Archive for March, 2010


K-Pop Korner: Phoney Phoney

March 26, 2010

The sci-fi action film Demolition Man, starring Sylvester Stallone, was (and remains) so good precisely because it eschewed the well-traveled road of brutal dystopian future visions brilliantly explored in 80s cinema and opted to present us instead with the more-plausible vision of Huxleyan satire, a Brave New World nightmare of a saccharine, infantile future where human passions were suppressed and mellowness was mandatory. Amongst many of the onscreen gags was the notion that in the future negative utopia (dystopia) of Demolition Man‘s “San Angeles”, popular music was exclusively comprised of childish ad-jingles from the past with supporting characters being shown gleefully singing along to radio tunes that were commercials for hot dogs and other products. It’s with a measure of trepidation and alarm that I hereby inform you that, in South Korea at least, the future is now.

Son Dambi & After School

Some months ago, in an earlier K-Pop post, I mentioned the crass song Lollipop. As well as being the launch of the girl group 2NE1 the song and accompanying video were essentially a commercial promotion for an LG line of cell phones (also called Lollipop) with the singers shown displaying the phones in their hands as they danced around and sang “lolly lolly lollipop….ooh….lolly lolly lollipop”. As blatant and shameless a display as this was, it was merely the beginning of a distasteful new trend. Read the rest of this entry ?


3-Iron (빈집)

March 23, 2010

I’ll add this as a compliment to Nick’s post below. What I won’t do, however, is urge you to watch this movie “before you die”. I’m becoming increasingly unsettled by that choice of title, as if Nick knows something we don’t, or possibly that he maintains a subterranean menagerie of half-starved captives that he screens Korean movies to before dispatching them in the most heinous and infernal ways.

3-Iron (빈집)* was made by Kim Ki-Duk in 2004 and, due to the director’s established reputation, enjoyed both a comparatively wide release and significant international attention for a Korean film that wasn’t a) a trendy “Asian Extreme” horror film featuring girls with spooky long hair or b) a ballsy gangster/revenge-exploitation flick with intensity, plot twists and more intensity. The film was received in largely favourable terms by western critics and audiences alike, although the ever-divisive Kim retained some fierce detractors with 3-Iron, despite it being a far more gentle film than his notorious earlier works like The Isle (섬), Bad Guy (나쁜 남자) and Samaritan Girl (사마리아). Read the rest of this entry ?


Korean Movies You Should Watch Before You Die #5

March 15, 2010

This is a guest post by Nick Mann

The Art House ‘Duck’

Kim Ki-duk

When the idea of a series of essays on Korean film first occurred to me, I knew no matter what I wanted to include based on my own tastes, there were a few films and filmmakers that needed to be included based on their international popularity and clout.  To leave them out would render the discussion somehow incomplete or inert.  I originally imagined dispersing these ‘prerequisite posts’ throughout the series, along with others that seemed timely, deserved a plug, or were just dear to my heart. My thought was that I might bolster readership throughout by holding back discussion on a ‘heavyweight’ film or two.

However fate intervened (as it often does in matters of such massive, universal importance) and two out of the three major posts to which I allude have already been posted.* So why hold back posting the third prerequisite essay?  With no further ado, I would like to focus my attention on the director Kim Ki-duk (“ki-duck”) and a few of his films.

Read the rest of this entry ?


Feel the Power of the Dark Side…….

March 12, 2010

….or, in this case, don’t.

Read the rest of this entry ?


(No) Phones 4 U

March 11, 2010

"Hey, you! Yeah, you with the phone...."

There is a famous photograph of the Korean peninsula at night; a satellite image that shows North Korea to be, quite literally, the dark side of the peninsula. The world’s last Stalinist autocracy can always be relied on to remind everyone that their own particular brand of Korea Kulture Kraziness is of a significantly different sort to the kitsch and kooky, but otherwise non-lethal, type found in the South. Read the rest of this entry ?



March 9, 2010

I’ve been looking to get something written on comic books for a while now but didn’t quite know where to start. Fortunately, a recent trip to my home country saw me get my hands on a truly fine title that should make a fitting place to start.

In the east, in the far east, when one is far from familiar surroundings and unable to enjoy simple pleasures that once were taken for granted, it pays to listen to one’s friends. So it was that a friend of mine that knows his shit, an initiated man, made a strong recommendation about a comic book and I jumped at the first opportunity that presented itself. This same guy told me to check out a TV show called The Wire a few years ago and damn if that didn’t lend his urgings serious weight. Recently, he’d been a-gibbering and a-jabbering about a monthly comic title called Scalped and I finally heeded his call. Read the rest of this entry ?


A Glint of Clint

March 8, 2010

One of the benefits of my recent trip home to the UK was rediscovering just how much I adored reading the movie magazine, Empire. For reasons I have yet to fathom, I don’t now read online movie sites as regularly or as extensively as I used to read that publication.

The latest issue (dated April 2010) features, amongst other things, an article and interview with Clint Eastwood (pg 116) in which the 79-year-old screen titan discusses his directorial career. Recalling the influence and tutelage he received from Dirty Harry director Don Seigel, specifically for the seminal western The Outlaw Josey Wales*, Eastwood said:

“It still holds ups. I rented it recently, just for the hell of it – I hadn’t seen it in 20 or 30 years or whatever, and it still holds up.”

Clint Eastwood had to rent a copy of The Outlaw Josey Wales? Presumably meaning he doesn’t own even a single copy himself? I continue to struggle to get my head around this revelatory little tidbit. Read the rest of this entry ?