Archive for the K Cinema Category

Bedevilled

Posted in K Cinema with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by Cristina Blackwater

BEDEVILLED – 2010

plot: Hae-won is a beautiful single woman in her thirties who works at a bank in the Seoul city. She leads a busy life until she becomes a witness to an attempted murder case, and at the same time, things get complicated at work. When things get out of hand she is forced to take a vacation so she heads for ‘Moodo’, a small undeveloped island, where she had once visited to see her grandparents. And where she had befriended a girl named Bok-nam who stills writes to Hae-won asking her to visit despite the fact that Hae-won never bothered to reply. Upon arriving at the island, Hae-won is shocked to see everyone treating Bok-nam like a slave. As practically the only young woman on the island, she is a plaything for all the men and a free laborer for the women. Sick of all the inhumane treatment, Bok-nam had tried to escape the island several times in the past but had failed each time. She begs Hae-won to help her escape the place, but Hae-won remains indifferent not wanting to be involved in complicated situations. When Bok-nam realizes that her own daughter will follow her footsteps, she tries to escape the island with her daughter. But something horrible happens. And when she loses the only thing that had kept her going because of Hae-won’s negligence, Bok-nam takes a sickle in her hand for revenge.

IGNORANCE IS BLISS.

How many times have you heard these words (besides listening to a certain Face to Face album..) and silently nodded, making them yours, agreeing that indeed “bless them, cause they have no idea?”

well, think again.

Bedevilled is the 2010 cinematic debut of south korean director Jang Cheol-so,  and stars 2 heroines, Yeong-hie Seo as Bok-nam and Ji Sung-won as Hae-won. Two women to fulfill roles that lie at opposite sides of society, the glamorous, metropolitan lifestyle of Seoul vs the rural simple-minded living of a remote island. Both women have been subject of violence and abuse at some point in their lives, but Hae-won escaped that world as a little girl and became a tough, kind of bratty single woman living in a big city, while Bok-nam remained on the island, forever a victim of domestic violence and constant humiliation.

Bok-nam has a daughter, an innocent little girl who is the only thing to keep her going despite all the verbal and physical abuse. Her mind is set on freeing her daughter from that horrible life and taking her to “magical” Seoul, where she believes her life will change and be peaceful just like her friend’s, Hae-won.

But turns out Hae-won is not willing to help. The past difficulties in her life turned into the kind of person that will walk away and keep quiet in front of danger. Bok-nam reaches the point where she is desperate to escape and save herself and her daughter, and while trying to do so, something horrible happens. And when she loses the last thing that kept her from falling into complete madness, she walks right in the hands of the cold-blooded path of revenge, sickle in her hand, her thirst unquenchable.

This is where the fun part starts (and will keep you glued to your seat until the end):

in the first half of the movie, you are forced to watch a woman receive an unacceptable amount of abuse of every kind and as a woman myself, all i wanted was to step in and fucking scream “somebody fucking do something or i’ll blow all of your fucking brains out!!”. But hey, she gets the drift eventually, and starts shedding blood left and right. We are now in front of a heartbreaking drama suddenly turned into epic motherfucking slasher.

BLISS!

you see this? this is the face of revenge, bitch.

this movie was so good, so exciting and so entertaining that brought me back from my (way too) long silence.

not good enough of a reason to make you hurry up and watch it? here’s another hint: the woman gives the most epic blowjob to a knife (yes, you heard me, a fucking knife) you will ever see in your life. interested now?

there is much more that i could say about the events in the movie but i don’t want to be too spoilery.

i guess i should also mention the (very few) negative notes: towards the end, the movie gets a bit sloppy, and offers a little too many “shocking” revelations, that are typical of the asian cinema “twist” ending. but all in all, this was only a matter of literally 5 minutes out of over 2  hours, so i’m gonna give it a 8.5/10 and very eagerly suggest that you find yourself a copy right NOW.

You will thank me later.

because ignorance is NOT bliss, motherfuckers.

