Seen in Jeonju

Archive for April, 2010

DVD Releases: April 11-17

11th April 2010

Last week, I had reported that Oyishi Man would be released but I have since recieved an update from Techno DVD saying that release has been changed to April 28.  There are several things coming out on disk this week–one of which should spark some interest.

lion queenFirst up, however, is a documentary entitled THE LION QUEEN.  It was originally aired over MBC tv . The language is Korean and there are no subtitles. If you are a fan of lions and interested in purchasing this, you have two options. The first is pictured above–2-disks plus a 120 page photobook. This will cost you up to 29,800 KRW.  Or you can spend just 27,500 KRW and receive just the 2-disks and no book.

dance of timeThe movie that should interest most readers of this site is DANCE OF TIME directed by Song Il-gon. The audio of the film is in Korean and Spanish while subtitles are available in Korean, English and Spanish. Why Spanish? The movie was filmed in Cuba and stars two Cuban actors. The sound of this region 3 release is Dolby Digital 5.1 and the format is anamorphic widescreen. This is a single-disk release rated for all ages. The movie is listed as 93 minutes long plus an additional 48 minutes of extras, although no details have been provided as to what these extras might be. This DVD should be available for purchase April 16 and has a recommended price of 22,000KRW.

Im sorry dokdoI’M SORRY DOKDO is also being released this week. This documentary is about the Dokdo Island which remains at the center of an ownership dispute between South Korea and Japan.  The DVD does not provide subtitles in any language. The sound is Dolby Stereo 2.0 and the film is in 4:3 Letterbox Format. A theatrical trailer is provided as an extra in this single-disk release. It carries a price tag of 25,300 KRW. 

The list Techno DVD provides shows some other DVDs being released, but these are concert DVDs and strays to far afield of the purpose of this blog. I don’t mind advertising the occassional tv-drama–but music DVDs are out of the question.  I also want to remind you that all prices listed here are ‘recommended’.  Most websites will carry them for less than shown, so shop around a little.

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Written (2007)

10th April 2010

lposter041156-k2When I had first read a discription of this film while it was in production, I thought that it sounded interesting but I knew I probably would not have the chance to see it as it was definitely what people would call ‘arthouse’. Arthouse films rarely get wide releases. When it was released on DVD earlier this year, I bought it without hesitation.  Last week, I finally got around to watching it. Now, when an arthouse film is made poorly, it can come off as either pretentious–screaming ‘Look at me! I am ART’ or boring and unwatchable.  When done correctly, this type of film is thought provoking, intelligent and enjoyable.  I am very happy to report that Written falls under the latter classification. But be warned, this is not a film that you just pop into the DVD player and turn off your mind. The story requires your full attention to follow as the reality inside the film rapidly changes. If you take a moment to answer the phone, you’re going to miss something important and be confused for the rest of the movie.

The film opens with an unnamed man waking up in a bathtub of ice water, hooked up to an IV with a surgical scar across his belly. He quickly realizes through his pain that his kidney has been stolen while he was unconcious. Ignoring the writing on the wall that states in English ‘Go to the Hospital’, he begins a bizarre quest to find his kidney. Even he recognizes this as irrational–it is not like he can put it back in–but he is driven forward.

Another reality, this one filmed in sepia tones. A movie director is explaining to a producer about the plot of a film he is making and it mimics the actions of what we have just seen. The director’s only complaint with his story is the way the writer is working. She is too slow–giving the actors the script on a day-by-day basis. The actors do not care for this style as they have no time to practice their lines. The director is annoyed because the writer wants to change the ending from her original idea.

The writer, it turns out, is concerned about the character she created to the point of obsession. She feels guilt because, as she wrote him, his suffering never ends–it is what drives the story. Also, as she sees it, his pain will be eternal as the film is made. Even though he is slated to die at the end, it will always restart with him waking confused in the bathtub—unless she can somehow change the ending. To this end, she writes herself into the story and gives him a copy of the script to convince him that his reality is not the only one and he must somehow escape his destiny and gain free will.  However, things will become even more complex as a third reality begins to encroach.

