My favorite Korean film is Tae Guk Gi.
Also Memories, Host, JSA, Spring…and Oasis. A movie that is laugh-out-loud funny-Sex Is Zero. Another good comedy-My Wife is A Gangster 2 (I believe that one is Korean).
The Tube- Just kiddin’
I’m going to have to read up on The Housemaid’s ending. It’s just so unnecessary and peculiar…I wonder maybe if KKY had to put that in to please the censors. The sexuality in that film was light years ahead of anything in Korean film—actually even Hollywood. (Watch Kubrick’s Lolita for example, which came after The Housemaid and manages to be about as sexual as a loaf of white bread.)
Like you know it all is a terrible, boring film.
The housemaid was fantastic, all the while questioning why this man attracted so many girls, and the over-the-top drama and reactions, I thought the ending explained all of that nicely, and in a farcical manner, if the ending wasn’t implemented, this would have been another cookie cutter Korean over the top trage-drama, but it wasn’t, and excellent acting throughout too.
i guess what i was trying to say and maybe didn’t make it clear enough was that i think kim has ‘something to say’ (i think rather he has things he explores rather than blatant sloganeering) but he does this by first selecting a given genre, using some narrative rules and stylistic expectations one would have of that genre, and using it as a launch point. Something like ‘the foul king’ could be just another comedy but i think his engagement with the genre to probe some korean social realities makes it so much more.
you might be right though about expectations, i didn’t have many expectations going in to bittersweet life but i did have them for lady vengeance and was very disappointed.
I haven’t watched much Korean cinema yet but I love Oldboy, 3-Iron and, despite the negativity a lot of people seem to hold for it, The Bow.
I thought the first half an hour of “The Bow” was nice and would have made a great short film, but it soon becomes redundant and hasn´t enough innovative ideas to offer in order to work as a feature. The film by Kim Ki-duk which had the hugest impact on me was “Adress Unknown” which is even bleaker and more depressing than any film by Ingmar Bergman.
The Bow sucks ass.
Kim Ki-duk does have an amazing painter’s eye for composition, and I actually appreciate the fact that he brings light to the hypocrisies in contemporary Korean society, but he panders way too much to the “Orientalist” tendencies of the Western audiences. I do have a soft spot for his debut Crocodile and later work Bad Guy which is essentially a reworking of the debut film.
Maybe I’m wrong but wasn’t Kim Ki-duk going to stop releasing his films in South Korea to “punish” the nation for not appreciating him enough? And then didn’t DREAM and BREATH get released there anyway? I stopped following what happened with that. Anyone know/remember/care??
Also feel free to indulge me in your Kim Ki-duk gossip or tales of when the cameras aren’t rolling. I’m sure there’s something…. lol.
Hey, Ben. Yeah, KKD did say something about not releasing his films in Korea. That was just kind of weird. No one really seemed to give a rat’s ass in Korea though. KKD doesn’t seem to realize—or maybe he does, but just wanted to generate some press—that his films have close to zero appeal in Korea, not because Korean audiences are necessarily any less sophisticated than those of Europe or North America, but because they have no reason to fawn over his faux exoticization of Korea.
KKD is sort of emo over the whole film release thing. I think it was around when he released Bow actually which was to be honest, a piece of shit. His latter works though have been quite intriguing especially Time.
What a great, refreshing thread. Korean cinema often goes overlooked, even nowadays when it is becoming more and more relevant.
Memories of Murder
The number of Korean movies I own is beginning to outstrip my japanese movies – which is saying something. The Bow had me hooked line andd sinker – I thought it was amazing that a modern day film could do so much without the main characters uttering a single word. A Tale of Two Sisters I’ve seen three times now and never get bored with it. The Vengeance trilogy is of course exceptional (with Lady Vengeance in particular laying the gauntlet down as a true classic on repeated viewings. Just got a boxset of Im Kwon Taek movies which I’m looking forward to watching. Can I make a mention of Welcome to Dongmakgol too … an interesting take on the war movie with amazing visuals and a real gripper of a movie.
Ok here my inofficial list…
Memories of Murder
The Thirst ( which I really really enjoyed, but have to see numerous times more to fully get my head around how much I like it…)
Ah and forgot
Tae Guk Gi, Oasis and Crying Fist…. also all excellent….
The Housemade (watch it here for free!!!!)
… and many more…
can’t actually wait to see mother
“The Bow sucks ass.”
Bah. I still think it is absolutely wonderful – it is achingly beautiful and incredibly moving. Both main characters being mute means we get to see the physicality between them as the stunning music goes on in the background as well a nice combination of loneliness and intimacy which works wonders.
I’m not quite sure I understand your complaint about accentuating the orientalism in a film. Why shouldn’t he accentuate this – why does everything have to be down to earth and realistic? And who cares if it is pandering or not – surely death of the author theory renders that obsolete? It’s not about the intentions put in to the film but the end result which is some really enchanting cinema.
