Showing posts with label Omnibus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Omnibus. Show all posts

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.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Review: THE TABLE Gathers Quartet of Superb Actresses in Elegant Drama

By Pierce Conran

Kim Jong-kwan assembles some of the finest actresses working in Korea today for his delightful new drama The Table. In some ways the Korean indie cousin of Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes, this elegant, delicate and humorous collection of four extended conversations works beautifully as a feature film, unlike the vast majority of omnibuses that are so popular in local cinema.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

News: Bae Doo-na Boards Omnibus THE ROMANTIC

By Pierce Conran

Bae Doo-na is close to signing on to what would be her first commercial Korean film since 2012's As One. The film in question is The Romantic, an omnibus drama in the same mould as Love Actually (2003).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

PiFan 2012: Horror Stories (무서운 이야기, Nooseowoon Iyagi) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 16th Puchon International Film Festival.

Omnibus horrors seem to be all the rage at this year's PiFan, with the inclusion of the much-ballyhooed V/H/S and the Indonesian ghost offering Hi5teria (not to be confused with period British vibrator comedy Histeria, which is also in competition). But the one with the highest profile this year was the Korean Horror Stories, which served as the event's opening film.

A group of talented filmmakers, most of whom are prominent genre filmmakers, were assembled for this production which many hoped would breath some life back into Korean horror cinema. Of late, K-horrors have been increasingly disappointing and the consensus is that there hasn't been a good example since the excellent Possessed (2009). Hopes were high for last year's trio of summer Korean horror offerings (the traditional season for the genre) but White: the Melody of the Curse, The Cat and Ghastly all failed to impress despite their potential.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

NYAFF 2012: Doomsday Book (인류멸망보고서, In-lyoo-myeol-mang-bo-go-seo) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 11th New York Asian Film Festival.

(by Peter Gutiérrez)

No doubt about it: it’s definitely a cliché to remark on how anthology films can be uneven – in fact, it’s probably also a cliché at this point to point out how commonplace such an observation is. Yet although this assessment applies to Doomsday Book, which gets its North American premiere Wednesday evening at NYAFF, the film is also refreshing in that I could see different viewers holding disparate ideas as to which are the stronger and weaker entries in this ambitious, three-part science-fiction extravaganza.

The opening story, “A Brave New World,” takes what seems like a well-worn zombie formula and, in the hands of Antarctic Journal’s Yim Pil-Sung,  fashions one of those optimal mixtures of the audaciously dark and the goofily humorous that can make Korean genre cinema so wonderful. That’s not to say that Yim’s goals are purely pulply, its ironical tone and light intellectualism are evident from the title. Taking its cue less from Shakespeare, or Huxley, and more from the Bible, this segment looks terrific and boasts some solid storytelling, so you’ll be forgiven for not noticing its more highbrow aspirations. Like Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, which played for both more laughs and more horror, “A Brave New World” is so adept at grabbing and holding your attention that you may be a bit disappointed when it seems satisfied in leading you into romance (!) territory and leaving you there.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Romantic Heaven (Ro-maen-tik He-beun) 2011

Jang Jin’s 10th feature, Romantic Heaven, is an interwoven omnibus film which features three linked stories that deal with themes such as death, love, fate, and the afterlife. Despite the heavy, morbid themes, the proceedings, given Jang’s involvement, take on a predictably unpredictable light air. It is a quirky film that reminds me both of Park Chan Wook’s I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK (2006) and P.T. Anderson’s Magnolia (1999), the first for its vibrant and calm representation of heaven, and the second for its structure and one lone supernatural occurrence which will be obvious to those who have seen both.

The title points to two themes, love and death, and approaches them from numerous angles. In the first part, titled 'Mother', a girl fears for her mother who will die if she does not receive a bone marrow transplant. The doctors indentify a donor but as luck would have it he is wanted for the murder of his girlfriend. He is on the run and the girl befriends the detectives that are after him. The second segment, named 'Wife', features a lawyer who has lost his wife and a man who has just been released form prison who wants revenge. The third segment, 'A Girl', is the story of a young taxi driver whose grandfather suffers from dementia. While the man is clearly keen on the girl from the first part, she is not the girl of the title. She is in fact the grandfathers long lost love. The fourth part, 'Romantic Heaven', begins when the taxi driver gets in a car crash and ends up in heaven, in this concluding part of the film, it is also by far the lengthiest, all of the strands come together and we are transported back and forth through heaven and earth.

Death is difficult to handle and each grieves in their own fashion. Through my experience of Korean cinema, Koreans seem to take the mourning process very seriously and often wail, weep, and cry at funerals. The released con’s first stop is his fathers grassy grave. He weeps bitterly on his knees and his friend nonchalantly stands nearby, exhibiting what may seem like callousness at his friend’s misery to a western viewer but what is most likely a force of habit as it is the norm. Each character in this film deals with death differently, from the numbness of the widower, the grandmother who can’t let go of her grandson, to the daughter who, while sad, finds beauty and something to smile about at the moment of expiration.

Creative production design
There is much in Romantic Heaven that I wasn’t quite able to grasp, like the meaning of the headphones and the CDs, although the tightly woven narratives clearly point to meaningful conclusions. As is often the case with omnibus films many elements become contrived as they are forced to fit together, a necessary evil when it works. Jang’s direction, as always, is masterful. The film looks great and is the product of potent creativity. Not one of his best works and probably a little less accessible than his past efforts but as always he displays why he is one of the most consistently worthwhile auteurs in South Korean cinema.