As the movie is being made, the actor literally puts himself into the story–studying the character every chance he gets. His ultimate goal is to pick the main character apart so he can understand him completely and ultimately become him. At one point the actor boasts that he has already ‘killed’ dozens of characters as he conquers them body and soul. Of course, in reality this is not really killing, but it will prove fatal to the main character who might cease to exist if the actor gets his way. It seems as if the actor has all the advantages as he can leave the world of story/film anytime he wants while the main character finds that he cannot cross over into reality. He is stuck in the story and slowly becomes endangered by the approaching film.

The overall atmosphere of the film reminded me a little of  Naked Lunch (1991). It can be confusing at times, but if you pay attention and put some thought into it, you will be rewarded.  The movie was only 87 minutes long–I wish it were longer. I loved this movie and highly recommend it.

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Index of 1970: 166-180

10th April 2010

Continuing with the list of films produced in Korea in 1970. Click the thumbnail to view the full sized plate or you can access the full list through the tab at the top of the page labeled Movies of the 70s.


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Korean Box Office: April 2-4

7th April 2010


Clash of the Titans left absolutely no doubt as to its popularity by taking 65 percent of the national box office this past weekend. Nationally, no other film’s percentage made it into the double digits. The only surprise last weekend was the presence of Runaway From Home (Jib Naon Namja–??? ??)   among the Jeonju Box Office rankings.  The film was released only in two theaters–both in Jeonju.  It is very unusual where a small art film  is released here and not in Seoul. Usually it is the opposite case.  I hope this is the start of more art films being released regularly outside of Seoul… The movie which I have also seen listed now as Searching for My Wife will be released throughout the country this weekend. (the title Runaway from Home came from Daum, Searching for My Wife from Koreanfilm.Org–so in the future I will refer to it as Searching for My Wife)

Incidently, in case you were wondering what happened to the list of films coming this week, my laptop had completely died last weekend. Which is fine. It was seven years old and I had been thinking I needed a new one anyway. I went out on Saturday afternoon and bought another.  The problem was the new Photoshop program I got with it.  I had been using Photoshop 3 for years and thought I needed an upgrade. The latest version is Photoshop 7 which is much different. I have been relearning it this week and expect things will be back to normal

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Index of 1970: 151-165

4th April 2010

Here are the next 15 movies produced in Korea in 1970. Click the thumbnails below to see the full-sized plate or access the films by director thru the tab at marked Movies of the 70s at the top of the page.


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DVD Releases: April 4-10

3rd April 2010

oyishi manThere are a several new dvds coming out this week on Region 3 disks, but only one of them has not been on dvd before. That is OYISHI MAN starring Lee Min-gi and directed by Kim Jeong-joong who previously directed the independent film Hers. This is a single disk release with no special features. The disk contains just 92 minutes of the film. The movie is in English but disk contains English subtitles anyway as well as Korean. It is anamorphic widescreen, has Dolby Digital sound and is rated for ages 12+.  Oyishi Man has a recommended price tag of 22,000 KRW.

haeundae 2 diskHAEUNDAE is getting another release–this time as a 2-disk set. The two disks included are the same as the earlier ’special edition’.  The difference between the two releases is that this one does not contain the book or the 3-D Box Art.  What you get are the film with commentary by director Yoon Je-gyun and actors Seol Kyeong-goo, Ha Ji-won, Park Joong-hoon, Lee Min-gi and Kim In-gwon.  Disk 2 contains the special features such as the planning and making of the film, character profiles, filming/set/music/sound mixing, creating the tsunami, deleted scenes with commentary, marketing, gag reel, and trailers. The 120-minute movie is rated for ages 12+ and is formated in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital Sound. The film has English and Korean subtitles available and carries a recommended sticker price of 25,300.

motherMOTHER is also seeing another release. The ’special edition’ was released back in November 2009. However, the only difference between this release and the earlier one is the box cover. The original release says ‘Special Edition’ across the top and has a different cover (specifically, the image of Kim Hye-ja is reversed and the large lettering is in Korean with a much smaller English title under it).  All the other features are the same. The film has commentary by the producer, cinematographer, set director, music director and assistant director (interestingly NOT by director Bong–he’s on the second disk). Disk 2 contains Making, Keywords (Murder, Sex, Son, Mother), deleted scenes, Kim Hye-ja & Director Bong, Art (location, camerawork, music), stills and trailers.  The movie is for viewers 18 years old or more and has Korean and English subs.  The recommended price is also the same as the Special Edition’s –25,300 KRW.

