movie


bike @ bakery

파티세리. 비 patisserie, Bi is a small french bakery store across my building. I biked to Cinecube this afternoon to buy movie tickets then strolled a bit. It was a bit hot but, there were enough breeze to cool my sweat. This cute pastisserie has good sandwiches. I had an egg sandwich & capuccino. It was a lovely sunday afternoon.

Indian restaurant, Dal in Chungdamdong, Seoul, Korea.

I’ve been having Indian food craving so Jia took me to this newly opened Indian restaurant near Dosan Park area. There are several decent restaurants in this area. The prices are steep but, you never get disappointed.

Dal was also great. great food, great presentation. We sat at the balcony and talked some more about new book idea together. It was a lovely evening…until she drove me to my neigbhourhood.

Every road on the way to my neighourhood were all closed with the military policemen’s buses – again. I asked her to drop me off at the closest place where I could walk home. After walking along a wall of mp officers and buses, I found an open spot where they let me pass. It was so empty and quiet when I across the police line. I could walk through empty 16 lane wide roads which is usually filled with running cars. wow, it was so surreal – like NYC with black out in 2003. I felt like being in the eye of hurricane. In that surreal setting, I walked home leisurely. Oh, I eat beef anyway.

“I’m Not There” – Cinecube Theater

Are you a Bob Dylan fan? Then you should definitely go see this movie. This 135 min Mocumentary style movie was pretty experimental. It’s not the best film but, it was interesting enough to see how the director, Todd Haynes created 6 characters who are not Bob Dylan but has characters of Bob Dylan in different times and names. Still, not as interesting as Bob Dylan’s music itself but, it’s definitely worth watching it. I guess I liked this movie better than I would have… which means I had a good company to watch with. Someone who is like my long lost twin.

It wasn’t so bad tonight. I mean the rally. They usually block more streets than tonight. I passed by Sejong theater center and saw a policeman kindly taking some photos for tourists in the middle of military policemen and their buses. We couldn’t help not laughing. The breeze was really nice tonight. I wish I could have taken a long walk but, it was too late for that.

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Cinecube

CineCube in Gwanghwamun, Seoul

For a New York Junkie like me, it’s fortunate to live near such a theater like ‘CineCube’ in Seoul… I always lived in walking distance near Angelika Film Center and Landmark Sunshine theater in New York City so, I’m spoiled about easy access to non-mainstream movies in general. Anyway, I haven’t had many chances to catch up movies this winter unfortunately and I just had a free time after some work @ the cafe Di Bibe near my place. I wanted to go see ‘No Country for Old Men’ or ‘There Will Be Blood’ and so on. When I searched in Naver.com in Korean (Naver.com is Korean version of popular search engine with a very successful marketing campaign with green search box but, you don’t get much results), ‘No Country for Old Men’ was listed as no longer in theater…. as I recalled it only played in two theaters in Seoul… I guess it’s not the kind of Korean main stream moviegoers like to watch. With my disappointment, I decided to just take a look at this theater near my place that I knew for sure they play some good indie or foreign films. There it was, ‘No Country for Old Men’ was playing. (Hey, thanks for nothing, Naver!) So I decide to walk there after a home cooked dinner.

At the front of the ticket counter (it’s Friday!) I said, “Do you still have any seat left for No Country for Old Men?” The lady said, “There is one seat left & that’s the last one” “Oh, please give me that one to me please!” She added it’s the second row seat but, I didn’t mind since I knew this theater is like Angelika Film Center… small theater rooms. However, it felt kind of funny to purchase the last ticket left. I was glad that I came alone.

As I was waiting for the theater to be available to get in, I looked around the posters… as you can see they are not main stream movies in Korea. Hmmm… I can believe that they are playing “Sicko” now… but, I was really appreciating to have this kind of theater in my neighborhood. This theater is operated by donation of corporations so there are no commercials or trailers before the featured film. It plays straight to the movie. That was something.

The movie, No Country for Old Men was great. I really liked it. Again, I appreciated Cohen brother’s film & really glad that I was able to watch in a big screen. I don’t think dvd will do it for this kind of film. During the film, I couldn’t help laughing (that leaves bitter after taste) where other audience didn’t as they were reading the subtitles… This is another fun experience I have in theaters here in Seoul. I get to read in Korean and listen in English and can observe reaction of the Korean movie audience… it’s a particular experience I enjoy… sorta multi-tasking, I would say.

I guess I will stroll to this CineCube theater often from now on.

Pan’s Labrynth, Babel, Stranger than Fiction, Volver, The Host
and…my rant

After long day of work, I like to indulge myself into movies or TV shows.

