Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk rarely uses the same leading actors twice in his movies. For his follow-up to last year’s Moebius, he decided to cast K-Drama star Park Ki-woong. Kim’s new movie is called Made in China and co-starring with Park is the lovely Han Chae-ah. So that’s a Bridal Mask reunion then? Should be good. According to Park’s agency: “After being cast, Park Ki Woong has analyzed his character in detail from hairstyle to costume and is working hard to perfectly become Chen”. Yep, sounds like though work. Continue reading
*Warning: Spoilers, Sex & Sadism Inside*
A young man (Seo Young-ju) witnesses how his father (Jo Jae-hyeon) cheats on his mother (Lee Eun-woo). The mother knows her husband is cheating on her. So she tries to castrate him as he’s sleeping, but he wakes up in time. She decides to castrate her son instead. After that the son approaches his father’s lover (Lee Eun-woo), but he can’t have sex with her (for obvious reasons). Meanwhile his guilt-ridden father researches penis transplant opportunities on the web, as well as alternative ways for him to have an orgasm. There’s a possibility his son might have a working penis again. So the father he decides to evirate himself and donate his sex organ. Unfortunately, the son’s new genitalia only seem to respond to his mother. Continue reading
Yes, this is a beauty contest. It’s not about the overall quality of the film. This is just about the look of the film. So mostly the way it was shot, the cinematography, the framing, the camera angles, the film stock, the sets, the costumes, the actors, the makeup, the landscapes. In short: The visuals. I know this may sound shallow, but if movies are primarily a visual medium after all. The aesthetic qualities of a film are where a lot of our enjoyment of a film comes from, whether we pay attention to it or not. The great thing about it is that you don’t really have to explain it: The picture speaks for itself. Continue reading
Yeo-jin (Kwak Ji-min) and Jae-yeong (Han Yeo-reum) are two South Korean teenage girls. Best friends forever. They’re trying to save up money for a trip to Europe. To raise enough money Jae-yeong is prostituting herself, while Yeo-jin acts are her “pimp”. Things start to get out of hand when the police raids the motel where Jae-yeong is entertaining one of her clients. To escape the police she decides to jump out of a window, against her better judgment and Yeo-jin begging her not to do it. As Jae-yeong lays dying on the hospital bed her last wish is to see one of her clients. Continue reading
Some weeks I just don’t feel like watching a whole lot of movies. Last week was one of those rare weeks. What happened? Nothing. I was feeling a bit sad for whatever reasons, so I didn’t feel like watching movies. Yeah, I know that sounds weird. Also I started the week off with a bad film and then tried to watch something else, but didn’t even finish it. Oh, and I also started watching Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Decalogue, which I highly recommend. So anyway, here are a couple thoughts on the three films I watched.
This Girl’s Life (2003) – 5 (IMDb 5.7) – Drama (USA)
Sometimes a movie misses the mark by so much it’s not even funny. This film was supposed to be about a porn actress and her life. As thrilling as that may sound the movie is devoid of anything titillating, sexy or even vaguely entertaining. There’s no real story, which is not a problem per se, but if you don’t care about the main character it can become a bit boring. James Woods is the only good thing about this film. His performance is so charming, but not even he can save the film from its unfocussed and convoluted storytelling. What else can I say? I was let down by this film. I was expecting a critical look at the porn industry, instead this film almost glorifies the business. I’m sure if you’re a huge porn star you have more autonomy and “choice”, but to make it seem like it’s all roses and flowers is a bit too naive for me. In short: This film is a waste of time. Lots of unnecessary subplots that lead nowhere, no balls or sense of ethics and zero idea of the concept of artistic integrity.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Identification of a Woman (1982) – 7.5 (IMDb 6.8) – Drama, Romance, Criterion (Italy)
Much like with Federico Fellini, my favorite Michelangelo Antonioni films are the black & white ones (though Red Desert of course is fantastic). Of the later half of his career though I have to say this is probably one of his best works. The film is about a director who falls in love with a woman, but someone doesn’t want them to be together. Just like most of his films stuff doesn’t get resolved. Everything remains a mystery. Who threatens them? Why? Who is this woman? I really liked this film. It’s gorgeous to look at, like every Antonioni film. It has a splendid cast, like every Antonioni film. And it’s deliberately paced, just like every Antonioni film needs to be. Once again it’s one of those movies you can’t really explain to people, you have to see them, experience them, live them. The best part about this film is the very ending. I always admire a bold ending and this one is definitely one of the best endings I’ve seen in a long time. It’s enigmatic, quiet, yet so incredibly powerful. Highly recommended.
