Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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 […]

Watching Lee-Chang Dong’s Poetry, I was reminded quite irresistibly of Bong Joon-Ho’s Mother, and not only – at least I hope not – because both are South Korean films about matriarchs forced into terrible ethical decisions to safeguard the future of their young male heir. Though God knows, films have been compared on weaker grounds. […]

The title of Kim Ki-Duk’s Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring pretty much says it all: here is a story of time passing, marked by five particular moments. No points for guessing that the seasons of the title are metaphorical references for points in a man’s life, but yes, this is the story of a […]

Bong Joon-Ho’s third feature, the amazing giant monster movie/intimate family drama The Host instantly shot him to the very top of the list of “South Korean Directors To Look Out For” – a list that has become altogether crowded in the last decade, making Bong’s immediate fame that much more impressive. Three years later, and […]

You’ve got to at least give writer-director Yoo Ha credit that A Frozen Flower is a rather unconventional movie: a lush period epic whose drama springs from homosexuality and a most bizarre kind of adultery isn’t necessarily the kind of thing you expect to see around every corner; although it is a South Korean film, […]

Without question, the operative word here is “weird”. Director Kim Ji-Woon’s latest film is merely one more in the suddenly-ubiquitous subgenre of Asian Westerns, but it’s also a gangster picture, a biker movie, an action film, and at times just a good old-fashioned Surrealist epic. Titled The Good, the Bad and the Weird, all three […]

Tokyo! is another one of those new versions of old-fashioned anthology films that exists for no reason other than to show of a handful of short films connected by only the loosest commonality: in this case, three segments about Tokyo, although the precise definition of “about” is different for each director involved. First up is […]

First, the disclaimer. Part of going to a film festival is recognising that sometimes things get messed up: prints don’t show, screening times are pushed at the last minute, et cetera. Thus it happens that there was something wrong with the projection when I saw Juhn Jaihong’s Beautiful. First, there was a stretch of about […]

Categories: ciff, korean cinema, misogyny

Ever since it premiered at Cannes in 2006, Bong Joon-ho’s The Host has been the recipient of some truly glowing festival praise: “the best monster movie in decades” is not at all an uncommon sentiment. That’s over-selling it something fierce (and probably reflects the fact that Proper Critics don’t really see all that many monster […]

I have not seen nearly as much of the work of director Kim Ki-duk as I would like, and what I have seen, though brilliant, is not usually regarded as “typical.” Therefore I don’t know whether Time is more of a return to form, or a fall from grace; it is certainly not subtle in […]