2018 BIFF Review: 밤빛(night light, South Korea, 2018)

Year: 2018
Country: South Korea
Language: Korean
Director: Kim Mooyoung
Screenplay: Kim Mooyoung
Cinematography: Kim Boram
Cast: Song Jae-Ryong, Ji Daehan, Jung Ahmi, Kangyong-Gu
Runtime: 110 min
Trailer: N/a

Seen at the 2018 Busan International Film Festival, which I had the fortune to attend with a filmmaker’s festival pass. Belately, I will be posting reviews of some the twenty-something films I watched.

Kim Mooyong’s night light is a wondrous and contemplative film in which Hee-tae (Song Jae-Ryong), a terminally ill and long-divorced man, meets his pre-teen son Min-sang for the first time as the boy comes to spend a few days with his father somewhere in the countryside. However, it is not just the ‘countryside’ as Hee-tae literally lives in a hut in the mountains, with no electricity, phone signal (unless you make an arduous climb to another mountain’s peak) or any other modern day conveniences. Continue reading “2018 BIFF Review: 밤빛(night light, South Korea, 2018)”

LFF Review:《致我们终将逝去的青春》(Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchūn/To Our Youth That Is Fading Away aka So Young)

so young 5
Year: 2013
Language: Mandarin
Director: Vicki Zhao
Multiple involved, including China Film Group
Adaptation from:
2007 novel of the same title by Xin Yiwu
Screenplay: Li Qiang
Cinematography: Li Ran
Soundscore: Dou Peng
Cast: Mark Chao, Han Geng, Yang Zishan, Jiang Shuying
Runtime: 132 minutes
Distribution: China Film Group
Film’s official website: N/a
Seen at the 2013 London Film Festival at a screening with a director’s Q&A. Previously featured in Trailer Weekly #75.

In the opening scene of《致我们终将逝去的青春》(Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchūn/To Our Youth That Is Fading Away aka So Young) the heroine, Zheng Wei (Yang Zishan), finds herself in a lush fantasy world, populated by fairy tale creatures both good and bad, only to awaken and find it was all a terrible dream. No more than a few minutes long, this opening reveals much of what is wrong with Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchū, for as luxuriantly beautiful that dream world is – the scene must have cost a good chunk of the film’s 30 million yuan (US$5 million) budget – it is also completely irrelevant, for nothing that happens is of any importance for the story that follows. Continue reading “LFF Review:《致我们终将逝去的青春》(Zhì wǒmen zhōng jiāng shìqù de qīngchūn/To Our Youth That Is Fading Away aka So Young)”


kuro 2
Year: 2012
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Director: Shimote Daisuke
Studio: Particle Pictures
Screenplay: Shimote Daisuke
Cinematography: Haibara Takahiro
Soundscore: N/a
Cast: Kido Airi, Saito Yu, Nakaizumi Hideo, Matsumoto Wakana, NorA, Wagatsuma Miwako, Kajiwara Hikari, Saka Koichiro
Runtime: 100 min
Distribution: Particle Pictures
Film’s official website: http://cargocollective.com/hanare_banareni
Twitter: @hanarebanareni_

Seen at the 2013 East End Film Festival in London.
Hanarebanareni falls into that very particular category of nothing-much-happens indie films, which people generally either love or hate. The plot can certainly summed up in a single sentence: three strangers escape from their every day lives and play games by the seaside. Continue reading “Review:「はなればなれに」(Hanarebanareni/Kuro)”

K-Animation Review: PiFan Yeonghwa Manhwa Shorts

PIFAN poster
This review is part of the K-Animation Season on Otherwhere. These shorts screened as part of the Puchan International Fantastic Film Festival this year. A special 감사합니다 goes to the Korean Film Council and the directors for granting access via Kobiz’s online Festival Screenings option.
The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) has made it its mission to screen films from “marginalized genres” (quote from PiFan website), showcasing in particular works that fall outside the popular cinematic realm of comedy, drama and action. On the programme this year were some fantastic shorts, two of which were made available online (restricted access only).
Shorts, animated but also otherwise, are a strange thing: they differ from feature-length productions and certainly within animation often exist to explore the artistic medium rather than to narrate a story or entertain. The average viewer might find them pointless, but at the same time shorts can raise interesting questions about conventions, both in terms of what is made (and how) and what we watch. With an animation industry that is simply not known outside national borders and has no full-fledged identity like the world of Japanese anime does, yeonghwa manhwa shorts are seeds of potential that give a glimpse of Korean animation could be. Continue reading “K-Animation Review: PiFan Yeonghwa Manhwa Shorts”

Review: 화차 (Hwacha/Helpless)

hwacha 1
Year: 2011
South Korea
Language: Korean
Director:  Byeon Yeong-joo (변영주)
Adaptation from:
Miyube Miyaki’s novel「火車」 (Kasha, 1992, translated into English as All She Was Worth in 1999)
Screenplay:  Byeon Yeong-joo (변영주)
Cinematography: Kim Dong-Young
Soundscore: Kim Hong-jip
Cast: Lee Sun-gyun, Kim Min-hee, Kim Min-jae
Runtime: 117 min
Seen at the film’s UK premiere at the 56th BFI London International Film Festival.
Hwacha is, in essence, a longer, prettier version of CSI Seoul: it is a feature-length film with striking cinematography from the opening shots on but with a story we have been told in some form before, most likely while watching a crime television series. Continue reading “Review: 화차 (Hwacha/Helpless)”