Showing posts with label japan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label japan. Show all posts

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.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review: ANARCHIST FROM COLONY Gets Lost on the Way Home

By Rex Baylon

Lee Joon-ik’s latest film Anarchist from Colony is a continuation of the director’s fascination with the grand events of Korean history. From King and Clown, a film about the relationship between a Joseon dynasty king and a troupe of street performers, to Blades of Blood, about a Zatoichi-esque character during the early days of the Imjin War, Lee has focused on the perspective of the marginalized. This continues with the story of Park Yeol, a Korean anarchist who had grand designs on killing the Japanese emperor Hirohito, all in the hopes of freeing Korea from Japanese control, but was arrested and tried for treason before he could put his plan into action.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

News: Kim Han-min to Follow ROARING CURRENTS with Manchuria-Set War Pic

By Pierce Conran

In the wake of the record-breaking success of last summer's Roaring Currents, Kim Han-min is opting to remain in the period war genre as he is busy preparing a new film called Bongoh Town Battle (working title), about a two-day skirmish between independent Korean forces and the Japanese army in Manchuria in 1920.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Feature: Girls and Dolls - The Many Faces of Bae Doo-na

By Hieu Chau

Emerging from South Korea as one of the country’s brightest and talented stars, actress Bae Doo-na has built a reputable career for herself with diverse roles in both her home country and abroad. Often praised for her naturalistic and sometimes demure approach towards acting, Bae Doo-na has worked with a plethora of talented individuals in her acting career, scoring the chance to work with several esteemed directors including the likes of Bong Joon-ho and Koreeda Hirokazu.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Review: The Slick But Baffling Thriller GENOME HAZARD

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

By John A. Riley

Illustrator Taketo (Nishijima Hidetoshi) returns home one evening to find his wife’s dead body. The telephone rings, breaking a tense silence, and Taketo is baffled to hear his wife’s voice on the other end of the line. Before he can even properly process this tragedy, men arrive intent on killing him, and he is drawn rapidly into a conspiratorial web where the only person who he can trust is Korean reporter Ji-won (a wide-eyed, incredulous Kim Hyo-jin) who, sensing a story, is dragged into the labyrinthine plot herself.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Edinburgh 2013: I Catch a Terrible Cat (こっぴどい猫, Japan) 2012

Part of Connor McMorran's coverage for MKC of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (June 19-30, 2013).

If there can be one major complaint of post-modern cinema, it is that it is far too aware. Not only of itself as a piece of cinema, but also of the limitations of genre. This can often lead to an over-eager attempt to break or push genre boundaries, or to reject genre in favour of observational, dialogue-heavy, or highly referential cinema. Thankfully, Rikiya Imaizumi’s I Catch a Terrible Cat manages to avoid such pitfalls whilst also providing a rather interesting and playful look at the romance genre.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CinDi 2012: Lilou's Adventure (Lilou No Boken, Japan) 2012

Part of MKC's Coverage of the 6th Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival.

The world of cinema is one we often use to reflect upon ourselves, one where our deepest desires and our darkest impulses are laid bare. Filmmakers habitually use the medium to explore the different facets of our personality but also to ask questions. Good cinema is almost always inquisitive and the further we delve inwards the less concrete our footing becomes. The land of dreams and of the subconscious has been a domain of choice for artists since time immemorial. Through paintings, poetry, books, performance art and more, our unknowable mental projections have maddened and gladdened artistic minds.

Cinema, perhaps more than any other medium, is an ideal canvas for exploring the nebulous impressions we constitute around our internal and uncontrollable visions. From an aesthetic standpoint it is both visual and auditory and yet much is still arrived at through interpretation. However, dreams, which are non-linear by design, are oftentimes difficult to narrativize and their depiction on screen, when not handled carefully, can sound the death bell of a production. Sometimes, these representations of our inner thoughts are best appreciated as sensory experiences, gleaning meaning from them is often a fool’s errand. Yet in rare circumstances, a filmmaker has been able to apply dream logic to a workable plot structure. The most clear example of this, though a divisive one, is David Lynch’s Mullholland Drive (2001). It’s a classic Hollywood narrative that has been broken down and reassembled through dream logic, though it took at least four tries for me to come to that conclusion.

Monday, September 10, 2012

PiFan 2012: Osaka Violence (大阪外道, Japan) 2012

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

The main prize-winner at this year’s Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival, Takahiro Ishihara’s Osaka Violence, is a gritty film which employs both a realistic aesthetic and deadpan excessiveness to bring home its point. As its title suggests, the film concerns the prevalence of violence in Osaka, it is depicted as the most commonplace of acts, a cyclical ritual that is absorbed from a young age through the ebb and flow of everyday life.

