Archive for the Strange Love Category

Bellflower

Posted in Strange Love with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2011 by Cristina Blackwater

Bellflower – 2011

plot: Bellflower follows two friends as they venture out into the world to begin their adult lives. Literally all their free time is spent building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction in hopes that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang “Mother Medusa”. While waiting for the world to end, their call to excitement comes unexpectedly when one of them meets a charismatic young woman and falls hard in love. Quickly integrated into a new group of friends, they set off on a journey of betrayal, love, hate, infidelity and extreme violence more devastating and fiery than any of their apocalyptic fantasies.

Let me start off by saying words can hardly explain how much i loved this movie. so pardon me if this will be perhaps yet another very partial pretend-review of a movie, but after all, this is my damn movie blog so you guys deal with it or leave now. Bellflower is up there in the top 3 movies i have watched this year, next to Drive and I Saw The Devil. it touched me in so many ways. so many real, raw, visceral ways. but let’s start with a little back story.

Bellflower is an indie 2011 movie written and directed by Evan Glodell, who is also the protagonist of the movie. it’s essentially, at the poster says, a love story. of many kinds. first and foremost we have Aiden and Woodrow (Evan Glodell), two best friends who move to LA from Wisconsin, with a common passion for Mad Max and homemade pyrotechnics. they are set on building their own homemade flamethrower and a replica of the Medusa car, in the hope that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang

in the meantime, you know, they’re just boys being boys. there’s lots of partying, laughing, fighting, and especially drinking. tons and tons and tons of it. then there’s the girl. there’s always a girl, isn’t there? Woodrow meets her and instantly falls for her, and then shit starts hitting the fan. you could very easily compare her to a Fight Club’s Marla of some kind, or even better, to an Eternal Sunshine’s Clementine. the girl is wild and young and carefree and  nutty on the side. the two of them, on their first date, decide to go on a spontaneous road trip to Texas, and are pretty much inseparable since.

this seemingly strange but mostly romantic movie turns progressively (MUCH) darker as their relationship crumbles, and the rest is a voyage that takes on surreal, truly apocalyptic notes that more than one reviews rightly describes it as a generational statement. the people in the movie try to find themselves, and try to find something bigger than themselves, something to believe in even in a post apocalyptic fucked up world that seldom offers means to grab onto reality.

and what a grand journey that is! Evan Glodell worked on this movie for years, shot it with a non existing budget and a crew of 11 dedicated people and built most of the props, including the flame throwers and muscle car. also, at some point in the movie he grows a beard and is a total fucking babe. but i digress. Glodell not only wrote, produce, directed, co-edited, and starred in his movie, but he also built a custom camera for it, a “Coatwolf Model II digital cinema camera who looks like a steampunk wet dream, from the old-school bellows on the front to the hand-machined nameplate on the side”

what more do you need as an invitation to hurry up and watch this? how about a hot beard picture?

alright, i lied. that wasn’t for you. it was entirely for my pleasure.

seriously though.. this movie is awesome. i hope this is the start of a very long, brilliant career for this young director who managed to make yet another indie gem out of virtually nothing. and to hell with the huge hollywood blockbusters.

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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.

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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My Sassy Girl

Posted in K Cinema, Strange Love with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2009 by Cristina Blackwater

My Sassy Girl (Yeopgijeogin geunyeo) 2001

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From IMDB: Based on a series of true stories posted by Ho-sik Kim on the Internet describing his relationship with his girlfriend. These were later transformed into a best-selling book and the movie follows the book closely. It describes the meeting of Kyun-woo (Cha) and an unnamed girl. Kyun-woo is shamed into assisting the girl because the other passengers mistakenly think she is his girlfriend. Once he helps her, Kyun-woo develops a deep sense of responsibility for her which enables him to tolerate (somehow) the girls abuses.

South Korea is mostly known for its violent and powerful cinema, so pure hilarious comedies like this one definitely stand aside. My Sassy Girl is overall one of the most successfull movies of all times for this country, and remains up on top of the lists of every critic from both korea and the west.

Unfortunately, with the fame and the money there comes this big ugly monster called shitty remake, that i suggest everybody not to even bother watching since it’s so bad it will literally make you angry.

My Sassy Girl is cute, funny, moving, brilliant, and even a little crazy: the girl’s main quote thru the entire movie is “do you wanna die?” not to mention she curses and yells at everybody, she drinks herself nearly to death, and she even pukes in her own mouth a little, while poor Gyeon-woo is forced (always with a smile) to stand back and deal with his out of control sassy girlfriend. The movie moves along like an anime movie, or like a good old shojo manga.

If you, like me, grew up reading those volumes from right to left, last page to the first, you are going to fall in love with this movie! But even if you have no idea what i’m talking about, there is no way you’re not going to like it.

