Re-encounter (혜화,동)

Re-encounter (혜화,동)

Re-encounter (혜화,동) –  ★★★★☆

Re-encounter is a thought provoking and restrained exploration of how trauma becomes a part of a person’s character when not confronted. In highlighting their loneliness, director Min emphasizes that such reconciliation is the fundamental way in which to begin healing trauma, and has crafted a touching humanist story in making such a statement.”

Revivre (화장)

Revivre (화장)

Revivre (화장) – ★★★★☆

Revivre is director Im Kwon-taek’s finest, most accomplished work in years. Revivre beautifully captures fraught emotional and psychological complexities with subtle elegance and grace, as a VP with a sick wife begins to fall for the charms of a beautiful new manager. Ahn Seung-gi provides his best performance in years to produce a very powerful film.”

Scarlet Innocence (마담 뺑덕)

Scarlet Innocence (마담 뺑덕)

Scarlet Innocence (마담 뺑덕) – ★★★☆☆

“Based loosely on the classic fable Shim-cheong, Scarlet Innocence is an updated version featuring erotically charged scenes and themes of revenge. Director Lim Pil-seong competently helms the drama, while actors Jeong Woo-seong and Esom provide fine performances. Yet the film consistently feels rushed and unfinished both narratively and directorially.”

The Seashore Village (갯마을)

The Seashore Village (갯마을)

The Seashore Village (갯마을) – ★★★★

The Seashore Village is a beautifully composed and visually stunning classic melodrama by director Kim Soo-yong. The film is incredible in constructing a world away from rapid modernity. While The Seashore Village also features progressive ideals concerning female independence and sexuality, the narrative also frequently employs rape as a device. A problematic classic.”

Secret Sunshine (밀양)

Secret Sunshine (밀양)

Secret Sunshine (밀양) – ★★★★★

Secret Sunshine is a truly exceptional film and a genuine modern classic of Korean cinema. Auteur Lee Chang-dong is simply remarkable in crafting the insightful story of grief, removing directorial flourishes to allow the incredible story to present debates on their own merits and forcing audience engagement with difficult material.”

Shuttlecock (셔틀콕)

Shuttlecock (셔틀콕)

Shuttlecock (셔틀콕) – ★★★☆☆

Shuttlecock is an examination of contemporary Korean youth, their attitude towards money, and how they are shaped during their formative years by parental guidance. The film is an impressive debut by director Lee Yu-bin, who competently employs the conventions of the road movie combined with a coming-of-age social drama in which to explore her characters.”

Silenced (The Crucible) (도가니)

Silenced (The Crucible) (도가니)

Silenced (The Crucible) (도가니) – ★★★☆☆

Silenced is an incredibly powerful film that expresses the horrors of child abuse and conveys the corruption of members of Korean society with skill. The resulting public outrage is wholly understandable as the brutality of the events are performed with exceptional child actors. Silenced is a challenging film indeed.”

Sleepless Night (잠 못 드는 밤)

Sleepless Night (잠 못 드는 밤)

Sleepless Night (잠 못 드는 밤) –  ★★★★☆

Sleepless Night is a beautifully understated, wonderfully compelling independent drama about a couple discussing the daunting subject of starting a family. Director Jang Kun-jae has produced an insightful exploration of the issue, while his no-frills approach conveys palpable realism and sincerity. Sleepless Night is a charismatic film.”

Snowy Road (눈길)

Snowy Road (눈길)

Snowy Road (눈길) – ★★★☆☆

Snowy Road is a highly emotional charged film about ‘comfort women’ and the horrific abuses they suffered during the Japanese occupation. Director Lee Na-jeong and writer Yoo Bo-ra impressively combine the sensitive subject matter with the issues faced by contemporary women. While it struggles to escape its TV drama origins, Snowy Road is a powerful film.”

