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 새 물결 운동 - An A to Z of Contemporary Korean Cinema 
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 새 물결 운동 - An A to Z of Contemporary Korean Cinema

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The opening scene of influential auteur Lee Chang-dong's debut feature, Green Fish, which was released in 1997, is emblematic of Korean cinema and its late twentieth century resurgence. We open on the rusty side panels of a passenger train as it curves through heavy countryside, chugging its way past shrubs, trees and telegraph poles under a subdued grey sky. Both camera and train are positioned in way that gives us a good view of the entire train up ahead, but as this changes and the track straightens out our attention is diverted by a mysterious female figure who suddenly but irresistibly hangs out from between the two succeeding carriages. She leans further and further, as if in a trance, her iris-coloured dress whipping violently about her thighs as the train powers into another bend. Things then slow down as her thin scarf becomes detached and blows back towards us, covering both the figure and her sudden, accusatory look towards the camera from view. But a second later she is gone, and we are left wondering who she was and where she came from. It is this beautiful curiosity and simple urge to tell stories that became synonymous with Korean cinema during the nineties; almost as though the country, recently liberated from military dictatorship for the first time in decades, had suddenly opened its eyes and decided that it was time to tell its own story. A story that was then carried, fluttering on the winds of change, across the oceans to Europe and beyond.

In his The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema, Kim Kyung-hyun describes films of the Korean New Wave as a "cinema of post-trauma", and this is undoubtedly true of the work of Lee Chang-dong in particular. It must be noted however that there are actually two parts to this New Wave: two smaller waves, if you will. The first wave, which came directly after the change in government and was orchestrated by directors such as Jang Sun-woo, Park Kwang-su and Lee Myung-se who debuted their work in the late eighties, spent more time dealing with the country's heritage and overcoming of its immediate past. This is not to be confused with the widely circulated term Hallyu (literally meaning "Korean Wave") which instead refers to the emerging popularity of Korean culture - television shows, music, fashion, etc. - in the regional market. By the mid-nineties, changes in the MPL (Korean Motion Picture Law) suddenly made the Korean blockbuster a possibility, allowing domestic productions the opportunity to compete with those of the major Hollywood studios that were setting up shop in Korea at the time. This, coupled with the country's preparation for the future by setting up its Korean Academy of Film Art (KAFA) in Seoul, which was established in 1984, ushered in a second wave of commercially viable Korean cinema, and it is primarily this second New Wave - one that formed in the early nineties and came to fruition with the huge success of Kang Je-gyu's Shiri in 1999 - that I plan to cover here.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:36 am
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Contemporary Korean Cinema is cool.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:37 am
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Fuck yes.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:38 am
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This should be pretty.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:51 am
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What do the symbols translate to, Jedi? Or is it just a restatement of the thread title in Korean?

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:52 am
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dreiser wrote:
What do the symbols translate to, Jedi? Or is it just a restatement of the thread title in Korean?

Heh, my browser just displays them as "? ?? ??" at the top :D

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:13 am
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Uncle Smalley Time wrote:
Heh, my browser just displays them as "? ?? ??" at the top :D

Your browser is culturally insensitive.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:19 am
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Epistemophobia wrote:
Your browser is culturally insensitive.

It is : /

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:21 am
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dreiser wrote:
What do the symbols translate to, Jedi? Or is it just a restatement of the thread title in Korean?

It means "New Wave". Or, at least I think it means "New Wave".

Now I feel like one of those idiots with misspelled Japanese symbols tattoed on his chest.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:21 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
It means "New Wave". Or, at least I think it means "New Wave".

Now I feel like one of those idiots with misspelled Japanese symbols tattoed on his chest.


:P

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"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10


Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:29 am
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Excellent opening.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:32 am
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Jedi is better than all of us combined. Except Beau.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:37 am
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Yay.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:38 am
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Philosophe rouge wrote:
Jedi is better than all of us combined. Except Beau.


Imagine them together! The forum would melt!


Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:51 am
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Beau wrote:

Imagine them together! The forum would melt!

bumping in the night

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Everything around me is evaporating. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality - it's all evaporating. I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else. What I'm attending here is a show with another set. And the show I'm attending is myself. Fernando Pessoa

Live. Laugh. Love. - Freddy Krueger


Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:53 am
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Philosophe rouge wrote:
bumping in the night


Not exactly what I had in mind, but it's good to know that's how you think about me.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:53 am
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Philosophe rouge wrote:
Jedi is better than all of us combined. Except Beau.

