22nd September 2013
21st September 2013
Scars (2009)– Korean Title: 흉터 Romanization: Hyoongteo. Directed by Im Woo-sang. Starring: Park So-yeon (as Seon-hee), Jeong Hee-tae (as Sang-yeob), Yoo Ye-in (as Seon-hee’s mother), Seo Yeon-soo (Yoo-jin) and Jeon Hyeon-sook. Running Time: 64 minutes. Original Release Date: October 13, 2011. Available on DVD: Yes
Scars is an emotionally intense film for the very fact that very little emotion is depicted on screen by any of the characters. Everyone of the three main characters is seething with emotions just beneath the skin but lack the ability or courage to express what they are feeling. The main character is Seon-hee. From a distance, she seems to have a perfect life. She has a successful career as an illustrator, she is married to a popular news anchorman making her the envy of the women around her and her mother is recovering well from a recent stroke. But despite her finacial and social success, there is something eating away at her. We learn that it has been three years since she has been intimate with her husband, the relationship she has with her mother seems oddly distant, and Seon-hee is haunted each night by strange dreams involving a smiling Buddha’s face. The image of this face seems to follow her into the waking world as well and Seon-hee starts to see it in the most unexpected places.
One thing we also notice about Seon-hee is that she neither smiles nor frowns. In fact, she does not seem to have normal human emotions at all. The distance that seems to have built up with her and her mother extends with every other relationship in her life. It is telling that she is tasked with drawing a picture book for children with emotional problems in order to help them come out of their shell and express what they want. Our illustrator is quite skilled at making images for others, but she cannot break out of her own head. At one point she tells her husband, “There is nothing I want” but the very next scene betrays that declaration. She has wants, desires and dreams but she suppresses them and does not let them out. This internalization of her feelings is having a serious effect on her health.
Her husband is not much better off in expressing himself. He appears, for very different reasons, as emotionally cold as Seon-hee. Sang-hyeob compensates for this by striving for perfection. And in doing so, he comes across as an obsessive-compulsive. He goes through the same motions day after day, lining up his wallet, phone, keychain and watch in a row and straightening them until no flaw can be found. He brushes his teeth several times in succession using different sized toothbrushes, and spends hours reciting the same line again and again after making a mistake on the air. He is uncommuncative with his wife and it takes his mistress to finally break the news to his wife that he has been invovled in an affair for the past six months. His complaint against his wife is that he always “strives for perfection” will turn out to be ironic indeed.
Seon-hee takes to visiting her mother more often and although she does not reveal her personal crisis, she seems to take pleasure in being with her. As a result of recovering from her stroke, her mother has turned to Buddhism and has taken up Buddist art as a form of mediation and healing. However, she carries her own scars, quite different from the scars carried by her daughter and son-in-law. Hers are based on regret, most especially for how she treated her daughter as a child and why. Her quiet revelations in an attempt to find inner peace, explain to the viewer precious details in explaining Seon-hee and the reasons behind the way she is today.
The director makes ample use of the color yellow in dreams and scenes that represent memories. They are beautiful, quiet and intense, especially after the mother’s confession. The results of that single line from the mother makes subtle but marked changes in Seon-hee and the way she reacts to her husband.
I enjoyed this movie very much and wished it had gone just a little bit longer as I liked the direction it was heading and wanted to see it through to a decisive conclusion. I was however, very much surprised to find that I seem to be in the minority in my opinions. Looking at the user ratings on Daum, I was shocked that the average rating was around 4 out of ten, with many users giving the film two or less stars. I found it to be quite enjoyable. There is deep meaning to be discovered in many scenes and I liked that I had to work to find it as it is often not readily apparent. I loved the pacing of the movie and I loved learning that there was much more going on beneath the surface of the characters than we can know from dialogue or even from their actions. It is like knowing someone only from work or school and then learning something a little more intimate and personal about their lives. By the end of the movie, I liked all three of the main characters.
A short, quiet movie that has the potential to spark conversations after viewing. I would strongly recommend seeing it, though the pacing and reserved conversations will probably put off people who require a lot of action and expository dialouge.
20th September 2013
Director Lee was born on November 27, 1935. He graduated from Hongik University with a BA in Applied Arts. From there, he went straight into working in film, debuting as a director in 1966. He only has a handful of films to his name, most of them in the 1970s. After 1979, he did not direct anything more, however he worked as a cinematographer on Kim Cheong-ki’s 1997 animation, Im Keok-jeon: Korean Robin Hood. Below are listed his films in 1970s. Click the thumbnail to see the full-sized images. Information on the other directors from this decade completed up to this point can be viewed by clicking the tab marked “the 1970s” at the top of this page.
15th September 2013
Lee Jang-ho was born in Seoul on May 15, 1945. He attended university at Hongik University where he majored in Architecture. He hated it. Instead, he wanted to study film and make movies. So he began working and studying under director Shin Sang-ok. He made just a handful of films in the 70s, debuting in 1974. Of these movies, The Heavenly Homecoming of the Stars is probably the most well-known, but he would go on to greater fame during the 1980s. Below are his films from the 70s. You can click the thumbnails to see a larger image. You can also visit the tab marked “the 1970s” at the top of the page for information and images from other films produced during that decade.
15th September 2013
With a long Chuseok holiday approaching this week, it is unusual to just see a single Korean film being released. But that is the case this coming week with only RUSSIAN NOVEL opening in theaters. But both Spy and Face Reader opened recently and are doing well, so they may be among the big draws over the holiday.
8th September 2013
Lee Jae-woong was born on May 13, 1938 in Seoul and went on to attend Hanyang University, majoring in Electronics and he enter the film industry right after graduation. The first time his name is known to appear in film credits is as the director of the 1959 film, She Should Live. He continued in Sound from that time through 1995 when his last film was The Korean National Flower. He only directed two films, both during the 1970s. These are listed below. Click the thumbnail to view the plate clearly. Information on the works of other directors from this decade can be seen by clicking the tab at the top of the page marked “The 1970s”
8th September 2013
THE FACE READER (Face Reader is the official English title as listed by the Korean FIlm Council
LOVE IN 42.9
6th September 2013
Lee Hyeong-pyo is one of my favorite directors from the ’70s. His films were not groundbreaking in this decade, but the ones I have seen have been genuinely entertaining. Lee debuted much earlier in the 1960s and continued making films into the mid-80s. He made nearly three dozen films during the 70s, sixteen of which I had uploaded plates for at an earlier date. They can be viewed by clicking the tab at the top of the page marked “The 1970s.” The remaining movies are listed below. Click the thumbnail to view a full-sized image.
1st September 2013
PROJECT CHEONAN SHIP
OVER AND OVER AGAIN
31st August 2013
The man who would work in Korean cinema as Lee Hyeok-soo was born on July 18, 1938 as Lee Chang-soo. Moving from his home in Gyeongsan in North Gyeongsang Province to Seoul, Lee graduated from the Sarabeol Art College with a major in Film and Performing Arts. He started working in film as an assistant director in 1964 and directed his first film in 1967. His final film was in 2002, but he was active in other ways as an officer in both the Association of Korean Film Directors and The Motion Picture Association of Korea. Lee made 22 films in the 1970s, four I had already indexed, the remaining 18 are listed below. To see images of his other films, click the tab at the top of the page marked The 1970s. Click the thumbnails below to see full sized images.