Friday, August 3, 2012

Weekly Review Round-up (07/28-08/03, 2012)

It's been a few weeks since the Weekly Review Roundups have been up but I've gone back and added them all now. Lots of PiFan reviews of course and plenty more!

I also wanted to take a moment to say that I will be a little more selective about what appears on WRR from now on. Up until now I've been happy to feature anything on Korean film as long as it was legible but over time I've come across some major outlets that don't always present honest opinions. I'm not here to name and shame but I have removed a few sources from my list that I believe do not respect their audience by giving false opinions for ulterior purposes. Anyway, shouldn't change much going forward!

Thanks for reading and WRR should be back to its weekly status for the foreseeable future.



(Seongyong's Private Place, July 28, 2012)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

PiFan 2012: Super Virgin (숫호구, Suthogoo) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 16th Puchon International Film Festival.

What is it that draws us time and again to narratives following socially-awkward men who are trying to lose their virginity? My first thought was that these provide a vicarious thrill for male cinema-goers but actually, these films tend to draw crowds across the gender divide. Judd Apatow recognized this and harnessed the phenomenon into global hits with The 40 Year-Old Virgin (surely one of the most self-explanatory film titles of all time) and Superbad, which were equally successful with men and women when they were released.

Super Virgin, which had it’s world premiere at this year’s PiFan, is a Korean ultra low-budget film about the 30-year-old Won Jun, who is idling away his life in Incheon with his equally directionless friends.  He’s portly, awkward and sports some unbecoming spectacles, in short he’s a virgin and there doesn’t seem to be much hope for him. A cute girl moves to town and he falls for her but what can he do? By chance, he is abducted by a scientist who wants him to test ride his new invention. This scientist has created a sex avatar that he claims has been tweaked to instantly attract every woman who will cross his path. Following a long night of drinking and a bout of despondency, Won Jun agrees to the experiment and it works like a charm. But when he uses his new avatar to woo the girl he likes things become complicated, as ironically he can no longer be a match for himself.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Korean Cinema News (07/26-08/01, 2012)

Another abbreviated KCN due to PiFan coverage but nonetheless soe important Venice announcements, interviews and box office history in the making!


SICAF 2012: Animation Event in Korea
Local press covering this year's Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Fest (SICAF) frequently touted diversity, among other program elements, as the event's primary commendation. This year marks the sixteenth edition of the annual comics and cartoons showcase, and although animation screened in competition has traditionally come in from all over the globe, the festival's confident mix of emotional, adult films and seasoned children's fare produced a rather unique schedule. SICAF 2012(July 18-22, 2012) concluded last week. (Animation Insider, July 30, 2012)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

PiFan 2012: Over My Dead Body (시체가 돌아왔다, Sichega Dolawassda) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 16th Puchon International Film Festival.

Comedy is a curious beast even at the best of times. Across the world’s national film industries, thrillers, horrors, romances and action films share many common elements, while comedy tends to be fall in line with indigenously codes. I’ve said it before but it bears mentioning again: for foreign viewers, Korean comedies are a tricky proposition. Dialogue-based humor is often lost in translation and societal quirks, idiomatic expressions, customs and cultural references further complicate our relationship with these works.

My knowledge of Korean is steadily rising (and had a big bump during PiFan) so I’m starting to see things that I may have missed out on before and Over My Dead Body, which was presented in the World Fantastic Cinema section is proof of this but still doesn’t convince me that comedy is a forte of Korean cinema. It’s another of the many high-concept, mid-budget and low-brow comedy-thrillers that the industry has been churning out for some time. Having exploited certain generic combos, like the gangster-romance comedies (Marrying the Mafia and My Wife Is a Gangster), to the point of depletion, comedy writers have gotten into a habit of concocting increasingly outrageous premises in the hopes of eliciting laughs through the sheer absurdity of their narratives.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

KBO: The Thieves Steals First Place in Grand Fashion (07/27-07/29, 2012)

The Thieves Steals First Place in Grand Fashion

Apologies for this abbreviated Box Office Report, all updates were suspended while MKC covered the 16th PiFan.

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 The Thieves 7/25/12 55.30% 2,004,178 2,866,802 1,073
2 The Dark Knight Rises (us) 7/19/12 25.30% 891,004 4,256,255 807
3 Ice Age 4 (us) 7/25/12 10.60% 359,122 470,762 501
4 Horror Stories 7/25/12 2.60% 91,890 141,071 274
5 Deranged 7/5/12 2.00% 75,898 4,411,340 261
6 Detective Conan (jp) 7/19/12 1.70% 72,203 329,882 211
7 Doraeman (jp) 7/25/12 1.10% 45,187 58,340 180
8 The Amazing Spiderman (us) 6/28/12 0.30% 9,572 4,840,651 45
9 Midnight in Paris (us) 7/5/12 0.20% 8,143 293,979 38
10 SeoTaiji Record of the 8th 7/27/12 0.20% 5,326 5,326 1

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Korean Cinema News (07/19-07/25, 2012)

An abbreviated KCN as I am was away covering this year's PiFan.