Nobody is better than Beau, even when they are.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:54 am
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My thoughts of Beau also always involve bumping in the night.



Good thread Jedi :)


Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:55 am
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Beau wrote:

Not exactly what I had in mind, but it's good to know that's how you think about me.

the mind of a woman... mysterious thing.

_________________
Everything around me is evaporating. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality - it's all evaporating. I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else. What I'm attending here is a show with another set. And the show I'm attending is myself. Fernando Pessoa

Live. Laugh. Love. - Freddy Krueger


Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:57 am
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Lee Jae-yong (also known as E.J. Yong), having been among the first to graduate from the Korean Academy of Film Art with the likes of Lee Jeong-hyang, Bong Joon-ho and Hur Jin-ho in the mid-nineties, was very much at the forefront of the Korean New Wave as it broke ashore during the nineties. An Affair, his debut feature released in 1998, also marks the resurrection of the career of actress Lee Mi-sook, who came out of a decade-long hiatus in order to star as the film's disillusioned housewife, So-hyun. Trapped between her insensitive, workaholic husband and demanding, brattish young son, So-hyun seems resigned to her fate until the appearance and attentions of a much younger man ignites a fire in her chest that burns through all internal attempts to extinguish it. Initially, she finds solace in this new man's company, probably because his presence marks a brief break in her dull existence. Soon, however, it becomes a dangerous craving. The pressing aspects of her current life, such as interior design and motherhood, are slowly pushed to the back of her mind as this affair takes hold, which is something that the director encourages simply by neglecting to feature such aspects later on in the film. He also encourages us, through small exaggerations, to witness everything from her side of the table, so that by the end we almost justify the character's decision to commit what is essentially a sin.

With An Affair, Lee Jae-yong shows the life of his bored homemaker as a kind of submerged state, where her adulterous meetings with Woo-in (played by the actor and model Lee Jung-jae) represent her breaking of the surface and gasping of fresh air. One might struggle against it, but buoyancy will always render such struggling as ultimately futile. The director illustrates the effect of these meetings upon So-hyun by altering her surroundings to represent what she feels at the time. When at home or in the office of her husband, for example, So-hyun's face is set against a backdrop of white walls, glass, metal and generally quite cold interiors that lack personality. Her meetings with Woo-in, on the other hand, usually take place in the open: on the edge of a lake, or from a window looking down on a rich green woodland canopy, where the natural hues and sporadic birdsong help to betray So-hyun's feelings of warmth and curiosity towards her new friend. It is this careful developing of an effective Mise-en-scène and wonderfully silent anguish depicted by actress Lee Mi-sook that prevents An Affair from ever straying into melodramatic territory, despite the soap opera-like content of its narrative. That said, the film does end on a typically hopeful note that not only avoids having the character confront her betrayal, but also uses a mask of faux ambiguity to deliver the audience a satisfactory happily-ever-after ending.

Image Image

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:12 am
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I (quite obviously) haven't seen this one, but beautiful write-up as always. I love to take the time to read everything you write, always illuminating.

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Everything around me is evaporating. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality - it's all evaporating. I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else. What I'm attending here is a show with another set. And the show I'm attending is myself. Fernando Pessoa

Live. Laugh. Love. - Freddy Krueger


Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:14 am
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Always designer. The films and the posts.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:17 am
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good stuff. i'll be reading.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:19 am
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Philosophe rouge wrote:
I (quite obviously) haven't seen this one, but beautiful write-up as always. I love to take the time to read everything you write, always illuminating.

Aw. Thanks, babe. :heart:

What Korean films have you seen, just out of curiosity?

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:07 am
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Jedi's threads make mine look like absolute crap.

I'll be watching.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:07 am
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Image

Image Image Image Image
Image Image Image Image

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:17 am
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Is this one absent from your overall list?

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What they fail to acknowledge is that pond scum also rises to the top.
And there is a lot more pond scum in the world than there is cream.
If you become rich and powerful, I hope that you will be cream rather than pond scum." --YTMN

YTMN's Remake Rematch Thread. Catalog Rounds 1-3
Thread abandoned 1 Aug 2017. Thread COMPLETE 25 May 14 (2d time!)
Images will disappear about 13 Feb 2018 forever.
I had fun. Thanks for reading!

