How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자사용설명서)

PiFan 2013: Quick Fire Reviews 1

Quick-fire reviews from the second day of the 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival:

F*ck for Forest

F*ck for Forest

F*ck for Forest – 7/10 

 Polish documentary F*ck for Forest, by director Michal Marczak, is a fascinating exploration of a group attempting to help the world through sex and pornography. Disillusioned by the trappings of contemporary society and rejected by their families, the individuals live together in a commune of sorts as they take naked photos and make pornographic material to sell on the internet. Yet this money is not for personal gain; indeed, the group look for food in trash and accept clothes from charity organizations. Rather, they intend to save the planet. The film explores their lives with great insight, capturing the fragile psychology amid the unfaltering determination to save the Earth, and is constantly compelling. Yet as the film becomes more extreme – a man licks blood and semen from his hand – and the attitude of the general population is slowly introduced, F*ck for Forest becomes something of a tragic comedy as the group have dedication but precious little direction or awareness. The documentary is a great exploration of the attitudes towards sex and nudity in modern society, but also of the white saviour complex as the group travel to Peru in order to ‘save’ them for a hilarious yet pitiable conclusion. A thoroughly engaging, tragically-comic documentary.

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자사용설명서)

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자사용설명서)

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자사용설명서) – 8/10

Director Lee Won-suk’s romantic comedy is a real gem and one of the most fun and exhilarating takes on the genre in a quite some time. The film itself isn’t particularly original in a narrative sense, but it’s the endlessly endearing stylization that is captivating throughout. Director Lee is superb in conveying the incredibly frustrating Korean workplace, poking fun at situations and quirky characters with real skill. But his masterstroke is in creating the cheesy retro world of the video which bestows advice on the heroine, wonderfully realised through the mise-en-scene from the glittery clothes through the silly infomercial style performances. Director Lee also manages to blend both worlds together for hilariously charming results, which manages the difficult feat of simultaneously being genuinely funny as well as conveying the difficulties of being a working women in contemporary Korea. While the ending ties up all the loose ends in a rather generic fashion, How to Use Guys with Secret Tips is one of the most enjoyable, charismatic rom-coms to emerge from Korea in recent years and is thoroughly recommended.

Drug War

Drug War

Drug War – 8/10

Iconic director Johnnie To’s Drug War is an exemplary action thriller. Moving to mainland China and away from his usual Hong Kong/Macau cityscapes, director To constructs the dark and violent world of drug smuggling with deft skill. What is particularly impressive throughout is the amalgamation of gritty urban realism, kinetic action and comedy, combined with themes of brotherhood. There is no room for romance in this very masculine world, as both cops and smugglers have unparalleled determination and refuse to give up even when faced with certain defeat. The film moves along at a rocketing pace while the stylized action sequences – including an incredible shoot-out in front of a school – leave audiences breathless. Due to this there is little time given to characterisation of the leads, but when action is this good it’s hard to fault. Another great film by the visionary director.

The Bluff (허풍)

The Bluff (허풍)

The Bluff (허풍) – 1/10

In theory, a film featuring men bluffing about sexual experiences with their friends could be an insightful piece on the fragile and almost pitiable egos of modern men. In practice, The Bluff is nothing more than dressed up, misogynistic soft-core porn. The early stories display some promise as the tubby and unattractive middle-aged men find themselves the ‘victims’ of con-artists, but they quickly dissolve into showing such men having sex with extremely attractive women that they could never hope to get outside of celluloid. Yet from there the film becomes even more misogynistic as one man calls a virgin ghost to be his sexual plaything, only to have sex with her in an animalistic and abusive fashion. Finally, the last tale involves a man having sex with an alien, who can change her face to anyone he chooses. It’s quite clear that (mostly female) porn stars are used within The Bluff due to their performances and obvious enhancements, which would be fine if the film wasn’t pretending to be something more. How it is within the ‘World Fantastic Cinema’ category at the festival is something of a mystery, as The Bluff is simply soft-core porn for men undergoing a mid-life crisis. Avoid.

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Festival News Korean Festivals 2013 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (제17회 부천국제판타스틱영화제)
The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

PiFan 2013: Vision Express

The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

With the 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival gearing up to start on July 18th, one of the more interesting categories within the program arrives in the form of ‘Vision Express’.

