Blanche's blog

1:34 AM on 01.17.2013

Check this out! The Rise of South Korean Cinema

With the recent rise of south Korean cinema, an SK cinema cult following has been gaining popularity over the years due to films like oldboy, a tale of two sisters, the host, memories of murder etc. etc. And while I was considering reviewing those specific movies, I wondered, where's the fun in giving praise to movies that are already considered some of the greatest movies of the decade? So without further ado, here are some really great South Korean films that of which may not be as well known as other SK films due to bad/no word of mouth.

First up...

'Bedevilled' tells the story of a not so nice lawyer who finally accepts an invitation from her childhood friend as part of her work holiday to go to her home island of donmoo. When she arrives on the island, she instantly notices the 8 other townsfolk (excluding her friend) doing inhumane acts to the childhood friend in question. She gets forced to do all the work on the island, gets beaten up by her husband, kicked around by her piers and other ridiculously inhumane things I'd rather not get into due to spoilers. It isn't until a traumatic event happens later on in the film, where the woman reaches her breaking point and causes some serious (for a lack of a better word) shit to go down.

Before I splooge all over this movie, (saying that in context with the movie kinda grosses me out funnily enough) I need to stress this. I will never watch bedevilled again. And I'm the type of person who watches 'requiem for a dream' and 'happiness' repeatedly. Yeah. Anyway, now it's time for the gushing.

Based on just a technical level alone, this film is astonishing. There isn't a single frame of this movie that feels redundant and every actor does a fantastic job of helping create this harsh and unbearable environment, not only for the main characters, but also for the viewers.

And while this film is extremely hard to watch throughout, (people of the faint of heart, ye be warned) you won't be able to take your eyes away from this movie. Both in terms of how insane it gets and just how damn intriguing the whole thing is.

If you find yourself wanting to have an excuse to hate the human race, (or just want to watch a damn fine movie) do yourself a serious favor and see 'Bedevilled'.

Next up... 'Haunters':

Okay.... Here is basically the plot of haunters without me spoiling the surprises this film has to offer. Imagine 'Akira' mixed with an Alfred Hitchcock-esque man on the run story with an infusion of a hyper violent South Korean revenge film and a hint of something similar to the awesomeness that is 'Attack the Block' (except with adults instead of troubled teens) and you've essentially got 'Haunters'. Oh, and I forgot something else integral to what makes this film, and that's a PUNCH TO THE FACE FULL OF AWESOME! (I'm sorry, that term made literally no sense whatsoever).

So yeah, that's about all I have to say about 'Haunters'. I know this might seem extremely lazy and vague of me, which it is, but the last thing I want to do I spoil all the joy I got out of this movie that comes from knowing nothing about what happens.

So you're gonna have to trust me on this one, and watch this movie however you can completely blind (not literally, I mean, I don't want to advocate any of you stabbing your own eyes out at all, unless your Timmy.... and if you're reading this Timmy, I'll get you for what you did GODDAM- oh, sorry, sometimes I uh.... MOVING ON!) so you can enjoy the pure bliss that is, 'Haunters'.

And now we're down to the final pick, and probably the best of the bunch, and that is... 'I Saw the Devil':

I Saw the Devil tells the story Kyung-chul (played by Min-Sik Choi a.k.a Oh Dae-su from 'Oldboy') and Kim Soo-hyeon (played by Korean superstar Byung-hun Lee). The former being a deranged serial killer and the latter being a traumatized cop mourning over the brutal death of his fiancee, performed by the crazed serial killer in question. So what Soo-hyeon decides to do is beat Kyung-chul sensless with an inch of his life left, send him off to hospital to get patched up and come back repeatedly to put Kyung-chul through a living hell.

I don't say this lightly, but 'I Saw the Devil' is one of my top 20 favorite movies of all time. Now that may sound like a response that a guy/girl who can count their favorite movies on one hand in order of how good they are would conjure up, and said list may consist of 'Baby Geniuses 2', 'Cop Dog' or anything the MST3K guys have butchered to death but the hypothetical person I'm talking about loves it without a hint of irony. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with being one of those people, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, justified or not. So basically what I'm trying to get at here is that I love movies more than anything in the world and that I'm going to have justify the hell out of why I think this is one of my favorite movies.

First off, the two main performances, are no short of breathtaking. Both actors emote so much through just facial movements rather than words and from what dialogue they have, they express every ounce of emotion they're characters are going through out of little more than a sentence. Which as far as I'm concerned, would be pretty damn excruciating to pull off.

Now, what actually makes this film special is how it makes the tired and cliched cat and mouse serial killer sub genre feel so new and fresh. Not only does it do it with the script, but also with the beyond stellar direction, astonishing soundtrack and mind-blowing cinematography. All of these elements combine to create such an involving, heartbreaking, sad, disturbing film where, by the end, I burst into tears.

