10th September 2014
Chuseok is over and Thursday it is back to work– for just two days. Thursday is also the day that new movies open in Korea. What’s in store for this weekend?
First up is a sex-comedy starring Choi Seong-gook and Song Eun-chae brought to us by director Kim Ho-joon of Jeni, Juno and My Little Bride fame. The movie’s name via KOFIC is Love Match (although you will find it listed by its Korean name too–which happens to be an English word– Wrestling).
Not in the mood for a comedy? Than take a chance with a horror/thriller/drama called Wicked about what happens when a new employee in an office turns out to be more than a little odd…
KOFIC has not picked an English name for this next film, but Daum is calling it Enthralled.. people uploading the trailer on Youtube went for a direct translation of the Korean title: Toxic Desire: Addiction or a shorter version in some cases.. Toxic Desire. I don’t care what it’s called.. I am just happy to see Hong Kyeong-in (A Single Spark, Piano Man...) back in films.
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6th September 2014
VEIL– Directed by Jeong Chang-hyeon. Starring Yoo Sang-jae, Kim Kyeong-mi, Lee Yang-hee, Kim Joo-hoo, Jeong Chan-seong and Kim Ma-ri. Running Time 73 minutes. General Release Date: December 5, 2013. (Screened in April 2013 at the Boston International Film Festival)
I stumbled across Veil while searching for something to watch and thought I would give this indie mystery a chance. I knew nothing about this film going into it so I had no expectations. After seeing it, I feel I should write about it fairly quickly–otherwise I may not remember much about it. Not exactly a ringing endorsement? Well, it is not the worst film I have ever watched by any means, and if you can see it on TV then give it a try. But I have some complaints about it which I will get to after giving a brief overview of the story. There will be spoilers below, so be warned.
The story begins by introducing us to the married couple Yeong-shik (Yoo Sang-jae) and Se-jin (Kim Kyeong-mi). However, while there life seems superficially perfect, we soon can see cracks in their wedded bliss. Yeong-shik wants children, but Se-jin placidly ignores his suggestions. She does not seem to have anything against children per se as she works in a day care center, but she appears to have no interest in having one of her own. More troubling for Yeong-shik is that his wife has been going out after work or simply not coming home until very late. Soon she is no longer sharing a bed with him and going out before he even wakes up in the morning. Yeong-shik seeks the help of a psychiatrist. He fears that his obsessive nature has taken over and causing him to be overly suspicious of his wife. He decides he needs proof before he accuse her unfairly and hires a private detective to follow her. The detective finds that Se-jin has been meeting a couple of people, a young artist named Min-soo (Jeong Chan-seong) and a woman with a hard expression called So-yeon (Kim Seung-yeon). Se-jin’s interactions with Min-soo have all the earmarks of the two being lovers, but there is no hard evidence.
Two weeks later, Se-jin is dead.
From this point, narrative moves away from Yeong-shik’s perspective that up to now was how we were primarily seeing the events on the screen. Instead it jumps between the police investigators looking into who stabbed Se-jin and dumped her body in a river, characters’ suspossitions about what may have happened, and the actual events. Therein lies one of my complaints about the film. After watching it I have doubts about the motive behind the killing because I am unsure if a key event actually happened or if it was all in one character’s mind. Maybe it is meant to be like that, hence the name of the film.
The other complaint I have is the heavy use of the sepia filter. I found it very distracting and I kept trying to figure out why it was being used. At first I thought it was for memories, but that turned out not to be the case. Then I thought it was used for scenes showing incorrect assumptions–which may be closer to the intended use, however I would have to watch the movie again to figure that out and I am not sure I want to do that right now.
I had started this review last night but slept before finishing it. I had to pick it up the next day to complete this post. However, that has proven to be a mistake. I am having trouble remembering many details. That may be the strongest complaint I have about Veil.. it is easily forgettable.
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4th September 2014
Here are the films opening for the long holiday weekend.
My Brilliant Life
Golden Chariot in the Sky
Splendid But Sad Days
Hill of Freedom
Based on these trailers, if I could only watch one movie this weekend, I think I would choose The Golden Chariot in the Sky. I am sure the first two will be popular and the Hong Sang-soo movie will be beautifully done, but the chariot movie seems more like my style.
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1st September 2014
I don’t usually do much with music unless it is part of an old television commercial. However, I promised a friend and former co-worker who recently left Korea after many years of living here that I would send K-Pop music videos. But there is much more to K-Pop than Psy (ugh) or Crayon Pop (double ugh…). When possible, I will connect to movies so I can make a post about the videos I am sending here. And I thought that I would start with someone I have deep respect for, the Grande Dame of Korean popular music, Insooni.
Insooni’s real name is Kim In-soon. She was born in April of 1957, but being nearly sixty years old has not slowed her down or diminished her popularity. Given her popularity, I probably heard her songs many times after I arrived in Korea in ‘95, but I did not become really aware of her until the song Higher in 2004 with Jo PD, got her a spot on a music program I was watching. Here it is below:
I initially thought that she was from a Western country but was soon informed that she was in fact Korean. Her mother was Korean and her father was an American. Her mother raised In-soon alone. As a young girl, Insooni faced a great deal of discrimination which caused her to quit school after graduating from middle school. She turned to music for comfort and hope. She joined the girl group The Hee Sisters which debuted in 1978 under her stage name Insooni. Here is an example of The Hee Sister’s early style–before they turned to disco. Insooni is the one in the middle:
If you look for Insooni in recent films, you will only find her in a cameo in The Beast and the Beauty (2005) as a jazz bar singer. However, what most people don’t know is that she had the leading role in a 1982 movie. The film was entitled The Black Woman (1982) and was directed by Kang Dae-seon. In this film, Insooni plays Nan, a woman of mixed birth. She falls in love with Hyeon-seok and the two promise to marry. However, he breaks up with her via letter with little explanation. Hating herself, Nan becomes a prostitute (it was the ’80s.. it happened in Korean films all the time. See Winter Wanderer below) and a very popular one at that. She earns a lot of money by focus her attention on ad executives and getting jobs from them. However, she still misses Hyeon-seok and sets out to find him. When she does, she learns that he has gone blind which was the reason he had left her. She forgives him and the two return to their old home together. But (it’s the 80s.. don’t expect a happy ending) when their friends go to meet them and congratuate them on their reunion, the find the ‘happy’ couple has committed suicide together.
Anyway, that was Insooni’s one and only important movie role. Below is one of her latest music videos, from September 2013, Beautiful Girl
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