So Very Very (찡찡 막막)

So Very Very (찡찡 막막)

So Very Very (찡찡 막막) – ★★☆☆☆

So Very Very is an interesting perspective on interracial marriages in contemporary Korea. Director Park Je-wook reverses the typical trend of such films by crafting an empowering journey of development for the foreign bride. However the attempt to make the selfish husband as a sympathetic protagonist, as well as language issues, results in an agreeable film.”

Sookhee (숙희)

Sookhee (숙희)

Sookhee (숙희) – ★★☆☆☆

Sookhee is a peculiar film about a free-spirited caregiver who helps stroke sufferers through a bizarre mix of fear and sex. The tone and themes within the film spiral wildly throughout, creating a huge identity crisis while the undercurrent of needless misogyny casts a dark shadow over proceedings.”

Stateless Things (줄탁동시)

Stateless Things (줄탁동시)

Stateless Things (줄탁동시) – ★★★☆☆

Stateless Things is a real rarity in Korean cinema. Bold and unflinching in the examination of homosexuality and alienation within contemporary Seoul, director Kim Kyung-mook has produced a heartfelt film full of his trademark technical flourishes. Stateless Things is an intriguing film and a pivotal entry in Korean queer cinema.”

Stay With Me (울보)

Stay With Me (울보)

Stay With Me (울보) – ★★☆☆☆

Stay With Me is an interesting examination of how teenagers from diverse backgrounds are unified in their sense of alienation and abandonment in modern society. Director Rhee Jin-woo expresses their loneliness well. Stay With Me a is well-made but slender expose on a timely issue.”

Suicide Forecast (수상한 고객들)

Suicide Forecast (수상한 고객들)

Suicide Forecast (수상한 고객들) – ★★★☆☆

“For tackling such an important and delicate issue within Korean culture, Suicide Forecast must be commended. The potential of a comedy-drama exploring such themes is enormous, which perhaps explains why the narrative appears to be intimidated by the subject matter and the ‘comedy’ aspect tends to fail.”

Sunshine Boys (1999, 면회)

Sunshine Boys (1999, 면회)

Sunshine Boys (1999, 면회) – ★★★☆☆

Sunshine Boys is an interesting independent drama about three friends attempting to rediscover each other. Director Kim Tae-gon does a great job in featuring awkward, ironic moments in the lives of young men, which are granted extra potency with the application of social-realist aesthetics, and features a wonderfully understated performance by Kim Kkobbi.”

Take Care of My Cat (고양이를 부탁해)

Take Care of My Cat (고양이를 부탁해)

Take Care of My Cat (고양이를 부탁해) –  ★★★★☆

Take Care of My Cat is a wonderfully charismatic film that provides young women with a voice that’s sorely lacking in contemporary cinema. By eschewing notions of consumerism and melodrama, writer/director Jeong Jae-eun instead focuses on female identity and its construction with skill and insight. Furthermore the electronic soundtrack, and the intelligence on conveying disaffected women, make it something of a cult film.”

Thread of Lies (우아한 거짓말)

Thread of Lies (우아한 거짓말)

Thread of Lies (우아한 거짓말) – ★★★★☆

Thread of Lies is a powerful and compelling family drama that deals with the aftermath of suicide. Director Lee Han captures the complex emotional and relationship issues as Man-ji attempts to understand her younger sister’s death. Featuring an exemplary examination of the guilt and lies associated with suicide, Thread of Lies is a fascinating exploration of a timely issue.”

Thuy (안녕, 투이)

Thuy (안녕, 투이)

Thuy (안녕, 투이) – ★★★☆☆

Thuy is an insightful film that explores the issues South-East Asian wives endure in the Korean countryside. Featuring some striking cinematography, as well as subtlety in examining social issues and prejudice, Thuy is an impressive debut by director Kim Jae-han. However, the attempt to turn the drama into a thriller greatly undermines Thuy’s journey.

To Be Sixteen (소년)

To Be Sixteen (소년)

To Be Sixteen (소년) – ★★☆☆☆

To Be Sixteen is a slow-burning yet insightful drama of disaffected teens, expressed through the angst-fuelled story of Se-jun and his strained relationships. Director Kim Hyeon-seung does well in constructing the sense of isolation yet Se-jun’s challenges aren’t especially compelling.”

