August 24, 2014

Midnight FM: This Number Has Been Disconnected

Remember the good old days before cell phones were used as masking tape in movies, as quick fixes to get us from Point A to Point B with the least effort possible? Watch Midnight FM and then think how much better this thriller would be if popular radio talk show host Sun-Young (Ae Soo) wasn't constantly leaving one of her two cell phones in different rooms and then scrambling to answer the misplaced cell so she can discuss how her psychopathic stalker fan (Yu Ji-tae) is going to murder her sister, her niece and her daughter. All she needs to do is honor that faxed playlist that unfortunately someone threw out. It's her final night on-air and this guy wants to make her work!

Take all that taunting conversation happening during the commercial breaks and put it on-air, have her try to figure out what's going on strictly through audio, see her listeners struggle along with her, have coworkers interrupt because of initial shared ignorance of what exactly is going on, have her weave it all into a polished show... Now that would be a fascinating movie. That's not Midnight FM though, which spells out way too much and and then throw out late night into an extended car chase that only occasionally has her patched into the network to deliver intro to songs and share half-baked insights about Taxi Driver, Pump Up the Volume and Casablanca.

You can see why some fans would find her infuriating. As scripted by Kim Sang-man, she's a bit arrogant, a bit too American in her tastes. Throughout her show (which despite all the blackmailing and fainting has likely a fairly typical song list), she never once mentions South Korean movies or music, despite the absurd popularity of K-pop and the ubiquity of karaoke in Korean flicks. Her heart belongs to Leonard Cohen! You're hardly surprised she's leaving the radio station to study in America. That her mute daughter -- suffering from a neck injury of unknown origin -- might benefit from U.S. medical expertise seems mostly an afterthought. Given how much she likes to dominate conversation, you may harbor a sneaking suspicion that Sun-young is glad her cute young daughter can only tap out yes and no as a way to communicate. This family only has room for one speaker and she's killing it on the airwaves!

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