Tae-suk (Jae Hee) is a lonely biker breaking and entering other people’s houses. He is not a thief: He just lives in their homes and when it’s time to move on, he does. That usually means the owners are back or the place just got old. So whenever that happens he just looks for a new apartment. One day however he decides to crash at a place where one of the inhabitants is still there, only he doesn’t notice her. Sun-hwa (Lee Seung-yeon) is an equally lonely, but lovely, housewife living in a luxurious house with an abusive husband (Kwon Hyuk-ho). Sun-hwa is intrigued when she notices that Tae-suk isn’t there to rob her. She decides to join him in his adventurous lifestyle. What could possibly go wrong? I don’t know, but according to some guy’s law “Anything that can go wrong usually goes wrong”. Continue reading
What a sad day for cinema.
South Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk’s new film Moebius was going to be censored in South Korea unless he made some cuts. Kim submitted a re-cut version, because he aims for a September release of the film in South Korean theaters. The Korean Media Rating Board reserves itself a three month period to re-evaluate Moebius. One minute and twenty seconds, twenty-one incest related scenes had to be trimmed from the director’s cut in hopes to be able to show the film in its own country of origin.
The Golden Lion winning director himself commented: “As a filmmaker [cutting the scenes] is unfortunate, but in a market environment where major movies dominate theaters, I could not give up on this hard-won opportunity for the film to be released”. He also added: “I would be able to share the meaning of my film in overseas markets and film festivals, but emerging actors or staff members that took part in the project need the film to be shown in Korea so they can have the opportunity to become better known”. Kim himself was clearly displeased with the state of artistic freedom in Korea: “In the future, films that need to portray scenes that could be problematic will have to seek working with foreign actors and production companies”.
At least he has a very honorable reason for re-editing. I can definitely appreciate that. It shows he truly cares about his cast and crew. Demonstrating noble character, Kim Ki-duk puts other people first, even before his own art. That is certainly something to admire and respect. I’m sure a lot of self-important and self-abosrbed directors wouldn’t even think about anyone else. In fact I’ll admit that I myself only thought of “what I was going to get”, but that is a very egoist way to reason. So I am still completely on board with Moebius, super excited, I’m sure we’ll get the entire film on home video and I love the man even more than after watching Arirang. He is a good person.
More Moebius related stories
As teased last week I watched a lot of good movies. Some of those I’ve already reviewed, so if you want full-lenght thoughts on them, just click the title. I also had a lot of fun with the short horror films of Tim Buel.
Chicken with Plums (2011) – 7.5 (IMDb 6.9) – Comedy, Drama (France)
Radio Days (1987) – 7 (IMDb 7.5) – Comedy, Drama (USA)
Written & directed by Woody Allen (and featuring his witty voice talents), Radio Days is a nostalgic look at an era in which radio was the dominant media. Made in a time where television substituted the medium, now in turn rendered obsolete by the internet, Woody remembers his childhood and in the most romantic and whimsical way possible. The film is a series of anecdotes and memories connected to radio programs and listening to songs on the radio. At the same time that’s the films only “flaw”: It is unfocused and jumps from bit to bit without presenting a clear narrative or story. But that is a minor criticism, because I’m not one of those that needs a traditional narrative to enjoy a film, here however it takes a little bit to get into and understand what Woody is going for. Once you get it however it’s a satisfying, charming little film.
The Coast Guard (2002) – 7 (IMDb 6.5) – War, Drama (South Korea)
As you may or may not know Kim Ki-duk is one of my favorite filmmakers. The Coast Guard was the only film of his I hadn’t seen yet. The reason being, that I’m not a big fan of war films, unless it invovles crazy nazis. Of course this is not only a war film, but also a Kim Ki-duk film and I’m always on board for that. The Coast Guard is Kim Ki-duk’s Full Metal Jacket (1987), in that it shows the pointlessness of war and how nonsensical the whole notion of it is. Kim injects personal drama and all of his favorite themes into this one turning it into a fascinating character piece and one of the best war films I’ve ever seen. That being said, it’s also a heavy film and definitely not for everyone; but because of its subject matter – North vs. South Korean conflict – it’s a relevant film that I would venture saying has a historical significance. Not my favorite Kim Ki-duk, but definitely worth checking out.