The Bow (2005) – 8.5 (IMDb 7.1) – Drama, Romance (South Korea)
A sixty year old fisherman (Jeon Seong-hwang) lives on a boat in the middle of the ocean with an almost seventeen year old girl (Han Yeo-reum). The old man has been raising her for ten years. She has never left the boat ever since he found her. The old man plans to marry her on her seventeenth birthday, which is only a couple months away. Everything seems to be going well for them. They make a living by renting out their boat to fishermen and telling their fortune in a rather risky ritual that involves a bow. As a matter of fact this bow turns out to be a very useful tool and not just to for fortune-telling, but also as a musical instrument and to deter pervy fishermen to touch the girl. One day it all changes. Harmony is broken. A young student (Soo Si-jeok) steps aboard and steals the lovely girl’s heart. Consumed by jealousy the old man tries to anticipate the wedding to avoid losing the girl. Destiny however has something else in store for them. Continue reading
One of my favorite auteurs, a big inspiration for me personally and someone I feel sees storytelling just the way I do. Twisted stories that is. I’m talking of Kim Ki-duk of course. Moebius, his newest film, looks insanely creepy and intense. While not much happened during the first teaser, this second one really brings it.
As always I can set it up as much as I want to and I can try to make it appealing to you, but you just have to see for yourself. The film is currently playing at the 70th Venice Film Festival (out of competition) and I just can’t wait for this film to be released in some way shape or form that we can all have access to it.
Remember that after cutting it several times, Kim is now finally allowed to show the film in Korea, which makes me happy for him and everyone involved in the making of the film. I do hope we get a director’s cut at some point and I do hope (Swiss) cinemas will show this film, because so far there’s no news on that.
The Korean Media Rating Board (KMRB) just doesn’t want to let Kim Ki-duk release his new film Moebius. After cutting 21 scenes in hopes to release the film in South Korea, the KMRB voted once more the film be restricted from inland cinemas. The KMRB described Moebius as “terrifying and harmful to underage audiences,” depicting “unethical and unsocial expressions of sexual activity between immediate family members”.
The South Korean auteur, is returning to Venice with Moebius (out of competition), after winning the Golden Lion last year for his critically acclaimed film Pietà. The good news is that Kim showed his new film to critics, journalists and industry professionals and 87% of them would approve to show the film in South Korea. Unfortunately, it isn’t up to them to decide, but it is great to hear that the film is considered so good that the violence in it is almost secondary. It sounds like another quality film from the director. At least that’s how people who really know something about cinema are reasoning, what goes on in the minds of the KMRB is beyond me. They should be proud to have an internationally critically acclaimed director just wanting to show the good work he has done (I’ve never seen a bad Kim Ki-duk film) to his compatriots.
There seems to be at least some good news for the director and the film however, because the company behind it managed to sell the film already for Italy, Germany and Italian- and German-speaking Switzerland. As an Italian I’m very happy and proud of this. Considering that Moebius’ production cost around $1 million it should be easily able to make its money back on the home video market alone, but being someone who cares about art and that many people get to see good art, this has almost become a matter of principles here. I want this film to succeed, because I love Kim and his passion and the people who worked on Moebius deserve to have their work shown in their own country, where they can get the recognition they deserve.
The line-up for the 70th edition of the world’s oldest film festival was announced today. Some of my favorite directors are showing off their new work at the festival this year like: Kim Ki-Duk, Lukas Moodysson and Sono Sion. There’s even a new Coppola: Gia (Sofia’s niece, the daughter of her deceased brother Gio) presenting her debut feature Palo Alto, hopefully joining the ranks of her other family members as an accomplished member of the industry.
The Rooftops dir. Merzak Allouache (Algeria, France)
L’intrepido dir. Gianni Amelio (Italy)
Miss Violence dir. Alexandros Avranas (Greece)
Tracks dir. John Curran (UK, Australia)
Via Castellana Bandiera dir. Emma Dante (Italy, Switzerland, France)
Tom at the Farm dir. Xavier Dolan (Canada, France)
Child of God dir. James Franco (USA)
Philomena dir. Stephen Frears (UK)
La Jalousie dir. Philippe Garrel (France)
The Zero Theorem dir. Terry Gilliam (UK, USA)
Ana Arabia dir. Amos Gitai (Israel, France)
Under the Skin dir. Jonathan Glazer (UK, USA)
Joe dir. David Gordon Green (USA)
The Police Officer’s Wife dir. Philip Groning (Germany)
Kaze tachinu dir. Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)
The Unknown Known: the Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld dir. Errol Morris (USA)
Night Moves dir. Kelly Reichardt (USA)
Sacro GRA dir. Gianfranco Rosi (Italy)
Stray Dogs dir. Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan-France)
OUT OF COMPETITION
Space Pirate Captain Harlock dir. Aramaki Shinji (Japan)
Gravity dir. Alfonso Cuaron (USA)
Moebius dir. Kim Ki-duk (South Korea)
Locke dir. Steven Knight (UK)
Unforgiven dir. Lee Sang-Il (Japan)
Wolf Creek 2 dir. Greg McLean (Australia)
Home from Home — Chronicle of a Vision dir. Edgar Reitz (Germany)
The Canyons dir. Paul Schrader (U.S.)
