Showing posts with label new york. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new york. Show all posts

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.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

More NYAFF Goodness!!!

Okay, so with the first NYAFF trivia contest announced yesterday and the deadline for that fast approaching MKC has a treat for all you Ryoo Seung-Wan fans in the New York area. This year Subway Cinema not only managed to score a print for the director's latest film The Berlin File as well as his 2010 crime epic The Unjust but they're also going to screen the director's martial arts fantasy film Arahan.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The 3rd 'Yeonghwa: Korean Cinema Today' at MoMA - Preview

New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is kicking off its 3rd edition of Yeonghwa: Korean Cinema Today tomorrow and the event, which features an eclectic array of arthouse and commerical films until its conclusion at the end of the month. Our US correspondent Peter Gutierrez offers up his views on a trio of featured works below (Helpless, Mirage, and A Fish) while I've chimed in with my own two cents on the new Lee Sang-woo film Fire in Hell.

More reviews will appear over the coming days and anyone in NY should do their best to check out this great event. The wonderful lineup, which includes In Another Country, Blind, Pink, Stateless Things, Jesus Hospital, Poongsan, From Seoul to Varanasi and some Shin Sang-ok films, can be viewed in full by following the below link:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

6th Annual Korean American Film Festival Preview

Next week, from June 5th to 10th, the 6th Annual Korean American Film Festival, which boasts a lineup of nine features and 20 shorts will take place in New York.  One of the highlights in the lineup is Magic and Loss, a feature that premiered at the Busan Film Festival in 2010 and features Korean indie stars Yang Ik-june (Breathless, 2009) and Kim Kkobbi (Life Is Peachy, 2011).

Given the changing landscape of cross-cultural cinema, events such as these, especially those that take a broad view on a diaspora's influence on global culture, are becoming increasingly important.  As such, the 6th KAFFNY, just as in previous years, promises to highlight the connections between very different cinematic global communities by showcasing a broad and eclectic array of independent cinema.  Only wish I was in New York myself to take part!

Below is a full press release on the event:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Oki's Movie (옥희의 영화, Ok-hee-eui Yeong-hwa) 2010

“Let's just read. In such a rotten world only books will save us.”

This line of dialogue, which is spoken early in Oki’s Movie and follows shortly after the statement “Film as an art is dead,” might lower audience expectations if it weren’t delivered with such devastating irony.  With its goofy directness it thoroughly disarms, and so has the opposite effect:  we feel drawn to a film that pokes fun not only at filmmaking but at all our personal and cultural aspirations for the medium.  Let’s start by acknowledging that “the movies” are a sham, writer-director Hong Sang-soo seems to be saying – only then can we hope to redeem them, and ourselves, in even the smallest way.

In this sense, Hong continues to play with the metafilmic approach he’s been using for a while; just check out 2005’s Tale of Cinema, which, like this 2010 film that’s only now getting a U.S. release, announces its cinema-centrism in its very title.  Oki’s Movie is structured as a kind of theme-and-variations piece via four mini-movies, each of which is drolly introduced with a modest credit sequence rendered grandiose by the addition of Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance.”  At the center of it all is Lee Seon-gyoon, who plays both a burnt-out yet arrogant director and, later, the same character as a lovelorn student filmmaker.  Similarly, Moon Seong-geun plays a trusted mentor, a shady professor, and a romantic rival who actually turns out to be surprisingly sympathetic.  As Oki, the engaging Jeong Yu-mi seems to get less screen time than the two men in her life yet that fits her slightly enigmatic status.  So although the movie that she’s made is presented only in the final 16 minutes, it’s a quiet tour de force that brings together all that came before.

With its shifting perspectives and gently fractured narrative, Oki’s Movie might give the impression of being just another overly cerebral arthouse exercise.  But such an assessment would be off the mark for one simple reason:  it’s consistently, jaw-droppingly hilarious.  No, the humor isn’t broad, and in fact it’s so deadpan that it may prompt a double-take or two – wait, was that supposed to be funny?  While in some of Hong’s other films there’s more ambiguity as to his seriousness at any given moment, Oki’s Movie never lets up in its satire of academia, indie filmmaking, romance, and the manners associated with all three.  In short, if audiences can’t tell that the film is funny, and fully intends to be, then they probably won’t know what to make of it.  Sure, some of the laughs derive from the “humor of the uncomfortable” school, and there’s an Oscar Wilde-like gravity lurking behind the wit.  Hong not only winks at us, but winks at us regarding his winks.  Finally, although lead Lee Seon-gyoon has been in some comedies, it might not be obvious at first that here he’s playing perfectly against his screen persona as a handsome-and-capable leading man (Paju had been released just the previous year, in 2009) by, basically, portraying an intellectual jackass.

