South Korea

AFI Fest 2014: ‘Haemoo’ is a harrowing film with blockbuster conventions

Contemporary Korean films have made a reputation of being the most grim experiences out there, replete with unabashed violence, incest, social inequality, and crime – Haemoo has three of those things! Adapted from a play by Kim Min-jung, it’s about a real life incident that occurred when a Korean fishing crew got mixed up in a botched human trafficking operation. Screenwriter-turned-director Shim Sung-bo’s adaptation is a harrowing film riddled with nail-biting suspense and easily accessible blockbuster conventions.

‘The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow’ Movie Review – is a silly and sweet animation

An orbiting satellite picks up a beautiful song being played on Earth. Moved by the song, and facing an eternity of lonely obsolescence thanks to the incoming fate of being replaced by new machinery, the satellite decides it wishes to find the source of the tune, and so crashes down to the planet below, where it promptly turns into a teenage girl able to fly with Astro Boy-like rocket feet and fire her arms as weapons. Meanwhile, the songwriter behind the ditty is broken-hearted and so has been turned into a cow, akin to the farmyard beast fate that has befallen other broken-hearted folk. This has led to him and others like him being hunted by a human villain who uses a plunger to extract their organs, as well an incinerator machine that is fuelled by the broken-hearted. Also, there is a wizard named Merlin who makes it his mission to assist the satellite girl and the cow, except Merlin has undergone his own transformation recently and happens to be a roll of toilet paper.

‘Moebius’ is an Oedipal feast

Who needs words when you can deliver a visceral punch with nothing more than images? In Moebius, South Korean writer-director, Kim Ki-duk, has crafted nothing short of a masterpiece in minimalism. Though challenging and uncompromising, Moebius never sacrifices its humanity in favor of experimental flourishes. Through evocative imagery and savagely dark humor, Kim creates a mesmerizing film about lust, degradation and tranquility. An Oedipal feast that should not be missed.

FNC 2013: ‘Our Sunhi’ is a charming comedy of errors

Our Sunhi, the newest film from Hong Sang-Soo, is enamoured with interconnected romances and the mysteries of affection. A charming and patient comedy, the film excels at presenting the trials and tribulations of desire, offering a rewarding and funny take on the mysteries of love. Though there is nothing exceptional about the title character, Sunhi, she captures the elusive affections of three friends.

Pluto Shin Su-won

EIFF 2013: ‘Pluto’ is an intelligent thriller about privilege and fear

Set in an elite boarding school, Korean director Shin Su-won’s debut feature is an impressive study of the violent consequences of social stratification. Students are ranked according to their results and placed under immense pressure to reach the top; only those with the very best grades are able to compete for a place at the prestigious Seoul National University. When the top student, Yujin (Sung June), is found murdered near the school, his roommate, June (David Lee), is the prime suspect, but police do not have enough evidence to convict him. After his release, he takes four of Yujin’s circle hostage in a secret area of the school, which formerly served as torture chambers for political prisoners during South Korea’s military dictatorship.

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