Trailer: Bong Joon-Ho’s Okja

To rave reviews (and this trailer is not afraid to splash a lot of them on screen) at Cannes, Bong Joon-Ho’s Okja is currently enjoying a very successful release in South Korea. It will play Netflix world-wide on June 28th. The first teaser, along with Tilda Swinton’s viral-style teaser, was to guarantee mandatory viewing spot for this year. To those who really want to get a look at the ‘super-pig’ at the heart (emphasize on heart) of the story, this trailer offers that in spades. It also features a curiously sweet cover of Nine Inch Nails “Something I Can Never Have,” which I like a lot more than the usual, ‘slow choir cover’ of an angsty pop song. The trailer also features a lot more Paul Dano, but mainly the focus remains on An Seo Hyun and her creature. Fun fact, to those who watch all the credits here, British Author, Jon Ronson (“So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed”) who writes about empathy in an sharp and accessible way, is also the co-writer of the screenplay.

Teaser: Bong Joon-Ho’s Okja

It is the Korean auteur’s second collaboration with Tilda Swinton (after Snowpiercer) and his second creature feature (following 2005s The Host.) Netflix has ponied up some large cash for, Okja, a science-fiction animal-cloning story that, judging by this Netflix-Korea teaser, is a mixture of English and Korean language. Other than that, it gives you the tone of the piece, as a good teaser-trailer should.

Ahn Seo-Hyun, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Shirley Henderson, Giancarlo Esposito, and Lily Collins also have major roles. The film pops up on Netflix in June.

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DVD Review: The Kick

Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Screenplay: Jong-suk Lee
Starring: Jae-hyeon Jo, Ji-won Ye, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Tae-joo Na, JeeJa Yanin
Producers: S.K. Kang, Sukanya Vongsthapat
Country: Thailand/South Korea
Running Time: 94 min
Year: 2011
BBFC Certificate: 15

I made a grave error in watching Thai/Korean action comedy The Kick pretty much straight after Michael Haneke’s raw and exceptional Amour. I’m a firm believer in the ‘variety is the spice of life’ principal and steer my music and film consumption in this direction, but sometimes two things just don’t go together and The Kick was worse off in the pairing. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it or that I’d have loved it otherwise. I just think it’s worth mentioning as it didn’t get the film off to a great start when I popped it on late last night.

But let’s backtrack. The Kick, which is directed by Prachya Pinkaew, the man behind Ong-Bak and Warrior King, introduces us to a family of Taekwondo experts, the father of which narrowly missed out on getting a gold medal in the olympics. He is determined that his eldest son Tae Yang (Tae-joo Na) achieve what he failed to do. Unfortunately Tae Yang is much more interested in becoming a dancer. Everyone’s hopes and dreams are put on hold though when Tae Yang thwarts the attempts of a gang of thieves to get hold of a priceless artifact, the ‘Kris of Kings’. The gang get away and vow to take revenge on the family, making life very difficult for them, culminating in the abduction of the youngest son, Typhoon.

The opening credits state the film is endorsed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism of Korea, the Small & Medium Business Administration of Korea and the Korea Venture Investment Inc, with the participation of several major world Taekwondo associations. This level of state/organisational backing doesn’t often bode well for films, generally signalling a 90 minute advertisement. Well, The Kick does put Korea and Taekwondo front and foremost, but thankfully it’s nowhere near as jingoistic as some of the Chinese state-funded films I’ve seen and it certainly puts on a good show for the sport.

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Review: The Secret Reunion

Secret Reunion

No one is currently doing movies that combine moments of horror, comedy, action and drama like the South Koreans in my opinion and the leader of the pack in cross-theme movies is actor Song Kang-ho. He somehow makes the character trait of bumbling-but-oddly-proficient seem like it makes sense. In Hun Jang’s The Secret Reunion the focus is the cold-conflict between the North and the South spies. North Korea has sent assassins into South Korea and Lee (Song Kang-ho) is a special agent tasked with bringing down the insurgents.

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Cinecast Episode 139b – Til the Break of DAWN!

Episode 139b:
The second part of episode 139 concentrates all of our remaining energy on recapping the ’09 TIFF experience. A top 5 list of sorts as well as a complete wrap-up and overview of the Midnight Madness programming from Colin Geddes. And yeah, we’re up til 4am… for YOU!

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TIFF 09 Review: Castaway on the Moon

Director: Lee Hey-jun
Writer: Lee Hey-jun
Producer: Moo Ryung Kim
Starring: Jae-yeong Jeong, Ryeo-won Jeong
MPAA Rating: NYR
Running time: 116 min.

Korean cinema. Is there any other country making quicker progress in terms of quality films released per year? Particularly those that are most accessible for North American audiences? Probably not. So getting a Korean film screening at this year’s Toronto Film Fest was both highly anticipated and inevitable. Whatever the reason, Castaway on the Moon was close to one of the first films I placed a check mark next to on my schedule. The stills alone captured my attention as pictures taking place within the beauty and harshness of nature are of particular interest to me – if they’re captured well. Take that raw nature and somehow squeeze it into the heart of the city as your locale for a relationship drama and you’ve got me. Hook. Line. And sinker.

When middle-aged business man, Kim, finds himself up to his ears in debt and heartache, he’s convinced there’s no way out and so the best thing to do would be to just snuff it. Leaping from a bridge high above the raging waters of the Han River, he figures this would be the end. Minutes later he finds himself washed upon the beach of a deserted island right in the middle of the river. Unable to swim, Kim is left with no choice but to stay on the island and eventually finds that life on the island is not so bad and in fact maybe just what his soul needs; thus he abandons his attempts at leaving and begins his attempts at living.

After a few weeks, a sort of pen pal relationship develops between Kim and an eccentric young girl across the river who has shut herself into her apartment bedroom due to a facial disfigurement. She spends her time looking out of her window and taking pictures of whatever she can. When she discovers Kim on his island, she initiates contact and the relationship begins to blossom in the most atypical of ways.
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Mother On A Mission in Joon-ho Bong’s Mother Trailer

Mother Movie StillIt surprises me to find that although the Row Three crew is anxiously anticipating Joon-ho Bong’s follow up Mother, we’ve yet to post a trailer for the film.

Changing paces, Bong leaves behind the monster film for something a little more subdued, a mystery/thriller about a mother trying to find a brutal murderer who has framed her son for the crime.

The film premiered at Cannes earlier this year and is playing at TIFF in a few weeks’ time which means Kurt should be checking in shortly with a review but until then, an English subtitled trailer has made its way online.

If the news of a trailer isn’t enough, Collider is also reporting that the film has been picked up for North American distribution by Magnolia who are planning on an early 2010 release. That is great news indeed!

Trailer is tucked under the seat!

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