I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Coming home July 12, 2007

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 4:59 pm
Tags: ,

One of the fun things about living in relatively close proximity to the Korean Cultural Center of Los Angeles (see link to the right) is that I can skip over there for their free movies on occasion.

Today’s movie, shown for some odd reason at 3pm, was The Way Home (집으로*). If you’re looking for something blatant where evil characters learn the error of their ways and make amends in very obvious ways, this isn’t it. It was all very understated and sweet. Since the grandmother (the second most important character in the story) is mute, a lot of the film takes place without dialogue**, which I think makes it a more powerful film. I’ve noticed before that Korean filmmakers in general seem to be better at pure cinema than American filmmakers. Film being a visual medium, I say more power to the folks who can give us in a facial expression what others would take a whole conversation to express.

Anyway, The Way Home gets a recommend from me. My only complaint, which has nothing to do with the film, is that the audience at KCC always seems to leave their cell phones on, and naturally these cell phones ring throughout the film. Turn ’em off, folks. It ain’t that difficult. Maybe it’s a Korean cultural thing?

*Someday I will learn to type Korean at a reasonable speed.

**Why on earth is the spell checker trying to tell me I spelled “dialogue” wrong? Hello, that’s how it’s spelled. I’ll have none of these “dialog” innovations.


8 Responses to “Coming home”

  1. kimfilms Says:

    I saw this when it hit some theaters in the US four years ago. It was pretty good. The director chose to shoot this chronologically.

    The story draws upon lots of uber-Korean themes (in some ways like my script does).

    Ugh. I should just leave the DVDs at the KOFIC office for you to pick up. I had such a tough week that I didn’t get to go to the post office.

  2. Raven Says:

    Do you think it would have been better if it were shot non-chronologically?

    I was very interested in the depiction of life in the Korean countryside, which in some ways reminds me of life in the Russian countryside, although I have to admit I was too scared to go actually experience the primitive conditions in Russia for myself. I’m such a city girl. But I’ve heard stories from friends who weren’t cowards like me.

    Sure, leave ’em at KOFIC if that’s easier.

  3. Raven Says:

    P.S. Does KOFIC have a website? I could link to them from here.

  4. kimfilms Says:


    It gives a nice link to things related to Korean film industry. I also recommend linking to http://www.hancinema.net.

    As far as The Way Home is concerned, I think shooting chronologically helped the two actors. One is a child actor who was probably 10 y.o. at the time (yup, I saw the movie thinking “he could play a part in my movie!”) and a grandma who never acted before. So I think it helped them to develop the story chronologically for the actors.

    There are a lot of problems with the story. For example, it’s not clear why the grandma and the kid’s mom don’t really have a relationship. Like if grandma is such a wonderful, sacrificing person, why is the mom not close to her?

    Also, the script probably could’ve been tightened. There’s really not much of a story there. But it’s a nice look at the countryside life of Korea.

  5. Raven Says:

    Links added.

    I figured if you saw the movie you were probably thinking about whether you could use the kid for your movie. 🙂

    It’s true there’s not a huge amount of story. It’s more a character sketch and atmospheric piece, although we do see the kid’s arc. As far as the mom is concerned, I just figured she was like the kid when he first arrived: didn’t really see any value in the grandma’s way of life and preferred the city. I figured it wasn’t so much that she was at odds with the grandma, the grandma was just irrelevant to her.

    I was wondering how they found that grandmother.

  6. kimfilms Says:

    I heard that the person playing the grandma was really a country woman who may not even own a TV or something. I don’t know where I read that. Most likely I read it around the time the movie was released.

    The story when the kid opens the present and finds money is very touching.

  7. Ben Says:

    I caught this movie on IFC. Wasn’t expecting much. I thought it was fantastic. It knew just how to press the “cry” button on my chest. (Granted, not that easy to miss, esp if you pull out the halmoni-with-chocopie card.)

  8. Raven Says:

    That chocopie scene was very touching, like the money-in-the-present scene… Like pretty much every scene where she’s trying to make the kid happy. I felt like crying when he’s waiting for her at the bus stop and right after the bus leaves there she is walking up, and you know she walked all night. And I loved the scene where he threaded all her needles.

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