Cats and Dogs (그 강아지 그 고양이)

Cats and Dogs (그 강아지 그 고양이) – ★★★☆☆

Cats and Dogs (그 강아지 그 고양이)

Cats and Dogs (그 강아지 그 고양이)

Proudly boasting to be Korea’s – and the world’s – first feature length film shot entirely with an iphone 4s, Cats and Dogs (그 강아지 그 고양이) could easily be a mere gimmick. Luckily however that’s not the case,  as the film is a quite charming, albeit raw and cliched, romantic comedy. Aimed squarely at mid-teens to early twenties audiences, director Min Byung-Woo (민병우) explores the highs and lows in the relationship of a young couple in a light-hearted manner. While in a park, webtoon artist Koh Bo-eun (Son Min-ji (손민지) is suffering from depression following a break-up. When her anti-depressants accidently fall from her pocket, a wandering dog eats them and becomes sick, resulting in a race to the veterinarian. Following the treatment however, Bo-eun is forced to adopt the animal lest it will be put down. Meanwhile, walking in a different area of the park, illustrator Kang Woo-joo (Shin Myeong-geun (신명근) finds a cat abandoned and tied to a bench, and decides to adopt it despite his intention to leave. Due to their new animal friends, Bo-eun and Woo-joo meet everyday and are surprised to learn that they have unintentionally named their pets after each other, which sparks the beginning of a relationship.

Cats and Dogs (그 강아지 그 고양이)

The juxtaposition between the characters is very cute

Cats and Dogs is surprisingly technically sophisticated given the limitations imposed by iphone cameras. While initially the visual quality is more akin to a student film, such thoughts dissipate with time as the framing, editing, soundtrack and other such cinematic devices are competently employed in the construction of the rom-com. Of course, constraints are noticeable particularly in regards to establishing shots and camera movement, yet their absence does little to harm the narrative. Director Min, who also wrote the screenplay, wisely opts for an unambitious story to keep everything simple and this approach certainly helps in conveying the romance. Yet there are several moments when the lead protagonists are written into a corner, and the director employs the use of animated web-toons to bridge any narrative gaps. As Bo-eun and Woo-joo are web artists the sequences slot nicely into the film as well as continuing the tongue-in-cheek sensibilities that run throughout the film, in a heightened, postmodern fashion.

Fun animations are used to bridge scenes, and are quite charming

Fun animations are used to bridge scenes, and are quite charming

Cats and Dogs is first and foremost a romantic-comedy, and exploits all the ridiculous cliches that go hand-in-hand with the genre. This is a blessing in the sense that it is fun to witness such silliness and how the couple will fall for each other, and a curse for the very same reasons as it is extremely predictable from start to finish. It’s understandable however, given the sole use of the iphone camera. Director Min also seems to be aware of this, and aims the film at a younger – and arguably more accepting – demographic yet cheekily throws in some sexual suggestions to keep it slightly adult. As such the film grows and becomes quite charming as a result. Interestingly the narrative is just as concerned with the nature of breaking up as it is with creating a relationship, sneaking up on audiences amongst all the sugar-coated notions of romance which also forms part of the charisma.

As perhaps is to be expected, the performances are all over-the-top although the characters do become quite likable, particularly when they are compared to the animals they take care of. Shin Myeong-geun is arguably the most charismatic due to his comical and laid back nature, while Son Min-ji is colder and more distant. This is intentional however, and it’s good to see a Korean romantic story with genuine personality conflicts, as well as how they adapt to them. The supporting cast, meanwhile, are frankly awful and serve to drag the film down whenever they are on screen. Thankfully their appearances don’t last long, but the film still suffers from their presence.

Bo-eun and Woo-joo learn that the course of love is rarely smooth

Bo-eun and Woo-joo learn that the course of love is rarely smooth

Verdict:

Cats and Dogs is Korea’s – and the world’s – first feature length film shot entirely with iphone 4s cameras. Surprisingly the romantic-comedy isn’t as gimmicky as such a feature would have you believe, as the film is quite charming throughout despite the over-abundance of cliches. Director Min Byung-Woo wisely keeps things simple, although does attempt to explore personality clashes which is particularly refreshing when compared to other Korean rom-coms. Cats and Dogs is a cliched and limited, yet fun and silly, addition to the genre.

★★★☆☆

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Festival News Green Film Festival in Seoul (제10회 서울환경영화제) Korean Festivals 2013 Reviews
The 10th Green Film Festival in Seoul

GFFIS 2013: The 10th Green Film Festival in Seoul

The 10th Green Film Festival in Seoul

The 10th Green Film Festival in Seoul

Kicking off on the 9th of May and running through until the 16th, the 10th Green Film Festival in Seoul (GFFIS) will take place at CGV cinemas in Yongsan. The festival screens films that highlight environmental matters from all over the world, ranging from GMO foods to corporate corruption, animal welfare to government protesting, and that great variety continues to be present within the 2013 edition.

Opening with the Matt Damon starring Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Sant, the festival boasts an impressive array of international screenings. For the full list of films please visit the official website here (in Korean), however featured below are the Korean entries that will emphasize the environmental issues occurring within the country.

But first, be sure to check out the official trailer for the festival:

Korean Films

International Environmental Film Category

Forest Dancing (춤추는 숲)

Forest Dancing (춤추는 숲)

Forest Dancing (춤추는 숲)

Director: Kang Seok-pil (강석필)

Synopsis: The documentary follows the residents of a small village community in Seoul, who protest against a building project that will raze part of a mountain to make way for a private academy.