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Yoga Academy (2009)

1st April 2010

yoga academyI finally sat down and watched Yoga Academy today.  Not on DVD… I certainly won’t buy it until the price comes down.  I am all for owning as many dvds of Korean films as I can..but even I have standards.  The dvd right now is somewhere around 20,000+ KRW  and I thought that would be too much to spend on this movie. I had felt that 7,000 was too much to see it when this horror film hit theaters in August too.  I have HanaTV and movies usually are available there just a couple of months after their theatrical releases–so why not wait? When it came to HanaTV, the on-demand price was 5,000. I decided to skip it. Then it went down to half of that price. I still didn’t bite. Then last weekend, I saw that it was down to 500KRW on demand–that is less than  $0.50 USD. I felt the price was right and I would give it a chance.

I also thought that maybe I was being a little unfair to the movie. True, reviews were horrible but I had already made my decision about that just from reading the plot synopsis while the movie was still in production. A group of women practicing yoga in a creepy, haunted building? It really sounded like the writer was completely out of ideas and I really wonder how the film was pitched to producers and investors.  And in the first ten or fifteen minutes of the film I found myself thinking, “Hey! This is no where near as bad as I thought.”  But then…well, things start going down hill pretty fast.

Being a generally positive person, I’ll start with the two things I liked about this movie. First, I liked the set up of why Hyo-jeong, the main character in the story, decides to join a creepy haunted yoga class in the first place. Hyo-jeong works as a hostess on a home-shopping program. However, while nowhere near middle-aged, she is still not as young as she used to be. And it turns out that she has reason to worry as her new co-hostess is much younger, gaining in popularity and getting some work that would normally have gone to Hyo-jeong. This short sequence–the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film–have a Bette Davis All About Eve feel to it and, if this had been the focus of the film, it might have been more enjoyable.

The second part I liked comes early on in Hyo-jeong yoga training. It is the first time the students at the academy practice together and the never-smiling instructor puts them through their paces in an odd chamber lit by candles and encircled by a moat of  shallow dark water. As the students practice their moves in unison, eyes closed and concentrating on relaxing, the instructor mimics their motions in a more grandious way but her actions cause things to happen such as the candles to blow out in unison or the water to ripple menacingly. I thought to myself, “It’s a form of witchcraft! I don’t remember having seen anything quite like it before in a Korean horror movie!” and I started for some reason thinking about Suspiria, an Italian horror movie I had seen where a coven of witches run a ballet school (It’s much better than I just made it sound).

But when the movie you’re watching has you thinking about other, better movies, it should be a sign to you that there is a problem. While I liked those two things listed above, I disliked everything else. The first major problem comes when we are introduced to our class of victims. These women have no character whatsoever except for some broadly painted, cliche. There is the vain one, the bitchy one, the comic quirky one, and the other one–she had even less personality than the others, I kept forgetting who she was–and while I’m writing this I can’t remember what finally happened to her…  The comic quirky woman, played by Jo Eun-ji, was especially annoying. She is comic, you see, because she used to be fat. As a fat person, even a former fat person, she naturally thinks only of food. Actress Jo seems to follow the acting style of Jo An in Whispering Corridors 3: Wishing Stairs as she scurries around with an odd birdlike shuffle and wide-eyed insanity as events start getting out of hand. Add to insatiable craving for food a pathological attachment to a pet guinea pig that she carries everywhere with her and you can predict what will eventually happen.  In fact, you can predict almost everything in this film except for the end.

Why couldn’t I predict the end? I don’t even know what happened, that’s why! If anyone can come up with an explanation from Hyo-jeong’s discovery in the basement to the final subway scene, I would love to hear it.  The film  is a complete mess.

If you feel you must watch this film, do something else like homework or ironing at the same time. That way, you won’t waste 98 minutes like I did.  I want my 50 cents back….

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