• Antarctic Journal

    Antarctic Journal

    ★★½

    A convincing atmosphere and strong mood is wasted on a very underwritten script. Every bit of conflict, tension and character work had me desiring more. Song Kang-ho convinces as a morally ambiguous expedition leader and there should be a lot of material to mine from, especially since this is the type of film, which deals with obsession and madness when it comes to how man being pushed to their limits can and will break them. There's just too often a…

  • Hindsight

    Hindsight

    ★★

    80s and 90s had their characteristic styles and fashions we look back on with cringe and affinity and I for the longest wondered what's gonna be the same for 2010 because that's when I turned 18, so that's what I remember the best. Well I think now enough time has passed that I can fairly confidently say that there is nothing more 2010 than that god damn Bieber bowl cut. It was unreasonably pervasive in how it popped up everywhere…

  • A Little Pond

    A Little Pond

    ★★★½

    A very little known South Korean independent production choosing to tell a story about American soldiers massacring refugees displaced by the war in 1950. Story is rather straight forward tracking the villagers journey away from home to the eventual mountain a few hundred of them would die in.

    Song Kang-ho is briefly in the beginning providing a cameo. I suspect he did the bit part as a favor to get the film funding as his face could be then thrown…

  • Day Trip

    Day Trip

    ★★★½

    Short films are clearly an avenue for some brotherly bonding for Park Chan-wook and Park Chan-kyong. Don't know how much of these are up to Chan-kyong, but I suspect a lot considering he apparently has an affinity and interest in Korea's cultural history and poetry. This one is a nice little short about a teacher and a student going up to the mountains to carry out a musical drummer/singer performance after the student did poorly in a competition. Really light…

  • Where is my DVD?

    Where is my DVD?

    ★★★½

    The lead actor of this little short wrote, directed, produced, edited and designed this tale about an actor dealing with the frustration of trying to get footage of his work he's done with short film directors. Directors apparently have a tendency to be quite lazy with providing footage to actors so this is probably a pretty relatable film for actors all around.

    It's clearly personal for Koo Kyo-hwan and he provides a really great showcase of his talents when it…

  • One Way Passage

    One Way Passage

    ★★★

    Well this is what I get for having expectations. I unknowingly watched the remake first and seeing this is a Powell film I felt obligated to seek it out thinking it's probably going to be better and it's kind of better and worse? Powell didn't blow me away because with him it's the mix of smarmy and sweet which works the best for me and he's way more sweet than smarmy in here.

    It's also quite jarring to go from…

  • The President's Barber

    The President's Barber

    ★★★

    Really funny early on, but gets painfully dull in the second half. A lot of these historical dramedies just don't get that harmony between drama and comedy right. The comedy works, but the moment the film decides to go for the dramatic effect, it underwhelms. Song gets to flex his comedic muscles especially in the first half, but this is mostly just an okay performance. Movie runs too long and could stand to lose quite a bit from the middle.

  • Howling

    Howling

    ★★½

    One of those cop movies which puts an older experienced male cop and a younger inexperienced female cop together as a pair and their whole dynamic is then all about the dude learning to get over his misogynism and as a result seeing her as a capable individual. The thing just is that the misogyny in here is laid absurdly strong and the young woman doesn't even end up triumphing in the end even though she ends up succeeding on…

  • Top Gun

    Top Gun

    ★★★

    Always nice to see a truly sweaty example of 80s cinema and Scott does shoot the film with some delicious tension on all fronts. I went in with a sentiment in mind someone I know expressed to me recently about how Top Gun is great because it's non-toxic masculinity since it's about a bunch of guys being competitive without the need to put each other down. I'm not sure I completely agree, but I kind of do think there's somewhat…

  • Secret Reunion

    Secret Reunion

    ★★★

    Oh this is some gourmet propaganda. A buddy movie where a North Korean spy on the run works together as runaway bride locators and retriever with a former South Korean agent who once chased him. The two know who each of them is, but they pretend not to know thinking they can get their old jobs if they get intel from each other.

    The concept provides a perfect opportunity for a comedy of errors, but the buddy approach in the…

  • The King's Letters

    The King's Letters

    ★★★½

    In the year of the Parasite phenomena, Song Kang-ho's other feature release was near-completely overlooked, at least here in the west and I simultaneously get the reason why while also thinking it's quite a bit of a shame really. This is one of those "watching paint dry" films which can be good or bad depending on who you are. The entire film is all about the conception of the Korean alphabet and it makes for some surprisingly compelling drama as…

  • The Throne

    The Throne

    ★★★½

    A power struggle between father and son examining court politics, and royal family dynamics, which really underline the tragedy of the story as essentially the father's resentment, neglect and pride were the reason why the son rose up against him to begin with. Compelling by itself because of the drama, but a really interesting one from Song Kang-ho since I don't think he's been nearly as unlikable with any other role as he's in here.

    He's the quintessential everyman who…