I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Korean Film Festival in Los Angeles 2010 February 13, 2010

There’s been a bit of a hiatus since the last one of these, but finally another Korean Film Festival in Los Angeles (KOFFLA) is in the works. It’s gotten bigger, promising to showcase over 70 films (I think the 70 must include the shorts, because I don’t count 70 features on the schedule). Screenings take place in various theaters around town, so you kind of have to look at the schedule and figure out where you’re supposed to go for what. Can anyone tell me where the Beverly Music Hall is? A lot of the screenings are scheduled to be there.

Among the interesting folks on the festival’s advisory board are Park Chan Wook (Oldboy, among others) and Kang Je Gyu (Tae Guk Gi, Shiri). Actors Kim Jeong Eun (Lovers in Paris) and Jin Goo (Mother) are scheduled to attend the opening night film Le Grand Chef II: Kimchi War, in which they also star. No word on whether kimchee will be provided at the screening or whether it’s BYOK… Okay, yes, I’m joking about bringing kimchee, although I can recommend several Korean markets where you can pick some up (starting a kimchee war at the screening is not recommended). 🙂

On Friday, March 5, there’s a surprise screening, and the ActorFest on Saturday the 6th also sounds fun. Actually, most of the events sound pretty cool.

The festival runs from March 4-7, 2010. Its website, including the schedule and info on becoming a sponsor or volunteer or Facebook friend, can be found here. I might consider volunteering, except I don’t speak Korean, and I’m thinking that could be a problem.

 

Do Not Watch February 11, 2010

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 2:18 pm
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Well, I did manage to get my hands on that My Sassy Girl screener I mentioned, oh, a year or more ago. I turned it off halfway through and have no intention of going back to watch the rest. Ever. Seriously, if you have any interest in this movie at all, beg or borrow a copy of the original and watch that. The remake is at best a lesson in how not to execute a remake.

As I’d feared, the emotional story didn’t seem to be there, although a lot of the quirky scenes were. But those scenes don’t work without the emotional content.

Granted, the original is a bit slow in the first half too, so maybe the remake becomes awesome in the second half… but I guess I’ll never know.

 

Director Lee Myung Se: a Master of Visual Cinematic Arts August 27, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 4:54 pm
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On Friday, Sept. 5, USC will be showing two films directed by Lee Myung Se, namely Duelist and M. Duelist plays at 4pm and will be followed by a Q&A with Lee Myung Se. The Q&A will be followed by a reception, and the reception will be followed by a screening of M. For more details click here.

Due to the fact that it’s at USC and I’m not familiar with the campus or comfortable there, I probably will not go. But it sounds like a fun event. Both films should be watchable. Duelist sounds more plot-driven, M more character-driven. Plot synopses are available at the link in the previous paragraph.

Besides, there’s a reception. Who can object to free food?

The event is cosponsored by these organizations:the School of Cinematic Arts, East Asian Studies Center, Center for International Studies, East Asian Languages & Culture, East Asian Library, Korean Cultural Center of Los Angeles, Korean Film Council, University of Notre Dame.

 

Ripe for a Remake: The Chaser August 2, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 10:08 am
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The only reason The Chaser (추격자) is a Korean movie is that it happened to be made in Korea. There are no inherent details about the story that tie it to Korean culture. And this means it has a better shot than some at translating into a decent remake. With luck, even a pretty good remake.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, there are plans to remake it with Leo DiCaprio starring, so I watched it with that in mind. The protagonist is played by an actor in his forties, so I’m thinking they’ll write the role younger in the Hollywood version and give it to DiCaprio. I can’t see him getting any other role in the movie. The role of the protagonist is exactly the kind where DiCaprio would excel. It’s dark and the guy’s morality is gray, but he has good impulses (some, anyway).

It’s the story of a cop-turned-pimp who goes looking for the guy who’s making his girls disappear. The pimp is played by Kim Yoon Seok, whom I was delighted to recognize from the kdrama Revenge (부활, also translated Resurrection or Rebirth or Life Again or maybe we should just say The Drama of Many Titles). He played a supporting role in that drama, but a fairly important one, acting in part as the hero’s conscience. I’m fully intending to blog about it sometime. It was a good one.

