FANTASIA19 REVIEW: 우상 [Woo-sang] [Idol] [2019]

“You take the fault” Two fathers and two sons are embroiled in the aftermath of a cover-up wherein one boy winds up dead and the other imprisoned. Su-jin Lee could have spun his tale with little else since the perpetrator’s (Jo Byeong-gyu‘s Yo-han was behind the wheel, drunk and speeding down a quiet service street) […]

FANTASIA19 REVIEW: 메기 [Maggie] [2019]

“Let’s believe in people from now on” How would a movie narrated by a catfish feel? While the animal probably has a good view of what’s going on, would it understand? And when people use it as a stand-in for their conscience—knowing (yet not wanting to accept) the voice responding was still his/her own—would it […]

REVIEW: 버닝 [Beoning] [Burning] [2018]

“Should I forget it ‘isn’t’ here?” Jong-su (Ah-In Yoo) never tells Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon) what “metaphor” means. They’re standing in Ben’s (Steven Yeun) kitchen as he chops ingredients for a pasta dish and talks philosophically with a smug smile until the question comes up. He defers answering her to Jong-su since he’s the writer of […]

FANTASIA18 REVIEW: 소공녀 [So-gong-nyeo] [Microhabitat] [2018]

“Seems like you’re living a fantasy” What do you need to survive? It’s a common question we all ask ourselves—one that goes beyond the basic tenets of food, water, shelter, and human interaction. I’m talking about the things we cherish enough to put them before everything else. It could be freedom, hobbies, love, or art. […]

REVIEW: 아가씨 [Ah-ga-ssi] [The Handmaiden] [2016]

“The snake marks the bounds of knowledge” As soon as I began walking out of the theater after 아가씨 [Ah-ga-ssi] [The Handmaiden], a friend and fellow critic asked if I was the one laughing. I said, “Yes.” Parts Two and Three (of three) were legitimately funny—I’d say intentionally so. All of Chan-wook Park‘s films are […]

REVIEW: 부산행 [Busanhaeng] [Train to Busan] [2016]

“Until we meet again” There’s an abundance of sentimentality in Sang-ho Yeon‘s 부산행 [Busanhaeng] [Train to Busan], a trait you don’t necessarily attribute to a zombie action thriller. That’s not to say “The Walking Dead” doesn’t touch upon familial relationships and catharsis too, but the level of personal and emotional growth on display in these […]

FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Hwasangorae [Crimson Whale] [2014]

“It is an offense to feed the apes” A product of the Korean Academy of Film Arts’ Advanced Program, writer/director Park Hye-mi‘s Hwasangorae [Crimson Whale] is a fascinating little sci-fi adventure. The hand-drawn character design is cutesy with young faces and oversized clothing dwarfing stature, but the 2070 Busan in which they reside is brutally […]

REVIEW: 뫼비우스 [Moebiuseu] [Moebius] [2013]

“Whole body is genital” If the whole “you’ll go blind” line doesn’t detract your kid from masturbating, controversial writer/director Ki-duk Kim has the solution. Just because the son in뫼비우스 [Moebiuseu] [Moebius] attracts the ire of his mother specifically due to his coveting the woman his father is having an affair with doesn’t lessen its impact. […]

NYAFF13 REVIEW: 은교 [A Muse] [2012]

“How do you know what he means to me?” Breeding our youth to dream of happily ever afters with an allure of fairy tale romance may do them a disservice by completely ignoring love’s equally prevalent loneliness. We hope to shelter their innocence until they discover the truth themselves, but maybe the pain would be […]

REVIEW: 도둑들 [The Thieves] [2012]

“Of course. We specialize in miracles.” Saying Dodookdeul [The Thieves] is the Korean Ocean’s 11—like I had been after reading the synopsis—ended up not being as hyperbolic as I originally thought. Coming from one of the country’s most successful writer/directors and starring a bunch of familiar faces in Asian cinema, it’s an easy comparison to […]

NYAFF12 REVIEW: 범죄와의 전쟁 [Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time] [2012]

“There’s no end to a man’s greed” Set against President Tae-woo Roh’s 1990 crackdown on organized crime in South Korea, 범죄와의 전쟁 [Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time] places us into the wild life of a former Busan customs agent and the selfish games he plays with two of the city’s most notorious gangsters. Written […]