The chief guiding principle for Cinema Now, apart from excellence, is eclecticism. Though relatively small in number, the films in this strand are wide-ranging and, whether studio-backed or independent, come in a variety of genres and filmmaking styles. As its very name implies, Cinema Now is focused upon Korean films from the present day, but in this year of celebrations for the centenary of Korea's film industry, it seems fitting that many of the selected titles do not merely represent the best of contemporary cinema, but also in different ways look back, whether to past festivals, or to older cinematic traditions and influences, or to history itself.
Director: Hong Sangsoo
Cast: Kim Minhee, Jung Jinyoung, Ki Joobong, Seo Younghwa
Cert 15, 66mins, 2017
Episodic, meandering and offering the mere ghost of a narrative, the film, too, is neither this nor that - but the apparent simplicity of Hong's monochromatic long takes conceals a theatricalised artifice whose players may merely be A-reum's fictions, or even lost souls.
Regent Street Cinema, 05 Nov 2019 9:00 pm
Director: Lee Byeong-heon
Cast: Ryu Seung-yong, Lee Hanee, Jin Sun-kyu, Lee Dong-hwi
Cert 15, 111mins, 2018
When their special chicken recipe becomes a massive hit with the public, it is a case of stakeout meets takeout, as cooking and crime-busting get ever more confused, until this ensemble of misfits finally learns why they were put together in the first place, and why their leader Captain Ko (Ryu Seung-yong, Seven Years of Night, 2017) has the nickname 'Zombie'. "There’s lots of absurdity in what we do," says Ko - and when it comes to crazy laughs and over-the-top fighting, Extreme Job delivers to order.
This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Lee Byeong-heon.
Regent Street Cinema, 06 Nov 2019 8:35 pm
Director: Lee Su-jin
Cast: Han Seok-kyu, Sul Kyung-gu, Chun Woo-hee
Cert 15, 144mins, 2018
Bu-nam has been killed in a hit-and-run accident. "Hiding details now could have consequences later," insists rising politician Koo Myung-hui (Han Seok-kyu), making his guilty son confess to the police - but with the full extent of the crime becoming clearer, decent Myung-hui sinks ever lower in covering up a situation that threatens his political ambitions. As he and Joong-sik circle each other in search of Bu-nam's missing bride Ryun-hwa (Chun Woo-hee), everyone's buried secrets lead to a violent collision of class and politics from which nobody emerges looking pretty. Broodingly paced and elliptically plotted, Lee's film unleashes an iconoclastic onslaught of grief, corruption and revenge.
Regent Street Cinema, 07 Nov 2019 8:15 pm
Director: Lee Min-jae
Cast: Jung Jae-young, Kim Nam-gil, Um Ji-won, Lee Soo-kyung
Cert 12, 112mins, 2018
Where Yeon Sang-ho's live-action Train To Busan and complementary anime Seoul Station (both 2016), and the television series Kingdom from this year, have made zombies a serious part of Korean entertainment, Lee Min-jae's feature debut (as writer/director) shows the funnier side of these flesh-eating fiends.
Picturehouse Central, 08 Nov 2019 7:00 pm
Director: Joe Min-ho
Cast: Ko A-sung, Kim Sae-byeok, Kim Ye-eun, Jeong Hadam
Cert 12, 105mins, 2019
Though set almost entirely within the confines of the notorious Seodaemun Prison, this mostly monochrome feature from writer/director Joe Min-ho (A Million, 2009) uses the incarceration of real-life freedom fighter Yu Gwan-sun (Ko A-sung) to crystallise the ordeals of Korea's occupation by the Japanese.
Picturehouse Central, 09 Nov 2019 6:45 pm
Director: Lee Jong-un
Cast: Sul Kyung-gu, Jeon Do-yeon, Kim Bo-min
Cert U, 120mins, 2018
Lee Jong-un had previously worked on Lee Chang-dong's films Secret Sunshine (2007) and Poetry (2009), but Birthday - which Lee Chang-dong helped produce - is her first feature as writer and director. It is a family drama centred on the aching loss and trauma of absence.
Picturehouse Central, 09 Nov 2019 9:00 pm
Director: Park Jung-bum
Cast: Lee Seung-yeon, Lee Yeon, Choi Eun-seo, Park Jung-bum
Cert 15, 89mins, 2019
Park Jung-bum (The Journals of Musan and Alive), one time Assistant Director for Lee Chang-dong, returns to the festival fresh from winning the Special Jury prize at Locarno for this complex, multifaceted, emotionally astute thriller about greed and corruption in a small town. Eschewing typical genre trappings, and all the more powerful for it, this slow burning character study creeps up behind its audience and takes us deep into the rotting hearts of its troubled characters.
Picturehouse Central, 11 Nov 2019 6:45 pm