It has to be said, and said early: this film is incredibly beautiful to watch. The setting, a floating hermitage on the ethereal Jusan Lake (not my poetic expression, alas. I cribbed it from the HKIFF2004 programme), provides a backdrop of natural tranquility. The tempo is slow and measured, allowing the audience to drift along with the growing monk. The story is simple yet moving, expressing grand questions of life, the universe, and pretty much everything.
This is a fairly … (read more)
Phew, this is a nasty piece of work. Before Kim Ki-duk took to making lovely and serene movies like Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring and 3-Iron, he was better known for lovely, serene and sometimes downright bloody ghastly efforts such as this one. In its mercifully brief 86 minutes, The Isle runs you through the wringer like few other movies. The fact that it’s also so sad and beautiful for much of that time makes it a uniquely … (read more)
I confess that I always approach Kim Ki Duk films with some trepidation. It’s not that they’re bad: Kim is a master film-maker, and just about every film he’s made is a work of art. It’s just that Kim’s films are visceral. Kim’s films explore the pain of life, probing with bloody fingers in the meat of human suffering. In short, Kim’s films hurt.
Birdcage Inn is no different. The characters are all unhappy, with a pain that’s visible but … (read more)
While 2004 seemed an obvious indicator that the artistic output of Kim Ki-Duk was gathering momentum, it cannot be claimed that he is moving in a straight line. It is well-known that The Coast Guard was rushed into production (apparently because of the film-maker’s own restlessness and perhaps a desire to meet the 2002 Pusan International Film Festival’s opening night deadline) when weather conditions forced a rescheduling of the shoot of Spring summer, Autumn, Winter …and Spring. So anyone … (read more)
Samaritan Girl is Kim’s best film since The Isle, and along with Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter … and Spring it signals an interesting new direction for the maverick filmmaker. Kim has slightly softened his approach and turned his focus to broader spiritual, rather than specific social, issues. Gone are moments such as the frozen swordfish turned lethal weapon scene in Wild Animals. Violence in Kim’s films has now got a lot less to do with men slapping, molesting … (read more)