Yet for an intellectual jackass he says some pretty insightful things – insightful as to Hong’s own artistic credo, that is.  For example, here’s Lee’s character holding forth at a typical Q&A with a public audience in a screening room:

"My film is similar to the process of meeting people.  You meet someone and get an impression, and make a judgment with that.  But tomorrow you might discover different things.  I hope my film can be similar in complexity to a living thing."

He continues by pointing out how filmmakers have incorrectly been taught to value theme above all else.  "Starting with a theme will make it all veer to one point," he explains, and suddenly we grasp part of Hong’s strategy in this and in his other films.

The problem is, Oki’s Movie definitely does have a theme, albeit one that surfaces gradually and which Hong almost always presents with a light touch.  It concerns the way that passion, for better or worse, can break through all that is false about modern life:  alienation, regimentation, even our own pretenses.  But to realize that passion on a consistent basis – either in terms of romance or filmmaking (which is a stand-in for art and creativity generally) – some form of power seems to be required, whether it’s money, professional credentials, or personal reputation.  And that’s where the trouble starts, as a disproportionate concern for such things can also come to undermine our ability to feel passion with any authenticity.

In conclusion, I don’t want to sound too over-the-top but I’m very grateful that someone like Hong Sang-soo is in his creative prime these days, and that cinephiles have a chance to catch his work on the big screen even if it’s somewhat belatedly.  In fact, if you’re lucky enough to live in or near New York, I’d advise seeing Oki and the equally wonderful The Day He Arrives in as close to a back-to-back fashion as you can.  If you do, afterwards you’ll likely find yourself walking about in a kind of waking dream – disoriented but strangely elated at the same time.  

Oki's Movie will be having a special one week in engagement in New York at the Maysles Theatre from 04/16-04/22.  It will presented as part of the bi-monthly series, 'Documentary in Bloom: New Films Presented by Livia Bloom.'

Peter Gutiérrez, a U.S. correspondent for MKC, writes for Twitch and blogs on pop culture for School Library Journal.

Reviews and features on Korean film appear regularly on Modern Korean Cinema.  For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Review Round-up, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (GMT+1).

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fest Preview: New York Korean Film Festival 2012

(by Peter Gutiérrez)

It’s probably a testament to the output and quality of the Korean film industry that here in New York we’re gearing up for NYKFF 2012 a scant five months after the similar Yeonghwa: Korean Film Today series, also a project of The Korea Society.

With this tenth edition of the fest, the programmers have, as in years past, done a terrific job of showing off Korea’s startling range of populist cinema.  The lineup itself may not be vast, with only seven titles screening over three days, but the accessible mix of genres and styles makes the event perfect for both newbies and veteran fans who want to catch some rare big-screen presentations of several recent hits.  Here’s a quick rundown of all that lies in store…


Forget about the "chick flick" vibe as reflected in the poster, title, and maybe any plot summary you've read of this film – or maybe don't forget about it but instead allow any preconceived notions about the themes and tone of your typical chick flick simply to melt away.  Yes, the maudlin, cancer-patient set-up is not promising, but fortunately most of the runtime is devoted to extended flashbacks of a very winning group of young actresses... and mostly they're just involved in a series of engaging confrontations with a rival pack of school girls.  One of these occurs against a backdrop of a full-scale political riot, and soon becomes exhilarating in the way that only the best set pieces can.  Consistently humorous, Sunny is pure, unaffected fun; so good and so refreshing that it made me recall why I love Korean cinema in the first place.

The Servant

At first it may seem a bit odd to showcase a 2010 film that’s been readily available to North American audiences via Netflix Instant since last year, but such an opinion would ignore the chief reason to see Kim Dae-woo’s grand romance: its overwhelming, practically swoon-inducing, visual beauty.  Indeed, the combined efforts of art direction, cinematography, and costume design to achieve unforgettably vivid images projected in a larger-than-life format should provide sufficient motivation to travel to Brooklyn – or anywhere else.  For better or worse, though, its sheer gorgeousness may be The Servant’s main virtue despite its many moments of disarming comedy and a few effective shocks.  Retelling “The Tale of Chunhyang” with a mix of period intrigue and modern-day bluntness, especially when it comes to matters sexual, certainly increases the potential audience for such a film but the uneasy meshing of tones and sensibilities didn’t always work for me.  More importantly, the film only partly strikes the air of high tragedy it’s aiming for – although it could be that I’m judging it a bit unfairly by comparing it to similar Korean films of the past decade: in my experience Hollywood romances are seldom this ambitious and thoughtful.


