One of the highlights of the Korean American Film Festival New York, whose fifth edition runs through the weekend, is a retrospective of documentaries by Dai Sil Kim-Gibson. Melissa Silverstri previews three of these films for Cinespect and, at Twitch, Dustin Chang notes that she'll be on hand Saturday to discuss The LA Riots 19 Years Later with Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep).
The New Yorker's Richard Brody on Centre Forward, screening on a double bill with Mads Brügger's The Red Chapel: "This North Korean drama, from 1978, lays its messages on thick in scenes of heavy-handed blandness, yet the contrived story and the stark doctrine nonetheless prove peculiarly revealing, and the director Pak Chong Song's surprisingly diverse visual palette somehow suggests the crushing weight of official pressure as well as the inextinguishable glimmer of the personal muse." More from Joe Bendel. Update: More, too, from Simon Abrams at the House Next Door. Update, 3/19: And yet more from Christopher Bell at the Playlist.
Christopher Bourne: "Another compelling selection of this year's festival is Peter Bo Rappmund's psychohydrography, an hour-long experimental visual essay composed entirely of time-lapse still photography, capturing the flow of Los Angeles' water supply from the Easter Sierra Nevada mountain source, through the Los Angeles River and the Los Angeles Aqueduct, to the Pacific Ocean. The film's rich soundtrack, consisting of ambient sound from the area such as whooshing water, wind, and buzzing flies, as well as what sounds like an old LP record stuck in a groove, are an overwhelming and sensuous accompaniment to its unique visuals. The film has a very sculptural feel, and blurs the line between photography and animation, still and moving images. Rappmund was mentored by and studied under such avant-garde cinema icons as Stan Brakhage, James Benning, and Phil Solomon, as well as the brilliant chronicler of LA Thom Andersen. Their influence is clearly evident, especially Brakhage and Benning; comparisons can also be made to Godfrey Reggio's films (e.g. Koayanisqatsi). Rappmund, however, has made a resonant and memorable work that stands fully on its own, and offers beautifully textured sound and image that richly reward repeat viewings."
Back to Melissa Silvestri at Cinespect: "The House of Suh, a documentary by Iris K Shim, revisits the murderous brother and sister pair of Catherine and Andrew Suh, who collaborated to kill Catherine's allegedly abusive fiancé Robert O'Dubaine in 1993." Ultimately, the film "is less a murder story than a family drama."
In his roundup at the Playlist, Christopher Bell previews The Boat: "Young Nam Kim's style is still in its infancy, favoring long takes and typical Korean multi-toned scenes, but without the masterful touch that makes either work brilliantly. The two leads — played by Ha Jung-woo (Like You Know It All) and Satoshi Tsumabuki (Tokyo!) — are great together, which is a good thing considering Kim uses the genre plot only to focus on their burgeoning companionship. In that sense it's less Memories of a Murder and more Cold Weather."
The image above comes from Dai Sil Kim-Gibson's A Forgotten People: The Sakahalin Koreans, a documentary on "the forced Korean laborers on Sakhalin island, the victims of World War II and the Cold War. They were initially indentured by Japan, then in 1945 fell into the hands of a new master, the Soviet Union, where they were forgotten for half a century."
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