Che strano chiamarsi Federico Scola racconta Fellini dir. Ettore Scola (Italy)
Walesa. Man of Hope dir. Andrzej Wajda & Ewa Brodzka (Poland)
OUT OF COMPETITION — DOCUMENTARIES
Summer 82 When Zappa Came to Sicily dir. Salvo Cuccia (Italy, USA)
Pine Ridge dir. Anna Eborn (Denmark)
The Armstrong Lie Alex Gibney (U.S.)
Ukraine Is Not Brothel dir. Kitty Green (Australia)
Amazonia dir. Thierry Ragobert (France-Brazil)
Til Madness Do Us Apart dir. Wang Bing (Hong Kong, China, France, Japan)
At Berkeley dir. Frederick Wiseman (USA)
Je m’appelle Hmmm… dir. Agnes B. (France)
Little Brother dir. Serik Aprymov (Kazakhstan)
Il terzo tempo dir. Enrico Maria Artale (Italy)
Eastern Boys dir. Robin Campillo (France)
Palo Alto dir. Gia Coppola (U.S.)
Ruin dir. Amiel Courtin-Wilson & Michael Cody (Australia)
Fish and Cat dir. Shahram Mokri (Iran)
We Are the Best! dir. Lukas Moodysson (Sweden-Denmark)
Wolfschildren dir. Rick Ostermann (Germany)
La vida despues dir. David Pablos (Mexico)
Algunas Chicas dir. Santiago Palavecino (Argentina)
Medeas dir. Andrea Pallaoro (USA, Italy)
Still Life dir. Uberto Pasolini (UK)
Piccola Patria dir. Alessandro Rossetto (Italy)
La prima neve dir. Andrea Segre (Italy)
Why Don’t You Play in Hell? dir. Sono Sion (Japan)
The Sacrament dir. Ti West (USA)
Other interesting films could be The Sacrament, from horror director Ti West, David Gordon Green’s new film Joe (in competition) and documentary on Federico Fellini by Ettore Scola. I’m probably not anticipating the same films that most people are, because of my snobbish tastes, so what are you looking forward to?
Now on to the good part. Literally. Oh, and there’s quite a few to discuss.
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Man of Steel (2013) – 7.5 (IMDb 7.8) – Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi (USA)
Under The Tuscan Sun (2002) – 7 (IMDb 6.6) – Comedy, Romance, Drama (USA)
This little ‘romcom’ starring Diane Lane looking for love in the lush Italian countryside is a charming little film. It has just about the right amount of everything: Comedy, romance and drama. It manages to pay homage to our greatest filmmaker Federico Fellini (or Fe’Fe’, as the only annoying character in this film calls him). Raoul Bova, our own movie star, shows up in the part of the clichéd heartthrob (I’d call him a douche bag, but hey). It’s a hopeful, sweet film. Above average for this kind of film, like way better than something like Letters to Juliet. The best part is definitely Diane Lane and the gorgeous scenery (is there a difference?). It is a bit expected and kind of predictable, but still a fun time: Especially the first two acts. I laughed, I cried. Recommended.
3-Iron (2004) – 9.5 (IMDb 8) – Crime, Drama, Romance (South Korea)
Unfaithful (2002) – 7 (IMDb 6.6) – Drama, Romance, Thriller (USA)
Another Diane Lane film, I was kind of on a kick after loving her in Man of Steel so much, that woman has aged better than any Hollywood actress. Anyway, Unfaithful is, you guessed it, about a woman betraying her husband. The interesting thing is how she doesn’t seem to have any apparent reason to do so. He seems to love her, they have a kid, everything is fine in little suburbia. However, humans always want something more. We’re never happy! Damn us. But seriously, this is a good drama, because it shows how cheating on your partner causes pain for everyone involved. Here they take it one step further, no spoilers, but it’s a good film, because most films would stop at showing us the sexy part of cheating (and there is a bit of that), but here they also wanted to show the regret and that’s an ugly feeling. Not many filmmakers have had the guts to go this deep, I applaud this film for trying something new although it is a bit preachy now that I think of it. Still a good film especially if you like Diane Lane and Richard Gere.
Play It Again, Sam (1972) – 7 (IMDb 7.6) – Comedy, Romance (USA)
Play It Again, Sam was only written by Woody Allen and directed by some other guy, but who are we kidding: This is very much a Woody Allen film. He co-stars in it with his muse Diane Keaton and it’s very much his sense of humor and a typical story exploring the same topics Woody has explored throughout his career: Love, art and death. Actually, there isn’t much talk of death in this film, but still. Short plot summary: After Sam (Woody Allen) is left by his wife his friends push him back into dating, but no woman seems good enough for him. Ironically, it turns out that the woman trying to set him up is the woman he wanted all along (Diane Keaton’s character), but of course she is married to his best friend (Tony Roberts). Throughout a series of gags and screwball/slapstick humor Woody Allen is trying to figure out how to be a man, with the help of his imaginary friend Humphrey Bogart.
That’s it for my weekly re-cap this week. If you have films you want to recommend, go ahead. If not, see you next week. Bye!