Korean Cinema Reviews Vol. 4: Sunny with a Chance of Snowpierced Spells

Korean Cinema Sunny SPellbound Snowpiercer

This set of several satisfying or sensational serieses, seriously satiated my Sinema soul.  Each saw some sadness, sweetness, satire and swearing.  So much swearing.  There was more swearing in a film about teenage girls then a KJH film about finding out your girlfriend is a super spy.  Seriously though, 2/3 of these films are going on my all-time Korean films list.  Which one do you think will lose out on such an distinguished honor.  Only one way to find out…

Snowpiercer: Pierce that snow. Pierce that snow.

Genre: The anti-blockbuster blockbuster/apocalypse ice.

snowpiercerBong you’ve done it again. How amazing was this film? Happy romp it is not, but a thought provoking, supremely well directed thrill ride it most certainly is.
While watching, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the film seemed like a video game in disguise, from the train car “levels”, to scenes that were quite reminiscent of my 2nd hand experience of Bioshock or Fallout. I means this as a complement, because it really puts you in the midst of all the happenings, instead of just a casual observer, which is probably why the film had such an impact.
I just love what BJH does with tone in all his films, where even a movie as endlessly bleak as Snowpiercer, can have moments of, well not exactly levity, but at the very least detached bemusement in characters reactions, visual splendor, shoddy translation devices ect.
Though this film was indubitably in my wheelhouse just from the description: Favorite director, international cast, dystopia, TRAINS! I mean just let them take my money. This fabulous cast: including a Host reunion, Captain America, Billy Elliot, Tilda and two amazing cameos, really is just an ensemble that can’t be beat. Add a fabulous plot, my favorite kind of endings (thou shall be open), numerous satirical beats, and a locomotive that will not quit, and we’ve got a best film of 2014 on my hands. (Though Boyhood is upcoming so the reign might be short for this one.) Did I mention I love this film?

Rating: 10/10

Sunny: It’s always Sunny in Seoul circa the 1980’s right?

Genre: Sandlot with more estrogen and less baseball.

Sunny alt posterThrough wet cheeks and red eyes I write this, because good news, turns out I am capable of emotion, and not a sentient cyborg (who knew). This film will take it out of you (in all the best ways) by portraying a group of friends in such a naturalistic way, it caused severe happy nostalgia induced tears.

Besides the fantastic handle on female friendships, the film just plain wins at showing life, in all its good, bad, pretty, petty and ugly forms. I knew I was totally sold on this film when a police/protester clash coincided with a kiddy gang showdown, complete with longish takes, disco new wave, batons, hair pulling, historical significance, and insignificant HS brawling. Dramatic poignancy with comedic elements, where have been all my life?

Sunny protest 2014-07-14 01.41.39Sunny epic battle 2014-07-14 01.42.04

The “all grown up” portion was excellent as well, though at times I would find myself yearning to go back when the present day scenes were lengthy. My only other complaint would be the sappy ending (with the lawyer), which I felt took away from the more realistic through-line the film was aiming for. Overall a knockout movie I would suggest watching with your friends, mother, dog, or other. Because you’ll need someone to pass the tissues and share the feelz.

*Whoever said Now and Again was the female version of the Sandlot should have to face the wrath of Sunny’s high kicks. I deem this film a worthy estrogen replacement. (Though Sandlot still wins by a hair.)

*Really liked the main character, and my thoughts were confirmed when her younger self was wearing a Denver Broncos sweater. Good taste.

Sunny broncos 2014-07-14 02.13.01

Rating: 9/10

Spellbound: Not Hitchcockian nor about spelling. Hitchcockian Spelling Bee? Perhaps.

Genre: Ghostly romance with a scene that was so taken from The Prestige

SpellboundThis horror rom-com was surely an inspiration for 2013’s Master’s Sun; complete with a whimsical cast of characters and emo looking children popping out of the ether.

The major difference is, I never felt palpable chemistry between the two leads here, which is sort of important when Min-Ki has to handle back-hugging specters all in the name of “true love.”
The editing left much to be desired as nothing really flowed or built to a cohesive whole. It remained a series of staccato scenes patch-worked together.

The film offers a buffet in quirkiness, including jam obsessions, baseball urges, and twittery mentions (and that’s just from one character), in ways that usually become so twee and annoying by movies end. Here, because it is paired with horror elements, the characters (and films) eccentricities gelled together nicely.
My favorite “quirk” of this world is how everyone takes the discovery of vengeful lurking ghosts like one would react to a new coffee creamer. My guess is alternative universe or everyone is just really stoned. Perhaps a little of both.

Overall I would chalk this up as a disappointment considering my fondness for this specific genre, but the film was still an amusing ride with a great cast so one could find worse ways to pass a couple hours.

Rating: 6.5/10


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