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Korean 83, Imported Total admissions: They are listed in the order of their release. Feathers in the Wind Sometimes small-scale, informal projects can liberate a director. Without the pressure and weighty expectations involved in producing a major work, inspiration flows freely and the result is an even more accomplished piece of art.
This may have been what happened with Git by Song Il-gon, the director of Flower Island , Spider Forest , and various award-winning short films including The Picnic Git was originally commissioned as a minute segment of the digital omnibus film 1.
As an omnibus work, 1. But if Song betrayed the spirit of the omnibus project, he remained true to the needs of his film. While staying on a remote southern island off Jeju-do, he and his girlfriend of the time agreed to come back and meet at the same motel exactly ten years in the future.
Now, years after breaking up, he returns to the small island named Biyang-do, wondering if his ex-girlfriend will remember their appointment. As he waits, the pressures of his work life start to recede, and he becomes acquainted with the young woman who runs the motel.
Named Lee So-yeon played by -- sure enough -- actress Lee So-yeon of Untold Scandal , the woman is twelve years his junior, and possesses an unusual energy and enthusiasm. Although the general path followed by the plot is pretty straightforward, Song leads us down many odd and fascinating detours. A peacock appears on the island, with no clear explanation or motivation. And the tango, a very un-Korean pasttime, makes a striking appearance in the film.
Git which means either a triangular flag or "feather" in Korean is surprising in several respects. One is that such a low-budget film looks so good visually. In Flower Island, Song showed an unusual talent for the aesthetics of digital cinema, but here he takes it one step further. To capture a natural setting so well on a medium that often feels cold and sterile is an unusual accomplishment.
The relaxed, convincing performances of the actors also deserve notice. Lee So-yeon makes her slightly thin character memorable through considerable screen presence, while Jang Hyun-seong of independent films Nabi and Rewind gives the performance of his career.
In a year that has been lacking in unexpected discoveries, Git is an exciting find. At its rousing premiere at the Green Film Festival in Seoul, a prominent Korean film critic told me it may be the best romance Korea has ever produced. One hopes that it will be liberated from the other two segments of 1. At 70 minutes, it is a perfectly respectable length for a stand-alone feature film, and this is a movie that deserves to travel.
Darcy Paquet Marathon There was a lot going on in the world of Korean film at the beginning of The collapse of the PiFan Film Festival was a hot topic and the hype surrounding the impending release of Another Public Enemy was overwhelming.
Almost missed among all that was a quiet film directed by a virtual unknown but starring the talented Jo Seung-woo. That all changed however, after Marathon had its press screening. It was reported immediately after in numerous newspapers that the journalists in attendance applauded long and hard following the press screening and that most of them were in tears. The question and answer session with the director and lead actors that was held after the showing went on for much longer than anyone was accustomed to.
Most questions had to do with how Jo Seung-woo was able to convincingly take on the role of an autistic young man. What followed next was a powerful nine-week run in the domestic box office where the film eventually went on to gather more than 5 million viewers. Although it did open in the number two seat slightly behind Another Public Enemy, word of mouth soon launched it into the number one position during its second week.
More and more newspapers began to compare its success with that of another sleeper hit, The Way Home, but Marathon soon out-performed that movie as well. Much of the credit for the success of Marathon falls squarely on the shoulders of Jo Seung-woo. His performance is worthy of the considerable praise that has been heaped on it.
Jo convincingly becomes Cho-won, a young man born with autism. In his younger days, Cho-won was prone to tantrums and violence against himself, but the special school his mother enrolled him in and the different athletic activities she taught him eventually helped Cho-won to cope with the world around him. After he takes third place in a 10km marathon, his mother sets her goals for her son to run a full km marathon in under four hours.
However, it is uncertain whether or not Cho-won shares her dreams or if he is just doing what he is told because, as his brother puts it, he is incapable of rebelling against his mother. Kim Mi-sook does an outstanding job as a mother spurred on to never give up on her son, through a mixture of fiercely defensive love and an enormous amount of guilt.
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Her obsession to make up for her past failings with Cho-won lead her to virtually ignore the needs of the rest of her family, which succeeds in driving them away emotionally and physically.
When asked by a swimming instructor if she has any wish for herself, she replies that she wishes to die a day after Cho-won. Kyeong-suk believes if that were to happen, she would be able to take care of her son for his entire life, but her motives for saying that are later thrown back in her face, and she is accused of needing Cho-won to stay with her more than her son needs her.
Mentioned at the end of the movie is the fact that the characters of Cho-won and his mother are based on real people. Cho-won was inspired by Bae Hyeong-jin.