 

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Epitaph

Posted in K Cinema with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

Epitaph – 2007

Plot: An old doctor, circa 1979, discovers that the Ansaeng (Safe Life) Hospital, one of the most modern medical facilities in the colonial period, is about to be demolished. This sets off reminiscences of his internship days at the hospital in 1942, when he got caught up in a number of supernatural episodes

Alright kiddos, now we’re talking! back to business with a damn good korean horror piece.

Epitaph is the 2007 debut film of the Jeong Brothers (and let me tell you how happy i am to finally discover some korean “brothers” in the filmmaking industry!).  it’s a refined, intelligent and surprisingly effective Gothic horror.

hooray! not all hope is lost when it comes to contemporary asian horror. first of all let me tell you that this movie looks fantastic: stunning visuals, great soundtrack, and good acting. the whole package. plus, it’s actually scary! i was pleasantly surprised to be shaken up by some parts of the movie.

let me try to break it down briefly, tho: because for some people, especially those who are not used to the typical flashback, time-lag structure of many asian flicks, the narrative might seem quite confusing (but really, it isn’t)

The story is roughly divided into three segments. In the first, the young Jeong-nam/Masao finds himself attracted to a stunning-looking young girl’s dead body, allegedly a victim of a failed double suicide.

The second segment, flagrantly influenced by OldBoy (it even repeats a key line of dialogue, “I love you, Ajjeossi” — a generic Korean word for a man some years older), is a tale of Asako , the only survivor of a fatal car crash. Asako is haunted by the awful ghost of her mother, and Doctor Lee , convinced that this is the working of her survivor’s guilt, attempts to cure her.

Finally, the hospital’s surgeons Dr. Kaneda and Dr. Kim Dong-won find themselves wrapped up in some serial murders of Japanese soldiers.

here’s a picture of the three doctors at work

the second segment, the tale of little Asako, is the most effective one, and is also the one that will give you the shivers.

so here you have it, a good, beautiful horror movie that will keep you entertained on your next movie night.

Hello Schoolgirl

Posted in K Cinema, Strange Love with tags , , , , , , , on April 28, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

Hello Schoolgirl – 2008

plot: Thirty-year-old Yun-woo bumps into a high school student in the elevator while on his way to work. His heart starts pounding at this teenager’s boldness. At a subway station, KANG Sook can’t stop staring at the long-haired, beautiful Ha-kyung. Ha-kyung breaks up with KANG Sook only a few hours after they first meet. However, KANG Sook has already fallen in love with her.

Let’s step back from the drama genre for a moment: here i bring you one of the best romance movies i’ve seen coming out of mother Korea.  i’ve watched this for the first time about a year ago, and have been thinking of putting it up here for such a long time, but it was kind of bad timing. we’re deep into springtime now, the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and yadda yadda.. so there, a summer love movie for all of you romantics at heart out there (because i know you’re out there, even if you’re pretending not to)

Hello Schoolgirl is a 2008 movie directed by Jang-ha Ryu. we are presented 2 love stories: the main one is between Yeaon-woo, a 30 year old man (Yoo Ji-tae, nonetheless.. the dreamy one and only from Oldboy, Antarctic Journal, and Into the Mirror, amongst many others) and Su-yeong, an 18 year old schoolgirl who happens to become his brand new neighbor.

The secondary story is the one of Sook and Ha-Kyeong, a stubborn (and naive) young boy and a woman with an evident sad past (and fear of abandonment) and a love for photography, who meet at the subway where he falls for her at first glance.

now, let’s leave the secondary story aside for a moment. i mean, that deserves mention but i kind of prefer to focus on the first one. it’s obvious that Yeon-woo and Su-yeong are madly in love with each other. but the thing is.. they can’t be together. he is an “older” (don’t ask me why in Korea 30 is considered older) man, an adult social worker who grew up without family, which is a reason for shame in that country, and she is a young student who’s still in high school. so for whatever social reasons (even tho she’s already 18) they are technically not allowed to be together and have a normal relationship. regardless, he gives her his umbrella when it’s raining and catches a cold for her. she comes into his apartment and makes him soup to make up for it. then they start texting all day and night and go to bed falling asleep with their phones in their hands, giggling like a couple of (adorable) idiots. it’s also a very hot summer and she complains that she wishes it would snow. so what does he do? he buys fake snow and sprinkles it down her window. awww.