PAN’S LABRYNTH

Lately, my life has been evenful in daily basis therefore, I almost didn’t feel like needing to watch as many movies I used to. However, last friday, I went to see Pan’s Labrynth which left a deep impression on me. The theater was packed and some people in front seat moved up on the staircase for better view and sat there, right next to me… I would say ‘a ghetto style’ seats. But, audience were together. I could hear them reacting to that little girl(Ofellia)’s journey.

First of all, this is not a fairy tale for kids although I do think fairy tales are very often gruesome than you realize if you really think about them realistically. The movie is beautifully written and played. Spanish has been sounded this good in any movies. Great casting + believable characters. Before you think ‘oh, another labrynth movie…,’ You should pay attention to the title, “Pan’s” part. Pan is an interesting mythical creature people very often wonder if one can trust him or not. I was one of them while watching this movie. (btw, a greatly make up & costume of Pan character in this movie!) I won’t spoil the story but, let me list few things I noticed;

  1. Contrast between reality and fantasy worlds was absolutely fantastically done. The viewer realizes that reality is more scary than fantasy as one witnesses what war brought to people.
  2. visuals are astonishing. This movie totally deserves a “Best Art Direction” award in Oscar.(it’s nominated for it – 6 nominations for Oscar this year) The intentional use of color tones are very natural & it works. The girl’s fantasy world is always warm, orange, red colorful tones and reality in Spanish Civil War were dark and cold nuetral color tones. The viewers get immediately reacts emotionally toward these visuals.
  3. In many scenes, there were many scenes that describes the girl’s childishness. She seems to be brave and smart but, I couldn’t help thinking she is just a child. It had a great scene with a toad where many bugs crawling over her shoulder and etc. , which reminded me of my own childhood when I wasn’t afraid of bugs which was about Ofellia’s age.
  4. Parellel stories of adult sibling characters (Mercedes & Pedro) and young girl, Ofelia and unborn brother/her baby brother. Two older sisters show their courage & compassion to save their younger brothers and how they relate toward each other.

I heard that Pan’s Labrynth didn’t do well in asia (neither in china or korea – they never heard of it.) I’m sure they had a limited marketing fund to advertise – also, this film speaks for itself. This movie is worth watching in the big screen & shouldn’t be missed.
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BABEL
I became a big fan of the director, Iñárritu since I watched “Amores Peros” – a raw powerful movie. I also like “21 Grams” so, I didn’t hesitate to go see Babel in first week it was released.
The only mistake I made with my frieind was that we met at the theater like 10 min before the movie started and the seats were mostly taken… so I had to sit in the front – a bad idea for this kind of movie, I thought I learned my lesson from Martrix 3 movie but, apparently I didn’t.
So, “Babel” is third film of this triology (I have a hard time pronouncing this damn word in English!)
I also forgot to warn my good friend that Iñárritu’s movies are all very depressing… I think I told him at the last 10 min of the film… he sacaristically thanked me for that.

Generally, I liked the movie, Yiriko Kikuchi stole the show and each stories were interesting and powerful. The only flaw that was raised by most of my New Yorker friends were basically, his subjects were a bit too stereotypical; ie, Immgration problem – Mexican, Teenager girls who want to get laid – Japanese, Middle Eastern – terrorism threat that was wrongly accused… Anyhow, this third film was more formatted and edited for American audience, I think.
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STRANGER THAN FICTION
When I watched the trailer, I thought this movie would be lightly funny but, when I actually watched the movie, it was even more funnier and has an insightful message. Emma Thompson and Will Ferrell’s performances were stunning and of course, Maggie Gyllenhaal is always great in any films. I liked the graphic treatment as he counts his walk and etc and I truly enjoyed this movie, very Flash like motion graphics.

My favorite scene: Will Ferrell character brings a box of flours to Maggie(the baker) and confessing his love to her by saying, “I brought you flours.”

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VOLVER

I went to see this movie for my ladies night hangout – which is actually an occassional gathering of 4 Thai girls & me in NYC, usually begins with a chick movie and ends with a dinner. It was good but, I still like “Talk To Her” better. Penelope Cruz still didn’t convince me that she is a struggling single mother to me despite of her fat ass suits. Her arms and legs were too thin and well toned and she was just too pretty to believe to be the character she was playing. It has a nice, similar touch like “All About My Mother”, Almodovar’s touch. A good movie to watch in DVDs.

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THE HOST

(by this movie, you can imagine that I really really like watching movies)
This is the second film by director, Junho Bong I watched since “Memory of Murder.” It is an excellent movie that everyone should check out. The Host also has a scary storyline with Korean inner jokes which I’m not sure if non-Korean audience can get the jokes. Just like “Memory of Murder” this movie contains many symbolism regarding today’s political and social scene. Here is the interesting scrap I got from http://www.imdb.com. “Memory of Murder” was based on a real serial murder it happened in 1980 & they never caught the murderer and “The Host” still based on a small actual incident happened in 2000.

