Afternoon Landscape Dir: Sohn Koo-yong (2020) South Korea [Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2021]

Afternoon Landscape

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 73 mins.

Director: Sohn Koo-yong

Writer: N/A

Starring: Noh Seung-hyun

Website 

Featured in Yamagata International Film Festival’s New Asian Currents program, a section dedicated to works that invite you “… to worlds captured and imagined by the filmmakers”, Sohn Koo-yong’s Afternoon Landscape draws us into scenes of a town in Seoul on a balmy summer’s day that feel they are drawn from memory.

Life moves at a quiet pace in these scenes, the settings of which feel like a suburban place as we see sleepy sun-dappled streets, riversides, small clothing stores, and more. Mountains form a backdrop for some places and there is a sense that these areas are where the city and countryside meet. The soundscape of cicadas, passing traffic, flowing water, and leaves that rustle together with every gust of wind add to the atmosphere of these slice-of-life moments which feel rife with nostalgia.

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I Don’t Fire Myself  나는 나를 해고하지 않는다 Director: Lee Tae-Gyeom (2021) [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

I Don’t Fire Myself    I Don't Fire Myself Film Poster

나는 나를 해고하지 않는다 Na-neun Na-reul Hae-go-ha-ji Ahn-neun-da

Release Date: January 28th, 2021

Duration: 110 mins.

Director: Lee Tae-Gyeom

Writer: Lee Tae-Gyeom, Kim Ja-en, (Script),

Starring: Yoo Da-In (Jung-Eun), Oh Jung-Se (Seo Choong-Sik),

IMDB

I Don’t Fire Myself is a slow-burn drama depicting resistance against corporate exploitation. It does this through the journey, both mental and physical, of lead character Jeong-eun (Yoo Da-in), a technical administrator whose bosses, in an attempt to make her quit work, force her join a subcontracting company located in the middle of nowhere with the proviso is that if she can stick out her year-long exile she can return to her original job. It will be tough because the tasks Jeong-eun will have to do are a far cry from the admin she specialised in as she joins a team of four rough-and-ready guys in scaling and maintaining pylons along a coastal landscape.

Getting off to an atmospheric start, we see Jeong-eun’s descent from the city to the outer edges of civilisation via a long drive along country roads. Her fancy car and business attire mark her as an outsider to the small-town folk she meets, especially her new colleagues who ride out to work with dirty and battered boots, coveralls, harnesses, hardhats, and ropes while she remains behind to do paperwork in the company’s small office.

The story then moves forward with a depiction of her attempts at getting to know the guys, the economic troubles of their company, and getting past prejudice as she grows into her new role. Resistance to her presence is more complicated than her being a woman, for she is an outsider foisted upon this tight-knit group of men when they are in a dire financial situation. That, and she is relatively untested in the art of pylon climbing. Even if she can cope with the work, someone on the team will lose their job because Jeong-eun’s salary has to be paid from their dwindling budget.

Continue reading “I Don’t Fire Myself  나는 나를 해고하지 않는다 Director: Lee Tae-Gyeom (2021) [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]”

Escape from Mogadishu 모가디슈 (2021) Director: Ryoo Seung-wan [New York Asian Film Festival 2021]

Escape from Mogadishu    EscapeFromMogadishu_WellGoUSA_OfficialPoster_1382x2048

모가디슈 Mogadisyu

Release Date: July 28th 2021

Duration: 121 mins.

Director: Ryoo Seung-wan

Writer: Ryoo Seung-wan, Lee Ki-cheol (Script), 

Starring: Kim Yoon-seok (Han Shin-sung – South Korean ambassador), Zo In-sung (Kang Dae-jin – intelligence officer), Heo Joon-ho (Rim Yong-su – North Korean ambassador), Kim So-jin (Kim Myung-hee – ambassador Han’s wife), Koo Kyo-hwan (Tae Joon-ki – NK intelligence officer), Jung Man-sik,

Website IMDB   Korean Film

Escape From Mogadishu is a based-on-reality ensemble drama set amidst an action movie spectacle. With the backdrop of the Somali Civil War, it provides the pulse-pounding summer entertainment thrills with poignant moments of humanity as a group of opponents must join forces to survive scenes of carnage. 