Korean Film Invited to Venice’s Independent Section
Director Jeon Kyu-hwan’s feature-length film The Weight has been included in the line-up of the Venice Film Festival’s autonomous sidebar section, the movie’s distributor Fine Cut said. Jeon, whose previous works include Berlinale-featured Varanasi and Dance Town, has become the first Korean director to be invited to the Venice Days competition program. The sidebar is widely considered to be the equivalent of Cannes Director’s Fortnight. (The Korea Herald, July 25, 2012)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

PiFan 2012: Horror Stories (무서운 이야기, Nooseowoon Iyagi) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 16th Puchon International Film Festival.

Omnibus horrors seem to be all the rage at this year's PiFan, with the inclusion of the much-ballyhooed V/H/S and the Indonesian ghost offering Hi5teria (not to be confused with period British vibrator comedy Histeria, which is also in competition). But the one with the highest profile this year was the Korean Horror Stories, which served as the event's opening film.

A group of talented filmmakers, most of whom are prominent genre filmmakers, were assembled for this production which many hoped would breath some life back into Korean horror cinema. Of late, K-horrors have been increasingly disappointing and the consensus is that there hasn't been a good example since the excellent Possessed (2009). Hopes were high for last year's trio of summer Korean horror offerings (the traditional season for the genre) but White: the Melody of the Curse, The Cat and Ghastly all failed to impress despite their potential.

Monday, July 23, 2012

PiFan 2012: 90 Minutes (90분, 90-boon) 2012

Part of MKC's coverage of the 16th Puchon International Film Festival.

It’s a rare thing to sit down to a film and know just from the opening shot how bad it’s going to be. Sadly this was the case for me at the world premiere of 90 Minutes, a new low-budget Korean revenge thriller. Whether it was the poor framing, choppy editing or thin premise I couldn’t say.

A good-looking commercials director is living in the fast lane and every door seems to open for him until one day when, following a late afternoon tryst with a high-class hooker, he finds himself blackmailed by this femme fatale who has recorded their rendez-vous. He must now follow her commands for 90 minutes if he wants to escape with his life and career intact.

It’s a simple plot that in the right hands and with a bit of creativity might have yielded an interesting, if modest thriller. In director Park Sun-wook ‘s hands however, it becomes an unwieldy and illogical mess. The film’s first mistake is that it takes a full 40 minutes to get things going. The excessive exposition introduces us to a plethora of unlikeable characters, none of whom change throughout the narrative.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

KBO: The Dark Knight Rises to First (07/20-07/22, 2012)

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 The Dark Knight Rises (us) 7/19/12 65.30% 1,992,182 2,434,011 1,210
2 Deranged 7/5/12 15.70% 495,156 4,172,904 534
3 Detective Conan (jp) 7/19/12 5.40% 190,413 204,496 350
4 The Amazing Spiderman (us) 6/28/12 6.30% 189,839 4,779,673 357
5 The 5-Million Dollar Man 7/19/12 2.00% 63,943 79,794 328
6 Two Moons 7/12/12 1.80% 59,429 398,617 238
7 A Letter to Momo (jp) 7/5/12 0.90% 30,825 294,196 109
8 Midnight in Paris (us) 7/5/12 0.90% 25,588 268,136 92
9 Madagascar 3 (us) 6/6/12 0.40% 11,434 1,621,890 52
10 Dangerously Excited 7/12/12 0.20% 7,429 214,080 95

Thursday, July 19, 2012

PiFan 2012: Bloody Fight in Iron-Rock Valley (철암계곡의 혈투, Cheolhamgyegokeui Hyeotoo) 2011

Part of MKC's coverage of the 16th Puchon International Film Festival. Though this film was presented at last year's event (where it picked up two awards), I thought it would be a suitable way to kick off the coverage of this year's event.

Low-budget filmmakers love to dabble in genre fare and, despite inexperience and other shortcomings, they often wind up making more pertinent and exciting works than more established helmers, who may have lost their youthful filmmaking pizzazz. Horror is particularly popular for budding cineastes: it is cheap; relatively simple; and offers many opportunities for experimentation. Sci-fi, though trickier, has also been thoroughly mined by young filmmakers. Westerns on the other hand are among the hardest genre films to realize.

Film lovers are drawn to this genre and it is no surprise. Its sweeping vistas, epic stories and enduring iconoclasm remain popular among directors looking to make their mark. However, this is a difficult feat to accomplish. First of all westerns are visually demanding and feature the type of careful attention to mise-en-scene that requires time, effort and money. Other genres can cut back on this in certain ways, especially horror, but not the western. The next thing and perhaps the hardest, is striking the right balance and tone. Horror and sci-fi films, depending on their angle, may not need to be taken seriously, but a western will sink or swim on its ability to properly engage a viewer and for a neophyte in the director’s chair, this is often too much to ask for.