South Korea

Yoon Yong-Kyu – Ma-eum-ui gohyang AKA A Hometown in Heart (1949)

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“A film that has garnered recognition for its cinematography and direction by eliminating sentimentality and unaffectedly capturing the quiet life of a mountain temple. A Hometown in Heart demonstrates the camera technique and directorial skill of movies that appeared after the liberation of Korea.”
A Hometown in Heart, adapted from playwright Ham Se-deok’s A Little Monk (Dong-seung), was hailed upon its release as “a masterpiece that marked a new pinnacle in Korean moviemaking after the liberation.” Eschewing new-school sentimentality to quietly express a boy’s longing for maternal love, the film unfolds the everyday lives of three generationsthe head monk, a young monk, and a little child monkagainst the backdrop of a quiet temple in the mountains. Read More »

Kwon-taek Im – Sibaji aka Surrogate Woman (1987)

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Quote:

m’s first international prize-winner (best actress for Kang at Venice) is a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger attack on the principles of male lineage and ancestor worship in the traditional Korean family. It’s set in the late Yi Dynasty (late 19th century) to stress how deep rooted these things are, but its resonances are squarely contemporary. The well-born Shin and his wife are happy but lack an heir; behind his back, the family conspires with his wife to bring in a surrogate to bear him a son. Their choice is Ok-Nyo (Kang), a free-spirited girl who endures various physiological and sexual indignities (intended to ensure that she produces a boy) because she comes to like Shin and enjoy the relatively pampered life – forgetting she is there only as a servant. The emphasis on female suffering has come in for some critical stick, but Im’s analysis of Confucian blockages in the Korean psyche seems all too cogent. And his mastery of image, tone and rhythm is unassailable. TR Read More »

Kun-jae Jang – Han yeo-reum-ui pan-ta-ji-a AKA A Midsummer’s Fantasia (2014)

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Split into two parts, shot in black and white, the opening chapter First Love, Yoshiko follows a Korean director (Lim Hyung-kook) who is scouting for locations for his next film in the Japanese rural town of Gojo, and is joined by his assistant director Mijung (Kim Sae-byuk) who interprets for him. There he meets the locals including an elderly lady and a civil servant (Ryo Iwase) who helps him tour the area. The second part, Well of Sakura, captured in colour, is inspired by a story told in the opening chapter of a romance between a Korean woman and a local man. Mijung is now an actress while the civil servant is a persimmon farmer as they walk around the town and learn about each other. Read More »

Ki-duk Kim – Geumul AKA The Net (2016)

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Namchulwoo is a poor fisherman living a simple but happy life with his wife and daughter on the north side of a river that divide s the two Korea’s. Every day he goes fishing on the river, where the check point soldiers know him well and trust him not to cross the invisible border in the water. But one day his fishing net gets caught in the boat engine, and Nam cannot stop himself from drifting to the south. Read More »

Chan-wook Park – Saminjo AKA Threesome (1997)

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Description from KMDB:
Han is a suicidal saxophonist, Mun is violent simpleton with an I.Q. of 80 and Maria is single mother with dreams of becoming a nun. Han has tried numerous times to kill himself but nothing ever works. When he witnesses his wife’s infidelity, it is the last straw. He gets a call from Mun and both decide take things into their own hands by robbing a cafe at gunpoint. They run into Maria who is determined to find her baby who was taken from her. Maria decides to use the two men to get her baby back and joins the team. Read More »

Sang-soo Hong – La caméra de Claire AKA Claire’s Camera (2017)

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On a business trip to the Cannes Film Festival, Manhee is accused of being dishonest, and fired. A teacher named Claire goes around taking photos with a Polaroid camera. She gets to know Manhee and sympathizes with her. Claire is like a person who can see Manhee’s possible future or past selves, through the mysterious power of the beach tunnel. Through taking photos, Claire has acquired the ability to look slowly at things, and to transform objects. Now, Claire goes with Manhee to the café where she was fired. We look forward to seeing Claire’s power at work. Read More »

Tae-Yong Kim – You Are More Than Beautiful (2012)

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South Korean director Kim Tae-yong’s You Are More Than Beautiful is about a man hiring a young woman named Young-Hee to pretend to be his fiancée to try and show his ill father he is getting married. When his father slips into a coma he pays the woman at the hospital, but she slips into his hospital room and in a charmingly beautiful scene stands and sings a Korean opera song to the father (in a room with five other seriously ill elderly men). Read More »