Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: Friend / 친구 (2001)

Regarded by many as one of the first classics to come out of the Korean new wave, ‘Friend’ has proven itself to stand the tests of time much more so than many of its contemporaries made around the same period. At one point it was the highest grossing Korean movie of all time, and deservedly won a bunch of awards at various film festivals and ceremonies.

Telling the story of four friends spanning from their days in school together, to their journey into adulthood during the 1970’s, the characters are played by Yoo Oh-seong (‘Attack the Gas Station / 주유소 습격사건’, ‘Champ / 챔프’), Jang Dong-gun (‘The Warrior’s Way / 워리어스 웨이’, ‘Taegukgi / 태극기 휘날리며’), Seo Tae-hwa (‘Public Enemy / 공공의 적’, ‘A Better Tomorrow / 무적자’), & Jeong Woon-taek (‘My Boss, My Hero / 두사부일체’, ‘City of Damnation / 유감스러운 도시’).

‘Friend’ immediately sets itself aside from most Korean movies, not only from around the time it was made, but even now, by having its story unfold on the streets of Busan rather than in the bustling metropolis of Seoul. This alone gives the movie a look and feel that’s unique amongst most Korean cinematic output, and is complimented by the actors using Busan’s own heavily accented dialect. The only other movies I can recall to have been set in the seaside town are ‘A Better Tomorrow /무적자’ and ‘Bloody Ties /사생결단’, although undoubtedly there’s more.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: A Bittersweet Life / 달콤한 인생 (2005)

Last Thursday the Korean Culture Office screened ‘A Bittersweet Life’ as part of their weekly Cinema on the Park program, which perhaps through the combined talents of director Kim Ji-woon and actor Lee Byung-hun, saw the event almost packed to capacity. ‘A Bittersweet Life’ is my favourite Korean movie, and has been since I saw it for the first time back in 2006, so I felt very lucky to be asked to present it. As per usual, my fear of speaking in public saw me rattling off the carefully researched facts I’d been reading up on at a rate which threatened to break the speed of sound, but I was just happy to be presenting such a classic of Korean cinema.

For people like me who got into the Korean movie scene in the early 2000’s, chances are it was probably through one of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy movies, either ‘Sympathy for Mr Vengeance / 복수는 나의 것’ or ‘Old Boy / 올드보이’. While both of these movies gained wide popularity through their DVD releases in the UK, where I lived at the time, it was ‘A Bittersweet Life’ which gave most people the opportunity to watch a Korean movie on the big screen, thanks to it getting quite a high level of visibility through its marketing.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Interview: "Hooked" with Stuart Howe

Today we have a great interview with a film-maker that those of you in Australia should take note of. The reason being is that Stuart Howe was able to capture a true Korean story on film, and yet he is not Korean.  We are currently running our annual KOFFIA Short Film Comp, which offers up to $6,000 worth of cash and prizes, so Aussie based filmmakers should take note of Stuart's answers to help you make a little masterpiece that takes the top prize! 

Stuart Howe's great drama "Hooked" screened at Cinema on the Park on May 9th. It's an award winning film that has screened at many film festivals worldwide and we are delighted to have its Australian premiere. Read below for Stuart's follow up interview!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Interview: "Allegro" with Joo Yooncheol

Today we have a special interview with Joo Yooncheol, director of the animated short 'ALLEGRO'. This energetic short film is a must see if you get the chance!

The film was recently screened with Gangster-fish film 'Padak' / 파닥파닥 on Thursday 2nd May. 'ALLEGRO' is an animated short about a courier who makes his deliveries by running on foot. But after having an accident he is forced to make deliveries with a car, that is until he comes across an ambulance carrying vital blood packs that is stuck in traffic.