Two From South Korea

Reviewed by Humby:

I’m becoming more and more convinced that the world’s best movies are coming out of South Korea, with directors like Chan-wook Park, Ki-duk Kim (3-IRON), and Je-gyu Kang (TAE GUK GI: THE BROTHERHOOD OF WAR) having been recently brought to my attention. You can read my review of Park’s newest, SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE, the best film I saw in Toronto, and there are two other films I saw at the festival which support my belief.

First off, I saw a beautiful love story from director Jin-ho Hur called APRIL SNOW. The setup concerns a man and a woman who meet in the hospital after their respective partners are involved in a car accident. Learning that their spouses have been having an affair, the two begin one of their own. This is a cross between “In the Mood for Love” and “21 Grams”.
The performances by the two leads are both fantastic and the filmmaking is just brilliant. It is not ‘beautiful’ or flashy, but it is real. You really understand these people and the guilt, fear and anger that they are going through. They each have their separate journey that keeps leading them back to each other.

The director described the movie as a story of how love can destroy a person, but also how it can save them. This is the kind of movie that I love. It is not overly concerned with what happens. The story is fairly simple. It is about the characters and the truth behind what they are feeling and why they do what they do.

The pace is slow (as our audience was warned by the filmmaker), but I was never bored. The film only runs 105 minutes, and it feels like the right length. By the conclusion, I just felt satisfied by the journey that our characters took.
This is not just also a great love story, but a great story ABOUT love… easily one of the best of the fest.

The 2nd film was THE PRESIDENT’S LAST BANG about the assassination of the South Korean President in October 1979. To give you an idea of the tone of the film, it was described to me as… “Dr. Strangelove mixed with a gangster mob movie”. That might sound a little out there, but I see what they are going for. I find that most of the Korean cinema that I have seen has an element of humor to cut the intensity of the plot. This one is no different.

The assassination of a tyrannical President that ruled for 18 years is heavy subject matter and one that the movie deals with in a responsible and successfully tense way. During this there are some interjections of humor though, and if you can find a way to embrace them as I did, you will enjoy the movie quite a bit. The main thing to be mentioned when talking about this particular film is the visual style of Sang-soo Im. There are some shots in this movie which took my breath away. He moves the camera with the courage and confidence of a master filmmaker.


Blogger marissa said...

Thank you for your honest review of April Snow.

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Koreans make more and more good movies. Keep going!!

3:32 AM  

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