Screening in both Sydney and Melbourne at this year’s KOFFIA festival, Shim’s Family is a character drama with bits of ensemble comedy sticking out. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. South Korean director Jeong Yoon-Chul presents us with a darkly funny look at the chaotic life of a small family (the film’s other English title is Skeletons in the Closet), shot through with the occasional rapid shifts in mood that I’ve come to love from Korean cinema.
Yong-sun … (read more)
Director Kim Jee-woon and Lee Byung-hun are turning into Korea’s own Scorsese and De Niro. After flopping around the industry for a while and getting notice on and off for his interesting, if uneven, films (The Quiet Family, The Foul King), international audiences sat up and took note of Kim’s segment in the horror anthology Three. A year later A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) really made a splash. Imperfect though it was, Sisters had a … (read more)
One of the best Korean gangster movies of the 2000s. Noted for the gritty, spontaneous look of its fight scenes, to me it’s also the interplay of conventional and reflexive elements that makes A Dirty Carnival stand above the excessively histrionic Friend, cute but daft jopok comedies like Marrying the Mafia and My Wife is a Gangster, the aesthetically appealing but shallow A Bittersweet Life and the largely unadventurous output of Ryu Seung-wan, among others.
Jo In-seoung, unbearably … (read more)