2004 opened, the Korean film industry was still buzzing with the surprising success of films like Oldboy, Untold Scandal and Memories of Murder from the previous year. In contrast to 2001 and 2002, when inexpensive high concept comedies ruled the box-office, audiences in 2003 showed a clear preference for work by experienced filmmakers with a distinctive directorial style. My boyfriend has a low sex drive are listed in the order of their release. Non-Koreans who watch a lot of Korean cinema are likely to have been surprised at one time or another at the depictions of violence in Korean schools.
A man, a woman, a man, a mountain. This basically describes Kim Eun-sook’s first feature film, Ice Rain. Kim’s short film “The Execution” had competed at Cannes in 1999, but the short form isn’t usually a platform to immediate blockbuster proportions. Yet, somehow Kim was able to procure the backing to debut as director and writer with this mountain-climbing extravaganza, making her the first Korean woman to take the helm of such a venture. Part of me wants to call Spy Girl, Park Han-joon’s advertisement for a major fast food chain What’s that you say? Don’t you mean Park Han-joon’s film, Adam? I’m absolutely serious when I say this film is first and foremost an ad for the I-refuse-to-mention fast food chain.
Twenty-five percent of the film’s running time is taken up by the fast food chain and I’m not just pulling that number out of my ass as what the ad space seemed like. It gives you the ability to attract top-name actors and crew. It becomes much easier to raise large sums of money from investors. Kang Je-gyu took full advantage of his position and aimed for the stars.
A Smile opens with a close-up of a woman’s eye subject to an ocular test. It is revealed that she is afflicted with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare disease that kills optic nerves from the periphery, eventually leading to blindness. This overcooked ratatouille is a curious throwback to the yesteryear’s trend: gangster comedy. It covers all the bases of the vilified subgenre: the glamorous stars cast as hapless idiots or foul-mouthed miscreants, the Cuisinart mixture of usually irreconcilable genre conventions and the stylized “action” scenes and macho CF moments. Rosa approaches Leo, who moonlights as a boy toy for a gaggle of wealthy housewives, and “buys” his services with the money she raised among her friends. And yet, she continues to pretend as if nothing is amiss with her barren married life.