We are taken Somalia’s capital city of Mogadishu, circa 1991. Already unstable, we witness bandits and government forces terrorising the local population and government business done with a massive side-order of corruption. Meanwhile, acting as an undercurrent to life in the city are news reports relaying dispatches from rebellious regions that signal Somalia’s oncoming slide into a decades-long civil war. The whys and wherefores of this turmoil are never gone into detail but what is presented feeds into another conflict, one between the staff of the South Korean embassy and their rivals from North Korea as each seek to curry favour with factions inside the failing Somali government in a diplomatic battle over securing votes for U.N. membership.

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The Slug 태어나길 잘했어 (2020) Dir: Choi Jin-young (South Korea) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

The Slug 

태어나길 잘했어 Taeeonagil Jalhaesseo

Release Date: N/A

Duration: 99 mins.

Director: Choi Jin-young

Writer: Choi Jin-young (Script), 

Starring: Kang Jin-a, Park Hye-jin, Hong Sang-pyo, Byeon Jung-hi, Kim Geum-soon, Lim Ho-jun, Hwang Mi-young, Yoo Kyung-sang,

OAFF Korean Movie Database Website

The Slug is the English-language title for South Korean filmmaker Choi Jin-young’s debut feature. While it may be a reference to the main character who suffers from excessive sweat or the slugs she finds, it pales in comparison to the Korean title which loosely translates as “it was good that you were born,” or “thank you for being born.” This positive affirmation is thematically important and something that the film’s protagonist needs to hear as shown in a story that mixes a tragic background, coming-of-age tropes, and first love as brought together by a fantastical time-slip twist to create a life-affirming story that finds hope in an indifferent world.

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Three Sisters 세자매 Director: Lee Seung-won (2020) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2021]

Three Sisters    Three Sisters Film Poster

세자매 Se Ja-mae

Release Date: January 27th, 2021

Duration: 115 mins.

Director: Lee Seung-won

Writer: Lee Seung-won (Script), 

Starring: Moon So-ri, Kim Sun-young, Jang Yoon-ju, Cho Han-cheul, Hyun Bong-sik, Kim Ga-hee,

OAFF IMDB KoBiz

Three Sisters is the latest feature from Lee Seung-won, a writer and director with a background in theatre. Much like his two previous films, Communication & Lies (2015) and especially Happy Bus Day (2017), it plies the territory of damaged people and broken family relations. The main difference with Three Sisters compared to Lee’s earlier works is that it is less abrasive due to its finely polished visual sheen and also its script which sneaks tragedy on audiences behind black comedy and a non-linear narrative. These varying tones serve Lee’s desire to show acting at its best as he provides his leads with drama found through well-realised characters dealing with an explosive legacy.

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Beasts Clawing at Straws 지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들 Dir: Kim Yong-hoon (2020)

Beasts Clawing at Straws    Beasts Clawing at Straws Film poster

지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들「Jipuragirado Jabgo Sipeun Jibseungdeul

Running Time: 108 mins.

Release Date: February 19th, 2020

Director: Kim Yong-hoon

Writer: Kim Yong-hoon (Screenplay), Keisuke Sone (Original Novel – 藁にもすがる獣たち)

Starring: Jeon Do-yeon (Yeon-hee), Jung Woo-sing (Tae-young), Bae Sung-woo (Jung-man), Jung Ga-ram (Jin-Tae), Kyung Jin (Young-Seon),

IMDB

Crime thriller Beasts Clawing at Straws is the debut feature of director Kim Yong-hoon and while he may be new name on the scene what is on the screen has all of the narrative slickness and stylistic panache associated with Korean cinema to ensure it stands with the best of his nation’s crime films.

Based on a Japanese novel by Keisuke Sone, it’s hard to imagine a director from Japan, outside of Takeshi Kitano or Tetsuya Nakashima, being able to do this hard-boiled story with the grit, the grue, the darkness, the bouncy pacing and the wry sense of humour that seems more natural for modern Korean film-makers and Kim applies these elements to a collection of morally compromised characters colliding with each other as they all chase a Louis Vuitton Boston bag stuffed to the brim with cash.

Continue reading “Beasts Clawing at Straws 지푸라기라도 잡고 싶은 짐승들 Dir: Kim Yong-hoon (2020)”

Way Back Home 비밀의 정원 Dir: Park Sun-joo (2019) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Way Back Home    Way Back Home Film Poster

비밀의 정원 Bimilui jeongwon

Release Date: October 05th, 2019

Duration: 113 mins.

