As we know, acceptance to the list is not necessarily an indictor of quality (although it obviously is in most cases). In the last few weeks I have caught up on a large backlog of movies that were waiting to be watched. Interestingly not one of the 5 quite deserved to make the list, although they all were enjoyable and have plenty to admire.
As an Englishman, this is quite a difficult movie to watch. It is a light, frothy comedy about a 15 year Old Girl who ends up in an arranged marriage to a close family friend to honour a ‘dying’ Grandfather’s wish. The subject matter is uncomfortable, but it is dealing with a legal (if hardly commonplace) activity in South Korea. And to be fair, the film does not hide from this controversy, and deals with the issue head on. I am afraid this still made me uncomfortable, which is why it is not on the list. However – it is actually a rather excellent romantic comedy, and I finally understood the Korean Nations’ love of Moon Geun-yeong. She is quite wonderful in this film – she expresses facial emotion like few others.
This one was VERY close to making it. A charming story of a 30 year old woman who is able to go back 14 years to attempt to change what she views to be the defining moment of her past (which has led her to lead an unfulfilled life). She meets and befriends her past self, and finds that try as she might, she cannot change the end results of what happens.
Bizarrely this film was voted as the worst film of the year by one poll. All I can say – it must have been a damn good year. This film is loads of fun. I have a few issues with some of the storytelling (and that might be because I failed to pay attention), but this is a lovely, charming, and very amusing film.
It really was close to making the list, because of a moment of genius near the end. The adventures in the past are finished, but a plot contrivance means that the young Na Jung-ju (Jo An) is able to talk to her future self (Ko So-young) via pager and telephone. We know that Jung-ju’s mother died giving birth to Jung-ju’s younger brother, but when the young version telephones the older to tell her that ‘her’ mother has died, it is absolutely heartbreaking, and done with almost no dialogue. A couple more moments as powerful as that, and it would have made the list.
And there is also a lovely football joke!
I was so looking forward to this. This is the final part in the loose trilogy of films by Kwak Jae-young (of which the other two ARE on the list – you just have not had one of them yet!). “Windstruck” failed at the Korean Box Office, but was a big hit in Japan, so this film was made in Japan, and stars Japanese actors. This is not a problem in itself, but maybe it explains why I just failed to connect with the film in the way I have with the other films he has directed. Haruka Ayase is attractive enough, but the main character she plays is too inconsistent. She is either a soulless Cyborg, or she isn’t (and yes I know she is human the first and last times we meet her). Keisuke Koide is also charming, but I never got the sense that his character frankly had the brains or know-how to become his future self.
The film certainly has merits – it is as beautiful as you would expect a Kwak film to be, the knowing “Terminator” riffs are fun. The first 20 minutes are a joy, the last 10 which tie things together are clever, but the failure of the intervening 90 to fully engage me meant this was a really disappointing failure.
I’ll be quick with this one. A lovely “Terminal Beauty” movie, played well all round. It is about living in the now, not worrying about what happened in the past, or what might happen in the future. The relationship between the sick girl, Min-a (Lim Su-jeong) and her Mother (Lee Mi-suk), is the highlight. It deals with the issues of knowing about the immediate death of you child really well. BUT, the film is just a little too slight.
Finally, an interesting little movie about a Game Developer and an Aquarium worker that unknowingly fall in love online, whilst becoming friends in real life. And as the film was made in 2002 it really is quite prescient.
I think my issues with the film were exasperated by a very awkward set of subtitles – conversations seemed not be natural sounding – which really turned me off. I also found Cho Seung-woo’s character rather unappealing for a leading man.
Not that the film was awful – I certainly don’t want my two hours back, it just did not quite connect with me.