she also mocks him from time to time for being someone who gives up too easily in life. on the other hand, he feels like she’s just a kid and that things are just not meant to be and couldn’t work. they briefly go on a very innocent, platonic date and watch a movie together. they sneak into alleys at night when she comes home from school and very secretively hold hands for some of their route back home..

now, what’s it gonna be?

is he gonna be a damn coward and give up on the potential love of his life?

is he gonna stick to it and wait for her a little more until it will be ok for them to be together?

i mean, she’s the typical girl, of course she wants to wait for him. the question lies on him, a man who is often “too good” to go against conventional society rules.

you only have to wait and see: the movie, unlike other things in life, will give you all the answers.

whether you’re the cold, analytical kind of person and you hope for a bad ending and the victory of “morals”, or if you’re a hopeless romantic and think that true love overpowers everything.. this movie is worth a try. it’s not a tear jerker, not at all filled with drama and other things that usually make romance movie so unbearable to watch (me being one of them, most of the times), it’s just a simple, cute, VERY light-hearted movie about a love that runs into some complications.

i think it’s pretty obvious why i cheer for Su-yeong here..

number 1: she likes dogs

and number 2: here she is trying to sport the world famous Cristina Pout (just practice a little more sweetie, you’re almost there)

that’s it, i’m out for now.

oh and i almost forgot: the second love story. the girl is terrified of commitment because it seems like she has lost/been abandoned by someone in her past. but the guy is very light-hearted dumb and really in love and doesn’t take no for an answer. he keeps trying and trying with her, hoping to reach a special spot in her heart. that story is good, too. and it unfolds pretty nicely in the end.

bottom line is: this movie is all adorable and cute and shit.

you should watch it.

Mother

Posted in K Cinema with tags , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

Mother – madeo – 2009

plot: Hye-ja is a ginseng vendor and an unlicensed acupuncturist in a small town in southern South Korea. She dotes on her son, Do-joon, who is 27, unemployed, and mentally incapacitated on some level, which Hye-ja seems to ignore.A high school girl is found dead on the roof of an abandoned building, and the local detectives arrest Do-joon based on circumstantial evidence. They coerce him to sign a confession and quickly imprison him. Hye-ja, distraught and convinced he is innocent, searches for the real killer, uncovering many secrets from the townspeople.

Hey there! long time no see!

I’ve been dying to update Zombie Cupcakes for a while now, but work has been so crazy and, and… ok. I have no excuse. also, it’s been so long since I last wrote a movie review I almost forgot how to do it!

BUT, and here’s how I can make up for the time where I didn’t give you all enough attention or information, i am back with one of those perfect 10’s that don’t need much introduction (also that will make it easier for me to get back into the game of things.. totally selfish, yes). it’s been a long time since i didn’t bring you a masterpiece.. so here it is: Mother.

Madeo is a 2009 movie directed by Bong Joon-ho (The Host, Memories of Murder) about the strength, the passion, and the unconditional love of all mothers. more specifically, about the relationship of a mother (played by korean superstar Kim Hye-ja, whom the director made the film for) and her mentally impaired 28-year-old son, who all of a sudden is convicted of murder. i really don’t want to say much more than that, you’re just gonna have to watch it. the journey of a mother pushing every kind of limit, physical, psychological, and most of all moral, to protect her only and beloved son.

this is not the first time Bong Joon-ho brings to the table 80’s set police methods and procedures. he did it with Memories of Murder first, which is considered to be one of the best korean dramas of all times. now, if you want me to be absolutely honest, I never got into Memories of Murder (and I tried SO hard), while on the other side I absolutely fucking loved The Host (you can read more about that here), so my expectations for Mother were right in the middle.

and what a pleasant surprise! the movie is deep and wrong and shows exactly how far the love of a mother can go. it pushes boundaries while keeping you interested the whole way through. it reminded me of Sympathy for Mr.Vengeance more than a couple times, which is a HUGE plus..

also, the photography is heartbreakingly beautiful

seriously, hurry up and watch this.

and prepare the tissues, because it will make you cry. i warned you.

