Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Whose Lie is it Anyway: Ad-lib Night (아주 특별한 손님, Aju Teukbyeolhan Sonnim) 2006

Part of Rex Baylon's ongoing feature on director Lee Yoon-ki.

The expectations placed upon us by our family can be emotionally and mentally crippling. Parents have no way to predict how there actions, no matter how well intentioned they are, will scar their kids, and children are ultimately at the mercy of circumstances outside their control or understanding. Because of this the relationship between parents and children seem to always suffer from some form of dysfunction. Be it from things said in anger or things left unsaid one doesn’t leave childhood without some scarring.

Opening on a bright summer day in Seoul, Lee Yoon-ki’s third feature Ad–lib Night (Aju Teukbyeolhan Sonnim, 2006) begins with two men arguing over the facial features of a woman standing innocently across from them. Watching them stare at her one can’t help thinking of the innumerable scenes in film of men and boys spying on women. Are they playboys, predators, or harmless peeping Toms? We soon get our answer as the two men corner the woman and begin having a conversation with her media res. They call her Myung-eun and we discover that they knew each other since grade school. She rebuffs their attempts to get close though and corrects their assumption that she is Myung-eun.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

KBO: The Hobbit Stands Tall at No.1 (12/14-12/16, 2012)

The Hobbit Stands Tall at No.1

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 The Hobbit (us) 12/13/12 45.20% 921,177 1,080,351 1,028
2 26 Years 11/29/12 17.10% 409,708 2,557,122 474
3 My P.S. Partner 12/6/12 15.90% 353,277 1,223,873 420
4 Rise of the Guardians (us) 11/29/12 6.70% 165,984 899,826 361
5 Werewolf Boy 10/31/12 4.10% 102,475 372,017 233
6 One Day (us) 12/13/12 3.50% 79,190 102,936 236
7 Power Rangers (jp) 11/29/12 1.90% 48,317 63,041 229
8 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 1.00% 22,544 2,720,064 114
9 Masquerade 9/13/12 0.90% 20,635 12,274,047 88
10 Wreck-it Ralph (us) 12/13/12 0.80% 19,179 33,623 118

Friday, December 14, 2012

WKR: Confession of Murder, Pieta and More (12/08-12/14, 2012)

A trove of past Korean films reviewed in this week's roundup, along with a pair of writeups on Kim Ki-duk's Pieta and more.


(Modern Korean Cinema, December 13, 2012)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Confession of Murder (내가 살인범이다, Naega Salinbeomida) 2012

The sound of torrential rain beating down during a pitch black night can be heard along with the heavy footfalls of boots stamping on the wet ground. The atmosphere is pregnant with a sense of unease; menace and frustration linger in the air. A weary and despondent detective chases after a despicable man: a monster with the blood of young women on his hands. But the lawman’s pursuit will prove fruitless, as this faceless ghost will vanish into thin air and into the forgotten recesses of history.

Such a passage could easily describe any number of narratives that have cropped up in all kinds of mediums across the world. As far as Korean cinema is concerned, it quickly brings to mind a handful of powerful works whose import cannot be dismissed in any serious consideration of the nation’s cinematic output. Chief among them is Bong Joon-ho’s Memories of Murder (2003), a transcendent genre piece that captured the anxiety and trauma of an entire nation and which is for many, including myself, the single greatest work that the country has ever produced. Another would be Na Hong-jin’s blistering The Chaser (2008), which deliberately trampled over every generic convention it could find and forged a new direction for one of the world’s most dynamic film industries in the process.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

KCN: New Projects from Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee-woon and Hong Sang-soo (12/06-12/12, 2012)

Lots of new projects or details of upcoming films announced this week, including the latest on Park Chan-wook, Hong Sang-soo and Kim Jee-woon's cinematic endeavors. The first teaser for Ryoo Seung-wan hotly anticipated spy thriller The Berlin File was also released today.


Kim Jee-woon Plans Live Action Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade
Get ready for something spectacular. Korea's Kim Jee-woon - soon to make his English language debut with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring The Last Stand - has big plans for his next Korean film and it's something that should leave anime fans very, very happy. (Twitch, December 11, 2012)

Director Hong Sangsoo’s Next Film Gets 19 Rating
Director Hong Sangsoo’s next film, Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, was given the 19 or above rating on December 6. The film finished shooting this past spring and is in the post production stage, awaiting a release date. The film stars Lee Sun-kyun who appeared in Hong Lost in the Mountains and Oki’s Movie. This will be the actor’s third collaboration with Hong. (KoBiz, December 11, 2012)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Love in the Time of Debt: My Dear Enemy (멋진 하루, Meotjin Haru) 2008

Part of Rex Baylon's ongoing feature on director Lee Yoon-ki.

To speak about love in a contemporary real world setting and ignore the logistics of survival has been the bane of the romance genre. In order to sidestep these problems filmmakers in the past have either focused their eye to the upstairs-downstairs drama of the 1% or offered up sentimental stories of shopgirls being wooed by nebbish young suitors. Modern day romantic comedies haven’t fared any better since most are concerned with merely finding one’s true love and quickly fading out once our two lovers are finally together. The romance genre’s evolution through the years has ignored the economics of love in favor of offering up quirky characters in contrived situations.

