[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 15 2015/06/15,
The story moves somewhat sedately here, as the emphasis is on making peace and moving on. Pretty much every character relationship that has had any conflict at all is resolved except for So-yeong's vendetta. And that's really just gotten tiring at this point. It's exactly like her dad says- she needs to shut up and stop initiating conflict. So-yeong still hasn't figured out that nobody actually cares whether or not she's right. And given Eun-byeol's behavior, it seems likely that the twins weren't actually planning on keeping this secret forever anyway,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 14 2015/06/09,
It's hard to imagine what "Who Are You - School 2015" was like without Eun-byeol's presence. She's just such a fascinating duality with Eun-bi. Seeing the way Eun-byeol reacts to any daily inconvenience it's rather inescapable that the young woman has strong aggressive tendencies. To some extent this is good- Eun-byeol doesn't need a knight in shining armor like Eun-bi did. She can solve problems quite effectively on her own. Yet this makes Eun-byeol a very unsatisfying person to know on a personal level, because she is so independent it's nearly impossible to help her,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 13 2015/06/08,
The explanation behind Eun-byeol's disappearance is both more simple and more complicated than what I was expecting. This is mainly a function of a few plot holes in Eun-byeol's plan which may or may not be addressed. Overall it's not really a big deal. The important, quickly established information is simply that the main plot has been resolved, so how are the characters supposed to deal with the aftermath?,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 12 2015/06/02,
The mystery regarding what happened at Eun-byeon's school a year ago is mostly cleared up. Rather anticlimactically, I might add. After all that build-up I was expecting some sort of elaborate conspiracy. In all fairness, the situation itself was so low-stated it's easy to see why psychological terror was the only real direction for the situation to go. The tragedy wasn't the result of a bullying so much as it was the failure to properly make a check-up,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 11 2015/06/01,
As it turns out, I-an is still dealing with the consequences of his dramatic decision to protect Eun-bi. It turns out that the swimming team wasn't just background noise- "Who Are You - School 2015" correctly notes that even in an individualist team like swimming, proper camaraderie is a pretty big deal. I-an hasn't just ruined his own athletic inspirations for the near future- he's also wrecked the relays. I-an's story is a cold reflection of how even noble actions can reverberate negative consequences,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 10 2015/05/26,
As was to be expected, So-yeong's plan to get back into everyone's good graces fails miserably. What So-yeong constantly fails to realize is that it's not circumstance which is causing her to be bullied- So-yeong's own attitude is what's causing the problem. And exposing the existence of Eun-bi does her no favors. To the contrary, up until now Eun-bi's strange behavior around So-yeong has made all the classmates suspicious. Now that So-yeong has provided an explanation, it's only that much more difficult for anyone to sympathize with her,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 9 2015/05/25,
The tone this episode is a fairly somber one as Eun-bi and I-an come to grips with the fact that Eun-byeon is most likely dead. I write "most likely" because technically speaking we don't actually know that Eun-byeon's remains are the ones that were cremated. We don't even know how they were identified,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 8 2015/05/19,
In a somewhat surprising twist, it would appear that the main potential victim of Eun-bi being exposed is not Eun-bi herself, but rather I-an. His normally static character arc comes into sharp relief here as I-an deliberately chooses to believe that Eun-bi is Eun-byeon, regardless of how much of his experiences with her post-amnesia simply don't add up. Right when I was wondering if I-an ever had this much fun on dates with the real Eun-byeon, a flashback helpfully pops up to tell us that no, he did not,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 7 2015/05/18,
The cliffhanger this episode and the cliffhanger from last episode are more-or-less the same. But "Who Are You - School 2015" doesn't quite fall into repetition because these repeated plot points establish something very important- that the drama's conceit isn't really sustainable. Even if So-yeong appears to have been subdued, the fact that Eun-bi can't recover Eun-byeon's memories means that this ruse can't go on forever however much Eun-bi and her new mother want it to,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 6 2015/05/12,
The conflict between Eun-bi and So-yeong remains unresolved. In the first place, there's not actually very much So-yeong can do- her usual shtick of physical intimidation doesn't work without the surrounding cult of personality. People can and will question So-yeong's behavior, since they haven't grown accustomed to it. Evidence is another matter- while So-yeong does find better proof for her conspiracy theory, she's still hamstrung by the fact that there's no way for her to explain how it was acquired,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 5 2015/05/11,
So-yeong (played by Jo Soo-hyang) was Eun-bi's tormentor in the past and appears to have come back to haunt Eun-bi in her guise as Eun-byeol. It's difficult to get a good read on what So-yeong wants- this episode definitely implies, though it does not state outright, that the real reason for So-yeong's transfer is that she was expelled from her last school after Eun-bi's apparent suicide exposed a plethora of disturbing bullying behavior. One would think that such revelations would have made the girl a bit more reflective,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 4 2015/05/05,
This episode mostly takes a shift toward premise building. Something of an odd narrative direction given that this is the fourth episode, but "Who Are You - School 2015" makes good use of it. Once Eun-bi figures out what has happened, all that's left for her and Mi-kyeong to do is admit that there isn't actually going to be a happy resolution after all. Now they have to return to their real, mostly heartbroken lives,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 3 2015/05/04,
It turns out that there is bullying at Eun-byeol's school- but it's so subtle that even after watching this episode I'm not sure to what extent it technically exists. The story of Yeong-eun (played by Kim Bo-ra) is very instructive in this regard. As it turns out she was the recipient not so much of the explicit bullying that Eun-bi suffered from, but of the rather more crippling loneliness of simply being ignored altogether,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - School 2015" Episode 2 2015/04/28,
Somewhat disappointingly, this episode uses the plot device of amnesia to mostly avoid tackling the issues established about Eun-bi's character last episode. Now, obviously, given all the trouble "Who Are You - School 2015" went to to set up a rather mysterious premise, we're going to get back to all this at some point. For the moment though the drama goes in a mostly generic direction as Eun-bi tries to get a grasp of her new surroundings,...More
[HanCinema's Film Hall of Fame Review] "Pluto": Cosmic Cruelty 2014/07/12, In the spotlight this week: Shin Su-won's "Pluto"...