Zombie Cupcakes out!

Zombie Cupcakes Select: Movie Bites

Posted in French Cinema, Japanese Cinema, K Cinema with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2010 by Cristina Blackwater

bentobjects.blogspot.com

bentobjects.blogspot.com

Brains! Conquer!

Now that we’ve successfully brought 2009 over to the zombie side, here’s a little recap of the bloody gems the now old Mr Oh-nine entertained us with, in no particular order.

Thirst (Bakjwi):

First and foremost, Park Chan Wook’s new masterpiece. Thirst wins pretty much everything, with his absolute brilliance, cruelty, beauty, you name it, the list is almost endless. Almost as long as my epic wait for it through most of the year. Thankfully it was more than worth it! Park Chan-wook came back with this amazing picture and reminded us what vampires are really like (as in they don’t sparkle, people!! they just don’t!! no.no.no.), with their classic tragic sense of romance, internal struggle, irresistible sexuality, and a taste for Revenge. Full Review: here


Drag Me To Hell:

Sam Raimi.Gypsy curses. Exorcisms. Green gooey fun. Need i say more? When this movie came out, it was a little bit like christmas. Like horror movie jesus was born again to make us cry tears of bloody joy. Personally, i never gave up on Sam Raimi, but i know of a few people who did, and when Drag Me To Hell came out he just crushed everybody’s dirty mouth with his Mighty Fist. No, seriously. Every little movie geek like me who grew up with bread and Evil Dead, knew this day would come. Here’s my idea of how much this movie kicks ass. Full Review: coming soon


Martyrs:

Technically a 2008 movie, but the majority of us really discovered it in 2009, after its Dvd release. I like this movie so much it made me talk about it nonstop for months. It’s the journey of Anna Assoui down the terrifying spiral of abuse and torture. She suffers inexplicable pain. She’s a martyr, a fighter, a survivor, and pretty much my hero. Many labeled Martyrs as a “monster”, but here at zombie cupcakes, Monsters are good, and we love them plenty. Perfect 10. Full Review: here


Paranormal Activity:

There’s 2 very distinct school of thoughts for this movie; those who screamed amazing and those who screamed what the hell was that, also known as “i want my money back”. I  side with the amazing group. Maybe because I’m a believer. The movie is the modern Blair Witch Project. The story of a young couple haunted by a mysterious presence at night. Absolutely real and terrifying. I couldn’t sleep at night after i watched it, and i don’t care if you’re in the Poo-on-paranormal-activity party. Poo on you. I hope that demon comes for YOU next. Full Review: here


Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl:

Yoshihiro Nishimura teamed up with Naoyuki Tomomatsu of Stacy-Attack of the schoolgirl Zombies. These two need no introduction. They also don’t need a plot whatsoever, apparently. But we absolutely don’t care! Zombie schoolgirls, incredible gore, raining blood!! Fun for the whole family! This movie is the tale of two girls who like the same guy and bite to conquer his heart. But i digress. Did i mention unbelievable amounts of blood and gore? Featuring Eihi Shiina (from Audition) and Takashi Shimizu (Ju-On saga director), Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girls is not out on dvd (or on the net) yet, but it will be soon. In the meantime, try other Nishimura movies like Tokyo Gore Police, or Machine GirlFull Review: coming soon

What about you? What was your favorite this year?

Zombie Cupcakes out!

Thirst

Posted in K Cinema, Strange Love with tags , , , , on November 14, 2009 by Cristina Blackwater

Thirst – Bakjwi – 2009

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From IMDB: Beloved and devoted priest from a small town volunteers for a medical experiment which fails and turns him into a vampire. Physical and psychological changes lead to his affair with a wife of his childhood friend who is repressed and tired of her mundane life. The one-time priest falls deeper in despair and depravity. As things turns for worse, he struggles to maintain whats left of his humanity.

Finally, what i’ve been talking about nonstop for months on here, my twitter, to my friends, and pretty much anybody who would listen, i got a chance to watch and own a copy of Thirst. What can i say.. where can i even start? I’ll try, even tho when it comes to Park Chan Wook my vocabulary seems shy of appropriate and beautiful enough terms.