In Lee Yoon-ki’s My Dear Enemy money is the impetus for the two ex-lovers reuniting and the reason why they spend the entire day together. Instead of cloying attempts to tell a story about two people falling in love again while draped on all sides by a scenic urban backdrop we get tense scenes where petty grudges are rehashed and even the happier moments of the past are remembered through a cloudy veneer of regret and nostalgia. Far from offering up an affected view of modern day relationships My Dear Enemy is a realistic character study of the ways that hate and love are used to mask one’s insecurities, it’s a travelogue, a visual and aural document, of Seoul at the cusp of a worldwide economic recession, and a charming romantic comedy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

KBO: 26 Years Steady at No.1 (12/07-12/09, 2012)

26 Years Steady at No.1

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 26 Years 11/29/12 31.10% 606,877 1,815,877 610
2 My P.S. Partner 12/6/12 25.40% 473,527 565,557 553
3 Rise of the Guardians (us) 11/29/12 13.60% 258,352 677,900 430
4 Werewolf Boy (Director's Cut) 10/31/12 8.10% 164,554 183,029 278
5 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (us) 11/15/12 5.20% 104,602 2,578,609 305
6 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 5.10% 95,262 2,648,477 281
7 Tone Deaf Clinic 11/29/12 2.00% 42,000 303,714 212
8 Masquerade 9/13/12 1.60% 32,353 12,227,303 97
9 Don't Cry Mommy 11/22/12 1.30% 26,550 956,740 201
10 Judge Dredd (us) 12/6/12 1.40% 26,402 34,731 184

Friday, December 7, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

BIFF 2012: Tumbleweed (창수, Chang-su) 2012

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

The gangster film, a genre that has found its way into just about every national film industry on the planet, is no stranger to Korean cinema. While the country has produced its fair share of compelling gangland sagas, stretching from the 1997 trio of Beat, No . 3, and Green Fish to more glossy and baroque undertakings such as A Dirty Carnival (2006) and this year’s Nameless Gangster, some of the most memorable films have been those that have been filtered through the prism of Korea’s filmmaking mainstay, the melodrama. Romance and gangsters have been combined to great effect in films such as Kim Jee-woon’s A Bittersweet Life (2005) but some of the most surprising examples have featured criminals at the bottom end of the pecking order.

Song Sae-heun’s Failan (2001) featured Choi Min-sik as a hapless thug who develops feelings for his shame immigrant wife (Cecilia Chung) following her death. The film did away with the gloss and style we often associate with gangster films and instead focused on a bizarre relationship which in many ways acted as a path of redemption for Choi’s character. Similarly, Yang Ik-june’s Breathless (2009) followed a gruff and violent money collector in a rundown neighborhood who develops an odd friendship with a high school girl (played by Kim Kkottbi) that could become his salvation.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

KCN: Sundance Welcomes Korean Filmmakers, More Awards and Classic Korean Film (11/29-12/05, 2012)

More festival selections and awards this week, a lot of news relating to Park Chan-wook projects in the US and a raft of reviews as the new Korean Cinema Today webzine goes live (which yours truly contributed to).


The Weight Wins Best Director at India Film Fest
Following a Best Director win last week at the Tallin Black Nights Film Festival, Jeon Kyu-hwan has once again struck gold (or rather silver) as his new feature The Weight earned him a Silver Peacock award for best director at the International Film Festival of India. The award came with a cash prize of INR 1.5 million (USD 27,600). Meanwhile, local film Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan picked up the Golden Peacock for best film. The 43rd IFFI, which ran from November 20th to 30th, screened around 300 films. (KoBiz, December 4, 2012)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Miss Conspirator (미쓰 GO, Misseu Go) 2012

By Rex Baylon

Being an avid fan of anything, be it a film, a band, or an author’s work, comes at a price; a gnawing hunger to consume our drug regardless of the social, mental, and financial toll it might take. Aside from that overwhelming desire there is also a parallel drive to feel something new for a work that we have poured our heads and hearts wholeheartedly into. This soon breeds insular personalities who operate in a fantasy world where in our mind’s eye we hear Philip Glass's score from the Qatsi trilogy being played as we engage in the most banal of rituals like writing an e-mail or waiting for the bus.

For agoraphobic Chun Soo-roo (Ko Hyeon-jeong) her world is the heightened reality of the crime genre. A dual world of cops and robbers, heists, capers, and double and triple crosses, where money switches hands faster than henchmen switch sides. A farewell goodbye to a friend at the airport becomes the elaborate setup for a great story. However menacing serial killers and rabid gangsters do not populate these dark alleyways. Instead, director Park Chul-kwan borrows more from Ocean's Eleven (The original Sinatra version as well as the Soderbergh remakes) and Catch Me If You Can (2002) than from gritty crime dramas like The Yellow Sea (2010) or Nameless Gangster (2012). From the inspired faux-retro Saul Bass-inspired title sequences to the klezmer heavy score Miss Conspirator (2012) is a movie built firmly on the clichés of suspense pictures. Of course as any student of the genre knows there is no better master of suspense then Alfred Hitchcock, who invented the grammar of suspense for film.

Monday, December 3, 2012

KBO: The Controversial 26 Years Shoots to the Top (11/30-12/02, 2012)

The Controversial 26 Years Shoots to the Top

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 26 Years 11/29/12 32.80% 663,704 803,186 609
2 Rise of the Guardians (us) 11/29/12 15.00% 277,161 361,738 472
3 Werewolf Boy 10/31/12 12.80% 265,304 6,519,784 415
4 Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (us) 11/15/12 10.70% 220,160 2,390,761 351
5 Confession of Murder 11/8/12 9.10% 176,703 2,471,307 315
6 Don't Cry Mommy 11/22/12 6.60% 136,890 883,290 339
7 Tone Deaf Clinic 11/29/12 5.90% 127,304 206,344 361
8 Masquerade 9/13/12 2.50% 54,186 12,167,317 128
9 National Security 11/22/12 1.50% 31,110 305,802 216
10 Trouble With the Curve (us) 11/29/12 0.50% 11,261 17,225 129