Low Life

Low Life ★★★★

I like to interpret this film as a scathing critique of South Korean capitalism, and I do think there's enough in the text to substantiate such a reading. But the annoying thing about watching films directed by Im Kwon-taek is his "centrist boomer" takes. He's critical of the anti-communist ideology in South Korea, yet he's like the Korean film director equivalent of the Jubilee YouTube channel. A lot of his films have the same energy as those dumb arguments you come across where people say shit like "ackshually, communism is as bad as fascism, so if you want to be a political intellectual, you have to be an enlightened centrist such as myself" ☠️

Like, if you ever decide to watch an Im Kwon-taek film that's very political or has a female main character, then it's 50-50 wrt whether you'll vibe with it or absolutely hate it. I'm #JucheGang- I mean I'm a "democratic socialist" d:^), but I tend to be more forgiving when it comes to South Korean films dealing with politics because yeah, it's kinda impossible to fully support communist ideologies as a South Korean filmmaker (see National Security Act), which is why most of the country's leftist cinema is just hypercritical of capitalism, imperialism, and (neo)colonialism. HOWEVER, whenever I'm about to watch an Im Kwon-taek film about women, I just mentally prepare myself from losing my shit over his boomer shenanigans. He always does this "hehe women are an allegory of our country's suffering so I'm gonna make them suffer all the time heehee hoohoo" thing and it gets exhausting. And after watching this film, I feel he has a "what are you doing step bro" fetish??? Also, according to this centrist boomer, a woman will fall in love with you if you force yourself onto them like come the fuck on...

Anyways, Low Life works best as a metatextual work, and there's no denying that Im Kwon-taek's incredible when it comes to his craft, but I feel it's hard to appreciate this film if you're not familiar with the rest of his filmography (it sorta has a self-reflexive, corrective angle to it where it addresses his boomer takes) or of South Korean political cinema. The action scenes are great tho - I wish we had more of that and less of the spasmodic battles we get from today's shaky cam.

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