‘Vision Express’ highlights some of the new emerging talent from around the world, and as such features documentaries and fiction films that are more independent in nature compared to other offerings in the program. If there’s one category that has the potential to hold some surprising new creativity, then ‘Vision Express’ certainly fits the bill.

There are four Korean films with ‘Vision Express’, featuring the work of seven directors, all of which are profiled below.

For the listings of Korean films within the Opening/Closing ceremonies, Puchon Choice, and World Fantastic Cinema, please click on the links.

Love Scene (러브씬)

Love Scene (러브씬)

Love Scene (러브씬)

Director: Lee Jeong-won (이정원), Kim Du-heon (김두헌), Moon In-dae (문인대)

Synopsis: In this 88 minute fiction, several short stories explore romantic and sexual relationships with supernatural/mystical elements.

Sunshine Love (썬샤인 러브)

Sunshine Love (썬샤인 러브)

Sunshine Love (썬샤인 러브)

Director: Jo Eun-seong (조은성)

Synopsis: A more traditional romantic tale of a couple brought together and separated by fate is offered by director Jo, as the lovers fight the odds to be reunited.

Young Artists (젊은 예술가들)

Young Artists (젊은 예술가들)

Young Artists (젊은 예술가들)

Directors: Kang Tae-woo (강태우)

Synopsis: Young Artists depicts the lives of  students at Konkuk Art High School as they prepare for  big graduation performance at Christmas. Yet with their unique styles, will they be able to work as a team?

Incomplete Life: Prequel (미생 프리퀄)

Incomplete Life: Prequel (미생 프리퀄)

Incomplete Life: Prequel (미생 프리퀄)

Director: Son Tae-gyum (손태겸), Kim Tae-hui (김태희)

Synopsis: The lives and histories of six quite different characters are explored in this 60 minute film, examining the events and psychological traumas  of the past and how they manifest in the present.

For the full list of films playing in the ‘Vision Express’ category, please check out the official PiFan site by clicking on this link.

Festival News Korean Festivals 2013 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (제17회 부천국제판타스틱영화제)
The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

PiFan 2013: World Fantastic Cinema

The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

The wonderfully titled ‘World Fantastic Cinema’ section in the upcoming Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan) features a truly eclectic range of films from a host of countries. With horrors, thrillers, dramas, romance and comedies on offer, there is certainly something for everyone in the line-up.

There are seven feature films from Korea within the category, including some mainstream releases as well as a focus on new talent, all of which are profiled below.

Alternatively, if you wish to see the features on the opening/closing films or the Puchon Choice categories, please click on the link(s) to be taken to the relevant page.

The Bluff (허풍)

The Bluff (허풍)

The Bluff (허풍)

Director: Gong Ja-gwan (공자관)

Synopsis: When four friends gather for a reunion, the small talk eventually gives way to more sexual topics of conversation. A game of bluffs begins, as the friends attempt to get to know each other more deeply than ever before.

Go, Stop, Murder (고스톱 살인)

Go, Stop, Murder (고스톱 살인)

Go, Stop, Murder (고스톱 살인)

Director: Kim Joon-kwon (김준권)

Synopsis: Popular game ‘go, stop’ becomes horririfc in this thriller, as a group of players in the countryside start to die one-by-one. Yet when a substitute player is brought in, he begins to think that the game itself is the source of the problem.

Horror Stories 2 (무서운 이야기2)

Horror Stories 2 (무서운 이야기2)

Horror Stories 2 (무서운 이야기2)

Directors: Jeong Beom-sik (정범식), Kim Hwi (김휘), Kim Seong-ho (김성호), Min Gyu-dong (민규동)

Synopsis: The first Horror Stories film opened PiFan 2012, so it’s perhaps only fitting that the sequel features in the line-up as well. Horror Stories 2 follows in the same footsteps as its predecessor, as three short scary tales are framed within another fourth. The Cliff involves two friends who find trouble in a mountain; Pain of Death features horrors set in the countryside; and Escape is concerned with a teacher who must deal with the consequences of some bad advice. See below for the trailer.