With all of those compliments being said, I still feel I haven't given the film enough justice, and maybe I never will. But that's probably a good thing. We can always pick apart what makes any average film bad or good, but when you decide a particular film is one of your favorites, you're left at a blank as to how the film blew you away as much as it did. Maybe the film just spoke to you on a personal level and emotional level. And I can say without any hesitation whatsoever, that I Saw the Devil is one of those movies.

While the film may not connect with you, It sure as hell connected with me. And even if you hate the film and will forever hate me for suggesting it to you, that's okay, because 'I Saw the Devil' is one of those films that will always hold a special place in my heart.

My dark, twisted black void of a heart.   read

3:37 AM on 12.30.2012

Foreign Bodies #2: Noroi: The Curse (2005)

In this (If I can get around to it) weekly series, we take a look at a(n) movie/anime/import game that is either good, interesting or just plain bad, but will either way be a product that represents the great country of Japan.

Today, we look at a film that reeealy fuckin' creeps me out. Hell, I'm not sure I even want to talk about it. But I sure would regret recommending the fuck (totally a cohesive sentence) out of this awesome, awesome slice of horror/japanese/found footage cinema.

Masafumi Kobayahshi is an investigative reporter who is deeply obsessed with the paranormal. He is well known for his tv documentaries about local spiritual encounters, but on what seems to be his final case, he is deemed missing not too long after his last tv special aired.

The film basically follows every minute detail of Kobayashi's last appearance, and tries to figure out what the hell happened to him and his crew.

What 'Noroi' does so right is that it gets the found footage genre and knows exactly what film it's trying to be. It never takes you out of the experience by (mistakenly) bringing up plot holes commonly found in these types of films. (such examples include: "Why don't they put the fucking camera down, they're in extreme danger!" or the classic "Why don't they just get help and this would all be over with!") Instead it focuses on making you care about the characters, giving the film surreal concepts whilst still keeping one foot firmly placed in reality and best of all (or worst of all, depending on where you're coming from) it focuses on being one of the creepiest movies you'll probably ever see in your life. And funnily enough, it exceeds amazingly at all three.

The only factor of Noroi that I can see turning people off is it's running time. The film is five minutes shy of 2 hours. While that may not sound like a whole lot to most of you, but be warned, the film does take it's time. Not that that's a bad thing, quite the contrary actually, but I would be lying if I said that everyone would find a reporter walking around in dialogue less scenes absolutely engaging.

So, would I recommend Noroi? Well, it has since become one of my absolute favorite horror films, so, yeah, absolutely. Is it for everyone? No, but even if you are a little apprehensive toward watching it due to it's run time and premise, I would still more than anything else recommend giving it a decent shot.. hell, even if you don't like it, you still get to see creepy japanese children! I mean honestly, it's not like you can find creepy japanese children anywhere else..... at all..... like... literally nowhere else.....   read

8:16 AM on 12.11.2012

Foreign Bodies: Cure (1997)

In this (If I can get around to it) weekly series, we take a look at a(n) movie/anime/import game that is either good, interesting or just plain bad, but will either way be a product that represents the great country of Japan.

Today we are are looking at a film that has always been one of my favorites, 'Cure'. 'Cure' was made in 1997 and was directed by the great Kiroshi Kurosawa (popularized later in his career by J-horror classic 'Pulse').

Detective Kenichi Takabe (Koji Yakusho) is trying to solve the case of a series of murders where the deaths of each person is indistinguishable from the last, but the murders are done by different people. It's only when he finds a mysterious man named Mamiya (played brilliantly by Masato Hagiwara) when Detective Takabe's life truly starts spiraling out of control.

Part of what makes 'Cure' so great is the fact that it takes its' core concept and explores it for all it's worth. I don't want to mention the clever things it does specifically in case of spoilers, but once all the little twists and surprises unravel to you on screen, it's nothing short of genius.

Another thing that makes this movie great is the hypnotic (you'll know what I mean by hypnotic once you see the movie) and just plain unnerving nature about it. Most of that would be due to the help of the sound design in this movie. In most dialogue heavy scenes, you can usually hear a home appliance in the background. For example, in one of the interrogation scenes, one of the most prominent sounds in the scene is a fan, and for some reason or another, it just gives the scene a whole other sense of reality all the while keeping it rooted in it's unnerving, atmospheric horror/thriller universe.

I could honestly go on and on about how much of a masterpiece this film is. I honestly hold it up there with 'Memento' as the smartest, most creative thriller of all time. Accuse me of hyperbolising all want, because that won't stop me from taking it off my top 30 movies of all time. I seriously think it's physically impossible for me to recommend this any higher.

Please, please watch this movie. It excels at everything it's trying to be and to me every frame of this movie is near perfect. Especially the final one. The movie definitely isn't for everyone, but hey, it could just be for you.   read

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