Reviews by Country
Korean film watchers might have spotted the news that zombie film Train to Busan screamed past the 10 million domestic tickets mark on Sunday, becoming the fourteenth Korean film to do so, ever. From all accounts, it seems to have been a bit of an unexpected hit, too: the zombie genre hasn’t been explored (even done to death?) in South Korea as it has in Hollywood, and it’s the first live action film from director Yeon Sang-ho, whose previous … (read more)
The last couple of animated films I’ve seen from Korea have been Yeon Sang-ho’s powerful, perhaps even brutal films The King of Pigs and The Fake, both of which use the medium in a very distinctive style to present and criticise aspects of Korean society. This film, The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow is no less confident a feature debut for director Jang Hyung-yun, but it is much lighter fare, focusing as it does on romance, heartache, geostationary orbits … (read more)
This surprisingly entertaining offer from writer-director Hong Sang-soo (Nobody’s Daughter Hae-Won, Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors) is a little like watching a Woody Allen movie, without as much whining. Western mainstream audiences might find themselves a little torn between the gentle humour and the lack of normal narrative cues towards the end, but words like charming and quirky are definitely not just intellectual terms being bandied about at the critic’s level.
This is not a film that is easily reviewed. Dealing with an explosive topic — the physical and sexual abuse of children — and based on true events, it is one that cannot easily break the divide between the viewer’s own emotional response and a critical one. It’s fortunate, then, that Hwang Dong-hyuk’s direction is both thoughtful and forceful, worthy of the film’s text.… (read more)
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)
Chaw is an surprising little film to come out of Korea. It’s not a historical drama, nor a modern thriller, nor a huge piece of CGI-assisted melodrama like Haeundae, my last Korean film experience. It’s a proper monstrous-animal B-movie, and much of the buzz surrounding the film has compared it to Spielberg’s Jaws or the Aussie cult classic Razorback, also starring a gigantic boar. I cain’t think of another recent Korean film that’s gone for this particular genre, … (read more)