He has since gone on to become somewhat of a celebrity, appearing on talk shows and even having a line of TV commercials with SK Telecom. Bae is an accomplished athlete and many of the events of his childhood are depicted accurately on screen. His mother involved him in many physical activities which he seemed to enjoy as a form of therapy, and had him keep a journal. It is from here that the misspelled Korean title of the movie originated.
While he had directed a couple of short films prior to Marathon, the last being in , Jeong had more recently worked as an editor for the film Three and as an art director for Wonderful Days. After this emotionally-charged runaway hit, it seems likely that we will be seeing more from him in the near future. The film itself has got somewhat lost in the controversy surrounding its release, at which time a judge from the Seoul Central Court ordered that four minutes of documentary footage be removed, since it might "confuse" viewers as to what is fact and what is fiction.
Many have viewed Last Bang as a bit of character assassination aimed at the late President Park. An observant reader on the Koreanfilm. The most offensive bits may actually sneak past the radar of many foreign viewers: Personally, I love the George Bush analogy and I agree that director Im was out to settle a few scores with the many admirers of the former president.
If that were the case, there would be no reason to structure the film in the unusual way it is put together. As much of the plot is devoted to what happens after the event, as to what comes before. The unusual structure has opened Last Bang up to criticism, with many maintaining that the work loses its energy or focus in the second half. The result for me, however, is to make it much more of a thinking film than an emotional film. And I maintain that there is enough going on here to justify it as an object of study.
I should also note here in fairness to the director that the documentary footage that is meant to be screened over the end credits does pack a complex emotional punch. I read Last Bang as a film about history. Of course, it covers a specific historical incident, and also tries to capture the mindset of an authoritarian nation the press kit calls it a film about "when a military society turns the gun on itself".
But most of all, this is a film about a small group of individuals who consciously decide to change history. To what extent can an individual, or a small group of people, really do that?
This is what I think the movie is asking. The process of unleashing change is portrayed as being unexpectedly simple. Im Sang-soo brings the events of this famous night down to a very human level, through evocative details concerning the many personalities involved, and through his liberal use of black humor a perfect antidote to the chest-thumping heroism we see in other Korean films based on history.
Thus, the final act that brings down the Park era comes across as being quite matter-of-fact. An individual can set loose the forces of history, but cannot control them. Those who are familiar with Korean history will know that Park may have made his exit on that night, but the oppressive military dictatorship lived on in another form.
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Every sentence uttered by Baek resonates beyond its immediate context, and his actions embody a prototype that reappears in many guises throughout history. Three cheers to Im Sang-soo. Now, the only work remaining is to get this film back from its censors.
Godspeed to the appeals process. Jeong-hye is neither autistic nor misanthropic: It is only that she is perfectly happy with remaining in the background of the hustle-bustle of Korean city life.
She adopts a lovely kitten. Finally, a chance encounter with a troubled young man Seo Dong-won leads her toward an attempt to address a long-repressed trauma. Director Lee Yoon-ki shows a commendable discipline in keeping his hands largely invisible.
It is no mean feat to capture the characters in intimate, unguarded moments with handheld camera but to keep the stance non-intrusive, which is what Lee accomplishes here. When I first saw the film, I pegged Kim to be a newcomer with only a theatrical background: Not only does she not break the rhythm of her performance against extreme long takes and close ups, that reveal minute abrasions and scars in her face, she also makes Jeong-hye absolutely believable in her hesitation and withdrawal, without making her neurotic or eccentric.
When it does happen, the "revelation" is inevitably disappointing in its predictability. We live in a world where cinema verite takes of sweaty, gymnastic sex or of characters languorously inhaling cigarettes with vacant eyes automatically cue us that they are meant to be serious "art" films.
Here, they said, was a uniquely talented director with a hard-edged, innovative style who could breathe new life into the aesthetics of independent-minded cinema. He pointed to his goofy internet short Dazimawa Lee as much more in keeping with his innate style. Sure enough, his next two features, No Blood No Tears and Arahan were more obviously structured around genre cinema, though he dissected and blended genre archetypes in fascinating ways.
Critics, their expectations confounded, were unimpressed, particularly with Arahan. When will you stop fooling around and make something serious, they seemed to be asking.
Much of the film concentrates on the day-to-day experiences of two unrelated men, and contains almost nothing in the way of genre elements. His past glory worth almost nothing in the present day, he has found a creative but strenuous way to earn money: In the meantime, his disintegrating marriage places great strain on both wife and husband, not to mention their young son. Yu Sang-hwan Ryoo Seung-beom is a delinquent from a crumbling neighborhood who gets by on committing petty theft and harassing students.
His relationship with his father, younger brother and grandmother is tenuous at best. One day his life is turned upside down, and like Tae-shik, he reaches the nadir of his existence.