Saturday, 25 October 2008

Korean Film Festival

The Korean Film Festival at the Barbican looks promising, if only on the strength of the two films that I've already seen.

Kim Ji-Woon's The Good, the Bad, the Weird (Joh-un nom, nappun nom, isanghan nom) is a massively enjoyable mash-up of Leone (the title, credit sequence and train-bound opening scene are explicit nods), Kurosawa and Hong Kong wire-work with some bizarre comedy thrown in. The market gunfight with the diving helmet (you have to see it) is hilarious, while the climactic single-handed decimation of the Japanese army as they gallop through the Manchurian desert is weirdly life-affirming in its pure energising enthusiasm. The delirious, almost relentless alternation of chase-fight-chase-fight hardly lets up and the 139 minutes fly by as quickly and as enjoyably as any Keaton film. There are a few nods to 1930s Sino-Japanese relations but if you're looking for a history lesson, this isn't it.

There are a couple of screenings at the London Film Festival but the Barbican has managed to persuade the director along to do a post-film screen-talk.

Utterly different is Lee Chang-dong's Secret Sunshine (Milyang). The quiet story of a woman struggling to start a new life after the death of her husband is utterly gripping and filled with tiny but resonating signs of her recovery. Jeon Do-yeon is on screen practically constantly and deservedly won Cannes' best actress award. 

No comments: