Monday, April 29, 2013

Korean Box Office: Iron Man 3 Has Gargantuan Debut (04/26-04/28, 2013)

There was only one game in town this weekend as the blockbuster Iron Man 3 almost set a new opening weekend record (currently held by Transformers 2). It was slim pickings for everything else. Total business powered to 2.63 million (up from 2.09 in 2012) and the local market was all but non-existent, failing to reach 10%, a lot lower than the 27% recorded last year when The Avengers opened.

New Korean Films: A Sexy Nap (2013 Week 17)

(by Fabien Schneider)

Dream Affection 2
(몽정애 2 - 기막힌 상상)

Jae-hoon, a man who recently resigned from his job, runs out of money. He is haunted in his dreams by a mysterious woman. Three women, Yuki, and Yujin Mini, do not feel secure enough in their apartment and are looking for a male roommate to help them. Jae-hoon finds this ad and respond only for the expectation of living with three beautiful women.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jeonju 2013: Lebanon Emotion (레바논 감정, 2013)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 14th Jeonju International Film Festival.

In the world of cinema, things aren’t always as they seem. A film presents itself to us in a certain way, its details on screen carefully selected by its director. The new Korean film Lebanon Emotion takes a risky approach with its narrative. It puts forward two main characters, immediately giving us a few details concerning their recent past. Beyond this, however, their backstories remain clouded and it becomes clear early on that the story may largely be allegorical. Mystery and surprise are among the most potent elements of any narrative, but too much (or too early) and they can have an adverse effect.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Jeonju 2013: Cheer Up Mr. Lee (힘내세요, 병헌씨, 2012)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 14th Jeonju International Film Festival.

If you watch a lot of films, it’s hard not to get at least a little excited when a new film about filmmaking comes along. While not a golden recipe for surefire success, the subgenre yields a surprisingly strong crop of works, in part due to their self-deprecating nature. The Woodman and the Rain, This Is Not a Film and The Woman in the Septic Tank are among the many recent films to successfully go down this route. Not to mention that the old adage holds, you should write about what you know.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jeonju 2013: Groggy Summer (그로기 썸어, 2013)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 14th Jeonju International Film Festival.

As viewers, sometimes we take for granted the decisions made by filmmakers that affect their works. A lot is decided in pre-production and one particularly important element is a film’s shooting style. Outside of a few highly stylized works, the language that a film’s crew uses to tell a story is remarkably similar from film to film. A wide establishing shot opens a scene, mid-shots introduce characters and relationships, and close-ups get down to the nitty gritty of details and emotions. In fact, we’ve become so accustomed to this style of shooting that anything else is jarring.

UDINE 2013: How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자 사용설명서, 2013)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 15th Udine Far East Film Festival.

Being one of the more tired genres to litter the multiplexes, every so often romantic comedies need a little boost to remind us that they can be worthwhile. Out of all of the national industries that regularly churn them out, this seems to happen the most often in Korean cinema. Many western film viewers were introduced to the country’s cinematic output through the contemporary classic My Sassy Girl (2001), which launched the careers of both Jeon Ji-hyun (The Thieves) and Cha Tae-hyun (Speedy Scandal, 2008).

Jeonju 2013: December (디셈버, 2013)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 14th Jeonju International Film Festival.

These days, in a bid to stand out from a crowded field, a lot of young filmmakers experiment with their chronologies. While there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with form, it’s very important to have a strong narrative before playing around with it. Jeonju competition film December follows this trend, but does it get away it?

UDINE 2013: The Thieves (도둑들, 2012)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 15th Udine Far East Film Festival.

The most anticipated Korean film of the year, with its dazzling cast and international locations, opened late last month and has since become the biggest domestic box office behemoth in years. The Thieves, Choi Dong-hoon’s fourth feature, following The Big Swindle (2004), Tazza: The High Rollers (2006), and Woochi: The Taoist Wizard (2009), is his most ambitious yet. It is a vibrant and complex heist movie with one of the most high profile casts ever assembled for a local production.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

UDINE 2013: A Muse (은교, Eungyo, 2012)

No Muse-poet grows conscious of the Muse except by experience of a woman in whom the Goddess is to some degree resident…A Muse-poet falls in love, absolutely, and his true love is for him the embodiment of the Muse... But the real, perpetually obsessed Muse-poet distinguishes between the Goddess as manifest in the supreme power, glory, wisdom, and love of woman, and the individual woman whom the Goddess may make her instrument... The Goddess abides; and perhaps he will again have knowledge of her through his experience of another woman...”

-       Robert Graves

Monday, April 22, 2013

UDINE 2013: Divorce, Korean Style: All About My Wife (내 아내의 모든 것, 2012)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 15th Udine Far East Film Festival.

(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.

UDINE 2013: An Ambitious Korean Gangster Film: New World (신세계, 2013)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 15th Udine Far East Film Festival.

Ever since I discovered Korean cinema, I’ve been a fan of the industry’s frequent experimentations with genre. Almost every film that comes out of the country seems to be an amalgamation of different tropes but there is one genre that has remained for the most part untouched: the gangster film. When Korean filmmakers decide to make a gangster film, they tend to leave experimentation aside and instead look to emulate some of world cinema’s most beloved criminal narratives.

UDINE 2013: A Gothic Fantasy: A Werewolf Boy (늑대소년, 2012)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 15th Udine Far East Film Festival.