Top Star (톱스타)

Top Star (톱스타)

Top Star (톱스타) –  ★★☆☆☆

Top Star is a highly polished and glamourous directorial debut from veteran actor Park Joong-hoon. The film attempts to explore the nature of celebrity as a talent manager turned actor desperately works to retain his fame. Yet the film doesn’t delve into the psychology of his protagonists resulting in a film that is glitzy, but lacking in any real depth.”

Treeless Mountain (나무없는 산)

Treeless Mountain (나무없는 산)

Treeless Mountain (나무없는 산) –  ★★★★☆

“Writer/director Kim So-yong has crafted a beautifully poetic tale of childhood hardships in Treeless Mountain, with endearing and sincere performances by the two young leads. The film is one of the few to tackle the concept of the breakdown of the family unit from the perspective of children, emphasizing their resilience and adaptability.”

Unbowed (부러진 화살)

Unbowed (부러진 화살)

Unbowed (부러진 화살) –  ★★★★☆

Unbowed is a highly entertaining courtroom drama, filmed in a modestly by director Chung Ji-young and featuring a charismatic performance by Ahn Seong-gi. They work wonderfully together in portraying the based-on-true-events narrative, adding realism, sincerity, and credibility to the plight as well as highlighting corruption within the Korean legal system.”

Waiting for the Snow (눈이라도 내렸으면)

Waiting for the Snow (눈이라도 내렸으면)

Waiting for the Snow (눈이라도 내렸으면) – ★☆☆☆☆

Waiting for the Snow is a frustrating endeavour. Featuring an erratic narrative structure alongside technical issues and poor acting, director Jang Hee-chul’s film is especially difficult to engage with and invest in. A laborious viewing experience.”

Warm After All (짐작보다 따뜻하게)

Warm After All (짐작보다 따뜻하게)

Warm After All (짐작보다 따뜻하게) – ★★☆☆☆

Warm After All is a sensitive and timely drama about love, tragedy and anguish by director Lee Sang-min. The film depicts emotional and psychological trauma with sincerity although only manages to become truly engaging at the half way stage, yet even then struggles to explore the depths of trauma and the healing process.”

We Will Be Ok (그들이 죽었다)

We Will Be Ok (그들이 죽었다)

We Will Be Ok (그들이 죽었다) – ★★☆☆☆

“Director Baek Jae-ho’s We Will Be Ok is yet another independent film attempting to explore the difficulties of making it big in the industry, and while it treads familiar ground it offers a refreshing angle by incorporating 2012 anxieties of armageddon. However as the narrative meanders coupled with a distinct lack of character development the film is hard to invest in.”

White Night (백야)

White Night (백야)

White Night (백야) – ★★★★☆

White Night is an attractive queer film from prominent gay director Lee Song Hee-il. The European aesthetics are combined well with the psychological trauma of the main character, derived from a real homophobic assault in 2011, yet the film never fully goes beyond its short story origins. White Night is one of the better queer features in recent memory.”

Wild Flowers (들꽃)

Wild Flowers (들꽃)

Wild Flowers (들꽃) – ★★☆☆☆

Wild Flowers begins in intense fashion as director Park Seok-young effectively conveys the dangerous ordeals faced by homeless teenage girls in Seoul. Yet after such a grand opening the film rapidly loses momentum as the narrative flounders, further enhanced by the unnecessary male antagonists, distracting from the far more compelling central female characters.”

The Winter of the Year was Warm (내가 고백을 하면)

The Winter of the Year was Warm (내가 고백을 하면)

The Winter of the Year was Warm (내가 고백을 하면) – ★★★☆☆

“By employing a gentle focus on social realism and irony, The Winter of the Year was Warm is a refreshing take on the romantic-drama. Director David Cho has created a quite charming tale of two middle-aged singletons attempting to escape their daily lives yet finding something more, employing subtle development and humourous satire to enjoyable effect.”

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