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자사용설명서)

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자사용설명서)

How to Use Guys with Secret Tips (남자사용설명서)

Director: Lee Won-seok (이원석)

Synopsis: Released back in February this year, director Lee’s How to Use Guys with Secret Tips garnered some impressive reviews from both Korean and foreign critics alike. In a case of extremely bad timing however, the film failed to set the box office alight as it went toe-to-toe with The Berlin File and Miracle in Room No. 7. The film follows unlucky-in-love Bo-na, a Tv commercial assistant director, who discovers a tape featuring instructions on how to seduce and manipulate men. But can she find true love? See below for the trailer.

Oldmen Never Die (죽지않아)

Oldmen Never Die (죽지않아)

Oldmen Never Die (죽지않아)

Director: Hwang Cheol-min (황철민)

Synopsis: In order to inherit his grandfather’s fortune, Ji-hun became a farmer to impress the old man with his labor skills and determination. Yet bizarrely the old man simply refuses to die, while the arrival of a challenger threatens Ji-hun’s plans.

Southern Superhero Showdown (촌능력전쟁)

Southern Superhero Showdown (촌능력전쟁)

Southern Superhero Showdown (촌능력전쟁)

Director: Ryu Hoon (류훈)

Synopsis: The brilliantly titled Southern Superhero Showdown features an unemployed young man named Ho-bang, who accidently discovers a strange village where everyone has superpowers. The paradox however is that the village is seemingly inescapable.

The Truth (진실)

The Truth (진실)

The Truth (진실)

Director: Seo Seung-man (서승만)

Synopsis: This 93 minute fiction blurs the lines between performance and reality through a story featuring stage actors. When weapons are brandished and characters die on stage, what really is going on?

For the full line-up of films in the PiFan World Fantastic Cinema category, please head over to the PiFan site by clicking on this link.

Festival News Korean Festivals 2013 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (제17회 부천국제판타스틱영화제)
The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

PiFan 2013: The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

The 17th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival – or PiFan, for short – is gearing up for its 17th installment commencing this coming July 18th and running through to the 28th.

As is always the case with PiFan, the focus on genre films means a quite eclectic range of screenings from a variety of countries, and the 2013 edition continues the trend. A total of 219 films – 133 feature films and 86 shorts – from 40 countries are on offer, opening with the Asian premiere of animated all-star cast feature The Congress by director Ari Folman, and closing with the World Premiere of Korean film The Terror Live (더 테러 라이브) by director Kim Byeong U (김병우).

The Congress

The Congress

Opening Film The Congress

Israeli director Ari Folman, who previously made waves with Waltz With Bashir in 2008, finally returns to the director’s chair with The Congress. An international co-production between Israel, Germany, France, Luxembourg Poland and Belgium, The Congress features an all-star cast in a story that sees Robin Wright ‘sell’ her image to create a digital actress. However in doing so she can never act again, and more importantly, she loses all rights in the control of her very image. Please see below for the trailer:

The Terror Live (더 테러 라이브)

The Terror Live (더 테러 라이브)

Closing Film The Terror Live (더 테러 라이브)

PiFan wraps up the festival with the world premiere of Korean film The Terror Live (더 테러 라이브). Director Kim Byeong U’s (김병우) thriller features Ha Jeong-woo (하정우) as disgraced anchorman-turned-radio host Yoon Young-Hwa. When a terrorist calls the show threatening to blow up a bridge, Yoon calls it a hoax – only for the bridge to explode. Believing this to be an opportunity to become a TV anchorman once more, Yoon works hard to become involved in the incident, only for it to escalate even further. Please see below for the trailer:

Furthermore, PiFan will feature several films by some of the most prolific directors working today, including Johnnie To – Blind Detective, Drug War -, Miike Takshi – Shield of Straw, Lesson of Evil – and a special program dedicated to Japanese director Tsukamoto Shinya – Tetsuo, The Iron Man, Tetsuo II: The Body Hammer, Tokyo Fist, Bullet Ballet, A Snake of June and Kotoko.

Cult films will be present in the Ourselves, Our Robots: The Thin Line Between Human and Robot showcase, featuring the likes of THX 1138, Robocop, Manborg, The Machine, and Computer Chess. Meanwhile Urban Cult: The Dark Side of the City will feature The Warriors, Escape From New York, Maniac, Maniac Cop 2 and Vigilante.

Fo the full line up and timetable of screenings, please visit the official PiFan website here.

Festival News Korean Festivals 2013 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival (제17회 부천국제판타스틱영화제)