With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Monday, February 22, 2010

ACF 482: Breathless - review and reminder

Breathless / Ddongpari
Directed by Yang Ik-June
South Korea, 2009, 131 minutes

First, the reminder:
Korean Cultural Service's Korean Movie Night has thus far proved to be a huge hit with audiences. The first stage of the series has been devoted to Independent Movies. Breathless, the fourth and final film in this first stage will be shown tomorrow, Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010.

Like prior screenings in this Korean Movie Night series, it will be shown free of charge. However the Korean Cultural Service has changed its normal R.S.V.P. policy. Instead, seating will be on a first-come, first-seated basis. Showtime is 7pm at Tribeca Cinemas (54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street, one block from the A, C, Eand 1 train Canal Street stops). The theater accommodates about 130 people, so it's suggested that you get there at 6:15 if at all possible to get online.

Director Yang Ik-June, who also wrote the screenplay and stars in the film, will be present and will do a Q&A after the screening.

The review:
Yang Ik-June
plays Sang-Hoon, a gangster who leads a crew that collects debts, and engages in violent intimidation of such groups as student protesters on a "for hire" basis. Kim Kot-Bi, in her first film role, co-stars as Yeon-Hue, a high school student who forms an unlikely relationship with Sang-Hoon, one that is based on the fact that she gives back every bit as good as he dishes out.

Profanity and brutal violence permeate the film. Prudes and the squeamish are thus forewarned. But neither the language nor the violence are gratuitous: both serve to depict the realities of severely damaged individuals who take out their discontent on others, whether in society at large or within a family situation.

Yang, who previously had a few film roles, reportedly mortgaged his house to finance this film, a far riskier gamble than that of maxing out one's credit cards. Often such a decision leads to personal ruin, but here it's paid off. Breathless won several awards at Rotterdam and was selected the "Best Debut Feature" at the 2009 New York Asian Film Festival last summer. It's a powerful film and a most auspicious first effort by a very talented director.

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