Thursday, February 28, 2013

New Korean Films: Meta-Narratives and Binge Drinking (2013 Week 9)

(by Fabien Schneider)

The program for this week looks quite unique, with only two new films, but two independent productions that both have many similarities: they were screened in the Berlinale this month, and propose experiments with narrative. Nothing that could shake the top of the current box office of course, but it will be interesting to see which of these two movies will get the most endorsement from the public.

Nobody's Daughter Haewon  (누구 아닌 해원)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Divorce, Korean Style: All About My Wife (내 아내의 모든 것, Nae Anaeui Modeun Geot) 2012

(by Rex Baylon)

There used to be a time when America was known as a manufacturing giant. In agriculture, electronics, and automobile design America seemed not to have any contenders. With regards to film, Hollywood was the first and last word when it came to cinema. Even as the US began its slow decline, the soft power of American cinema never seemed to waver even through all the social upheaval of the twentieth century; while presidents came and went, one hit wonders rose and fell, and wars were won or lost, Hollywood never lost its luster in the eyes of foreign and domestic audiences.

Monday, February 25, 2013

For Eternal Hearts (별빛 속으로, Byeolbit Sokeuro) 2007

(by refresh_daemon)

There is an almost early Korean New Wave sensibility to the storytelling of For Eternal Hearts with its loose, observant narrative, that gives it an almost art-film like aesthetic, but the film's rather forced and self-cancelling narrative fails to build any significant dramatic tension, even despite throwing in several twists, to elevate this romance-less supernatural romance film from its murky story and visuals.

It all starts with a German literature professor, Hyeon Suyeong (Jeong Jin-yeong), who runs into a classroom full of students who ask him to recount his first love. He then tells of how as a young man (Jeong Gyeong-ho), he was taken by a spunky fellow student, nicknamed Pippi (Kim Gyu-ri), but shortly after he meets her, she commits suicide following a few cryptic comments about following love into death. However, shortly after her death, Suyeong starts seeing Pippi and she leads him to a job tutoring a high school student, Suji (Cha Su-yeon), who is instantly infatuated by Suyeong, but things are not what they seem.

KBO: Close Race as New World Beats Miracle (02/22-02/24, 2013)

Close Race as New World Beats Miracle

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 New World 13/02/21 35.50% 860,754 1,038,890 671
2 Miracle in Cell No.7 13/01/23 33.10% 855,942 10,386,785 667
3 The Berlin File 13/01/30 12.00% 303,727 6,608,013 440
4 An Ethics Lesson 13/02/21 4.30% 104,494 145,437 302
5 Delhi Safari (In) 13/02/21 3.30% 90,837 110,358 289
6 How to Use Guys With Secret Tips 13/02/14 2.10% 56,007 454,704 223
7 The Giant King (us/th) 13/02/21 1.80% 52,646 66,897 228
8 A Good Day to Die Hard (us) 13/02/06 1.60% 40,442 1,422,089 169
9 The Last Stand (us) 13/02/21 1.40% 34,220 44,280 296
10 Marco Makaco (de) 13/02/14 0.80% 22,656 159,640 131

Friday, February 22, 2013

Park Chan-wook's Stoker (2013)

Hollywood has a history of cherry-picking the world’s greatest filmmaking talents. Though many greats such as Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau and Roman Polanksi have made some of their finest works on American soil, the same can’t always be said of Asian directors. Besides Ang Lee, most Asian cineastes have had trouble adapting their style to the US. This year all eyes are on a few Korean directors making their Hollywood debuts to see if they can buck the trend.

It’s been a longer wait then usual for Park Chan-wook’s new film and the prospect of him working in the States with internationally recognizable faces has meant that expectations for his latest have been sky high. Unlike Kim Jee-woon, who was forced to work on a very controlled project with his Hollywood debut The Last Stand, Park was given much greater freedom for his film.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

New Korean Films: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (2013 Week 8)

(by Fabien Schneider)

This week will be very bloody and will features many deaths, both within these new films and between them at the box office. Two of the largest distributors in Korea, NEW and Lotte, will each propose a thriller full of promise. And although I will not dwell on this film because technically it isn't Korean, CJ Entertainment is also going to unsheathe The Last Stand by Kim Jee-woon. Three films not allowed for children, three films that seem to have each their strengths and weaknesses. Which one will manage to make it out alive?