Korean Environment Category:

Boiler (남양주는 모른다)

Boiler (남양주는 모른다)

Boiler (남양주는 모른다)

Director: Lee Hyun-Ji (이현지)

Synopsis: Fictional film Boiler explores the lives of a handful of binge drinking tunnel laborers. Their mundane existence is changed however when they discover something underground while working.

Cats and Dogs (그 강아지 그 고양이)

Cats and Dogs (그 강아지 그 고양이)

Cats and Dogs (그 강아지 그 고양이)

Director: Min Byung-Woo (민병우)

Synopsis: The first film to be shot entirely using the iphone 4s, this romantic-comedy depicts the lives of two pet owners and their relationships.

Cats in the Pool (수영장의 고양이들)

Cats in the Pool (수영장의 고양이들)

Cats in the Pool (수영장의 고양이들)

Director: Kim Bo-Kyoung (김보경)

Synopsis: In this animated short, a man hits a cat while driving. The guilt of the event causes him to hallucinate the cat – and other felines – wherever he goes.

Cement Town Tragedy (투구꽃 그 마을)

Cement Town Tragedy (투구꽃 그 마을)

Cement Town Tragedy (투구꽃 그 마을)

Director: Oh Kyu-Ik (오규익)

Synopsis: The documentary examines a small town and the impact of a cement plant built 50 years ago, and the fallout of hazardous materials on the health of the community.

Cruel Inheritance - Heredity (잔인한 내림 – 遺傳)

Cruel Inheritance – Heredity (잔인한 내림 – 遺傳)

Cruel Inheritance – Heredity (잔인한 내림 – 遺傳)

Director: Kim Hwan-Tae (김환태)

Synopsis: Cruel Inheritance is a documentary concerned with the ramifications of the atomic energy and bombs, from Hiroshima in 1945 through to Fukushima in 2011.

Fog and Smoke (안개와 연기)

Fog and Smoke (안개와 연기)

Fog and Smoke (안개와 연기)

Director: Cha Jea-Min (차재민)

Synopsis: Experimental film Fog and Smoke explores the complicated and intense emotions involved in the development of a city in the port of Incheon., including issues related to the financial crisis.

Green Slime (녹색물질)

Green Slime (녹색물질)

Green Slime (녹색물질)

Director: Kwon Oh-Kwang (권오광)

Synopsis: This 12 minute short fiction film portrays a group of friends who reunite in a bar, and recount their childhood story involving a ‘green monster’.

The Hours of Tree (나무의 시간)

The Hours of Tree (나무의 시간)

The Hours of Tree (나무의 시간)

Director: Jeong Da-Hee (정다희)

Synopsis: Exploring the life of trees across seasons and beyond, this animated short is concerned with the way life unfolds and develops for vegetation, and the very meaning of existence.

KBS Environment Special; Experiment Excrement (KBS 환경스페셜: 똥을 실험하다)

KBS Environment Special; Experiment Excrement (KBS 환경스페셜: 똥을 실험하다)

KBS Environment Special; Experiment Excrement (KBS 환경스페셜: 똥을 실험하다)

Director: Shin Dong-Man (신동만)

Synopsis: The environmental impact of human waste is examined in this KBS documentary, portraying the thoughtless consumption of materials every time a person flushes the toilet.

A Monster in the Reservoir (저수지의 괴물)

A Monster in the Reservoir (저수지의 괴물)

A Monster in the Reservoir (저수지의 괴물)

Director: Lee Sung-Gang (이성강)

Synopsis: The life of a monster who dwells in a reservoir is portrayed in this animated short. When human development approaches, the monster’s home is threatened.

Paldang (팔당 사람들)

Paldang (팔당 사람들)

Paldang (팔당 사람들)

Director: Kauh Eun-Jin (고은진)

Synopsis: Paldang examines the issues involved in farming in contemporary Korea, from government subsidies to organic farming and wind power, and the conflicts that arise.

Souvenir Animation

Souvenir Animation

Souvenir Animation

Director: Kang Min-ji (강민지)

Synopsis: This 11 minute animated film explores the keepsakes and mementos that are obtained over time through traveling. The photos and ornaments from trips in different times state the importance of travel.

Sweet Temptation (잘 먹고 잘 사는 법)

Sweet Temptation (잘 먹고 잘 사는 법)

Sweet Temptation (잘 먹고 잘 사는 법)

Director: Jeong Han-Jin (정한진)

Synopsis: A young boy who had previously only consumed organic foods is suddenly introduced to chocolate, and begins to question his lifestyle.

Talking Architecture, City:Hall (말하는 건축, 시티:홀)

Talking Architecture, City:Hall (말하는 건축, 시티:홀)

Talking Architecture, City:Hall (말하는 건축, 시티:홀)

Director: Jeong Jae-eun (정재은)

Synopsis: The difficulties of the new city hall project in Seoul are captured in this documentary, exemplifying the struggle of old versus new.

Who Made It? (누가 만들었을까?)

Who Made It? (누가 만들었을까?)

Who Made It? (누가 만들었을까?)

Director: Ji Tae-kyoung (지태경)

Synopsis: The beautiful landscapes of Jeju Island are the focus of this documentary. The people of Jeju and their relationship to the surroundings are also featured, alongside Jeju musicians.

Festival News Green Film Festival in Seoul (제10회 서울환경영화제) Korean Festivals 2013