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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Futureless Things"

2014/06/27 | Permalink

The entirity of "Futureless Things" takes place inside a convenience store. Well, I guess there are some portions which take place just right outside the convenience store, but even these segments take on an eerie otherworldly quality. In another movie these people would look like a malicious violent army waiting for the moment to strike, standing in the dusk of twilight, staring mutely at the locked doors without wavering.

You may have noticed that sentence seems rather out of step with the scene actually described- people standing outside waiting for the convenience store to open. "Futureless Things" as a whole replicates this feeling with several largely unconnected anecdotes dealing with the store's employees. It really must be emphasized- at any given time there's typically only one person on shift. There are a few conversations, usually with the manager, but for the most part characters are coping with their work alone. Usually through jokes.

The humor in the movie is hit-or-miss, but I strongly got the impression that people who have actually worked in a convenience store would be able to identify with everything that happens. Trying to cram some studying in while there aren't any customers? Check. Dealing with people who insist on trying to pay for products in the weirdest possible way? Check. Struggling to close the store down early to meet up for a lover's tryst? Check.

The main trouble with all this is that the characters work mainly as ciphers. Just when we think we're getting to know one reasonably well, we get cut to the clock on the wall and sure enough, now we're going to have a vignette about a new employee mostly unrelated to the previous one. Fortunately they have enough personality that it's relatively easy to tell the difference. At the same time, I can't really describe these people in anything but the vaguest possible terms. There's the gay one, the rude one, the one that gets sucked into a weird bit of magical realism...

Actually the sequence of events is easier to parse via the customers than the employees. Let's see, there's the couple that has a weird argument about condoms, the woman who's evidently had too much of the hot day outside, the indiscriminately religious man who's obsessed with lottery tickets, the guy who gets confused about the promotions that the store is offering, the foreigners who do not react well to a rather stupid and irrelevant observation on the part of a staffmember...

I could go on and on like this. Well, not really, because I'm only (vaguely) mentioning the scenes that I liked and found funny. Enough of them fell flat that I can't really remember much of anything about them at all. That's "Futureless Things" in a nutshell. It's a constant stream of little vignettes about convenience store life that sometimes are funny and sometimes not, sometimes blur the boundary of reality, and sometimes don't, and very little have anything to do with anything else. It's disconnected cinema, for better or worse.

Review by William Schwartz

"Futureless Things" is directed by Kim Kyung-mook and features Gong Myung, Yooyoung, Shin Jae-ha, Kim Hee-yeon-II, Ahn Jae-min and Lee Paul

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