October 8, 2007

Korean Film: In Search of My Seoul

I love Korean film. Not all Korean films, mind you. Romances like The Classic are a little too sappy, and aside from The Host, most of the comedy in their movies would bore me if it were in English. But when it comes to noir, this country's cinema can compete with the best of Hollywood. (When it comes to horror, they more than hold their own, too.) Looking back over the last few years, I know it was Save the Green Planet that first excited me about Korean film. An homage to Fellini and The Wizard of Oz, Jang Jun-hwan's serial killer thriller struck me as a one-up on Tarantino, the work of an utterly original mind that made me reconsider the importance of man's survival in the universe. (Don't worry! I still think we should live.) After that, Park Chan-wook's Oldboy turned me into a bonafide fanatic. Now I'll watch anything out of Korea. I even rented the abysmal Painted Fire which won the Golden Palm at Cannes perhaps because it reiterated that old truism that art is boring. Some people say that Korea is in the midst of a Golden Age for filmmaking. I think you should listen to those people. I think it's true. This blog's sole intention is to win new converts to Korean cinema and perhaps to figure out for myself what makes Korean movies so damned good.


  1. I love Korean melodramas and romances but thought "The Classic" was awful. What do you think of "A Moment to Remember", "Love Phobia", or the amazing "More Than Blue"?

    I love the way many Korean film makers show little concern with surprising you. Instead, they may use recycled stories or themes and take the challenge of executing it better than the last person. The audience comes in thinking not "where are you going to take me" but "how well are you going to do this". Or something like that.

    I think that might also be why there are so any genre mash-ups from Korea. It's like they either didn't get the memo on what genre films are supposed to be, or they did get it and they've decided to chew it up and spit it back out at us.

    My hook, the film that made me never turn back, was Kim ki-duk's "The Isle".

  2. I saw "The Classic" many years ago and was not a fan, big or small. So cheesy! "A Moment to Remember" was a bit more disturbing. I don't know "More Than Blue" or "Love Phobia." As to Kim Ki-duk's "The Isle," it's pretty sick... in a good way.

  3. It was Memories of Murder that converted me, the first Korean film I ever saw - I turned my back on Hollywood forever. I have a large collection of Korean movies now. A Moment to Remember is one of my favourites. I still fall off the seat laughing when that motor cycle goes belly up. Song Kang Ho and Jung Woo Sung are two of my favourite actors (so naturally I have The Good the Bad The Weird).

  4. I love "Memories of Murder" too. Everything that Bong Joon-ho does is touched by genius. I couldn't get into "A Moment to Remember" however. If you were to recommend three movies not on my index pages, what might they be? Happy to (virtually) meet another Korean film die-hard!