Friday, November 24, 2006
ACF 017: Korean Cinema Special Issue
The new special collector's issue of Asian Cult Cinema magazine has come out. Featuring a cover photo of actress Kim Yun-Jin (star of TV's Lost) looking very hot in a blue two piece swimsuit, issue #52 is a "Who's Who In Korean Cinema." Twenty-nine pages are devoted to actresses, six to directors, and twenty-four to actors. There's a photo and a filmography of each individual. The one article is "Korean Cinema Now" by Art Black, a regular contributor to the magazine. Art succinctly describes how Korean Cinema (which of course means the film industry of South Korea) has emerged as a vital force since roughly 1999.
If you're interested in or curious about Korean Cinema, this truly is a "must-have" issue. Pick up a copy or use the link at the top of the column on the right.
Below, in alphabetical order, is a list of some of the terrific Korean films that I've seen and highly recommend. As does the magazine, I've used the traditional Korean format that places the family name first.
Attack the Gas Station! [Juyuso seubgyuksageun] (1999) Kim Sang-Jin, dir. When the proceeds from robbing a gas station aren't satisfactory, some young would-be toughs go back and take it over in this hilarious crime comedy caper.
The Isle [Seom] (1999, or 2000) - Kim Ki-Duk, dir. A man on the run hides out at a remote fishing resort run by a young mute woman. Fish hooks will never be the same after you watch this not-for-the-faint-of heart movie.
Oasis (2002) - Lee Chang-Dong, dir. Starring Moon So-Ri as a woman with cerebral palsy and Sol Kyung-Gu as a young man with limited intellectual functioning. An "art house" film that's not "artsy-fartsy." Many will find Ms Moon's performance painful to watch at first, but stick with it. It's truly Oscar worthy. I could not stop thinking about this film for days after I first saw it. Pretty much felt the same way after subsequent viewings. Incredible cinema.
Oldboy (2003) - Park Chan-Wook, dir.; starring Choi Min-Sik. This is the middle film of Park's "vengence trilogy" that begins with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and concludes with Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005)
Samaria (2003) - Kim Ki-Duk, dir. Kind of a "reverse revenge" tale (an "amends" tale?) about two teenage girls, one who turns tricks, the other her manager.
Save the Green Planet! [Jigureul jikyeora!) (2003) - Jang Jun-Hwan, dir. A wacky genre-blending flick about a youth who believes aliens are among us and that he knows how to identify them.
Shiri [Swiri] (1999) - Kang Je-Gyu, One of the most important films that contributed to the rise of Korean Cinema. Uniquely Korean issues are infused in this actioner that showed Korea product could hold its own against Hollywood. A box office record breaker.
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring [Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom]- Kim Ki-Duk, dir. A young boy is raised by an old Buddhist monk on a small temple that floats on a lake. In this tale, cyclical as its name suggests, the boy turns into a young man and leaves, only to return years later. Kim also stars as the adult incarnation of the boy.