Director: Park Sun-joo

Writer: Park Sun-joo (Script), 

Starring: Han Woo-yun, Jun Suk-ho, Jung Da-eun, Oh Min-ae, Yeom Hye-ran, Yoo Jae-myung,

OAFF IMDB Korean Film

Director Park Sun-joo graduated from making short films to her debut feature by adapting her 2017 short Mild Fever, winner of the Asian Short Film & Video Competition Grand Prize at the 19th Seoul International Women’s Film Festival, to make Way Back Home. Taking on the potentially incendiary topic of a woman confronting the emotional fallout from her rape, the film uses a more subdued tone to deliver a realistic depiction of survivors moving on.

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Lucky Chan-sil 찬실이는 복도 많지 Director: Kim Cho-hee (South Korea, 2019) [Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020]

Lucky Chan-sil    Lucky Chan-sil Film Poster

찬실이는 복도 많지 Chan-sil-i-neun Bok-do-man-ji

Release Date: October 04th, 2019

Duration: 96 mins.

Director: Kim Cho-hee

Writer: Kim Cho-hee (Script), 

Starring: Kang Mal-geum, Youn Yuh-jung, Kim Young-min, Yoon Seung-ah, Bae Yu-ram,

OAFF IMDB Korean Film

The old writer’s adage that it is better to write what you know is put into perfect effect by director Kim Cho-hee in her sprightly and amusing debut feature film, a somewhat autobiographical movie full of wry comedy and existential angst which won both the KBS Independent Film and CGV Arthouse awards at the 2019 Busan International Film Festival. 

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The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil 악인전 Dir: Lee Won-Tae (South Korea, 2019)

The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil    TheGangsterTheCopTheDevil_Poster

악인전  Akinjeon

Release Date: May 15th, 2019

Duration: 110 mins.

Director: Lee Won-Tae

Writer: Lee Won-Tae (Screenplay),

Starring: Ma Dong-Seok, Kim Moo-Yul, Kim Sung-Kyu, Yoo Seung-Mok, Choi Min-Chul, Kim Yoon-Sung, Heo Dong-Won, Oh Hee-Joon, Kim Gyu-Ri,

IMDB

“Don’t let the devil win!” reads the tag-line of the film and it’s down to two bad guys to catch the worst man in this glossy thriller where a gangster and a loose-cannon of a cop team up to catch a serial killer.

Apparently based on a true story, the film is set in 2005/6 (best shown by the flip-phones and stubby cameras) and opens with the Devil (Kim Sung-Kyu) cruising the streets of Cheonan city looking for a victim for his murderous impulses. We see his M.O. of rear-ending cars on lonely roads and viciously knifing the unsuspecting driver when pretending to check on their safety. The narrative then shuffles him into the background to quickly sketch out the rivalry between two rogues, hulking gang boss Jang Dong-Su (Ma Dong-Seok aka Don Lee) and loud-mouth Detective Jung Tae-Seok (Kim Moo Yul). Jang Dong-Su is seen amidst business negotiations and turf rivalries, usually settling things with his boulder-like fists, while Jung Tae-Seok is a brash character who refuses bribes and has keen detective skills as evidenced by the fact he is the only one to sense that a serial killer is on the loose.

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Maggie 메기 Dir: Yi Ok-seop (2018) South Korea Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019

Maggie   

메기

Running Time: 88 mins.

Release Date: October 2018

Director: Yi Ok-seop

Writer: Yi Ok-seop, Koo Kyo-hwan (Screenplay),

Starring: Lee Ju-young, Moon So-ri, Koo Kyo-hwan, Lee Ju-yeong, Mun So-ri, Koo Gyo-Hwan, Myeong Gye-nam, Kim Kkobbi Flowerain,

IMDB

http://www.oaff.jp/2019/en/program/c09.html

Winner of the Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019’s Grand Prix (Best Picture Award) as well as Busan International Film Festival 2018’s CGV Art House Award and Citizens’ Critic Award, Maggie heralds a new directing talent in Yi Ok-Seop, someone who brings a lively verve to her examination of how doubt can infect everything and how such an infection should be cured by seeking the truth. It’s a large topic tackled with a disparate range of elements from a talking catfish to mysterious seismic activities and audiences will be forgiven for having doubts of their own as to how everything links up and if it will be satisfying but it works in the end.

Continue reading “Maggie 메기 Dir: Yi Ok-seop (2018) South Korea Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019”