The event described in the beginning of Gwoemul is based on an actual event. In February 2000 in a US military facility located in the center of Seoul, US military civilian employee Mr. McFarland ordered to dispose formaldehyde into the sewer system leading to Han River despite the objection of a Korean subordinate. Korean government attempted to prosecute Mr. McFarland in Korean court but US military refused to hand over the custody of Mr. McFarland to the Korean legal system. Later, a Korean judge convicted Mr. McFarland in absentia. Public enraged at the Korean government’s inability to enforce its law on its own soil. In 2005, nearly five years after the original incident, Mr. McFarland was finally found guilty in Korean court in his presence. He never served the actual prison sentence, however. No sighting of mutant creature has been reported in Han River, yet.

The scene where Nam-il kicks Kang-du at the funeral ceremony was improvised

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THE CURSE OF GOLDEN FLOWER

I did not watch this movie. I refused to watch this movie. I’ve figured that it’s probably a lot like or worse than “Hero” with bigger budget and more golds. “Hero” was basically about flying warriors with a hidden propaganda idea of the great china they wanted to show the world. I figured this would be another greater propaganda movie perhaps? To me, “Hero” was too ordinary like any Hong Kong movies I’m used to. It was entertaining to watch but, didn’t leave me any impression like Zhang’s other older movies. Although I do respect director, Yimou Zhang, lately I’m not sure what happened to his films… Bigger budget, worse movies… hollywood-fied entertainment but, no soul.

I miss Yimou Zhang who directed “To Live” With low budget, he pulled an amazingly beautiful film that spoke its insightful wisdom. Gong Li was so alive in that movie. What really happened to them? Because “Crouching Tiger” was once a big hit in Hollywood? (I think I consider other movies by Ang Lee is a lot better. Especially “Ice Storm” & “Wedding Banquet”) I haven’t given up on Yimou Zhang. I hope he makes a beautiful film one day again that is nothing to do with huge budget and shining golden entertainment.

One thing I’m going to miss a lot if I ever leave NYC is watching a new movie release in a New York City theater. The movie crowds in NYC are awesome! It’s better than baseball games to me. They are expressive and smart. I have endless episodes in movie theaters and this was one of those nights.

I went to see “The Black Dahlia” with a friend of mine on Friday – since it just opened that day, there were annoyingly long lines front of theater 30 min before – even though there are movie playing every half an hour. I was thinking, ‘oh, this’d better be good!.’ But I was surprised to find out that it was bad. However, when a movie is bad, it becomes more interesting experience to our movie watching- especially it’s in New York City.

They’ve tried to revive old black and white detective movie but, they must have missed certain ingredients. It was half way in everything. It wasn’t gruesome (I hoped to be grusome) nor corny in a good way(like “Dick Tracy”) nor romance nor comedy nor suspense. I hope you get the picture by this abstract expression of mine. Apparently, the story started slow but glamourously with beautiful cinema shots and beautiful custom fashion design. Characters were well played but, not well defined for viewers to relate with. 20 minutes into the movie, girls somewhere in front rows started to laugh – it was a serious scene. Then, I started to laugh in next scenes and next thing you know is that laughter has spread out to every seats in the theater( it was a sold out show.) It was just really funny. Not a comedy-like way but, it was comic by just bad lines. I couldn’t help laughing thinking, ‘oh no, that was so out of place.

Then after one and half hour of slow pace, the plot suddenly got accelated… as the main character guy realizing who the killer was, there was a very tacky echoing voice of saying “She looks like that dead girl” – at that moment, the whole theater lost, big laughter came out as a group. We knew we were near end after 2 hours and at the last scene where everyone could expect it it’s an ending (in a Hollywood way), one woman yelled, “Oh, it’s about time!” People laughed more. I couldn’t hold my giggling and laughing either.

As we walked out of theater, we both said, “well, that was bad but, the crowd was fun.” Actually, it’s more fun when the movie is worse in the theaters of New York City. I didn’t mind watching it at all depite of all. I was actually glad that I watched it in the theater with a big smile on my face.

FOOT NOTE

Just To Be Fair: There was one great scene in this movie. In a boxing scene, the character, Bucky’s front teeth flying out by the last power punch to knock him down…! What a scene!

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만약에 내가 뉴욕을 떠나게 된다면 몹시 그리워할것중의 하나가 새로 오픈한 영화를 극장에서 보는 것이다. 뉴욕의 영화관객들은 정말 재미있다. 자신들의 느낌을 화끈하게 표현할 수 있는 그러한 관객들이기에 나는 그동안 극장에서의 에피소드들은 정말 많다. 그러하기에 못 만든 영화를 극장에서 보는게 야구게임 만큼이나 재미있을 때가 있다. 그중에 하나가 최근에 보러간 “블랙 달리아”를 보면서의 일이다.