The Future Unreels will also lose all its images on the same day. But just think about how many images Jedi has on Photobucket, and the other posters here.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:26 am
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Impressive thread. I am glad I am here from the beginning for this one.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:28 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
Aw. Thanks, babe. :heart:

What Korean films have you seen, just out of curiosity?

Which Asian country is Korea again? South Korea or North?

List according to something from criticker, i may have seen more, but like 3 or 4 more ;/ and I think some of these actually Japanese

Memories of Murder
Audition
Millenium Actress
Possessed
A Tale of Two Sisters
The Host
Thirst
Dream

_________________
Everything around me is evaporating. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality - it's all evaporating. I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else. What I'm attending here is a show with another set. And the show I'm attending is myself. Fernando Pessoa

Live. Laugh. Love. - Freddy Krueger


Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:28 am
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Gort wrote:
Is this one absent from your overall list?

Ooh. It will be part of my Further Viewing post for the letter "D", but I can't say I've seen it.

Any good?

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:28 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
Image

I liked this one quite a bit, but it's been awhile.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:30 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
Ooh. It will be part of my Further Viewing post for the letter "D", but I can't say I've seen it.

Any good?

Low budget, but funny nonetheless.

_________________
"The wealthy and powerful always remind us that cream rises to the top.
What they fail to acknowledge is that pond scum also rises to the top.
And there is a lot more pond scum in the world than there is cream.
If you become rich and powerful, I hope that you will be cream rather than pond scum." --YTMN

YTMN's Remake Rematch Thread. Catalog Rounds 1-3
Thread abandoned 1 Aug 2017. Thread COMPLETE 25 May 14 (2d time!)
Images will disappear about 13 Feb 2018 forever.
I had fun. Thanks for reading!

The Future Unreels will also lose all its images on the same day. But just think about how many images Jedi has on Photobucket, and the other posters here.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:34 am
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Cult Icon wrote:
I liked this one quite a bit, but it's been awhile.

I must watch more of the guy's films.

I've seen his An Affair (obviously) and Untold Scandal, I think it's called. Will get to Asako in Ruby Shoes next.

Also, do you find the main actor attractive? He's quite the pin-up.

Image

There, the Trip bait has been laid.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:40 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
I must watch more of the guy's films.

I've seen his An Affair (obviously) and Untold Scandal, I think it's called. Will get to Asako in Ruby Shoes next.

Also, do you find the main actor attractive? He's quite the pin-up.

Image

There, the Trip bait has been laid.

not enough hair

_________________
Everything around me is evaporating. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality - it's all evaporating. I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else. What I'm attending here is a show with another set. And the show I'm attending is myself. Fernando Pessoa

Live. Laugh. Love. - Freddy Krueger


Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:41 am
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JediMoonShyne wrote:
I must watch more of the guy's films.

I've seen his An Affair (obviously) and Untold Scandal, I think it's called. Will get to Asako in Ruby Shoes next.

Also, do you find the main actor attractive? He's quite the pin-up.

Image

There, the Trip bait has been laid.

That's him?! He's grown up!

Asako is the only one I've seen, but I'm not sure why I never tried to see more. Maybe this (awesome btw) thread will nudge me into it. I haven't seen a good Korean movie in awhile...maybe since Mother.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:45 am
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Sweet! Hope to see some Chan-wook Park.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:48 am
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The creation of this thread makes me so very happy.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:53 am
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What a beautiful thread! I'll be reading.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:58 am
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I'll make sure to bring the Kimchi.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:15 am
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Incredible.

Hong Sang-soo and Bong Joon-ho for the win.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:59 am
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Philosophe rouge wrote:
Which Asian country is Korea again? South Korea or North?

List according to something from criticker, i may have seen more, but like 3 or 4 more ;/ and I think some of these actually Japanese

Memories of Murder
Audition
Millenium Actress
Possessed
A Tale of Two Sisters
The Host
Thirst
Dream

Both. :P

Only five of those eight are Korean, but I'll take it! I hope to feature the first one at some point.

Cult Icon wrote:
That's him?! He's grown up!

Asako is the only one I've seen, but I'm not sure why I never tried to see more. Maybe this (awesome btw) thread will nudge me into it. I haven't seen a good Korean movie in awhile...maybe since Mother.

He's also learned how to shave, apparently!

Well, if this thread inspires you to watch just one more Korean movie in the future, it will have done its job.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:22 pm
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Trying to think how many Korean films I've seen. I'm sure 90% of them are horror...

