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South Korea

Ki-duk Kim – Shilje sanghwang AKA Real Fiction (2000)

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An unstable artist (Ju Jin-mo) is sent over the edge during a walk in the park when a woman with a video camera (Kim Jin-ah) begins following him. Flying into a murderous rage, the artist begins running loose through the city, leaving dead bodies in his wake, until he winds up back in the park where he began. Director Kim Hi-duk shot this feature in “real time,” during less than four hours in one afternoon, using an armada of 20 film and video cameras set up in different locations; significantly, the film ends with the film running out in the cameras set in the park. Kim Hi-duk then edited his footage down to a compact 86 minutes. Read More »

Ki-duk Kim – Shi gan AKA Time (2006)

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South Korean maverick Kim Ki-duk takes a scalpel to the local obsession with
appearances in “Time,” in which a young couple resort to plastic surgery to perk their relationship — with unexpected results. Though typically centered on a high-concept idea, film is more of a conversation piece than Kim’s usual pics, recalling recent works by fellow Korean helmer Hong Sang-soo, with its coffee shop meetings and ironic playfulness. Largely going the distance, this one looks to appeal to Kim’s established fanbase rather than make new friends, and has already been sold to 15 territories, mostly in Europe and Latin America. Read More »

Chan-wook Park – Saibogujiman kwenchana aka I’m a Cyborg But That’s OK (2006)

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Plot Synopsis [AMG] After wrapping-up his critically-acclaimed “Vengeance Trilogy” with the award-winning 2005 thriller Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, South Korean filmmaker Chan-wook Park shifts gears for this gently comic romantic drama concerning a delusional young mental patient who believes herself to be a cyborg. Convinced that she is not entirely human but in fact part android, Young-goon (Lim Su-jeong)’s health begins to deteriorate as she gives up eating food and instead decides to “charge her batteries” by administering electric shocks to herself via a small transistor radio. Read More »

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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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 »