Seen in Jeonju

Archive for October, 2009

Ggotne (1969)

8th October 2009

ggotneOriginally posted September 17, 2007 –Ggotne was broadcast last night over EBS’s weekly Korean Movie Special that gives people the opportunity to watch movies made between 1950 and 1990. I love the show, butI hate the time it airs. It used to run twice on the weekend, once on Saturday afternoon and then again late Sunday night, but only the Sunday night time remains. It begins at 11 pm and most movies wraps up about 1:00. I used to stay up watching the movies and then get up to teach an early class but this semester I wised up and arranged my class schedule so that I do not have any morning class on Mondays. I feel foolish admitting that I adjust my life around a tv program, but it really is the only way to see many of these classic movies.
The film Ggotne is set sometime in the 1920s. It is the story of a young, mute woman from an affluent family. ‘Young’ may be a relative term because the woman, Ggotne, is already over 20 and her family is worried that they will never be able to find her a husband. Not being able to find a husband from among her social peers because of Ggotne’s handicap, her parents arrange a marriage for her a few steps lower on the social scale. The family they choose for her are respectable farmers, not the poorest of the poor, but they must work hard for what they have. They are eager for the wedding as their son has a problem of his own–he is quite simple. At the beginning of the movie, the husband’s foolishness is overplayed by actor Lee Nak-hoon who vigorously and frequently picks his nose and stumbles over his robes while walking, but he tones down his performance by the mid-point of the film.
Ggotne wins everyone over with her sweetness and everyone’s life is enriched when she gives birth to a perfectly healthy son named Dolyi. However, as the years pass Man-bok, her husband, becomes more lazy and irritable. One night, he leaves his house in a huff after both of his parents scold him for sleeping for taking a nap and he winds up a the local bar. There he meets the sultry, gold-digging barmaid who convinces him to run off with her to the city. Before going, Man-bok asks his wife for her jewelry which she trustingly hands over to him. Then he and the barmaid run off into the night.
Although she is crushed by his betrayal and injured from his abuse when she tries to prevent him from leaving, Ggotne carries on in the house taking care of the fields, her son and her inlaws. The entire village sympathizes with the Ggotne and one of the village women points out a place on the top of a high hill where a wife can pray and her husband will return home to her. Ggotne immediately goes to the site and prays to the divine but it is then that she learns you must be careful what you wish for. Her husband does indeed come back…but he is not alone.
Ggotne is not a bad film, but it is not necessarily one that I would say you ‘Must see.’ I takes patience to get through, with long scenes where somebody–or sometimes everybody–sobs their hearts out. Kim Ji-mi as the lead overacts as she often does. Unlike Jang Mi-hee who also played a mute character in Neumi, Kim Ji-mi cannot seem to convey what she is thinking with her eyes. Instead she gestures wildly and makes half-formed words. The film was directed by Ko Yeong-nam and like many of his films, it is competent but not really memorable. That is the reason I am writing about it now. I thought that if I waited until later in the week I would have forgotten the movie completely. Well–not quite completely–This movie did teach me what to do if a script calls for a tiger but the budget does not allow for even a tiger costume

Posted in 1960s, Review | 2 Comments »

Korean Box Office: October 3-5

7th October 2009


So much has happened since I last was able to post a box office, but I will sum it up briefly. Korean films have been doing very well since the summer months.  Haeundae earned a place for itself among the most watched Korean films in history with more than 11 million tickets sold.  Take Off emerged as a sleeper hit and has had nearly 8 million viewers in theaters–more than that if you comebine it with the uncut version that was released two weeks ago.  Goodbye Mother eventually knocked Take Off from the number one spot, but it was quickly replaced by My Love Beside Me which is now in its second week at number 1. (I just found out that the movie I translated as My Love Beside Me will be known as Closer To Heaven)

Coming This Week to Korean Theaters


A. Funny Games U.S. (uk/us) -d. Michael Haneke starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth

B. Good Rain (kr)- Hur Jun-ho starring Jeong Woo-seong, Yuanyuan Gao <Good Rain may not be the official title>

C. Hello My Love (kr)- d. Kim Ah-ran starring Jo An, Min Seok

D. Konna Otona No Onnaknoko (jp) – d. Masamori Tominaga, Erika Oda, Akiko Monou

E. Let the Blue River Run (kr) – Kang Mi-ja starring Kim Ye-ri, Nam Cheol

F. Where is Jeong Seung-pil (kr) d. Kang Seok-beom starring Lee Beom-su, Kim Min-seon


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The Sword With No Name (2009)