The Host
Mother
Samaritan Girl
3-Iron
Time
Dream
Woman is the Future of Man
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Oldboy
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK
Thirst
Spider Forest
Phone
A Tale of Two Sisters
The Quiet Family
Whispering Corridors
Memento Mori
Wishing Stairs
Red Shoes
Ryung
Cello
The Ring Cycle
Unborn but Forgotten
Sorum
Another Public Enemy
Bunshinsaba
Mr. Socrates
Cinderella
Gawi
Asako in Ruby Shoes
Hansel and Gretel


..and a couple more mediocre horror movies I know I've seen but can't recall.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:13 pm
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That was more for the benefit of my own memory than for anyone else. :oops: I'm gonna go back and spoiler it.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:15 pm
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Often seen as the "bad boy" of Korean cinema, filmmaker Kim Ki-duk has certainly been one of if not the most prolific of all those involved in its nineties resurgence. Whether or not this prolificacy is second to consistency is a question that many of the director's critics have levelled at him over the years, but two things are certain: that Kim's films have not only help shaped the landscape of Korean cinema as we know it, but also boosted its reputation internationally, for better or worse. Few of his films better illustrate this than the director's third feature, Birdcage Inn, which was decidedly unsuccessful in Kim's native land yet has come to represent his breakthrough act on the international stage, going on to open at the Berlin International Film Festival in February of 1999. The story revolves around a small hotel business - the symbolically named Birdcage Inn - set in a run-down coastal area near Seoul, the kind of which became populated by surreptitious prostitutes during the late eighties and early nineties after the country cleared out its capital city's red light districts. One such prostitute, the timid but beautiful Jin-a (Lee Ji-eun), is hired by the couple that runs the Birdcage Inn as a form of extra income, but her appearance turns out to have a profound effect upon all those involved, least not the couple's two children who are at an age where sex as a concept seems remote and exciting yet at the same time altogether intimidating.

Similar to the work of Danish auteur Lars von Trier, the women in Kim Ki-duk's films tend to undergo an obscene amout of suffering and degradation - as do his animals, it should be noted. These are usually women of some lower social rung: prostitution, for example, is a recurring theme in the director's work. Here, Kim introduces us to his main character as she stops by the beach, carrying a painting and a chair to sit on. Only later do we realise that this abstract painting she carries, and alongside which Kim frames his heroin, is one by Egon Schiele; an artist who painted many prostitutes in his short life. Therefore, the director almost looks to affect our initial, almost subconscious judging of this character as a simple prostitute, even before we know anything else about her. Not only does Birdcage Inn deal with social prejudices, it also looks to depict the growing gulf between the two sexes within Korean society. This can be seen primarily in the relationship between the quiet Jin-a and the father of the family she is staying with, who, just like the protagonist in Kim's Bad Guy, says very little throughout the film. These characters are drawn towards each other through some kind of common sympathy, before the father rapes Jin-a and takes his place among all other sexually frustrated men in the film, for whom women are little more than mere objects. Indeed, one can say many things about Kim Ki-duk and his films, but he is certainly a director deeply concerned about modern Korean society.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:17 pm
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Post Re: 새 물결 운동 - An A to Z of Contemporary Korean Cinema

I've been known to enjoy a Ki-Duk from time to time.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:22 pm
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Those stills are lovely. Nice write up, too.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:30 pm
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Epistemophobia wrote:
I've been known to enjoy a Ki-Duk from time to time.

I've been known to both love and hate his films. Usually hate, but this one was okay.

Rank 'em, Bear.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:30 pm
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I have seen very few Korean films. That one looks relevant to my interests. My interests being aesthetically pleasing ennui, animal suffering, and prostitution.

Another beautiful thread.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:33 pm
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Birdcage Inn was a harsh watch at times. Per usual for the director. That and The Isle are two of my favorites.


Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:33 pm
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Unreliable Narrator wrote:
I have seen very few Korean films. That one looks relevant to my interests. My interests being aesthetically pleasing ennui, animal suffering, and prostitution.

Another beautiful thread.

Thanks, and it sounds as though Kim Ki-duk is right up your street!

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Sir Lucious Left Foot wrote:
Birdcage Inn was a harsh watch at times. Per usual for the director. That and The Isle are two of my favorites.

What else have you seen from him? He tends to frustrate me more than anything.

Address Unknown was crushing, Spring, Summer... was beautiful, but I found both Time and Dream to be terrible.

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Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:37 pm
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