New World (신세계)

Monday, February 18, 2013

KBO: Miracle Stays Flat for 4th Straight Weekend (02/15-02/17, 2013)

Miracle Stays Flat for 4th Straight Weekend

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Miracle in Cell No.7 13/01/23 41.20% 1,129,726 8,867,424 721
2 The Berlin File 13/01/30 24.10% 644,456 5,980,252 579
3 A Good Day to Die Hard (us) 13/02/06 7.80% 210,178 1,297,703 329
4 How to Use Guys With Secret Tips 13/02/14 7.40% 200,891 266,891 367
5 Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (us) 13/02/14 5.70% 138,407 177,571 297
6 Marco Makaco (de) 13/02/14 2.90% 88,766 96,848 276
7 South Bound 13/02/06 3.00% 84,070 772,586 240
8 The Snow Queen (ru) 13/02/07 1.90% 58,181 245,463 229
9 Silver Linings Playbook (uk) 13/02/14 1.90% 48,935 70,731 223
10 Pororo: the Racing Adventure 13/01/23 1.10% 30,952 867,20102

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Korean Films: A Wide Variety (2013 Week 7)

(by Fabien Schneider)

This week, compared to last week, is rich with new releases. But with two documentaries, an indie fiction andharmless romantic comedy, The Berlin File and Miracle in Cell Number 7 don't have to worry about their top spots at the box office. At least until next week, when the highly anticipated The New World will climb aboard the stage.

From Seoul to Varanasi (불륜의 시대)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dirty Blood (나쁜 피, Nah-beun pi) 2012

As a society Korea has been slow to change despite its economic growth. At times it can seem like a gigantic, perpetually simmering pot of discontent that seems dangerously close to boiling over. One aspect of Korean society that is often brushed under the carpet is repressed sexuality and while it isn’t something you will encounter much in TV dramas, music and the news, the Korean film industry, of late, has been vocal in its depiction of the widespread abuse that rages through the country. Truth be told, it is often used opportunistically and many of the works in question tread a very fine line.

Dirty Blood is one such film that exists in dangerous territory. While other 2012 features that examined sex crimes in an aggressive fashion, such as Don’t Cry Mommy and Azooma, did so in a relatively black and white fashion. Director Kang Hyo-jin opts to operate in a grey area, much like Lee Don-ku did with his incendiary debut Fatal, also last year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Ultimate Revenge Narrative: 26 Years (26년, 26-nyeon) 2012

Just like anyone else, I come from a country (Ireland) with historical scars that refuse to completely fade away. The sad fact is that these days my connection with my home is tenuous at best. Nevertheless, as we approach the centenary following the Easter Rising of 1916, this terrible event that saw a group a passionate Irishman stand up to their English oppressors, only to be brutally suppressed, is still an indelible part of who I am.

My grandmother (who recently died aged 100) was only four when it happened. It should be ancient history for me: a bygone event that took place in a country I didn't spend much of my youth in and that I don’t easily identify with. Yet somehow, I feel a sense of solidarity with those young men (and a few women) who stood up to an unvanquishable foe in the name of what they felt was right.

KBO: Miracle, Berlin Dominate Lunar New Year Frame (02/08-02/10, 2013)

Miracle, Berlin Dominate Lunar New Year Frame

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Miracle in Cell No. 7 13/01/23 37.10% 1,308,317 6,281,296 802
2 The Berlin File 13/01/30 33.50% 1,153,414 4,181,031 784
3 A Good Day to Die Hard (us) 13/02/06 14.30% 479,370 625,388 458
4 South Bound 13/02/06 8.30% 292,274 402,602 420
5 The Snow Queen (ru) 13/02/07 1.90% 73,355 84,889 311
6 Pororo: the Racing Adventure 13/01/23 1.70% 59,252 756,564 287
7 Monsters Inc. (us) 1/12/20 1.20% 31,377 34,863 173
8 Les Miserables (uk/us) 12/12/19 0.50% 18,153 5,835,054 51
9 Man on the Edge 13/01/09 0.40% 13,499 3,884,380 64
10 Life of Pie (us) 13/01/01 0.20% 4,728 1,568,566 10

Monday, February 11, 2013

Berlinale 2013: Pluto (명왕성, Myeongwangsong) 2012

One of the ten Korean films screening at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival.

Film festivals can be a great place to catch up with big films from established luminaries of world cinema but for the ardent cinephile, the most exciting thing is to make a fresh discovery. With patience and some discerning selecting, you will almost always come away with a few pleasant surprises but, while it is wonderful to stumble upon an accomplished debut or sophomore films from emerging talents in the field, every so often you will see something that gives you a special feeling. It is an unmistakable sense of being part of something new and exciting, in the presence of an artist with raw talent, effortless ability and an intuitive understanding of film. These spine-tingling moments don’t happen at every festival but when they do it makes all the searching worthwhile.

Shin Su-won’s second feature Pluto gave me this feeling. However, before singing too much of its praises, I should say that it is a flawed work. More than the film itself, it is the potential of the director that gave me goosebumps. Without a doubt, Shin is about to be a major player in Korean cinema and could well become a force on the international scene before long.