Review: Mudbound
Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Mainstream Chick with Greta Gerwig @Middleburg

Currently browsing the "Korean" category.

Review: The Villainess (AK-NYEO)

If you’re looking for some bloody violence, this is the movie for you! The opening sequence alone has a higher body count than even Tarantino’s most epic movie. A woman (Sook-hee- unseen until the end of the fighting) goes into a building and hall by hall, room by room, kills every single man in the place. They’re shooting and knifing and martial arting at her, too, but she’s just a better bad-ass than any of them. And at the end she walks out covered in blood ready to be arrested by the waiting police. The next thing she knows, she wakes up in some shady off-book South Korean Intelligence agency’s secret facility, and she’s told they’re going to train her, use her for various nefarious undercover ops, and after ten years she’ll have her freedom back. Or they can kill her. She goes for option one.

Quickie Reviews: The Glass Castle; Wind River; The Fencer; A Taxi Driver

I’m generally a fan of (or maybe a sucker for) movies based on real people and events, so that could be why I had a pretty good week at the movies with two mainstream dramas and two foreign films. First up: The Glass Castle, based on Jeannette Walls’s best-selling memoir about her unconventional upbringing and coming to terms with the complexities of her relationship with her dysfunctional parents and remarkably normal siblings. The film features a stellar cast that includes Brie Larson (Room), Chandler Head and Ella Anderson as Jeannette (through the years), Woody Harrelson as her fundamentally flawed but occasionally well-meaning father, and Naomi Watts as her eccentric artist mother. The parents are the types to define homelessness and squatting as a ‘lifestyle choice’. I haven’t read the book, but those around me who did seemed satisfied with the way the film played out. Others, however, (while still acknowledging the strong performances) criticized the movie for glamorizing or romanticizing what they saw as dangerous, irresponsible and often cruel parenting. I thought it walked the line fairly well, in much the same way as last year’s well-received indie Captain Fantastic.

Review: Okja

In his audacious new film, Bong Joon Ho (Mother, Snowpiercer) pits a little Korean girl and her beloved super-pig against a corporate food mogul (Tilda Swinton). Okja is the name of a giant pig hybrid that little Mija (Seo-hyeon Ahn) has brought up for ten years high in the mountains of South Korea. That Okja is a GMO experiment makes no difference to her. He’s just her enormously fun pet. And in the opening scenes of the film, they do have big fun. But when the owner of the pig sends an envoy to give Mija’s grandpa a prize for best pig and decides to take Okja back to the US, Mija isn’t having it. She’s out to save her best friend. It’s wacky and the second half doesn’t entirely work, but at its heart it’s a sweet story of a girl and her super-pig.

The Handmaiden

Korean director Chan-wook Park’s (Oldboy) latest film The Handmaiden is an amazing adult thriller. It is twisty and erotic and romantic and funny and utterly surprising. And very hard to review because the many plot twists that make it so fun to watch have to be kept secret. No spoilers here. It is reminiscent of The Grifters or Sleuth with people trying to con one another from start to finish, and the audience’s assumptions proved wrong again and again. At its center is the story of a con artist The Count (Ha Jung-woo) who finds a job for one of his minions, pretty young Sookee (Tae-ri Kim), as the handmaid to a very rich and very attractive young Japanese woman Lady Hidekowith (Min-hee Kim) with the aim of his seducing and marrying her for her fortune. But needless to say, it doesn’t go exactly as planned.

Mother (Madeo)

Let me start by saying, I really liked this film. In this wonderful Korean thriller, the central character is a single Mother (never named) played with infinite layers by the amazing Hye-ja Kim. Mother works in an herb store and gives illegal acupuncture treatments on the side. As the film begins she is in her shop keeping watch on her 27-year-old son, Do-joon who is hanging out across the street with his much hipper friend Jin-tae. Do-joon is not right in the head; he is forgetful, possibly retarded, and seems to spend most of his time running around getting into trouble. In this first scene, he steps into the street and is grazed by a car, causing his friend to vow revenge on the rich guys who did it and this one moment spins out of control coloring the rest of the film.