The film begins with a group of young boys loitering on some farmland. The owner comes up to shoo away the trespassers but is subjected to a tirade of disrespect and abuse. They walk off, leaving the old man stunned. Things have changed in Japan and certain elements of society, such as respect, are evolving but not always in a good way. This demonstration of apathy is a logical starting point for the film. The boys’ trip through their Osaka neighborhood introduces us to an increasingly apathetic subset of its inhabitants. First they cross a gangster who is friendly to them and gives them money. Their new found fortune is swiftly taken away by a group of older boys who threaten them but this new gang is in turn beaten to a pulp by an older, burlier gangster who demands a toll for crossing under ‘his’ bridge. Suddenly, their lack of respect towards the old farmer from the opening scene is not so shocking.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Udine Far East Film Festival Day VI Report

Ongoing reports on the 14th Udine International Film Festival which Modern Korean Cinema will be covering onsite.

One Mile Above
(China, 2011)

A road movie chronicling a young man’s cycling trek in Tibet in the memory of his recently deceased brother, One Mile Above succeeds both in being a heartfelt voyage of discovery and a tribute to perseverance.  Du Jiayi’s  film is a beautiful work that takes tremendous advantage of the Himalayan landscape it takes place in.

Shuhao, the young protagonist, is someone who doesn’t have any direction of his own so when his brother dies he takes it upon himself to complete the trip that he had been working towards.  It is in honour of his sibling but it could also be read as an usurpation of a fixed goal as he lacks any of his own.  Throughout his journey he meets different characters who progressively become further removed from the people he knows form Taiwan.  These encounters, as well as the often difficult circumstances he finds himself confronted with, being to shape him as a character.

His growing endurance and tenacity are borne out of his developing sense of purpose and this, combined with the exceptional photography, lead to a moment of blissful catharsis that honestly gave me chills.  For that feeling and the majestic vistas alone, One Mile Above is worth the price of admission.  Catch it on a big screen if you can!

The Woodsman and the Rain
(Japan, 2011)

I have seen many films about filmmaking this year and a number of them have been standouts, including Cut (Japan, 2011) and This Is Not a Film (Iran, 2011).  Now I have another film to add to that list: The Woodsman and the Rain, from director Okita Shuichi, which is a testament to the thrill of creation.  As some people noted following last night’s screening, it is very ‘Japanese’.  This is mainly in reference to its dry sense of humour, which is full of mordant wit but it is also charming and welcoming, leading to an irresistible mix.

A taciturn woodsman in rural Japan has been a widow for nearly two years and lives with his recalcitrant son.  His fixed routine is shaken with the arrival of a film crew to his town.  The production underway is a zombie film, directed by a hoodie-wearing and diffident 25-year-old who seems to be in over his head.  The film chronicles how these very different characters begin to bond and slowly reawaken dormant pleasures, passions and creativity within them.

The pacing of the film is deliberate and by some accounts a little slow but I felt it suited the temperament well and accented the comedy.  Whereas Cut was a dark love letter to the medium which is framed in the context of the cinema’s greatest works of art, The Woodsman and the Rain is less concerned with artistic mastery than the sheer pleasure of filmmaking and swell of passion that enables it.  Shuichi’s characters do not visit the graves of Kurosawa, Mizoguchi and Ozu, instead, they are making a zombie B-movie and they seem all the better for it.

My Secret Partner
(South Korea, 2011)

I had a chance to see this before the festival and I must say that I was surprised to see it programmed.  One of the main qualifying factors for a film’s presentation at the FEFF is it popularity in its domestic market as the festival is a showcase for ‘Popular Asian Cinema’.  My Secret Partner (aka Perfect Partner) does not warrant that distinction.  In fact it was a flop, attracting less than 100,000 viewers at the time of its release.  So one would be forgiven for thinking that, since it was not a commercial hit, it must have been a critical one.  Once again this is not the case as the feature was mostly derided when it hit screens and then promptly forgotten.

I’m sure you can see what I’m hinting at: yes, it’s a bad film.  I had low expectations but was hoping for a surprise and though it gets off to a decent start, it begins to fade rather quickly.  The main problem is that it is a thin premise, furthermore it isn’t mined very well.  Compounding this is the film’s 125 minute running time, which, in the back stretch, feels like an eternity.

My Secret Partner aspires to be a relevant erotic romance but it’s lacks any real weight and its punchline, is never a mystery and it elicits little more than a shoulder shrug when it finally arrives.  And what does it say?  Not a blessed thing, which, in itself, is telling of the film.  Park Heon-soo’s film seems like it might have a purpose early on but any such hope evaporates by the halfway point.  By that time, it just becomes a chore.

Reviews and features on Korean film appear regularly on Modern Korean Cinema.  For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Review Round-up, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (GMT+1).

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.