LKFF Review: 화이: 괴물을 삼킨 아이 (Hwayi: Gwimuleul Samkin Ahyi/Hwayi: A Monster Boy) and Q&A

hwayi 6 Year: 2013
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Director:  Jang Joon-Hwan
Producer: Lee Jung-dong
Screenplay: Park Joo-suk
Cinematography:  Kim Ji-Yong
Soundscore: Mowg
Cast: Kim Yun-Seok, Yeo Jin-Goo, Lee Kyoung-Young, Jang Hyun-Sung, Cho Jin-Woong, Kim Sung-Kyun, Nam Ji-Hyun
Runtime: 125 min
Distribution: N/a
Film’s official website: N/a
Trailer: (Please note that the trailer reveals quite a lot of the plot – you may want to skip it.)

Seen at the 9th London Korean Film Festival. Special thanks go to the LKFF organisers for providing me with a press ticket.

Hwayi, an Oedipal action thriller that falls neatly into its genre as well as into Korean cinema (of the darker kind) more generally, comes as the long-awaited return of director Jang Joon-hwan, who last made a featurelength film in 2003 (지구를 지켜라!/Jigureul Jikyeora!/Save the Green Planet, 2003).

Continue reading “LKFF Review: 화이: 괴물을 삼킨 아이 (Hwayi: Gwimuleul Samkin Ahyi/Hwayi: A Monster Boy) and Q&A”

Not Quite Final Thoughts on the Year of 12 Directors

Year of 12 Directors collage

The Korean Cultural Centre in London (aka the KCCUK) gave Korean cinephiles a special treat in 2012 with the Year of 12 Directors: one Korean director for every month of the year, four screenings (most of them free) for each filmmaker, with a bonus for the final session: a Q&A event with the director of that month flown in straight from South Korea.

Now that the Year of 12 Directors is over, it’s time to reflect. Continue reading “Not Quite Final Thoughts on the Year of 12 Directors”

K-Directors: Lim Soon-rye (임순례) Month at the KCCUK in December

It’s the final month of the KCCUK‘s Year of 12 Directors (and, yes, it’s already more than half-gone-by). I don’t really want to believe it either, for one because it means 2012 is nearly over but also because what in the world will we be doing on Thursday evenings starting from January on? I’m hoping the KCCUK will still organise some film screenings, but I’m guessing it won’t be quite as many as this year.

As for December: It’s Lim Soon-rye (임순례, sometimes also romanised as Yim or even Im Soon-rye) who is the final director of the year, and she’s also the only woman in the line-up – a reflection of that female directors in South Korea are still rather limited in number.* Continue reading “K-Directors: Lim Soon-rye (임순례) Month at the KCCUK in December”

Review: 사랑한다, 사랑하지 않는다 (Saranghanda, Saranghaji Anhneunda/Come Rain Come Shine) and Q&A

Year: 2011
South Korea
Language: Korean
Director: Lee Yoon-ki
Adaptation from:  
Areno Inoue’s 2003 short story「 帰れない猫」 (Kaerenai Neko/The Cat that Can Never Come Back)
Screenplay: Lee Yoon-ki
Cinematography: Jang Young-Ok
Cast: Hyon Bin, Im Soo-jeong
Runtime: 105 min
Trailer: on YouTube

Seen at the Apollo Cinema (Picadilly Circus) as part of the Lee Yoon-ki (이준익) month of the KCCUK’s Korean Film Night programme “2012: Year of the 12 Directors”.
Ever so often when I watch a film, the narrative unfolding on the screen skips a beat: something is hushed over or ignored in a way that doesn’t realistically reflect life. Characters, for example, end up confined in some space for days but somehow the issue that there is no toilet never seems to come up. Or certain moments – like the moment after a couple has sex – are glossed over. Gaps of this sort may be to trim off bits that are not essential and to keep a tight storyline, however, too often it simply feels that directors take the easy way out, omitting what is too awkward or simply too mundane to show, leading, in the worst of cases, to lapses in the film’s narrative logic. Continue reading “Review: 사랑한다, 사랑하지 않는다 (Saranghanda, Saranghaji Anhneunda/Come Rain Come Shine) and Q&A”

Review: ネムリユスリカ (Nemuri Yusurika/Sleep) plus Q&A

Year: 2011
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Director: Sakaguchi Katsumi
Screenplay: Sakaguchi Katsumi
Cinematography: no names available
Cast: Hirano Mariko, Kobayashi Aimi, Komagata Miyuki
Runtime: 96 min
Trailer: on YouTube (short trailer only)
Film’s official website: Nemuri Yusurika (in Japanese only)
Seen at the ICA as part of The Japan Foundation’s Touring Film Programme Whose Film Is It Anyway? Contemporary Japanese Auteurs”.
Within a minute of its opening, Nemuri Yusurika throws the viewer a rape scene, which, to make it worse, involves an underage girl. Although it does not use full-on graphics, it is still more explicit than many films, starkly making clear that Nemuri Yusurika will not look away: it provocatively shows the unspeakable and the unspoken right from the very start. What this means, of course, is that Nemuri Yusurika falls among those cinematic productions that are agonisingly difficult to watch (줄탁동시/Jooltak Dongshi is another example that comes to mind) and not possible to endure for everyone. Yet, Nemuri Yusurika is a film that needs to be made and should be watched. Continue reading “Review: ネムリユスリカ (Nemuri Yusurika/Sleep) plus Q&A”