South Korea

Sang-soo Hong – Yeojaneun namjaui miraeda AKA Woman is the Future of Man (2004)

Quote:
Woman is the Future of Man may not mark any major departures of style for celebrated auteur Hong Sang-soo, but the filmmaker is still in top form in this tightly-constructed, mesmerizing work. Although it features much of the awkward dialogue and cutting irony that has made Hong’s previous films so distinctive, Woman feels in some ways both more shallow and more elusive than the works that preceded it. As such, it is a difficult film to make sense of, unless you have had previous exposure to the negative energy that fills Hong’s cinematic world. Read More »

Chan-sang Lim – Hyojadong ibalsa AKA The President’s Barber [+commentaries] (2004)

Synopsis:
Seong Han-mo (Song Kang-ho) is a barber and owns a shop in the president’s neighborhood, the Blue House. Politically not very well-versed he always joins his acquaintances’ opinions and at first also isn’t aware what consequences result from president Rhee’s resignation in 1960 after several student demonstrations. Rhee leaves a power vacuum that his soon filled by a military regime lead by General Park Chung-hee (Jo Yeong-jin) who puts himself at the top of the government in 1963. Han-mo, however, has different concerns as his wife Min-ja (Moon So-ri) brings a son into this world of politically turbulent times. Read More »

Chan-sang Lim – Hyojadong ibalsa aka The Presidents Barber (2004)

Synopsis:
Seong Han-mo (Song Kang-ho) is a barber and owns a shop in the president’s neighborhood, the Blue House. Politically not very well-versed he always joins his acquaintances’ opinions and at first also isn’t aware what consequences result from president Rhee’s resignation in 1960 after several student demonstrations. Rhee leaves a power vacuum that his soon filled by a military regime lead by General Park Chung-hee (Jo Yeong-jin) who puts himself at the top of the government in 1963. Han-mo, however, has different concerns as his wife Min-ja (Moon So-ri) brings a son into this world of politically turbulent times. Read More »

Jee-woon Kim – Banchikwang aka The Foul King (2000)

Synopsis
The story of a banker who moonlights as a pro wrestler. In the days when head-butting wrestler Kim Il was in his glory, a young boy idolized Ultra Tiger Mask, the one and only foul-playing wrestler. Now the boy has grown into a shy and incompetent man. His days are long and his boss is always harrassing him… But then one day he learns to wrestle. His lifeless eyes start to sparkle, and muscles break out on his pot-bellied body. He’s born again. In the ring, he becomes the vicious Foul King. Now, get ready for the fight of your life! Read More »

Sang-soo Hong – Gangbyeon hotel AKA Hotel by the River (2018) (HD)

Two tales intersect at a riverside hotel: an elderly poet (Ki Joo-bong), invited to stay there for free by the owner, summons his two estranged sons, sensing his life drawing to a close; and a young woman (Kim Min-hee) nursing a recently broken heart is visited by a friend who tries to console her. At times these threads overlap, at others they run tantalizingly close to each other. Using a stark black-and-white palette and handheld cinematography (with frequent DP Kim Hyung-ku), Hong crafts an affecting examination of family, mortality, and the ways in which we attempt to heal wounds old and fresh. Read More »

Chan-wook Park – Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA AKA J.S.A.: Joint Security Area (2000)

Synopsis:
In the DMZ separating North and South Korea, two North Korean soldiers have been killed, supposedly by one South Korean soldier. But the 11 bullets found in the bodies, together with the 5 remaining rounds in the assassin’s magazine, amount to 16 cartridges for a gun that should normally hold 15. The investigating Swiss/Swedish team from the neutral countries overseeing the DMZ suspects that another, unknown party was involved – all of which points to some sort of cover up. The truth is much simpler and much more tragic. Read More »

Chan-wook Park – Bakjwi AKA Thirst [Extended Director’s Cut] (2009)

Synopsis:
Sang-hyun, a priest working for a hospital, selflessly volunteers for a secret vaccine development project intended to eradicate a deadly virus. However, the virus eventually takes over the priest. He nearly dies, but makes a miraculous recovery by an accidental transfusion of vampire blood. He realizes his sole reason for living: the pleasures of the flesh. Read More »