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How to Be a Perfect Girl
Korean 78, Imported Total attendance: They are listed in the order of their release. My Beautiful Girl, Mari It's been a long time since Korean animation has occupied a major position within the industry. In the s, local animated films mostly broadcast on TV attracted viewers with creative images and stories, but in the decades since, Korea has produced little animation outside of outsourcing work for foreign studios much of The Simpsons was drawn in Korea, for example. In recent years, several new production companies have made an effort to revive the industry and utilize local drawing talent for homegrown films. Although several high-profile works are on the way, My Beautiful Girl, Mari is the first major animated film in years to try to forge a new image for the industry. Mari tells the story of a boy named Namoo who lives in a seaside village. Several years after the death of his father, Namoo finds himself faced with further struggles: Struggling with the prospect of further loss, Namoo begins to lose himself in fantasy, dreaming of a mysterious girl named Mari who leads him to another world. This film's director, Lee Sung-gang, is a rising talent who had drawn notice previously for his animated shorts, which played at many overseas festivals. The images he creates for My Beautiful Girl, Mari were made on the computer with fairly simple tools, such as Flash and Illustrator. Nonetheless the end result is dazzling: The voices for the film were recorded by real children a refreshing change from the practice of having adults speak in high pitch , as well as some famous actors: Although this film was not a success at the box-office, it represents both a major step forward for Korean animation and the birth of a wondrous film that deserves not to be overlooked. Apart from its remarkable imagery, the film also proves to be a touching portrait of how children deal with loss. With luck, someday we may look back upon this film as a first step in the rebirth of Korean animation. Once a successful comedy director, Shin Seung-soo's latest works haven't attracted audiences, often silently lurking at the bottom of the year's box office. His latest 'girls with guns' effort seems no different. It offers nothing we haven't seen before, and no bankable stars - at least not yet, both Lee Yo-won and Kim Min-sun could become stars in the future. But despite its derivative plot, A. The cocktail of attractive young girls, loud rock music, a few action scenes, and the usual amount of silly comedy has made many films a success, but it's probably what makes A. It tries so hard to be cool, slick and funny that it forgets to take care of the fundamentals, like a script that flows well, or engaging characters. The film follows the adventures of four girls, who meet by accident and become a runaway team of idols the film's title means "Adoring Four Revolutionary Idols Korean Association", named after the girls' Internet Fan Club. Through robbing gas stations, stealing cars, dealing with the people following them -- a cop and a gangster, driving together! One of the film's good ideas is showcasing, with the use of pop culture references, how the girls achieve their fame. Thanks to TV and the Internet they become so famous that fake A. The characters are little more than stereotypes. Rising star Lee Yo-won is the classic charismatic leader with an edge; Kim Min-sun the sexy, shallow 'babe' who raises a fuss over clothes and hair. Cho Eun-ji is the annoying, ugly duckling who we're supposed to care about, and Lee Young-jin the tough girl who often acts superior. The film does a good enough job of making this obvious, so that we take nothing seriously. But, that's a double edged sword, because at the end you don't really care about the characters. Better is the supporting cast who really carries the film. Lee Je-rak, Park Young-kyu and company frequently steal the show from the four girls, creating a few memorable moments. With all its flaws, A. Not all the jokes work, sometimes the girls overact a little too much, but the overall tone of the film makes you forget about such things pretty quickly. If you're looking for a night of low-maintenance fun, without strings attached, you'll probably enjoy the antics showcased in A. Smitten by her beauty, he goes and sits next to her, but she glares at him in disgust and walks away. Following behind, he kisses her violently out of the blue, but a group of passing soldiers subdue him. The girl spits in his face. Offended, yet still drawn to her, he starts to devise a sinister plan: Bad boy director Kim Ki-duk has been eagerly sought after by international film festivals ever since his third movie Birdcage Inn His films can be relied on to provide striking visuals and plenty of controversy. His work has become quite popular with audiences in Europe. Up until recently, however, he remained more or less unknown to Korean moviegoers, with none of his films registering more than a blip at the local box-office. This changed with Bad Guy. Several factors may have contributed to local audiences' strong interest in the film. To begin with, it was released just as lead actor Jo Je-hyun was winning over fans in the hit TV drama Piano. Kim had also slowly gained a reputation as "that director who's popular abroad", and audiences' curiosity, together with a marketing campaign centered around the film's provocative themes, turned Bad Guy into a commercial success. Few viewers are likely to leave the theater without strong feelings for or against this film. It features striking images and music, disturbing violence, strong acting, logic-defying plot developments, and