Review: 형사 (Hyeongsa/Duelist)

Year: 2005
Director: Lee Myeong-se (이명세)
Screenplay: Lee Hae-kyeong (이해경), Lee Myeong-se (이명세)
Cinematography: Hwang Ki-seok (황기석)
Music: Jo Seong-woo (조성우)
Cast: Kang Dong-won (강동원), Ha Ji-won (하지원), Ahn Seong-gi (안성기), Song Yeong-chang (송영창)
Runtime: 111 min
Trailer: on YouTube (not subtitled)

Seen at the Apollo Cinema (Piccadilly Circus) as part of the KCCUK‘s Korean Film Night programme “2012: Year of the 12 Directors”. The screening included an introduction by Dr. Daniel Martin and a Q&A with the director after the film.
The first word that comes to mind – probably within a minute or two of watching Lee’s Hyeongsa – is ‘idiosyncratic’. Classed as part of the Korean New Wave of cinema – yet distinct from many of them – it was released within a few years of a slew of internationally successful East Asian (mostly Chinese/Taiwanese) martial arts films (also known as 武侠/wuxia). Hyeongsa was somewhat misunderstood by Western critics, as this short Guardian review readily demonstrates. Although equally a period drama involving spectacular sword fights, Hyeongsa is nothing like 臥虎藏龍 (Wòhǔ Cánglóng/Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, 2000) 英雄 (Yīngxióng/Hero, 2002) and 十面埋伏 (Shí Miàn Mái Fú/House of Flying Daggers, 2004) and did not fit into the mould of expectations created by these sleek productions. Continue reading “Review: 형사 (Hyeongsa/Duelist)”

Review: 「マイマイ新子と千年の魔法」 (Maimai Shinko to sen-nen no mahō/Mai Mai Miracle)

Year: 2009
Director: Katabuchi Sunao
Screenplay: Katabuchi Sunao
Cinematography: Masumoto Yukihiro
Art Direction: Uehara Shinichi
Voice Cast: Fukuda Mayuko, Mizusawa Nako, Morisako Ei, Honjou Manami
Music: Murai Shusei, Minako “mooki” Obata
Theme song: こどものせかい (Kodomo no sekai/Children’s World) by Kotringo
Runtime: 95 min
Trailer: on YouTube (not subtitled)
Film’s official website: Mai-Mai
 (in Japanese)
Only one word is really needed to describe Mai Mai Miracle: it’s simply magical.
Continue reading “Review: 「マイマイ新子と千年の魔法」 (Maimai Shinko to sen-nen no mahō/Mai Mai Miracle)”

Review: 빈집 (Bin-jib/3-Iron)

Year: 2004
Country: Korean/Japan
Director: Kim Ki-duk (김기덕)
Screenplay: Kim Ki-duk (김기덕)
Cinematography: Jang Seung-beck
Cast: Jae Hee, Lee Seung-yeon
Runtime: 88 min.
Trailer: on YouTube (not subtitled)
Film’s official website: US Distributor’s Website

It was last October when the idea first came to me. I was removing a flyer that was pasted over the keyhole of my front door when it suddenly occurred to me that the houses that had these ads intact for days must have been empty. The image of an empty house that no one enters led to a story of a very lonely person cut off from others. And I wanted to make a film about a man who goes in and fills that emptiness with warmth. (Kim Ki-duk)

Continue reading “Review: 빈집 (Bin-jib/3-Iron)”

Review: 보트 / ノーボーイズ、ノークライ(Bo-teu/Boat aka No Boys, No Cry)

Year: 2009
Country: Korea/Japan
Korean title: 보트 (Boat)
Japanese title: ノーボーイズ、ノークライ (No Boys, No Cry)
Languages: Korean, Japanese and some English
Director: Kim Young-nam (김영남)
Screenplay: Watanabe Aya (渡邊あや)
Cinematography: Tsutai Takahiro
Soundtrack: Sunihara Yoshinori
Cast: Ha Jung-woo, Tsumabuki Satoshi, Cha Soo-yeon, Kanjiya Shirohi, Tokunaga Eri, Emoto Tasuku, Lee Dae-yeon
Runtime: 115 minutes
Trailer: Japanese and Korean trailers at asianmediawiki (not subtitled)
Film’s official website: No Boys, No Cry
Waves crashing. The gentle sounds of a harbour. Cries of sea gulls in the distance. A young man, stretched out on a small boat in the middle of the day. Waves again. Mobile phones whirring. The man stirs, barely. The bright sun burns down on him. He blinks, glimpses up into a vast, cotton-cloud sky. A balloon floats by. He turns over to his side, lazing about. More sounds of waves.
And then, a pulse: Continue reading “Review: 보트 / ノーボーイズ、ノークライ(Bo-teu/Boat aka No Boys, No Cry)”

Review: جدایی نادر از سیمین (Jodái-e Náder az Simin/A Separation)

Year: 2011
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Screenplay: Asghar Farhadi
Cinematography: Mahmoud Kalari
Cast: Leila Hatami, Peyman Moaadi, Shahab Hosseini, Sareh Bayat, Sarina Farhadi, Kimia Hosseini
Runtime: 123 min
Trailer: on YouTube

Seen at a screening as part of the Iranian Film Festival (UKIFF) at Ciné Lumière.
A Separation was the first Iranian film to win the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival (plus Silver Berlin Bears for Best Actor – Peyman Moaadi and Shahab Hosseini – as well as Best Actress – for both Leila Hatami and Sareh Bayat). It also won awards at the Sydney Film Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, the San Sebastián International Film Festival, the British Independent Film Awards, among others. (For a complete list see here.) It currently has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Continue reading “Review: جدایی نادر از سیمین (Jodái-e Náder az Simin/A Separation)”