Korean film reviews Vol. 5: My Little Joint Security Book (of doom)

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More movie madness!  I actually watched 2/3  of these films some time ago, but like a certain nerdy spy in My Girlfriend is an Agent of the 7th grade,  you just can’t keep a good film/bumbling superspy out for long.  With previous movie editions I would attempt to tie the seemingly dissimilar trifecta of films together, usually thematically.  Well considering I couldn’t have picked three different films if I tried, then might as well do it again! Here goes… All three deal with a deconstruction of society/humanity, one be it through the literal end of the world, one through the purpose of manufactured identities via country, and the other through marriage.  See, I can attempt deep thoughts…. And now your about to witness silly portmanteau’s with movie titles and ponies sooo enjoy!

My Little Bride: What if this was mashed together and became My Little Pony Bride? The Bronies would go ape!

Genre: You know Noona romances where the guy is a High-Schooler? Well strike that. Reverse it.

my_little_brideIt is known that I can get behind many levels of absurdity if it creates hilarity, is done early enough to get out its own way, and is in service of the characters. Well mission accomplished.  An arranged marriage for two family friends who grew up together as proclaimed by their respective grandfathers’ dying wish is ridiculous.  But five minutes later the ridiculata led to these two crazy kids in forced proximity, with rings on fingers.  Which means it escapes alotta rom-com follies by having the pair actually spend time together.  Also, because they had a previously established history, it allowed the banter to flow freely, much like Sang Min’s (Kim Rae-Won), luscious locks (which totally dates the movie, as he oft looks like he came straight out of a 98 degrees music video, but it works).  Their repartee make this film, with both actors fully committing to the roles and owning their characters. Because of this, it side-steps plenty of potential ickyness due to age difference. Finally, they manage to put comedy in romantic comedy, which has all too often been devoid of such.  Several comedic set-pieces had me dying (the stabbing incident, and the unexpected visitor most prominently).

Though this didn’t break any new ground in the rom-com department, everything was executed properly, with the right actors to pull it off.  Can’t ask for more than that. (Unless it’s a tree mural)

*Almost makes me wish I had married my neighborhood oppa from days of yore… *Thinks about it* Ewwww Never Mind.  Guess that’s why it should be considered charming escapist fare, and not to be in an arranged marriage as proclaimed by ones pappy or gramps.

My Rating: 9/10

Joint Security Area: “Come on man, you know you wanna try it.  Plus it’s legal in 2 states..” “Freeze!” “Drop your pot-ish objects, the Bluntforce has arrived!”

Genre: the DMZ won’t let me be

JSABoom. As they say thrice times the charm! I haven’t a honest reason why it took me so many attempts to get through this film (though my ability to quickly lapse out of consciousness certainly didn’t help).

It brought the big questions to a political thriller(ish) that focused on a specific historical and current political climate I am fascinated with.  Joint  also showed seemingly mortal enemies come together, which is sooo in my wheelhouse. (Seriously if you’ve never heard about the Christmas Truce of WWI take 5 minutes and bask in the glory of people identifying as human instead of by nationality.) Plus, this film became the breakthrough role for several treasured actors (Song Kang Ho, Lee Young Ae and Lee Byung Hun) and a little director known as Park Chang Wook (Oldboy).

Well now that I think about it, their was a common point of boredom/disinterest with this film.

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Sorry guys.  Love your chocolate and ability to be the Canadians of Europe, but the Swiss characters in the film produced flat dialogue and had the uncanny ability to make my eyelids feel much too heavy.  This include the supposed Swiss mediator (played by Lee young Ae) who sputtered very Korean sounding English whilst her Korean seemed dead on fluent for someone who never lived in Korea and took up the language like one would take up Spanish for a high school elective in the states.*  *Guess we are really behind in our education learnin’ if the Swiss are producing fluent Korean speakers like they are army knifes.

But after that pointless digression, I will say this film made me more interested in the more recent history of North-South relations, where the people were more optimistic and the countries less contentious.  Again I am diverting from the film, but that’s basically what I took from it.  Though the middle section (shown mostly in flashback), with all the soldiers adorable bonding hijinks remained a highlight.

Perhaps my meh-ish feelings has something to do with director Park Chang Wook, whose two films I’ve seen thus far left me cold and strangely knowing of the film’s ending before it was probably intended.  That said, there were several beautifully composed shots and scenes, particularly the 360 camera pans that showed the foursome.

Unquestionably I see the film’s importance in Korean cinema and showing a specific point in time in terms of North-South relations, but just wished it ended with me feeling that gut punch of emotion which I found lacking.  Though in terms of a single shot to go out on, this one is fairly perfect.

Joint security area closing shot

My Rating: 7.6/10

Doomsday Book:  Available at your local library.  Read at your own risk due to prophetic apocalyptic happenings.  Jumanji warned you about this!

Genre: Those trending End of Days films. Once More with Feeling Anthology

doomsday bookWhat will kill us first? Disease carrying meat, sentient beings, meteors, or Amazon drones delivery?

Those are just some of the questions this hodgepodge assortment of tales attempt to answer within this anthology film.  Two directors handled the three stories, with one an obvious, “not like the other” but it was this middle segment which made the whole movie worth while.  Here are my quick takes on the segments proper.

1st.  Not worth ya time I reckon. Once you’ve seen one political satire on viral zombies outbreaks, you’ve seen it all.
2nd – Let’s see. Buddhist robots achieving enlightenment and answering your favorite existential questions. How is this just now becoming a thing?! Loved it and the cast involved.
3rd. Though this could be considered the most out there (hehe) segment. For some reason I dug it. Perhaps because I’m a sucker for dark humor mixed with family dysfunction. Throw in an intergalactic amazon delivery service that may prove apocalyptic, and you’ve got yourself a party!
Similarities between the three: skewering of today’s media, including sensationalized journalism, lack of objectivity, cult of celebrity in all its permutations. At some points reminded me of a Korean Black Mirror. With pro cyborg Buddhists of course.

In addition to the robot segment being the clear favorite in virtually every category, it also wins at best usage of random objects turned into sci-fi props.  I bet my wheezy 8-year-old self would never think I should ever utter theses words but, “thank you asthma!” If not for my detailed knowledge of every sort of inhaler developed from 2000-2008 I may have missed such a gem. I now give ye Advair turned into hologram projector.

Doomsday Book’s “Holy Futuristic Devices Batman!” Hologram Projector

Advair  2014-07-02 05.56.32Advair doomsday 2014-07-02 05.56.53

Long Term inhaler I used during soccer season that tastes like powered milk

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To be fair, whoever designed this was probably on hallucinogens whilst listening to Pink Floyd backwards and 2001: A Space Odyssey was flickering in the background.  Or maybe this was designed to be inhaler royalty (hence the crazy use of purple).  Not like I spent many a car trip contemplating such thoughts…

Rating: Well… 7/10 overall 4/10 for the zom com rom dram. 10/10 for Buddhist Robots 7.9/10 for world ending family dysfunction.  1100/10 for asthmatics in the prop department! Also – tis Netflixable

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