a provocative epilogue that seems intended to stir up controversy. The film makes perhaps the most sense if you read it as a collision between the lower and middle classes. Kim himself is the product of a difficult upbringing that has left him feeling outraged at the inequities in Korean society. From a psychological perspective, the plot seems a major stretch, at least from the female character's point of view. Kim says he wanted to show the "inevitability" of the film's final outcome, but the change that our female lead undergoes seems calculated, and more the product of male fantasy than a response to all she has experienced. No matter, some viewers will argue -- but I still feel this film could have been stronger if it could have got more convincingly into the head of our inexperienced young prostitute. The man himself has become the most important figure in Korean Cinema. His production company, Cinema Service, is the top distributor in the country. After a three year-long hiatus, director Kang has come back with Public Enemy, marketed strongly around the Two Cops director's new 'hardboiled' streak. And indeed he has changed. But, in contrast with his previous works, it's grittier and much bloodier. Detective Kang Chul-joong Sol Kyung-gu is the complete antihero, stealing drugs from dealers, taking bribes left and right, neglecting his duties as a father, and dealing with suspects without the chore of following procedure. Cho Gyu-hwan Lee Sung-jae is the perfect case of split personality. When we first meet him, he's masturbating under the shower throwing profanities at his imaginary companion. Suddenly, out of the shower he's a normal family man, caring and considerate. The two get to know each other in the strangest of ways: He stabs him too, and will force Detective Kang to change his habitual ways to catch him. And maybe change his life in the process. In Public Enemy there are no conventionally sympathetic characters: While Sol Kyung-gu and Lee Sung-jae battle each other through the course of the film, the usual array of memorable supporting characters tones down the harshness of the film. Math, to stage actor Kang Shil-in as the captain of the Homicide department. From Sung Ji-roo a staple of Korean comedies as the green-haired drug dealer, to Yoo Hae-jin as the retired Jopok who now acts as Chul-joong's 'knife expert. And, personally, it doesn't feel forced like in many of Kang's previous films. This mix of bloody action and comedy will not appeal to everybody. Both the murders and the jokes are pretty graphic in their depiction, and the lack of sympathetic characters might leave people used to director Kang's directorial style a bit puzzled. Still, Public Enemy is excellently produced, with a fantastic performance from Sol Kyung-gu who gained 20 Kg for the role, and subsequently lost them again for Oasis. That's dedication , and really good chemistry between the two main characters. Also, unlike many of Kang's films, it doesn't overstay its welcome, even for a minute film. Kang Woo-suk has made a darker, funnier and smarter film, one of the year's biggest surprises. Well, pretty much a complete mess. Looking For Bruce Lee stars the four young men of said band and the city they call home, Seoul. However, while most young people must sit passively and watch the city they know and love fail to be represented on the screen as they know it and love it, resolved to voice their protest by throwing popcorn, or this being South Korea, dried squid , at the screen, director Kang Lone and the boys of Crying Nut have decided to Help themselves in this Quadrophonic teenage wasteland of Hey, Hey We're The Punkees. What there is of a plot revolves around a serial killer who leaves Bruce Lee imagery placed all artsy-like beside the victims' bodies. The band's bassist, Han Kyung-rok, takes it upon himself to solve these murders. These interviews allow for something to salvage from this wreckage. One of the immigrants interviewed, whom I'm guessing is Eritrean or Ethiopian, represents one of the core themes with this comment made in English: So from this thing, I can feel that American culture is dominating Korea. And Bruce Lee resisted calls to assimilate to the American culture he heard around him. Perhaps, this resistance to American pop culture is why Han's looking for Bruce Lee, to find his own way of appropriating cultural artforms that came to his home from elsewhere. Such resistance resonates in Looking For Bruce Lee in the piercing scream of the young Korean woman who finds her fun interrupted by an American who imposes himself on her. Kyung-rok, upon hearing the scream, jumps in to address the situation. His bruises in the next scene tell us a fight occurred, hinting at his resistance to being defined fully by another culture. For all its disjointedness, Looking For Bruce Lee does challenge the view that all pop cultural expressions are examples of mimic-ing American culture. These kids aren't just appropriating straight from American culture, as the interviews with all the immigrants mentioned before demonstrate. We're following a Punk band here. Punk music itself represents a multiplicity of cultural influences. Punk came out of Rock music, a genre developed in America with heavy initial influence from other genres such as Blues which were nourished by African-American communities. And just as recent American Rock bands have borrowed from Hip-Hop, British Punk appropriated heavily from Ska, as Crying Nut demonstrates in the track that opens the film. Ska is a musical genre that came to England from Jamaica. So it's not as simple as saying American culture is taking over South Korea.
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