Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Lee Chang-dong is by no means the most prolific of the many great South Korean directors to come to major prominence in the 21st Century: Burning, his sixth feature, comes to us after a long eight-year gap since his fifth, 2010’s lovely Poetry. But he does maybe put up a real fight to be considered […]

If there is one great huge problem with Forgotten, and I rather feel like “problem” is a bit of a leading word, it’s that the film is nakedly, overwhelmingly anxious to remind you of Oldboy. And surely, Oldboy is a wonderful movie, so that’s an understandable impulse, but we’re still stuck with a film that, […]

Depending on what you’re watching for, on a scene-by-scene basis The Villainess might be anything from a contender for 2017’s most powerfully image-driven film to a frustrating, confusing an alienating affair of watching non-characters maneuver through a non-plot while gushing jets of blood. And why I say “scene-by-scene basis”, I really almost mean a “shot-by-shot […]

Whatever else is true of Bong Joon-ho’s filmography as late, I’m glad that we have one filmmaker in the business of treating global capitalism as cartoonishly evil in madcap genre films that have the approximate rationality of 1960s European comic books. Okja, Bong’s latest film isn’t as visually brazen & thus not as successful as […]

I shall simply cut to the chase: The Wailing is all that I could possibly ask of a horror movie. The Korean import isn’t perfect, of course, particularly with an ending that goes through at least one too many switchbacks (though the concluding pair of scenes are exquisite), and a distinct over-reliance on “scary dream […]

The problem with with The Handmaiden is that it starts out perfect. Just perfect, I mean, everything I want a movie to be is in there: utterly lush, can’t-stand-it-how-pretty costumes and production design that bring pre-WWII Korea to life with elegance and great vividness while also locking the film into a visual schema based on […]

There’s no inherent reason to compare a Korean horror film and an Australian feminist parable, but throughout the entirety of 2006’s Cinderella, from director Bong Man-dae and screenwriter Son Kwang-soo, I couldn’t keep myself from thinking about Julia Leigh’s Sleeping Beauty from 2011 (whether I’d have made the same connections if I’d seen the films […]

A review requested by Andrew Milne, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. Throughout his career, director Kim Jee-woon has been an unapologetic generic magpie, unified only in that whether he’s making a psycho-thriller like A Tale of Two Sisters, an absurdist Western like The Good, the Bad, the […]

Snowpiercer is the absolute best thing. Okay, so Snowpiercer isn’t literally the absolute best, obviously, but it’s the kind of film which exists on a plain of such energy and madness that it inspires such an all-in response even if it’s stupid. Incidentally, the last movie I saw that made me feel the same “that’s […]

Ever since it won the Golden Lion at the 2012 Venice Film Festival, Kim Ki-duk’s Pieta has divided its audiences into “fucking brilliant!” or “fucking garbage!” camps just as harshly and brutally as its protagonist acts when he beats delinquent debtors into crippledom. And we now understand, at least in the abstract, where that sharp […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/14 & 10/15World premiere: 10 November, 2010, South Korea There are a lot of storylines that you’d expect from a movie called Haunters before arriving at the one it actually possesses: a man who can turn other people into his puppets just by staring at them squares off against the only person […]

There’s a temptation to over-praise I Saw the Devil on the grounds of sheer novelty: it takes a basket of ripe clichés and mixes them into something that you simply do not ever see in American cinema, however much each ingredient is individually over-worked to the point of moral indecency. 1) Serial killer 2) who […]