Contagion Spreads to Theaters Everywhere

September 22, 2011


Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

Starring: Big Name Hollywood Talent

Release Date: Thursday September 22

Matt Damon. Kate Winslet. Jude Law. Gwyneth Paltrow. Laurence Fishburne. Marion Cotillard. Wow, this orgy of Big Name Hollywood Talent hits theaters today and I’m not sure whether I’m disgusted or impressed by its bloated cast. Of course, the only name of any importance here is the director’s, one that doesn’t usually tickle my fancy, but what the hell, I’ll give this one a try.


The Tree of Life Slated for October 27 South Korean Release

September 8, 2011


Directed by: Terrence Malick

Starring: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain

I moved back to Korea ten days before the American release of Terence Malick’s  “The Tree of Life,” and have since spent every day of summer in a state of prolonged, torturous anticipation. Checking Naver’s movie release date page became one of my daily obsessions, and frankly I was starting to entertain the nightmarish possibility that, like so many other quality films, this one would escape the attention of those mighty beings who choose which movies come out when. Well, the wait is finally coming to an end – its slated for an October 27 South Korean release date, and given the major star-power attached, it will likely come out in most mainstream movie theaters.

I wouldn’t usually write a post about an upcoming film so far ahead of its actual release date, but Malick is no ordinary filmmaker, and from what I hear, “The Tree of Life” is no ordinary Malick film. This is widely considered his masterpiece, a time-bending, universe-sprawling epic, one that took home the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or back in May. Mark your calendars, ladies and gentlemen, only a month and a half to go until cinematic nirvana.

Alfred Hitchcock Retrospective At Busan Cinematheque

July 30, 2011

The Busan Cinematheque is running a retrospective on Alfred Hitchcock accompanied by 10 films by the late Claude Chabrol. For the full preview, click the following link to the Busan Haps article:

Three English Language Films at Busan Cinematheque Starting Saturday

June 23, 2011

I’ve started doing write-ups with capsule reviews/previews about what’s playing at the Busan Cinematheque for the English magazine Busan Haps again.

Here’s my latest on the 3 English language movies that will be showing starting Saturday.

Here’s the Scoop: Busan Cinematheque to Screen One of Woody Allen’s Lesser Works

June 15, 2011

Directed by: Woody Allen

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Hugh Jackman

Where: Busan Cinematheque

When: Sunday June 19 at 13:00

This is a film by Woody Allen. I don’t like films by Woody Allen. I just wanted to make that clear before I went on to discuss “Scoop,” one of his more recent pictures playing at the Busan Cinematheque this weekend. I saw Scoop on the airplane, and in that context I suppose I appreciated it, if for no other reason than it helped pass the time on an excruciatingly uncomfortable long haul flight. But much like Allen’s other recent work, it’s trite and forgettable, and according to many of his own fans, a gross misrepresentation of the beloved writer-director.

Irish Indie-Musical to Screen Once at Busan Cinematheque

June 15, 2011

Directed by: John Carney

Starring: Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova

Where: Busan Cinematheque

When: Sunday June 19 at 17:30

The Busan Cinematheque will be screening “Once,” the Irish indie-musical that took home the Oscar for Best Original song back in 2008. It’s a good film to bring your girlfriend on a date to, cute and charming in its own little way, but not one that you’ll want to watch more than once.

South Korea Summer Movie Release Dates

June 8, 2011

I just discovered a nifty page on Naver that lists all the mainstream movies to be released in South Korea in the upcoming months. Hopefully, this is just a preliminary list and more titles will be added on a week-by-week basis. “The Tree of Life” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” my two most anticipated movies slated to come out this summer in the US, have yet to be given release dates here.

Gukdo Art Cinema To Hold Two More Screenings of Certified Copy

June 7, 2011

Where: Gukdo Art Cinema

When: Thursday June 9 at 12pm and Sunday June 12 at 6:20pm

The Gukdo Art Cinema will hold two more screenings of “Certified Copy,” Abbas Kiarostami’s refreshing look on the encounter between a French art gallery owner (Juliette Binoche) and a British writer (William Shimell) in Tuscany. Here’s the thing: about 50% of the film is in English, 40% is in French, and 10% is in Italian, and it’s only being shown with Korean subtitles. I realize that most people aren’t trilingual or willing to sit through a movie that’s half in other languages, but given that this is easily one of the best films of 2010, and there’s virtually nothing else to go see at the moment in mainstream movie theaters or at the Busan Cinematheque, I thought I’d at least let people know.

