwon, as he has recently made a name for himself as a comic asset thanks to He’s on Duty (2010) and Born to Sing (2013), but he’s also appeared in almost every single blockbuster of the last six years (Haeundae, My Way, The Tower, Quick, Tazza – The Hidden Card). He’s accompanied here by Park Chul-Min, an actor whose face is probably known by anyone familiar with Korean films since he’s been a supporting character in so of them. Both of them starred in the comedy Almost Che in 2011. But don’t get it wrong, this film is first and foremost a drama. Local critics stayed unmoved. It will be widely distributed throughout the country and could have some potential for climbing the box office ranks had it been for the simultaneous release of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is expected that the film will constitute less than 1% of the total sales of tickets this week.

Glittering Hands
(반짝이는 박수 소리)

Sang-guk wanted to become a soccer player, and Kyung-hee a teacher. But as they were born deaf, they couldn’t achieve their dreams and instead became a carpenter and machine sewer. But they found their happiness when they first met and they soon fell in love of each other. Their world of silence has been broken by the birth of their children, a boy and a girl, who both have been raised in another world, the one that can be heard. They learned how to speak with their mouth as well as with their hands and became their parents’ interpreters.

Lee Kil-bora is a 26 years old director who decided for her first documentary to tell the story of her own family. It’s at the age of 18 that she made her first steps into film directing, when she suddenly decided to leave her school to travel alone through South-Asia during eight months. During this experience, she started writing books and filmed a mid-length film about being a road-schooler. Her first long documentary has already been successful on the festival circuit, since it’s been programmed in 15 film festivals in South Korea only and received a few awards. Local critics have been rather positive with this film, praising it for its warmth and its attention to detail. This will be fairly distributed between the major cities of the country, thanks mainly to independent theaters.

Watch here the Korean trailer.

New Korean Films is a weekly feature which provide an in-depth look at new local releases in Korea. For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Korean Reviews, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (Korean Standard Time). Reviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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