Saturday, October 31, 2020

Busan 2020 Review: SPEED OF HAPPINESS Delivers Soothing Snapshot of a Unique Profession



Part of MKC's coverage of the 25th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

Documentary filmmaker Park Hyuck-jee, known for the charming documentary With or Without You, is back with his latest non-fiction work, his first to be invited to Busan. Set in the mountainous Oze region of Central Japan, the pleasurable and satisfying Speed of Happiness explores an unusual profession and the hardy folks who make their living from it.

Busan 2020 Review: FIGHTER, Compelling Character Study Pulls Its Punches



Part of MKC's coverage of the 25th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

After opening the festival in 2018 with Beautiful Days, director Jero Yun returned to Busan this year with his second narrative feature Fighter, which once again focuses on a North Korean defector’s difficult experience adjusting in Korea and how it tears apart her family. As a sports film and a social drama, Yun’s latest is a by the numbers affair, but it succeeds as a character study, largely thanks to Lim Seong-mi’s formidable lead performance. Yun actually had two films at the festival this year, along with the documentary Song Hae 1927.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Busan 2020 Review: A LEAVE, Responsibilities Clash in Compelling Character Study



Part of MKC's coverage of the 25th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

Given that it successfully ousted a president after months of mass protests, which peaked with well over two million participants, it should perhaps come as little surprise that Korea is a country where protesting is widespread. For many it's an entrenched weekly hobby, but for some it's a way of life, though one that some may feel was forced on them.

Protests are a prominent theme among the local films at the Busan International Film Festival this year, and one of the most interesting among those is the New Currents competition title A Leave, which would make a fascinating pairing with the documentary Sister J, screening in the Wide Angle section this year. This debut from director Lee Ran-hee provides a compelling and complex character study of a man who feels shackled to his responsibilities as a social activist and struggles to reconcile them with his personal responsibilities as a father.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Busan 2020 Review: VESTIGE Ponders the Ineffable with Grace and Mystery



Part of MKC's coverage of the 25th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran

Two Korean masters of arthouse cinema join forces for one of Busan's most intriguing offerings this year. Commissioned by the Muju Film Festival, Vestige features two mid-length films from Kim Jong-kwan (Worst Woman, 2016) and Jang Kun-jae (A Midsummer's Fantasia, 2014), which both deal with death and the afterlife in lyrical and understated ways. Though this light brush with horror is new territory for them, both directors retain elements of their trademark styles, while also hinting at new stylistic directions in their work.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Busan 2020 Review: YOUNG ADULT MATTERS, An Explosive and Frequently Engrossing Runaway Teen Drama


Part of MKC's coverage of the 25th Busan International Film Festival.

By Pierce Conran


Three years after his abrasive debut Park Hwa-young (2017), director Lee Hwan returns to Busan with Young Adult Matters, an intense and frequently engrossing follow-up set in the same world of foul-mouthed, unpredictable and violent runaway teens. While it inherits many of the same problems that plagued his first effort (at least for this reviewer), Lee has grown in leaps and bounds as a stylist and crafted something fresh and vibrant, while lead Lee Yoo-ri - reprising her supporting role from Lee’s earlier film - is manic and magnetic as a character that could easily be at home in a Tetsuya Nakashima film.