6th October 2009

sword with no namePlease! Someone take that slow motion camera away from the director!”  That is what I wrote at the top of my notepad right after watching Kim Yong-gyun’s (director of Red Shoes and Wanee and Junha) latest movie.  I was extremely disappointed with this film. I had gone in on opening day with moderate expectations determined by a combination of  flashy television ads and lackluster reviews. I was not expecting anything great.  However, what I got was worse than I imagined.  The story could have been interesting–it was the tale of the last queen of Chosun who was murdered by Japanese assassins on the palace grounds for her progressive stance on politics and her work towards opening up Korea to the West.  But as interestng as that could have been, the movie focuses on a fictional romance between the Queen and her bodyguard.

I have nothing against ‘enhancing’ history to make a movie more interesting even though I think the life of the Queen was interesting enough with giving her adulterous aspirations.  That point is not the major complaint I have with the film.  I did, however, take offence with how her important work in negotiating with foreign ambassadors was reduced to a montage of such activities as tasting chocolate, trying cigarettes and wearing the latest styles. The next thing we know, she is being praised for a stellar job at negotiating with the Russians and securing peace in the region.

But butchering history is the least of this movie’s problems.  The main fault in the film lies with the pacing. It is rare to watch a movie where the action sequences  slow down the story so much that scenes like ‘dining with the king’ were more exciting. Every action piece is done nearly entirely in slow motion with a hefty dose of CGI.  Two of the more poorly done graphics involved a butterflies and leaping carp which may or (more likely) may not have had any meaning attached to them. However, the worst was a fight scene taking place in the palace hall that inexplicably changes into an arctic ice field and looks all the world lie a video game. The whole scene serves absolutely no purpose in the story and is rivalved in its uselessness only by the ‘dream fight’ sequence with the aforementioned flying carp.

The sole bright in this movie was the acting of lead actress Su Ae. She manages to make her character regal in the face of opposition, assassins and bad scripting. I also appreciated the time and effort that  went into creating the costumes and sets. I cannot say much that is favorable about the other actors in the film. Cho Seung-woo’s character was much too modern in his mannerisms to have lived in Chosun while Kim Yeong-min as the King was given surprising little to do considering how important the Queen’s husband should have been to the story.  The script seemed to ignore all of the supporting cast and did nothing to flesh out any of the extra characters. Even the lead characters could have been developed more–instead of slo-mo action, the writers could have spent more time on their backstories.

To make this film better, I believe all of the action scenes should have been cut or severely reduced with the exceptions of the initial assassination attempt at the beginning of the film and the final scene.  As it is though, I have very little positive to say about this film, except it probably will be nomitated for a ‘Best Costumes’ Award at the Blue Dragon Movie Awards and actress Su Ae was a pleasure to watch. For those two reasons alone, I would give The Sword With No Name 2 stars out of 5.

Posted in 2000s, Review | 2 Comments »

New Start

6th October 2009

IMG_3239Oh well….  As you may have noticed, there has been some changes here.  Namely the past two plus years of archived material seems to have disappeared. Actually, ’seems to’ is wrong–it has disappeared during Koreanfilm’s  move to a new server. 

When I was told this had happened, I initially felt a wave of nausea and instantly regretted that I have a horrible habit of not saving things I write.  However, I knew that I could have only two reactions to the situation.  Reaction A would be to cry and rant against something over which I have no control.  Reaction B would be to shrug and think “Oh well…” and get right back to work blogging as soon as possible.  Seeing how much I have missed blogging, I opted for option B.  For the last five weeks, I have been dying to write on my blog and I am happy to be able to do that now even though all the older posts are gone.

On the bright side, I now have an excuse to watch all the movies I had already reviewed again.  Also, not everything I had done was lost–the plates showing images and information about old films are all saved on disks–so I will be able to repost them as soon as I am better acquainted with this new setup.

So bear with me.  I will gradually be getting things started here once more.  I have a lot of work ahead of me but it is work that I am looking forward to doing!

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »