Friday, November 16, 2012

WKR: Current Korean Hits, LKFF and Classic Film Reviews (11/10-11/16, 2012)

Lots of reviews in from the LKFF and more than classic films reviewed than usual, thanks in large part to a big new update on


(Hanguk Yeonghwa, November 12, 2012)

(Screen Daily, November 9, 2012)

(oriental nightmares, November 12, 2012)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BIFF 2012 Interview: A Chat With Fatal's First-time Director Lee Donku

Part of MKC's coverage of the 17th Busan International Film Festival.

One of the most talked-about films this year at the Busan International Film Festival was the low-budget debute feature Fatal, which screened as part of the event's signature 'New Currents' competition. A section reserved for first or sophomore features from Asian filmmakers which has discovered such respected works as The Journals of Musan (2011) and Bleak Night (2011).

Fatal's Lee Donku took some time out of his busy festival schedule to sit down and talk with Modern Korean Cinema.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meaningful Stillness: The Quiet Pursuit of Happiness in Jang Kun-jae's Sleepless Night - Part II

Part V of a special MKC feature on Jang Kun-jae.

For Sleepless Night, Jang and his tiny cast and crew lived in close quarters for the duration of the film’s short production. Eating meals and sleeping together in the director’s apartment, which served as the main location of the film, they also shared their thoughts and worries. Their marriages, as well as the minutiae of their daily lives, became a part of the filmmaking process. I can only imagine, but it must have made for a very special experience for those involved, especially given the result on screen.

The film is exceedingly relatable and highly personal. The character’s thoughts are almost never a mystery, despite frequently sparse dialogue. Much of this is down to the splendid performances of the two leads but it is also part of the fabric of the film. For me, these silences that dot the narrative are examples of ‘meaningful stillness.’ They feel important, as though a statement is being made: however nothing is forced upon us. Perhaps they merely exist, like fleeting moments that just happened to be caught on camera: but they feature no action. It could be that these lulls derive their meaning purely from the context afforded by prior scenes: yet they are not in the least bit contrived.

KCN: Weinstein Co. Picks up Snowpiercer, Interviews Galore and Much More (11/08-11/14, 2012)

Lots of news this week, some of its relating to the London Korean Film Festival and its spectacular closing. Save the Green Planet director Jang Joon-hwan finally returns with a new project, Berlin makes a big Korea selection, Pieta wins awards and many interviews to boot, most notably from Paul Quinn whose been a very busy bee over at Hangul Celluloid!



Kim Yun-seok to Star in New Jang Joon-hwan Film
Korea's most bankable star Kim Yun-seok is set to star in the sophomore feature by Jang Joon-hwan whose sensational debut Save the Green Planet (2003) rocked the international film stage upon its release. It'll be a decade separating his two films by the time this is released and while people have been wondering why he has stepped away for so long, though he he did directed a short in 2010's Camilia omnibus and is well-known as actress Moon So-ri's husband, there is not doubt that many are thrilled to see his return to the big screen.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sleepless Night Production Stills

Part IV of a special MKC feature on Jang Kun-jae.

Director Jang Kun-jae very kindly provided MKC with the following production stills taken during the shoot of his latest film Sleepless Night. A few were used for our interview with him but they are all so good that I felt I should share them all with you. You can get a real sense for how intimate the filming was, a feeling that really seeps into the finished product.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

KBO: A Werewolf Boy Chews Up the Competition (11/09-11/11, 2012)

A Werewolf Boy Chews Up the Competition

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 A Werewolf Boy 10/31/12 51.70% 1,333,425 3,603,599 855
2 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 23.80% 567,631 725,877 548
3 Skyfall (us/uk) 10/26/12 8.90% 222,312 2,119,922 350
4 Masquerade 9/13/12 6.90% 174,674 11,734,840 317
5 Upside Down (us) 11/8/12 3.70% 93,968 126,282 308
6 Now Is Good (uk) 11/8/12 1.10% 26,495 34,742 142
7 Jungle Emperor Leo (jp) 11/8/12 0.90% 25,189 25,725 159
8 Perfect Number 10/18/12 0.90% 22,622 1,534,523 192
9 Argo (us) 10/31/12 0.60% 14,519 128,393 121
10 Brave (us) 9/27/12 0.40% 9,711 1,222,736 58

Meaningful Stillness: The Quiet Pursuit of Happiness in Jang Kun-jae's Sleepless Night - Part I

Part III of a special MKC feature on Jang Kun-jae.

Each person’s individual journey in life is an ever-changing narrative, subject to the faintest tinkering. Our goals are equally malleable targets: a few change from year to year, others switch throughout the course of a day. Some of our dreams are dearly cherished: we hold onto them throughout our lives, yet these too are subject to change. The details within our ambitions vary over time as we accumulate new experiences: they shift to fit our evolving personalities. Though we, along with our thoughts and desires, are in perpetual flux, there could be one thing we collectively and unswervingly aspire to. We all want to be happy.

