I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

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.


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.


Filmmakers Development Lab 2007 January 27, 2008

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to attend a ceremony honoring this year’s winner of the top slot in the Filmmakers Development Lab (FDL), sponsored by KOFIC. The lab, for those of you who don’t know, is… Okay, I give up on saying this in my own words. Here’s the blurb from the 2007 FDL website:

The Filmmakers Development Lab chooses five emerging filmmakers from submitted scripts. These Fellows are matched with individual Mentors drawn from the film industry in Korea and the United States. The Fellows and Mentors spend a week in Hawaii in one-on-one sessions developing their scripts. The Fellows and their projects are then presented to producers, financiers, production companies at the Independent Feature Film Market in New York in September, and at the Pusan International Film Festival in Korea, in October. The Lab and its activities are wholly funded by the Korean Film Council, and held in partnership with the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii, and the Independent Film Project in New York, and CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) in San Francisco.

At the ceremony I chatted with Philip Chung, a fellow from last year, and with this year’s winner, Nathan Adolfson. Nathan was impressed with the way the lab doesn’t just honor you and leave you out in the cold. When they say filmmakers development, they mean it. They want to boost the fellows’ filmmaking careers. They work you hard, but it’s for your own good.

This year they’ve added something new: money. Nathan gets $40,000 to make his movie, but there’s a catch. It gets doled out at a couple of different points in the movie-making process. See, they want this movie to happen. Like I said, not an empty honor.


Nathan said I could talk about his script, so since I’m dying to, here goes. The script is called Model American, and I loved the idea the minute he pitched it to me. Basically, it’s about a Korean gangster in LA who has to flee the city and ends up in an idyllic small town in the Midwest. Naturally, the small-town Midwesterners are somewhat taken aback by the sudden appearance of this stranger in their midst, so he has a rocky time, getting taken advantage of and having to try to learn to live with the people of the town. Then his old troubles from LA catch up with him…

One of the beautiful things about this script idea is that it’s totally mainstream. Sure, the protagonist is Korean, but this is a movie that might play in Peoria (which is what Nathan was going for). I think it’s exactly the kind of crossover Korean film Hollywood needs.

So that’s FDL 2007. I suppose I really should have mentioned this year’s other fellows, but I didn’t. Bad, I know. Applications for FDL 2008 are being accepted starting Feb. 11 through the website (the 2008 part isn’t live yet).

P.S. I still haven’t figured out whether you have to be of Korean descent to make it into the lab or just write a Korean-themed script.


Lee Chang Dong at LACMA January 4, 2008

Filed under: movies & film — Raven @ 5:32 pm
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Wow, I really suck at letting people know about Korean-related events in advance. At least this notification is slightly in advance. The films of Lee Chang Dong are currently showing at LACMA. For details go here. There was one film last night, one tonight, and two tomorrow, so there’s still time! I’ll be at the second film tomorrow, the Secret Sunshine screening hosted by Quentin Tarantino and followed by a Q&A with Lee Chang Dong himself. At least, I’ll be there if my ticket has come in the mail by then (it’s not here yet).

Please note the film at 5pm tomorrow, Green Fish, is Lee’s debut film and admission is free (those two things are really unrelated).

P.S. The DARI Awards post is still upcoming, I promise.