Introducing the Gukdo Art Cinema in Daeyeon

May 31, 2011

In my first two-year stint in South Korea, I neglected to mention the Gukdo Art Cinema in Daeyeon in any of my posts, although it was featured as a link on the sidebar, on account of its obscured location, user-unfriendly website and,  most importantly, poor selection of films. I only visited it once, when I was dragged along to a screening of “The Limits of Control” (Jim Jarmusch, 2009), a bad film made worse by the fact that the projector kept crapping out, giving the audience a series of unplanned intermissions. As soon as the end credits rolled up, I did what I usually do after enduring a bad example of art film – I darted for the exit. But instead of the liberation I sought, I was met with the trollish theater attendant who insisted that I stay until the final reel, that I would be missing an essential part of the movie if I didn’t. She was so insistent, in fact, that she wouldn’t let me leave. This topped my list as the single most unpleasant moment in all the time I had spent in movie theaters in South Korea, closely followed by when a father sitting in the same row as me let his son urinate into a soda cup in the middle of “How To Train Your Dragon” (Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders, 2010), and when a man decided to sit right next to me even though the whole theater was empty. The bad movie, coupled with this unfortunate incident, left a singularly poor impression of the movie theater as a whole, and I never returned.

Being a forgiving person, however, and wanting to see a really good film I had only been able to watch previously on the 15 inch display of my laptop computer, I went back to Gukdo for my second viewing of “Certified Copy” (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010). This time around, I found the theater much more endearing. With only one screen, this small cinema only shows a handful of films on any given week, a lot of them unknown independent Korean movies, a lot of them unknown foreign-language movies without English subtitles. And yet, this week they’re screening three films by directors I not only know, but really like: “Certified Copy” (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010), “Another Year” (Mike Leigh, 2010), and “Antichrist” (Lars Von Trier, 2010). I don’t know whether showing films of this caliber (they were all part of the Cannes 2010 Official Selection) is just a fluke or something Gukdo will be repeating in the future, but I’ll no longer ignore its screening schedule, which can be viewed by clicking the following link:

The website is no easier to navigate, and understanding the schedule requires the ability to read Korean and to decipher the English title of the movie from the sometimes completely different Korean title. It’s a pain in the ass, but if they continue to show interesting films (i.e. films I want to see), I will post the screening times. If not, Gukdo will go back to being relegated to a useless link on the sidebar of the blog.

Screening Times:

Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010) – Wednesday June 1 at 1:30pm (in English with Korean subtitles)

Antichrist (Lars Von Trier, 2010) – Wednesday June 1 at 4pm (in English with Korean subtitles)

Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010) – Wednesday June 1 at 6pm (in English, French, and Italian with Korean subtitles)

How to Get There:

Take line 2 (the green line) to Daeyeon station and get out at exit 3.

You’ll Never Be Starving Again

May 31, 2011

After a one year hiatus, the site will be up and running again. The regularity with which I post will depend on a variety of factors: how busy I am at my various paying jobs, readership, and, of course, if there’s anything interesting out in theaters. The post-Oscar, pre-Cannes dry spell just ended, and the summer blockbuster season has officially begun with the release of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” so I’m looking forward to seeing some films. Unfortunately, no South Korean release date has been set for Terrence Malick’s cosmic, time-bending, Palme d’Or winning epic, “The Tree of Life”, and after glancing at the disappointing June schedule for the Busan Cinemateque, I know I won’t be visiting my once favorite film spot in Busan for at least a month. But, hey, it’s nice to be back in a country where the internet speed is so fast I can down***d entire films in under 10 minutes.

Some new and improved features: I added a Google Maps link to the Busan Cinematheque page, replacing the archaic one I had up previously; I also added a page with information about the Gukdo Art Cinema (for more, see next post); and I’ll now be posting dates in the Film Log page (an ever growing list of every movie I watch), so you can not only keep track of which movies I watch, and how I felt about them, but also chronicle my slow and steady journey toward cinematic zen. In other words, I’m leaving the primitive layout untouched and will mostly be covering the same sort of film fare I was before my mysterious absence.