Bakjwi (originally set to be titled “the bat”) is the story of a catholic priest, Sang-hyun (impeccably played by korean superstar Song Kang-ho of The Host and Sympathy for Mr Vengeance) who loves life and humanity so much that he decides to volunteer for a medical experiment, only to come out of it as a vampire – and the only survivor out of 50+ patients. As he’s dragged into the world of Sin and carried away by lust, thirst for human blood, and most of all confusion, we watch his faith crumble irremediably.

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Of course, the reason behind this precipitous fall into the rabbit hole is a woman, Tae-ju (brand new actress Kim Ok-bin), who not only is one his childhood’s friends wife, but also a beautiful – and troubled – individual who had been waiting her whole life to run away.

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Their encounter changes their lives forever, and brings the substance of the story at much more than “just” the typical vampire movie. Thirst is about pain, desire, the fall of dogmas, and most of all internal struggle. And Park Chan Wook is right there telling us this beautiful and grotesque story in that familiar way he got us all used to: stunning camera work, outstanding atmospheres, attention for details, and the perfect soundtrack. I’m sure the ending will blow most of you guys’ minds away for it is so gorgeous it almost physically hurts.

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The actors are top-notch, and the movie delivers the perfect combination of brutal violence, gore, and drama but also lots of very funny black humor (my favorite!), suspense, and steamy sex scenes (fun fact: Thirst was the first Korean movie to feature full frontal male nudity). And of course, an endless amount of blood.

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I have been looking around for a copy of this every day since the teaser trailer release back in March, so you can only imagine the kind of suspense i had been building up for myself. On top of that, besides many many positive reviews (not to mention the fact that Thirst won the Jury Prize at Cannes this year pretty much blowing the jury away) – i’ve also read all of those other reviews, the jealous and “i-have-to-critique-negatively-at-any-cost” type, that said it wasn’t Park Chan Wook’s best work, that the movie is too long and needs more editing, and yadda yadda. so i had mixed feelings about my super high-end expectations.

you know what? fuck those critics. the movie is PERFECT.

so perfect i can’t wait to watch it again, and again, and again…

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Hansel and Gretel

Posted in K Cinema with tags , , , , , , on September 10, 2009 by Cristina Blackwater

Hansel and Gretel – 2007

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From Imdb: When Eun-soo gets lost in a country road, he meets a mysterious girl and is led to her fairytale ike house in the middle of the forest. There, Eun-soo is trapped with the girl and her siblings who never age. Eun-soo finally discovers a way out which is written on a fairy tale book. But the book tells a story of none other than himself.

From time to time, we all want to watch a horror movie just for the entertainment. We want something that will please our eyes, our guts, and that will make us jump from our seats once or twice. Of course each one of us has a favorite horror category to refer to when needed, such as slasher, gore, psychological and so on. As a person who loved horror movies longer than i can even recall (rumors say i was a fan even while still in the womb, true story), i have always had a soft spot for one thing: that creepy fairy tale element that brings my inner child out, the one who’s scared of the dark but still insists in playing hide and seek just because of the thrill.

When i was little i was always intrigued by the creepy characters in my fairytale books, like the witch of the west, the witch in Snow white, and so on. Hansel and Gretel takes inspiration from this element, borrowing the very popular brother Grimm’s story title, and makes a hell of an entertaining horror movie out of it, in typical (the good kind of typical, think A Tale of Two Sisters) K-Cinema style.

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Directed in 2007 by Yim Phil-Sung (Antarctic Journal) , Hansel and Gretel provides such a delightful journey with its impeccable photography and camera work. Many compared the visuals to Pan’s Labyrinth, and i can definitely see some similarities in the attention for the details. It’s an entertaining dark fairy tale, complete with creepy little kids that can make things happen with their imagination.


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not only the movie successfully delivers the eerie factor, but it also tries to go a little deeper exploring (and of course, condemning) abusive childhoods. you won’t be disappointed, this movie is pretty much a must see.

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