Given orientalism is a facet of racism, how is it not a problem? Its basically the practice of giving in to foreign standards and perceptions of a culture as somehow “exotic”. Im sorry but Ill take realism to Fu Manchus and Dragon Ladies any day.
“Given orientalism is a facet of racism, how is it not a problem? Its basically the practice of giving in to foreign standards and perceptions of a culture as somehow “exotic”. Im sorry but Ill take realism to Fu Manchus and Dragon Ladies any day.”
Would its exotic nature still be seen as a problem if the film was, instead, set in America or France or even a fictional world?
Also to be fair Kim Ki-Duk does (based on the 3 films of his I’ve seen) not really create his films in conventional reality but instead in this dream-like world. That it happens to be set in Korea is just because he is Korean.
Anyway, personally I like the spirituality and such in the 3 films of his I’ve seen and the dream-like nature of it all and couldn’t care less whether the films are set in Korea or America – I watch his films to enter this wonderful dreamy world and not to learn about Korea.
EDIT: Oh, and sorry for dancing round the whole racism issue but I’m not really sure how to reply to it. His films take place in a different world to our own so as long as he isn’t playing characters in to stereotypes (which I don’t believe he is) I don’t really see it as racist. In my opinion Kim never has any pretense of showing us the real Korea.
I think its the same problem no matter where it is, fictional or not. Look at Star Wars or Star Trek for that matter. Not calling Lucas a racist but its obvious to see what races each alien species is suppose to emulate.
I actually like Kim Ki Duk though as I feel more then half his films don’t contain this orientalist element. 3 Iron is a great example. On the other hand, Bow and Spring Summer Winter do and is half the reason why I have a problem with it. Its an obvious effort to cater to Western audiences in the same manner that Hero, Crouching Tiger, etc… did as well.
R-Point, though not as good as Oldboy id say it did very well for a horror movie set in vietnam.
I think you people are nuts with this orientalism stuff. If Kim made films that didn’t seem at all Korean to you, didn’t signify at all from Korean culture or history, you’d be happy? Assuming, of course, you’re not Korean? I mean, Spring, Summer … was just a stupid movie. That’s all.
What do you call it when a Honk Kong film maker caters to a mainland Chinese audience?
Sitenoise, I dont think you understand the difference between oriental and asian, or even oriental and korean.
And actually the main reason why I love Kim’s film is because of their Korean social relevancy. I mean how the hell could Kim’s films not be Korean at all? Its bogus to even consider it.
What me and others are not okay with is when a director purposely exoticizes or orientalizes his work to cater to an outside audience.
I mean, you dont really need to look any further then films like The Promise to get where Im coming from. It still boggles my mind to this day that someone who could have made such brilliant works like Yellow Earth & Life on a String, could make that POS. There is nothing"Chinese" about the Promise, at least not as far as I could tell. Unless human kites, dudes who run like the roadrunner, and a guy wielding what looks like a spray painted tetherball is somehow Chinese.
Some good ones:
Save the Green Planet
Tale of Two Sisters
Memories of Murder
The Vengeance Trilogy
My Sassy Girl
King & the Clown
My Dear Enemy
Just saw Haeundae this week…it’s pretty rubbish
“a director purposely exoticizes or orientalizes his work to cater to an outside audience.” As fuzzy as that idea goes (exotic and oriental aren’t synonymous) I don’t think Kim is doing that. He does exploit stereotypes. Why limit him to Korean stereotypes?
“Unless human kites, dudes who run like the roadrunner, and a guy wielding what looks like a spray painted tetherball is somehow Chinese.” It’s oriental, then? What? It seems to me that you want to call all the bad films oriental. The world’s a big market and people play there to make money. It’s not a function of racism.
Having said all that I’m not a fan of the historical costume drama kung fu shit either.
I really enjoyed “Oldboy” and “Three-Iron,” and getting to watch “The Housemaid” on this Web site was a fair treat!
I liked Il Mare, 3-Iron, Old Boy, the Vengeance Trilogy and Memories of Murder.
Love ‘Memento Mori’… one of the most underrated films of this past decade
Memento Mori is an excellent film!
I’m frankly a bit surprised about two things on this thread; firstly that no-one has mentioned Failan (Christmas In August is pretty good too) and secondly that so many people dislike Spring, Summer… so much. I thought it was a near-perfect film – lyrical, exquisite to look at, and thoroughly thought-provoking. I’m not Korean so can’t comment on how true to Korean life it may or may not be, but come on – it’s about a monk and his pupil and is set on a floating temple in a lake in the middle of the mountains; I don’t think that’s purporting to be about normal life in Korea. It’s ‘exoticised’ and ‘orientalised’ by it’s setting and subject matter, not by any cynical marketing ploy. It really could have been set anywhere, imo.
Isn’t it great that artists leave there country behind to create a movie movie for an audience that does not exist in there own country?
Akira Kurosawa had to make his name aboard before he was accepted in Japan. The Three Colours trilogy would not have been made if Kieslowski stayed in Poland.