Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Revenge Week: Fatal Femininity, Masochistic Masculinity - The Films of Kim Ki-young

Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013).

“If the national cinema aesthetics of Korea are characterized by the thematic motifs of han (pent-up grief), mise-en-scenes of rural mountainous landscapes, and understated emotions that are frequently projected in the works of Shin Sang-ok and Im Kwon-Taek, Kim Ki-yong is a filmmaker who falls completely outside this framework.”

-       Kyung Hyun Kim

Words like baroque, surrealistic, erotic and horror get bandied around a lot when talking about Kim Ki-young. Though his status as an auteur and place in the Korean cinema pantheon is secure there remains a lot to be discussed about his films. Within the realm of the revenge narrative his films are unique creations tapping into our fears about family and the cultural upheavals caused by modernity. Returning to the same themes, character archetypes, storylines and images, Kim was obsessed with placing impotent men, bratty children, scorned women and matriarchs under one roof and seeing the weak and the strong clash with one another. Although not as violent as a lot of the current Korean revenge, crime and horror pictures they are nonetheless emotionally jarring and claustrophobic.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Revenge Week: Trailers of Revenge! Day 2

Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013). This daily series comes courtesy of Tom Giammarco, the author of the Seen in Jeonju website, surely one of the best resources for information on classic Korean cinema on the web. Enjoy!

Over the past couple of days, I have been browsing through a huge number of revenge movies and I was left with two observations. The first is that I really needed to make a working definition of what a revenge movie is to better weed through the literally hundreds of possibilities I was looking at. The second observation was that it seemed to me that the majority of films, with the major exception of the imitation Hong Kong kung fu films, the person seeking revenge was, more often than not, a woman... at least in revenge films made before the year 2000.

Revenge Week: 26 Years - The Ultimate Revenge Narrative

Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013). This is not a new piece but it just seemed too a propos not to include.

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.

Revenge Week: Seeing Devils - Violence and Revenge in Kim Jee-woon’s I Saw the Devil (Part I)

Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013). 

By David Bell

Spectacles of violence are an important aspect of modern cinema. At times they shock and appal us, at others they attract and excite. Often they are the most memorable moments of a film. To mention Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy (2003) is to remind those, who have seen it, instantly of a man slicing off his own tongue. Our uneasy relationship to screen violence can be traced from the very genesis of cinema. Thomas Edison’s 1903 film Electrocuting an Elephant showed simply that – a scene of violence, the public electrocution of an elephant. That same year Edwin S. Porter took steps with The Great Train Robbery to bring the two cinematic aspects of narrative and violence effortlessly together. Today, spectacles of violence are regularly where cinema is found at its most visceral; where the reality of our corporeal bodies is brought into line with those of the characters on screen. In some instances, it can be deeply uncomfortable; in others, massively pleasurable.

Revenge Week: Top 10 Korean Revenge Films

Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013). 

Korean cinema may not only be a purveyor of revenge fare but there's no denying the country's particular flair for churning out gripping vengeance-fuelled narratives. However, unlike gangster fare or romcoms, revenge films are a little harder to identify, especially when it comes to making a list like this. Outside of a few obvious contenders, it took a lot of ground work and research before even writing a word, as, again and again, I had to keep asking myself "does this count as a revenge film"?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Revenge Week: Trailers of Revenge! Day 1

Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013). This daily series comes courtesy of Tom Giammarco, the author of the Seen in Jeonju website, surely one of the best resources for information on classic Korean cinema on the web. Enjoy!

If you have ever read my blog, you know that I really prefer to focus on older Korean movies. When I heard about REVENGE WEEK, I initially thought I would track down some older movies with a revenge themed plot and write about them, and I still may. However, I was sidetracked by another thought. While trying to locate an appropriate film, I stumbled across a trailer for one of the movies I was considering – Janus, Lady of Fire.  In this 1987 film directed by Kim Seong-soo, (not the Kim Seong-soo still directing today), Eun-ji arrives early at a cabin where she will be meeting her soon-to-be husband but is gang-raped while waiting for him. Upon recovering, she sets out to seek out her attackers and kills them one by one in creative ways. However, before dying, one of the rapists confesses that they had been hired by her boyfriend so Eun-ji gets herself a gun and sets out to commit one final killing.

Revenge Week: A Dish Best Served Cold

Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013).

It is a popular assertion in drama and literature that revenge is a violent action committed to gain justice for a wronged party. Hamlet kills his uncle for murdering his father, the 47 ronin in the Chushingura devised an elaborate plan to avenge their fallen daimyo and the Old Testament gave us the old acorn “An eye for an eye”. Yet while this simplistic dictum has fueled many vendettas from around the world and throughout time there is never any peace for those involved. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man inherits nothing but a charred and ruined kingdom.

Revenge Week: Introduction - Seeds of Revenge

Part of MKC's Revenge Week (July 8-14, 2013).

One of the most popular trends in cinema across the world, revenge is a powerful device that triggers audience empathy and can be a great excuse to indulge in exploitation on the screen. Far be it from merely being a contrivance to allow for bloody genre cinema, the why of revenge often stretches beyond the theater. Society and history, not to mention personal expression, have led to the construction of many revenge narratives in cinema. Vengeance can take on many forms and its depiction can be a force of good, evil or any shade of grey in between. 

Revenge Week Begins!

Welcome to Revenge Week on Modern Korean Cinema! We are very excited to be featuring lots of new and exciting content from MKC team members and many new contributors throughout the next seven days as we seek to explore the bountiful theme of revenge in Korean cinema.

This page will serve as homebase for all the accumulated content that goes up during the week so please bookmark or check back to keep up with all the great stuff coming up over the next few days.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Final NYAFF Contest

Hey New Yorkers!! We hope you're enjoying all the goodies at NYAFF. Sadly though, all good things must come to an end and here at Modern Korean Cinema our Trivia Contest must officially close. For our fourth and final trivia contest contestants get a chance to win one ticket to a screening of Juvenile Offender, an arthouse drama about a troubled teen's reunion with his mother after abandoning him 17 years ago. The screening will occur on July 11th at 6 pm. As usual. all you have to do is answer the trivia question and send it to [email protected] before noon on the day of screening. Good like and good movie.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

New Korean Films: These Are Watching You (2013 Week 27)

Cold Eyes

The Special Crime Department of the Korean police is led by Hwang Sang-jun, a detective who tracks down criminals thanks to his instinct. A new recruit, Ha Yoon-ju, who demonstrates an exceptional memory and sense of observation, joins his team. Both they must work as a team to capture a dangerous robbing organization headed by the cautious and very discreet "James."

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

NYAFF Continues On!!

Okay, so now that NYAFF is underway and our first two trivia contests have finished. Congratulations to Matthew Kiernan, Jacky Caguicla, Avi Avital, and Talia Meisel for answering the trivia questions correctly and we hope that you enjoyed your movie. Now for our third contest the prize will be a ticket for the 2:15 pm screening of The Peach Tree on July 9th.