Plus, if you don’t fall in love with how outstandingly beautiful this girl is, you are definitely NOT human.

must. see.

Failan

Posted in K Cinema, Strange Love with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2009 by Cristina Blackwater

Failan (2001)

from IMDB: After losing both her parents, Failan (Cecilia Cheung) emmigrates to Korea to seek her only remaining relatives. Once she reaches Korea, she finds out that her relatives have moved to Canada well over a year ago. Desperate to stay and make a living in Korea, Failan is forced to have an arranged marriage through a match-making agency. Kang Jae (Choi Min Shik) is an old and outdated gangster who has no respect from his peers. Short on money, Kang Jae decides to take on the arranged marriage. Having nothing more than a picture of Kang Jae, Failan spends her days dreaming and wishing that Kang Jae would come to visit her. Failan often writes to Kang Jae in sorrow about how much she misses and thinks about him, but never has the nerve to give the letters to Kang Jae. Things take a turn when Kang Jae is asked by his boss to take the fall for a murder in exchange for some money. The only hope in his worthless life is the wife he never met.

Directed by Song Hae-seong in 2001, Failan is a movie about love between two characters that never actually meet, and the really intense tragedy that comes with it. Kang Jae is played by Choi Min Sik, the main character in Oldboy. He portrays a man who lives his life with no goals whatsoever, only to find his sensitivity and emotions when it’s (obviously) too late. Cecilia Cheung and her immaculate acting show us a girl who comes to a new country too young and too hopeless, starts building castles in the sand thinking about a husband she never met, and ends up really falling for it. And when she does, it’s truly heartbreaking. For all parties involved. Viewers included.

This movie has power, and it’s big. If you decide to approach it, be sure to sit back, get comfortable, and keep numerous tissues handy, because it will make even the most cynical person shed a few tears.

Personal happy note about Failan: Choi Min Sik in a suit is always unbelievably HOT! ha ha! did i relieve the tension a little? i don’t want my Valentine’s special to be all sad! coming up it’s going to be a comedy, i promise.

…Ing

Posted in K Cinema, Strange Love with tags , , , , on February 13, 2009 by Cristina Blackwater

…Ing (2003)

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more Valentine’s special! …Ing is a 2003 movie directed by Lee Eon-Hee and starring Im su-jeong of A tale of two sisters and I’m a cyborg but that’s ok.

Mina is a cute teenage girl with a deformed hand and a life threatening disease who lives with her single mother Mi-sook, who’s trying to teach her how to live life one day at a time. Altho Mina spent most of her life in and out of hospitals because of her conditions, she is unaware of her imminent death. She eventually embarks on a relationship with Young-Jae,  her new downstairs neighbor, in this humorous, charming, and ultimately heartfelt melodrama.

Im Su-Jeong is an outstading actress. …Ing is a classic romantic melodrama with the difference that this one has wit, its pace is not annoying, and there’s a lot of smart comical relief inbetween scenes. The entire movie revolves around these 3 characters, so the film’s success relies on the brilliance and amazing performance of the main actors. You will laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry. Guaranteed. I personally cried a river!!

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Funny note: somehow Im Su-Jeong always ends up in a hospital and/or trying to commit suicide (you’ll find it in i’m a cyborg but that’s ok and a tale of two sisters, too).. At least she does it really, really well.

I’m a Cyborg But That’s Ok

Posted in K Cinema, Strange Love with tags , , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by Cristina Blackwater

I’m a Cyborg but that’s Ok – 2006

by Park Chan-Wook

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Youn-Goon is working in a factory when the radio tells her she is a cyborg, thus unable to eat human food, and she must recharge herself like a machine. Suddenly she cuts her wrists and put wires in them.. and she is then brought to a mental institution for attempted suicide. Inside the insitution she meets an adorable handful of weird people, like the guy who is so polite he has to walk backwards not to offend you, the woman who thinks she can fly with knit socks, and the gorgeous Il-Soon, who wears odd masks and claims be to be able to steal everything, including people’s skills and personalities. Il-Soon finds himself rather taken with the bizarrely endearing Young-goon, and sets out to save her from her self-imposed starvation…

I’m a cyborg but that’s ok is usually categorized as romantic comedy, but if you look deeply you will find some of good old Park Chan-Wook‘s distinctive style traits: Young-goon is ultimately moved by vengeance, since her role as a cyborg is to revenge her grandmother, who was taken away by doctors and locked in a mental insitution.

Either way, this movie is adorable and weird and more adorable.

the perfect way to start my Zombie Cupcakes Valentine’s week!

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Park Chan Wook gathers together A Tale of Two Sister‘s star Im Su-jeong and korean popstar Rain to take us into a very surreal and bright world full of weird people that are almost impossible not to fall in love with. Personally i have a crush on the girl who can “sing yodel but only look at the world thru a small hand mirror”.

Who is your favorite and why?

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