영화전부터 줄이 길어 좀 짜증스러웠지만 (미국의 극장들은 자리가 제정되어있지 않다. 그래서 인기있는 영화는 미리 가서 줄을 서야 괜찮은 자석에 앉아볼수있다.) 그래도 관객이 많기에 기대감에 부풀어 있었다. 하지만 영화는 정말 별로 였다. 그렇게 공포스럽거나 징그럽지도 않고, 그렇다고 코메디도 아니고 로맨스는 더 더욱이도 아니고 서스팬스도 아닌 그렇게 이도저도 아닌 왠지 만들려다 만 작품같이 느껴졌다. 이야기의 전개는 아주 느리게 시작되었다. 배우들이 연기는 그런데로 했지만 인물설정은 미비한 점이 많아 왠지 거리감이 느껴지는 캐릭터들이었다. 영화는 그러하다치고, 영화시작 이후 한 20분 점 즈음이었다, 앞줄에서 여러여자들의 웃음소리가 들려왔다. 굉장히 심각한 장면이었는데도 말이다. 물론 나도 그후 다른장면에서 웃음을 못참아 낄낄대기 시작했다. (물론 역시 심각한 장면이었다.) 다른 관객들도 여기저기서 웃음소리가 나오기 시작했다. 모르는 사람들이라면 우리가 시대적 살인사건 영화를 보는게 아니라 코메디영화를 보는줄 알 정도였다.

물론 우리는 같은 생각을 공유하면서 왜 우리가 웃는지 알면서 웃는것이었다. 지루한 인물 및 사건 배경설정이 어느정도 끝난 두시간 십분정도뒤 드디어 남자주인공이 사랑하는 여자에게 다시 돌아가는 장면후 크레디트 자막이 흘러나올려는 쯤, 앞자리의 어떤여자의 극장에서 들릴만한 큰 짜증스러운 목소리의, “드디어 끝나는 군!”의 뜻인, “It’s about time!” 여기저기서 관객들은 다시 웃기 시작하면서 다시 웃음바다가 되었다.

극장을 나오면서 나는 친구와 함께, “그영화 별로 였지? 그런데 정말 재미있었어! 역시 뉴욕커들이야!” 하며 소담을 나누었다. 더 못만든 영화일수록 관객들의 반응이 더 재미있어지는 뉴욕의 극장들… 나는 십 일불이 하나도 안 아까왔고 오히려 얼굴에 큰 미소를 남기며 극장을 떠나게 되었다. 정말 솔직하고 스스럼없는 뉴욕의 영화객들이다.

It’s been a while since I finally gave up and started to use netflix.com to rent movies. The reason was that they have various kinds of movies that are off-main stream like Kim’s Video stores in NYC. It’s great that they have tons of foreign movies as well as many documentary films which you don’t see in Block Busters. How convenient? I’ve been loving it so far except one thing.

One thing I’ve notieced in “Browse” section; despite of Korean cinema has come far with many impressive, award winning movies since 90s, Korean films are under “Other Asian” They have, Chinese, Eastern European, Hong Kong, Indian, Japanese, Taiwanese even Russian…! It was pretty shocking to me. Where are all the movies that they exported to other asian countries who are all listed above? Not enough number of movies? There are 31 movies under Taiwanese. I have read some articles that very often Korean films are listed as produced in Japan or in Hong Kong by mistake. (Currently “The Host” was listed as produced in Japan in some foreign review sites. Many users complained so it got fixed later. This movie got great review Cannes Film Festival as well as in New York Times so it’s something to expect. To be released at the end of 2006 in the US…) Last 10 years, I’ve really enojyed Korean movies as much as other movies I watch in theaters in New York City. I could no longer complain… I find them intriguing and creative.

To watch Korean movies in netflix.com, I either have to find out English titles of the movies which is far different than the original titles in most time (except Old Boy) or I should just scroll “Other Asian” list. Very interesting in an inconvenient way. hmmmm……

The War of Worlds at NYC

We went to see The War of Worlds at theater in E. Village. The theater was pretty full since it was an opening night. The movie was okay considering good graphic and excellent sound effect and I was terribly bored. About 5 minute to end, I started to laugh(I do this whenever the movie is complete non-sense.) and I could hear from my back seat crowd saying, “what the f#$k…” Then, someone in the middle seat yelled at last, “HOLLYWOOD SUCKS!” people laughed and then everyone applaused.

Yeah, Hollywood still believes in their decade old formular of happy ending story regardless of the situation or flow of the story. The hero and his every family members has to survive in order to make movie audience feel good. What they don’t get is that the movie audience has changed. They are exposed with non-Hollywood movies and they can see what is forced ending and what is not. I love New York whenever this kind of thing happens. I love New York because there are still some New Yorker who makes me smile. It’s been 16 years of life in NYC now… when I finally move out of NYC, I think I’m going to miss New Yorkers who can yell their angry opinion in the middle of the movie.