(by Rex Baylon)

Of all the film cultures in the world that embrace the ideals of romantic love it is only in South Korea where the connection between the ghosts of the past, the shifting of the seasons, and the tragic melodramatic love story can exist and thrive. While the French may have their amour fou, the Italians and Spanish their unbridled passion, and the Americans their once witty rom-coms South Korea has, for over a decade now, been cornering the market on never-can-be romances. If one were to retrace the genesis of this popular genre you wouldn’t need to go further back than 2002 with the broadcast of Winter Sonata on television screens all over the peninsula. Part of the Endless Love quadrilogy of stories that charted the ups and downs of a couple who meet in adolescence, were separated by some uncontrollable force, reunited later in adulthood, and then depending on the whims of nature and the show’s producer would either come back together again or be painfully ripped apart from one another.

UDINE 2013: National Security (남영동1985, 2012)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 15th Udine Far East Film Festival.

Corruption, injustice and terror have always been a sad reality of politics. Over the years, many filmmakers have gone to great lengths (sometimes even putting their lives in peril) in a bid to give a voice to the victims of political malfeasance and to shed light on the frequently covered-up truths within the halls of power. Notable examples include Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (1966) and Costa-Gavras’ Z (1969). Among the pantheon of political works it is true that those that endure are the ones that shock; works that can elicit an audible gasp from audience members. However, a filmmaker must be careful not to go too far and should also pay due consideration to narrative and filmic requirements when presenting a politically charged narrative on screen.

Korean Box Office: Just Hanging Around - Holdovers Repeat During Slow Weekend (04/19-04/21, 2013)

With no new releases able to catch fire this week, box office was down significantly. With only 1.2 million admissions, this was the lowest attended weekend of the year to date by a margin. Local films, of which there are a number playing, were just shy of a majority with a 48% market share. With spring finally arriving in Korea after a particularly long winter, locals were keener to go outside and see the cherry blossoms than to venture into a dark theater.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

UDINE 2013: The Berlin File (베를린, 2013)

Part of MKC's coverage of the 15th Udine Far East Film Festival.

From North By Northwest (1959) all the way to Tinker Sailor Soldier Spy (2011), spy thrillers have long captured the imagination of filmgoers. Over time they have become more elaborate and their appeal has led to a number of blockbuster franchises. James Bond recently celebrated his most successful outing with the chart-topping Skyfall while both the Mission Impossible and Bourne series have also stirred up some serious business.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Korean Box Office: Cruise Knocks Out Fists of Legend (04/12-04/14, 2013)

It was a close battle for first place this weekend but it one of the most world's reliable box office properties won out in the end. Admissions stayed flat with both last week and last year at 1.55 million. Despite two Hollywood blockbusters in the top 4, the local market still dominated with 55% of all sales.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

New Korean Films: Punching Bags and Mannequins (2013 Week 15)

(by Fabien Schneider)

Fists of Legend
(전설 의 주먹)


A producer of a television fighting contest, Kyu-Min, is seeking amateurs to compete against professional athletes. She tries to persuade Lim Duk-Kyu, the tenant of a noodle restaurant, but he only agrees reluctantly because he needs the prize money to compensate the hospitalization of a girl her daughter beat up. He doesn't know yet that Kyu-Min has also fetched two of his high school friends for the competition.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

An Early Korean Youth Film: Early Rain (초우, Chou) 1966

The aftermath of World War II brought about a quick change in social values, which reevaluated the needs and lifestyles of youths around the world. In the US, James Dean and Elvis Presley captured the imagination of millions of young Americans in search of a new identity. A similar thing happened in Japan with the rapid modernization of a strict society that had recently undergone a shameful loss in the Pacific Theatre. Social roles were changing and up and coming directors such as Suzuki Seijun and Oshima Nagisa were taping into a youth culture of revolt that began to brew in the late 1950s.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Korean Box Office: Running Man Quick Off the Mark (04/05-04/07, 2013)

Business remained on par with last year in the slow spring season as theaters sold just over 1.6 million tickets. With only one significant foreign film making an impact at the Korean box office, the local market share stood at 60%, half of which came from the frame's big new release.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Lack of Focus Hinders An Ethics Lesson (분노의 윤리학, Boonnoeui yoonrihak) 2013

Ensemble casts and high concept scripts seems to be all the rage these days in Korean cinema and An Ethics Lesson, billed as an erotic thriller, is the latest addition to this trend. But as wonderful as Korea's multi-genre concoctions have been in the past, these days, in an effort to push the enveloped ever further, there has arisen a disturbing trend of films which, through the application of an all but the kitchen sink approach, have become whitewashed and bland.

Friday, April 5, 2013

New Korean Films: US Companies Rush In (2013 Week 14)

(by Fabien Schneider)

Running Man

The one and only dream of Cha Jong-woo is to raise enough money to live under the same roof with his 17-year old son, who resulted from a youthful indiscretion. This is why he works in a garage by day and spends his nights as a taxi driver. One day, he suddenly realizes that that the rich client he was driving to his destination has been murdered, not understanding how this could have happen. By bad intuition, he decides to flee, and thus the next day becomes the prime suspect. Meanwhile, his son, not believing the news, is trying to find out what really happened.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Korean Box Office: G.I. Joe 2 Wipes Out the Competition (03/29-03/31, 2013)

G.I. Joe 2 Wipes out the Competition

Spring is in the air following a long winter and as a result Korea's multiplexes saw a dip in admissions. Hollywood took back the top spot during the weakest frame in quite some time as only 1.64 million tickets were sold. Moreover, due to the new foreign number 1, only 42% of admissions were occupied by local releases. Following a huge winter for the Korean film industry the outlook for local productions is a bit weaker for the coming months as people will enjoy the great weather before the sweltering summer will force them back into the theaters.