Stoker (2013) – 7 (IMDb 7.2) – Drama, Mystery, Thriller (USA)
V/H/S/2 (2013) – 7 (IMDb 7.1) – Horror Anthology (USA)
‘PICK OF THE WEEK’
Stroszek (1977) – 8.5 (IMDb 7.9) – Comedy, Drama (Germany)
Last week’s favorite film came at the end of the week. Last night I watched Werner Herzog’s Stroszek with my brother, in anticipation of the director being honored for his career at the Locarno Film Festival this summer.
Stroszek is a small masterpiece from the German director, that much like in his 1970 black & white film Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen (Even Dwarfs Started Small), returns to a fascinatingly strange cast of characters. The story follows a drunk street musician and his friends trying to make a new life for themselves in the United States. It is very much a character piece, with a lot of humor and heart, all of which is accompanied by a melancholic and irredimably pessimistic view of humanity which culminates in a triumphantly quiet and perplexing ending. This may all sound artsy fartsy to you, but Stroszek is much more than just a statement from Herzog: It’s a story about the human condition and what it means to be human. How is our life different from that of an animal? How are we, as human beings, different from animals? And is there a thing such as happiness on this sad and lonely earth?
This film tries to answer those questions and is bold in doing so and that’s what makes it such an important essay about humanity. It also helps that Herzog genuinely loves his characters or at least is able to present them in a way that the audience will empathize and root for them. Underscored by some great music and shot beautifully Stroszek is a film that I’m sure will stay with me for a long time and I already can’t wait to re-watch.
After getting some buzz for being banned in South Korea, Kim Ki-duk’s new film Moebius also gets a first teaser trailer. All of the director’s trademarks are present: Great actors, fantastic score and creepy stalking.
Read more about Moebius
New developments on Kim Ki-duk’s Moebius. It looks like the film will be restricted domestically: Except there are no theaters that show “restricted” releases in South Korea. The Korean Media Rating Board announced: “The story and contents of the movie is highly violent, terrifying and harmful to underage audiences. The unethical and unsocial expressions of sexual activity between immediate family members make it only suitable for screening in limited theaters”. At this point Kim Ki-duk’s production company is considering its options: Either re-edit and re-submit the film for a new rating or only exhibit the picture at festivals (which is allowed).
I’m not sure how big of a problem this is going to be for Kim Ki-duk, since he is still able to advertise it and alternatively show it domestically. Also, remember that his films are more financially (and critically) successful in foreign countries and low-budget, so he could still make his money back without compromising his vision. Undoubtedly this is not good news, but if he plays it smart he could turn it into publicity and attract a certain audience keen on violent content.
Meanwhile, the first poster for Moebius is a bit too reminiscent of the one for Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (2011). Hopefully his marketing team steps it up a little and doesn’t give up on this very interesting sounding project.
Here’s a list of the best movies I watched this year so far. My major discovery was South Korean auteur Kim Ki-duk, but I also got to see Krzysztof Kieslowski’s incredible Three Colors trilogy, explore some of Fellini’s lesser known works and further dwell into the fantastic filmography of Swedish national treasure Ingmar Bergman. Ranking them was a difficult task, not my forte, but I can honestly recommend every single one of them.
1) 3-Iron (2004, Kim Ki-duk)
2) Three Colors: Red (1994, Krzysztof Kieslowski)
3) Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring (2003, Kim Ki-duk)
4) Il Bidone (1955, Federico Fellini)
5) Time (2006, Kim Ki-duk)
* Word of advice: Before watching Arirang make sure you’ve seen at least Kim Ki-duk’s most important films, it will get you a greater appreciation for it.
Kim Ki-duk’s new film Moebius will be presented at the 70th Venice Film Festival. The South Korean auteur won the 69th edition of that very festival with his last movie Pietà. Moebius is described as the story of a mother that accidentally injures and fatally wounds her son and her husband castrating himself in order to make amends.
This sounds very much like Kim Ki-duk’s style and I’m sure it will feature his favorite theme of voyeurism and hopefully new inventive tricks on the aesthetic front (possibly better than those ‘zoom effects’ in Pietà). Being a big fan of his work I’m glad to see him back to work so feverishly. I can’t help but wonder if the accident on the set of Dreams has inspired him to do this film. If you want to know more about what happened during the shooting of that movie I highly watching his documentary Arirang, for which he won the Un Certain Regard price in Cannes in 2011.
The festival will take place from the 28. August to the 7. September. Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci was appointed president of the jury.