The competitive culture Korean students are expected to thrive in is brutal; pressures that mark the ugly side of Korea's scholastic game of snakes and ladders. Students are expected to go above and beyond their personal passions and perform across a wide array of subjects and skills to become, or at least aim to be, polymaths and scholarly sages. It is not enough to hold a degree from a credited institution, one must climb the most prestigious ivory tower around while resisting the very real impulse to jump off somewhere along the way,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "MAD SAD BAD" 2014/05/10,
The first portion of "MAD SAD BAD" is a story about high school in the modern age. Seung-ho (played by Lee David) is a fairly lonely and pathetic teenage boy. He socializes mainly through a chatting cell phone function. The monotony of his life is given a sudden shock by a text message from Woo-bi (played by Son Soo-hyeon), who claims that she's suffering from abuse and singles Seung-ho out of the chatting group for aid.
This segment plays like a mystery, except there's not really any invesigation. Everyone just takes Woo-bi's claims at face value, eventually leading up to a final confrontation,...More
[HanCinema's Film News] New Korean Films Inbound... 2014/05/03, K-Films Coming Soon:
★★★ "MAD SAD BAD": A 3D omnibus movie about a man who becomes a zombie for no apparent reason and falls in love with a woman. (05/15)
★★★ "Sage Solutions": A documentary by Tae Jun-seek about the responsibility and questionable ethics of the Korean Press. (05/15)
★★★★★ "Obsessed": A Vietnam War hero returns home to praise and promotion but suffers PTSD as a result, affecting his marriage, career, and future. (05/15)
★★★ "Campus S Couple": A one-night stand turns awkward when a couple realise they're in the same college. Things get more complicated on campus when another confesses their childhood love. (05/15)
★★★ "The Groin": Set during the Joseon dynasty, three men who don't believe in love make a bet to woo a married woman known for her chasity. (05/15),...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "Romance Joe" 2014/01/31,
The first thing to understand about "Romance Joe" is that it has six different layers. Technically the main character is Seo-dam (played by Kim Dong-hyeon-III), who is relating the story of Director Lee (played by Jo Han-cheol), who is relating the story of the teashop girl (played by Shin Dong-mi) who is relating the story of the older Joe (played by Kim Yeong-pil) who is relating the story of the younger version of Joe (played by Lee David) who is relating the story of Cho-hee (played by Lee Chae-eun). There's also a kid thrown in the middle somewhere with his own story outside of that line. So it might actually be seven different layers, depending on how you define layers,...More
HAF feature interview with KIM Baek-jun, "Monsters" 2012/03/11, Source,
Director KIM Baek-jun (born in 1970) is preparing his third film "Monsters" with production company JK Film ("Haeundae". The project's budget is set at about KW 800 million (US$711,000). He graduated from the Department of Theater and Film at Kyungsung University in Busan and worked as assistant director on films such as "Crazy First Love" (2003) and "Way To Go, Rose" (2005). He made his directorial debut with "My Dear Diary", which was invited to the Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF) competition. His second feature "Farewell - 2011" was in the Butterfly competition at the Cinema Digital Seoul Film Festival (CinDi). "Monsters" will be taking part in the 10th Hong Kong - Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) this month,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Front Line": Making a Mountain out of a Mole Hill 2011/11/26, Jang Hoon's "The Front Line" has achieved much since its release in July. The war drama snatched up four awards from KAFC (Korean Association of Film Critics), another four from the Daejong Film Awards, two technical awards from the Blue Dragon Film Awards, had some 2,949,198 viewers watch it while on the circuit, and it was selected as South Korea's official submission to the Academy Awards. The film was also screened at a number of film festivals around the world but what is it about "The Front Line" that lets it stand tall among other, possibly more substantial and intimate, Korean War films?,...More
[HanCinema's Film Review] Poetry 2011/01/21, Humanising, touching and beautiful, "Poetry" (2010), directed by Lee Chang-dong, is a deeply real film that engages the heart on many levels. This artfully-constructed film lures you in with its sense of realism that just isn't showcased enough in film.,...More
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