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Revivre (2014)

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As the European title of the film suggests, the story is about rebirth or to come alive again. Interestingly, Revivre’s Korean title Hwajang (화장) means “cremation” and “make-up”, and as the film progresses all of these meanings come into play in the narrative of the story, culminating in an end that is at once poignant and thought-provoking, and kept me guessing at the outcome until the credits rolled.

What’s seemingly a bland story about a senior executive’s ordeal in … (read more)

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The General’s Son (1990)

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The late-1980s and early-1990s were bleak times for the Korean film industry. Market liberalisation had just opened the industry’s doors to Hollywood film companies, who quickly set up local offices and established a rival system of distribution. Audiences for local productions were in decline, with spectators favouring big budget entertainment from America, as well as Hong Kong martial arts and action movies, over films made closer to home.

Korean filmmakers needed to devise ways of combating the encroachment of foreign … (read more)

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Sopyonje (1993)

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When a film is described as a genuine Classic of Korean cinema, there’s a certain wariness about writing a review without being caught up and overwhelmed by the accolades heaped upon it previously.

It’s fortunate then that I didn’t come across those comments until after seeing the film, so my expectations were along the lines of the usual Korean drama with the standard allotment of pathos and melodrama. Opening the review with the adjective of classic, it would … (read more)

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Chihwaseon (2002)

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Chihwaseon is major-league arthouse painted up like a travelogue. The story of a famous painter, set against the backdrop of political upheaval in Korea that also echoes turbulence worldwide, sometimes slides into the background because of the breathtaking scenery.

For a truly heavyweight arthouse flick, it’s surprisingly watchable. Its credibility was demonstrated when it won the Prix De La Mise En Scene at Cannes, although it lacks the dreary quality of many arthouse films. A fair amount of arthouse often … (read more)

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