Thursday, February 5, 2015

New Korean Films: Tellement bon! (2015 Week 5)

C'est si bon

By Fabien Schneider

At the end of the 60s, the “C’est si bon” music hall was the place where new trends in folk music were created. Every night, young people would gather there to discover the new hits of tomorrow, while many rookie artists would go on stage to put their songs to the test. Among them are Yoon Hyeong-Joo, “The Diabolic Sweet Voice”, and Song Chang-Sik, “The Gifted Musical Genius”, in competition with each other since the time they met. The manager of “C’est si bon” decides to introduce them with the trio that would take the name of his music hall. To fill the gap of the third musician, the producer hires Oh Geun-tae, a guy from Tongyeong, on the Southern coast, who has never played a guitar yet but has a wonderful baritone voice. Of course, the early days of this band are difficult, but when they all fall in love with Ja-young, they suddenly find the inspiration to write love songs.

For those who know me personally, you may already know about my fascination for the good old days of the Korean music scene. It has reached the point where I dedicated my master thesis to that matter. That’s why I could write so many things about the cultural context of that time, and how I’m excited with this film, but I’ll try to confine myself to the essential. The story is actually based on the story of the duo “Twin Folio” that Song Chang-Sik and Yoon Hyeong-Joo formed. They became the first Korean folk artists to break through, at a time when President Park Chung-Hee’s politics was targeting the pervasive influence of rock music (which meant banning long hair for men and short skirts for women). The plot of this movie assumes that there was initially a third member to the legendary group and that some events led him to be pushed aside. The story is going back and forth in time, showing us their early days as well as what they became 20 years later. Does this concept remind you of something? Right, it seems quite similar to Sunny (2011): a generational flick enriched with nostalgia through romantic goggles and much loved songs.

This could end up in a formulaic affair if it wasn’t for the director Kim Hyun-Seok. He’s the one who wrote and directed a favorite romcom of mine, Cyrano Agency (2010), which elegantly avoided clichés. He also made an interesting period film, Scout (2007), and also was one of the screenwriters of the much-acclaimed JSA (2000). The casting is top-notch, with well-known and talented actors coming from films and TV dramas. This includes Kim Yun-Seok (Haemoo) as the older Oh Geun-tae, famous TV dramas actors Jung Woo (Reply 1994, 2013) and Kang Ha-neul (Angel Eyes) as two of the young musicians, and Han Hyo-joo (Cold Eyes, 2013) as the muse of the band. The only unfamiliar face is Jo Bok-Rae, in the role of Song Chang-Sik, who has only appeared in supporting roles so far. So, everything seems to be in place for success at the box-office. The only drawback is that a prominent controversy involving Han Hyo-Joo’s brother (concerning his having bullied a fellow airman toward suicide) recently triggered a boycott of everything related to the actress, which is already severely hampering this movie (the netizens are already flooding its webpages with negative comments).

(This movie will be screened this weekend with English subtitles at CGV Sinchon, CGV Yeouido, CGV Yonsgan and Cine de Chef)

The Basement Satellite

(망원동 인공위성)

Song Ho-joon is an artist who is trying to build in his basement a satellite of his own that he plans to send into space. But to get the finances needed for his crazy project, he launched a crowdfunding operation which offered T-shirts to backers.

You may have seen the name of Song Ho-joon in the news, as the crazy artist who has created the Open Satellite Initiative, his project to create a satellite all by himself. This engineer actually spent many years on the research only, and contacted many specialists around the world. He made his machine only from components found on shopping websites and scraps recuperated from dumped appliances. This way, he managed to build his device for only 500’000 won (about $500), but the cost of launching was obviously much higher. Kim Hyeong-joo is making his debut as a director, and his effort has been quite appreciated by Korean critics. This movie will be get a fair distribution in the country, mainly in indie theaters in big cities, and I guess that with this kind of subject the movie may also have a second life in schools and universities around the world.

Watch the Korean trailer here.

The Strong & Mini Special Forces: The Attack of a New Villain
(최강전사 미니특공대 : 새로운 악당의 습격)

Among the animals of the Bluebell Village live in secret the members of the Strong & Mini Special Forces. Each of them has a special aptitude: Bolt has incredible speed, Sammy has the best jump, Max is the most powerful, and Lucy is an ace in defense. Together, they defend the frailer animals from Nine and Pascal. One day, Pascal gets brainwashed by Jody, an alien who can duplicate anything. Jody plans to destroy the happiness of Bluebell Village and make its peaceful inhabitants cry.

Like many other TV shows popular with kids, this animated series started last year in September is getting its own theatrical treatment, to capitalize on its huge fan-base and get what they want from their parents. The trailer doesn’t even hide this fact, as one of the characters urges the children to already book tickets and annoyingly shouts “let’s go watch it, quick, quick!”. The Strong & Mini Special Forces appears to be a show featuring at the same time cute animals and badass robots that seem to rip off Transformers. Not the most exciting animated feature getting released this year, far from it.

Watch the Korean trailer here.

New Korean Films is a weekly feature which provide an in-depth look at new local releases in Korea. For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Korean Reviews, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (Korean Standard Time). Reviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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1 comment:

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