Re-encounter (2011), Come Rain, Come Shine (2010): Review

Continuing with my reviews from Korea, this one is on a film called Re-encounter by Min Yong-Keun.

Re-encounter is a movie with some stunning visuals, crisp and clean, with some great colors. There is no visual narrative however and the story is simple, of a young single mother. Unlike many other stories of this nature, we get to see the mother’s life a few years later. Presumably her current stillness in life is due to this trauma, which is revealed to us slowly. We never get to see the entire picture right until the end. The entire movie deals with the mother’s battle to reconcile with what transpired in her life. Her need for resolution somehow. Even this is not very clear as the actress who plays the mother holds her cards very close. We are shown glimpses of random occurences that aren’t too cohesive but random enough to warrant an “independent movie” feel to the proceedings.

Overall the movie is touch and go. The writing, the acting, indeed the entire proceedings of the movie feel labored, overtly and unduly/unnecessarily emphasized. The lead actress plays her role well, stopping it from becoming entirely pretentious. Otherwise, the writing and the directing is entirely lack lustre, the only thing saving it is the lovely cinematography.

If it has been a while since you’ve watched any art house cinema, then you might end up liking this because it shouts art house quite loudly. Everything is slow in the movie, but it was too consciously slow for my liking. And the visuals remind one of contemporary European art house movies. Somewhat like a movie I watched from Sweden about 4 years ago, and a movie from Australia called ‘Somersault’ that I watched 6-7 years ago.

   

Come Rain or Come Shine (I love you, I don’t love you in Korean)

        

This movie was made with dismal budgets. While on one hand this can be liberating, on the other things can go downhill, pretty fast. In this movie however, the brilliant cinematography manages to keep it all real and beautiful. There are major experiments with light, shadow, space and framing of shots. Whatever the results, it comes across as an honest experiment.

There is hardly any plot as such, and it delves only with the real time proceedings of a couple that are about to break up. The only time cut is from when the woman announces that she’s leaving the man to the time they are stuck at home packing to separate. Rest is real time watching of a break up. Highly voyeuristic, and also terribly slow because, truly, if you did watch a couple fight in real time, how much time would you spend watching them not speaking? Lots.

The couple itself is a slightly strange one. The man is apathetic to the point of becoming furniture and they never ever confront each other. Both easily letting go. In that way, theirs is a perfect break up. That this movie is based on a Japanese short story is completely evident, because frankly they don’t seem very Korean. Let me try to explain. Korean is an expressive language, so whatever you are saying in Korean ends up being extremely expressive. I am not sure about Japanese, but going by just the movies I have watched, the language seems to have a great capacity/space to accommodate isolation. In Korean, if you wanted to say you had depression, I am sure you end up explaining half the reason why in the process of saying it. And while you said it, you probably ended up rationalizing it to yourself a little bit more as well, thus beginning to get over it!

The incessant rain in the movie keeps one satisfied with its deep rumblings and constant dissatisfaction. Because the couple themselves are taking the high route. The light is very moody and obstinate throughout the film, a bit like the characters themselves.  The use of space and camera gives us a feeling of being inside the house ourselves, peeking into rooms and people’s lives.

I would say whether you like it or not depends on the mood you are in while watching it. While this can be true for most movies, this one depends extensively on it. Are you ready for the slow dawdling around people?

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Superstar Mr.Gam (2004): Review

A really good sports movie. It has the large heartedness of a big sports movie and the quirkiness of a small independent movie.

      

“Baseball was introduced to Korea in 1905 by American missionaries during the Korean Empire and spread afterwards. It is one of the most popular sports in the country.” – wikipedia

Go figure!

So we have an ordinary man with extra-ordinary skill but all out of luck. This changes in small ways and he becomes one of the biggest stars. The story is small, of believable changes and is not really all about the glory. One of the pitch perfect sports movies I’ve seen including Bull Durham and Chak De India. The lead actor Lee Beom Soo is super as Mr.Gam, he brings to the character an ordinary bustle of life, greed, envy and desire.

Finally playing for a completely out of luck team called Superstars, he is made to wait on the bench for almost all the games of the team. His nemesis is Park Chul Soon played by Gong yoo in one of his earlier roles as a character actor before breaking out as a big name. Park Chul Soon is everything that Mr. Gam is not and wants to be. So in a record making game for Park Chul Soon, when none of the pitchers for Superstars agree to play, Mr.Gam gets an opportunity to finally get on the ground.

A large portion of the movie is this one game, where I got to know more about baseball than I ever did or even wanted to, Mr.Gam looks like he might just take Superstars to victory and thwart the record breaking wins of Park Chul Soon.

A really good find, one of those movies that is well crafted, well told and neatly executed. This adds on to the list of Juno, Little Miss Sunshine etc.

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