Though an outwardly simple notion, happiness is a truly complex idea that is utterly different for each and every person. Purely subjective, one person’s joy can equate to another’s misery. Yet there are things that we aspire to as a society in order to achieve some greater collective contentment. South Korea offers a very interesting example of this as it has leapt forward with its booming economy. At the risk of sounding a bit absolute, generally speaking happiness was hard to come by for many decades in Korean society as it struggled with the separation of its peninsula, a disruptive war and successive authoritarian regimes.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Interview: Jang Kun-jae Talks Sleepless Night

Part II of a special MKC feature on Jang Kun-jae.

Following his debut Eighteen's successful run on the international festival circuit in 2009, the highlight of which was a grand prize win as part of Vancouver's Tigers & Dragons section, Jang Kun-jae has proven that he is no fluke with his sophomore feature. Sleepless Night debuted in Jeonju where it picked a pair of prizes, including the top Korean film prize and audience award before hitting the road for what is likely to be a lengthy festival run.

MKC was able to catch up Jang during the Busan Film Fest.

How do you feel about Sleepless Night's positive reception?

The public’s response is of course very important to me, especially as a director who did not have the opportunity to release my films in a commercial way. Therefore, the more people who enjoy my film in festivals, the better the film’s chance to become available for the general public.

As with my last film, I hope that the positive response will help for my next project. Hopefully we can find more financing and have the opportunity to cast better actors and actresses.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Reveals Korean-Heavy Program

The Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) is coming back for its 16th edition, which will run November 12-28 in Tallinn, Estonia. Originally a showcase for Nordic film, PÖFF has grown to become one of Europe's largest and most varied film festivals, and of late they have been very kind to Korean cinema, with 2012 proving to be no exception.

Jeon Kyu-hwan's The Weight, which won the Queer Lion Award earlier this year at the Venice International Film Festival and has also screened at the Busan International Film Festival and Sitges Film Festival, will take part in PÖFF's 'EurAsia' competition section, which last year awarded its main prize to Ahn Hui's A Simple Life. Jeon's first three films, the trilogy comprising of Mozart Town (2008), Animal Town (2009) and Dance Town (2010), all previously screened at Black Nights.

WKR: LKFF, More BIFF and In Another Country's US Bow (11/03-11/09, 2012)

Reviews are still trickling in from Busan along with a wealth content from the currently underway London Korean Film Festival. Also of note is the release of In Another Country in the US


(Film Business Asia, November 7, 2012)

(Variety, November 5, 2012)

(Film Business Asia, November 8, 2012)

(Variety, November 3, 2012)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Love Story Abruptly Ended: Eighteen (회오리 바람, Hwiori Baram) 2009

Part I of a special MKC feature on Jang Kun-jae.

By Rex Baylon

The beauty and innocence of young love might be the greatest hoax perpetuated by the mainstream media. A couple walking hand in hand together while surrounded on all sides by a bucolic setting, two lovers sitting in a warm cozy diner with a straw in each of their mouths while they share a milkshake, or the hustle and bustle of a crowded noisy street muted by two lovestruck individuals stealing a kiss or embrace. The young and not so young are fed these cliché images to the point that artists can’t help but regurgitate them back to their respective audiences. The romanticism that was first born from the mind of Goethe has mutated into the “Hallmark moment”, sappy, sentimental, and dangerous. At it’s most idealistic, young love offers a safe haven for youths who’ve experienced the joy and elation of caring and feeling protective over someone other than themselves, but at its worst it can be an easy excuse for self-absorbed and destructive behavior.

In Jang Kun-jae’s debut, Eighteen (Hwioribaram, 2009), these two distinctive poles are examined through a very familiar story of young love that ought not to be. Yet, unlike many Korean romantic melodramas this is not a linear narrative charting a relationship from meet-cute to break-up. In fact, it begins months after the break-up. It is a post-mortem love story told mainly through flashback, blending cinema-verite with splashes of magic realism. The young couple in the film are normal run-of-the mill Korean teenagers: they’re attached to their smartphones, they’ve got school and parents badgering them about college, and their idea of the future doesn’t stretch any further than a few months. There is nothing distinctive about their lives or personality.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

KCN: AFM Sales, London and Paris K-Film Fests and More BO Records (11/01-11/07, 2012)

More box office records broken and films sold at the American Film Market while both Paris and London stage their annual Korean film festivals.


7th Paris Korean Film Festival Opens
Paris, which had its hottest summer this year, is once again experiencing the heat of Korean films this fall as the 7th Paris Korean Film Festival unfolds. The event opened on October 30th and Masquerade, the opening film, was sold out with other screenings also proving very popular. Q and A sessions following screenings are helping to satisfy the audience's curiosity and the event is fulfilling the role of bridging the cultural gap between the two nations. (KoBiz, November 6, 2012)