With a delicious air of slow-building menace and mystery, punctuated with sudden jolts of violence, Moss consistently delivers in the chills-and-thrills department.  Ultimately, however, its climax (after two and half hours) lacks the majestic, perhaps mind-bending, revelations we’ve been expecting, whether spiritual in nature per the film’s themes or simply on the order of a deeply satisfying plot twist.  Still, there are ample pleasures to be had here.  Jeong Jae-young memorably plays the same character in both a young, abrasive, and corrupt version and as an older, still corrupt, but vastly smoother incarnation that recalls John Huston in Chinatown (1974)… except Huston wasn’t acting 30 years beyond his actual age.  All in all, though, I much prefer the following film, made by pretty much the same creative team, in terms of providing a rewarding cinematic experience.


I'm not big on feel-good movies, to put it mildly, and sports flicks have an annoying tendency to be formulaic, but this one really stands out from the crowd.  Jeong Jae-young, one of my favorite Korean actors, nails the lead role as a disgraced ballplayer but to his credit does not overshadow the fine supporting cast.  Kudos to director Kang Woo-suk for pulling this off as well as all the tonal shifts that a dramedy of this type demands – that Kang is at the same time showing off his own impressive versatility after the dark, usually urban films that have earned him so much box office success probably goes without saying.  Rhymes with: the 2011 Oscar-nominated American documentary Undefeated.


I’m rounding my assessment up from a fail to a mere disappointment simply because, for my money, Song Kang-ho is one of the world's great stars and carries several scenes just by waiting a beat and then smiling.  To a certain degree one can overlook the empty glossiness of production and equally shallow sentimentalism – those often come with the territory if one is expecting a multi-genre, popcorn-fueled blockbuster.  In other words, I would have been very happy with another Secret Reunion (2010).  Of course it's fine that here we have a romantic subtext instead of bromantic one, but what's not fine is how undercooked it is and how anemic the action scenes are on top of that.  As an example of how neither angle works, I submit this image: an undeniably cute and appealing Shin Se-kyung takes aim with a high-powered rifle but then director Lee Hyun-seung has her gently bite her lower lip in hesitation.  If you feel this sort of thing adds extra dimension to female characters or more heft to dramatic tension, knock yourself out, but I found Hindsight hard to take seriously after this point.  The same was true following two scenes in which the leads separately endure the kind of physical assault that would land the rest of us in traction but from which they bounce back so quickly that it's as if the characters themselves had stunt doubles.


Quick is a film that doesn't take itself very seriously and all the ingredients are there for a heady summer cocktail of speed, flash and pyrotechnics but at the end of the day it's just too much.  The story is cluttered and there are too many ingredients thrown in to please any and all comers, such as k-pop, gangsters, biker gangs, youth violence, washboard abs, scantily clad women, inefficient police, romance and of course melodrama.  However, one you thing you can almost always count on with Korean films is strong production values and true to form director Jo Beom-goo's team is no slouch in the SFX department. At the end of the day this comedy-action film has a little something for everyone but perhaps not enough for anyone.  (Pierce Conran)

Late Autumn

A second remake of the classic Lee Man-hui film of 1966, following one from 1981, and not to be confused with Yasujiro Ozu's 1960 film of the same name, Late Autumn is the third feature from the excellent Kim Tae-yong, who previously helmed Memento Mori (1999) and Family Ties (2006).  The film stars Chinese beauty Tang Wei as an imprisoned woman on a three-day furlough to attend her mother's funeral in Seattle and Korean heartthrob Hyun Bin as a man on the run.  The film kicked off a long series of international film festival engagements in Toronto and has subsequently been featured at Busan, Berlin, Jeonju, London, Hong Kong, and many more.  It has also been awarded several times, most notably by the same jury that gave its top prize to Poetry at the Fribourg International Film Festival last March.  (Pierce Conran)

Peter Gutiérrez writes for Twitch and School Library Journal, and can be counted on for too-frequent film and pop culture updates on Twitter via @Peter_Gutierrez.

Reviews and features on Korean film appear regularly on Modern Korean Cinema.  For film news, external reviews, and box office analysis, take a look at the Korean Box Office UpdateKorean Cinema News and the Weekly Review Round-up, which appear weekly on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings (GMT+1).

To keep up with the best in Korean film you can sign up to our RSS Feed, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.