Archive for July, 2010

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Korean Movies You Should Watch Before You Die #7

July 29, 2010

This is a guest post by Nick Mann

Obaltan (The Aimless Bullet)

Obaltan

It seems nearly a ‘cin’ (vocabulary I learned on this site, does it apply in this case?) to discuss a nation’s cinema without some knowledge of its roots and influential works from the early years of film. From the very beginning of this series on Korean film my greatest concern has been that I am almost totally unacquainted with Korean cinema prior to 2000. However, after a little exploring on the web it would appear I’m not alone in my bias. I have taken a look at some other English sites and blogs where the topic of Korean film has been discussed (including some ‘Best Korean Movies’ lists), and in almost no case could I find mention of a film made prior to 1990 – rarely did they look back more than a decade.

One site is an exception: Koreanfilm.org. Here one can trace back through Korea’s film history to the beginning of the 20th century. The film reviews go beyond basic plot summary, often discussing a film’s themes and connecting it to other works by the same filmmaker. The critics are clearly knowledgeable and engaged with their topic and some longer essays explore larger cultural and historical influences on the cinema of Korea. This site has been an invaluable resource for me in writing these posts and it was here that I first read about Obaltan, widely regarded as Korea’s ‘best film of all-time’.

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Inception

July 29, 2010

Very mild spoilers


I’m reluctant to attempt a proper review of Inception in the manner that I’ve been reviewing films here thus far for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there are likely countless reviews of this flick out there right now; in the blogosphere, on legitimate movie sites, in the arts sections of broadsheets, etc. Granted, that hasn’t stopped me before but when combined with my second reason, it led me to opt against taking the necessary time and effort; the second reason being that I think I was unable to do anything but love this film because I harboured a significant predetermined bias toward it. I was sold on the teaser alone and by “sold” I mean I was made a shiny-eyed, zealous convert. How could I not be? A caper/heist flick that takes place inside multi-layered, shared dreams subject to the mishaps of dream logic. A very promising cast (that exceeded expectations), that wonderfully ominous score. By the time this film came rolling up I was like one of those Twilight fans, delirious with credulity and moistening my panties with anticipation. So I don’t want to try and break this film down just to spend three of four paragraphs working out different ways to say that I thought it was great. Instead, I’ll throw out some passing musings and leave it at that.

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Norklear Threat

July 27, 2010

I should have been more diligent with the Cheonan updates, and I promise to get cracking at it again, but damn if current affairs don’t move fast, people! I’m sitting around, reviewing horror movies and languidly scratching at my scrotum, and all the while there are developments. There are summits, statements, meetings and conclusions. Right now, we’re in the middle of joint US/ROK military exercises in the East Sea undertaken by America and South Korea as a response to the sinking of the Cheonan. Maybe it’s the summer heat, or over-exposure to the opinions of moronic arseholes online, but I’ve been feeling decidedly hawkish these past few months and I would have preferred the response to the unprovoked killing of 46 sailors to be more meaty. We should have blown some Nork shit up, specifically the submarine base suspected as the staging area for the attack on the Cheonan.

At any rate, the US and South Korean government’s settled on a show of strength rather than direct retaliation. Despite literally getting away with murder or, at the very least, getting away with flagrantly violating the Korean War Armistice Agreement, the North Korean regime is still bitching and spewing all sorts of batshit nonsense. From The GuardianNorth Korea threatens ‘nuclear war’ over troop exercises

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Paranormal Activity

July 15, 2010

My wife recently expressed a desire to watch some entertaining scary movies and I happily agreed, opting to increase my viewing of a genre I tend to neglect. Spoilers follow –

Made on an apparent shoestring budget, and the recipient of a strong reaction upon its first festival screening, Paranormal Activity enjoyed the kind of effective viral marketing that has seen it become one of the most profitable films ever made, in terms of return of investment. It cost very little to make, and it raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in gross revenue. The film marked the debut feature of writer/director Oren Peli who was reportedly looking to channel his lifelong fear of ghosts into something positive and here delivers a film that shares many qualities with The Blair Witch Project and other “found footage” films like Cloverfield. It purports to be as scary as fuck, meaning it is quite decently frightening and well made in many ways, but it is also a film that just barely misses the mark it’s aiming for.

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Polanski Unbound

July 14, 2010

It seems the best advice you can give someone who is planning to drug and sodomize 13-year-old girls is that they should work toward becoming an acclaimed filmmaker, because that is their get-out-of-jail free card right there.

From the BBC –

Switzerland rejects US extradition of Roman Polanski

Authorities in Switzerland have decided not to extradite film director Roman Polanski to the US to face sentencing for a case dating back to 1977.

Polanski, aged 76, has been under house arrest in his Swiss chalet since December 2009 pending the decision.

The filmmaker is wanted in California over a conviction for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Polanski was originally charged with six offences including rape and sodomy over the 1977 case.

In 1978, he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex following a plea bargain. He served 42 days in a US prison.

He has always maintained he was promised a short sentence, but he fled the US after hearing rumours that the judge was about to re-sentence him for a much longer term. He has never returned to the US.

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“Shiny, shiny…..

July 13, 2010

….shiny title banner”

(Sung to the tune of ‘Venus in Furs’)

Did you notice my shiny, new title banner? All sharp n’ shit. That’s a mighty fine upgrade courtesy of Josh Eckert, the somewhat hidden contributor to this blog. He also hooked me up with the original and I’m ever so grateful for that and his continued help here. He’s behind the scenes, manipulating things from the shadows in much the same way that Mel Gibson’s paranoid and fevered imagination believes Jews behave, but in a far more benevolent manner. Check out Josh’s work here.

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Byrne After Reading

July 13, 2010

The 2003 British film Young Adam is not terribly well-known. It’s a fairly bleak and grim little film set in Glasgow in the 1950s and starring the talents of Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton and Peter Mullan. It was a screen adaptation of the novel by Alexander Trocchi, a Scottish novelist and trailblazing heroin fiend, and it made little money worldwide, perhaps due to its  sexual content being thoroughly subsumed in pure Scottish miserablism and hopelessness. At any rate, I would have to watch it again in order to offer lengthy commentary here, having not seen it since it was in British theatres. Instead, I intend to raise awareness of the sublime and wonderful song that played over the final shot and end credits of the film, The Great Western Road by David Byrne.

David Byrne

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