But back to The Chaser. Kim Yoon Seok turned in a good performance (I have a feeling he always does). It was a solid film, engrossing, dark, with a character I cared about even though I’m not generally inclined to like pimps. The structure was slightly atypical, but not radically so, and it worked. The presence of one character initially made me worry that the story would go off on a tangent, but she turned out to be well-integrated into the protagonist’s journey. The antagonist… well, I could say something about his motives, but I’m afraid it might be a spoiler, so I won’t. All I’ll say is he was definitely the kind of guy you want to see brought down.

One warning, though (actually three). If you don’t like gore, this movie isn’t for you. And if you don’t like dark, it’s not for you. And if you aren’t into antihero protagonists, it’s not for you either.

 

No Regret July 29, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 9:00 am
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This movie had been on my radar for a while, ever since JT mentioned it. I finally caught it on Saturday (for those who may be interested, it’s still playing at Laemmle Sunset 5). I can’t write a better synopsis than KOFIC did, so go here for the synop.

I still haven’t made up my mind whether I liked the movie or not. What I do know is it got to me emotionally, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again (I guess that means I liked it, right?). I understand it was quite controversial when it came out. After all, it’s gay-themed and it has some fairly graphic sex scenes. I know filmmakers often argue that the sex scenes they include are required by the story, and I frequently disagree (Lust, Caution, anyone?), but in this case I felt the scenes, which were completely unromanticized, gave the film a lot of raw power. It’s basically a film about despair, about alienation, about crossing lines, and about two people who can never be together. And the filmmakers didn’t hold back.

I wouldn’t have minded seeing a little more detail on why one character repulsed the other so vehemently right away. I don’t think a lot more detail was needed, but a little. I gathered it was partly due to social/class resentment, but I needed it spelled out a little more. And I would have liked to see a little more resolution at the end, although I’m not exactly sure where the two main characters could go next. Maybe that’s part of the point, that it’s not clear where they can go next. All they have is the moment. But I still feel a film shouldn’t end unless the audience has been given at least some inkling of what will happen after the credits roll.

None of that stopped me from finding the film emotionally affecting, though. I’d even say heartbreaking. Its rawness and the sense of alienation it imparted even in the happy scenes will stay with me for a long time.

 

My Sassy Straight-to-DVD Girl July 17, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 4:49 pm
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It turns out the English-language remake of My Sassy Girl will not be getting a theatrical release. The folks involved must have realized what I had suspected all along: the movie isn’t worthy of theaters. Judging from the trailer I saw, I think the filmmakers may have replicated all the quirky little scenes but missed the bigger emotional picture.

I can’t link to my source for this news because it was print media (wait, print media still exists?), but I can tell you it was in this month’s issue (July 2008 ) of KoreAm Journal.

I’m hoping to get my hands on a My Sassy Girl screener and give it a watch. If/when I do, I’ll report back. After all, I’ve been judging this movie sight unseen, so I could be completely wrong about it.

Well, probably not.

On the plus side, and also on a new topic, Leo DiCaprio is set to star in a remake of the Korean film The Chaser, which sounds suitably dark (he’ll probably die at the end). He tends to pick his movies well, so I have more hope for this remake than I had for MSG. That news came from KoreAm and this place.

 

New Korean Movie Theater Coming Soon June 27, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 4:24 pm
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Well, if November is soon. CJ’s new theater will join MPark and the ImaginAsian Center in screening Korean films in LA. Some, anyway. Full details can be found in a Variety article located here.

I’ve been meaning to go to MPark since October and haven’t made it there yet. The ImaginAsian Center I will probably never make it to because of the downtown location. About the only thing I’m willing to go downtown for is slippery shrimp at Yang Chow (oops, am I allowed to mention a Chinese restaurant on here?), and in that case it’s a straight shot down Sunset. I guess when this new theater opens I’ll add it to the list of places I’ve been meaning to go to but haven’t yet (LoPIBMTGTBHY for short).

Kudos to Michael Daines of the Korean Cinema Club for sending out an alert about the new theater.