2017. Directed by Jung Yoon-suk , starring Kwon Yong-man, Jang Sung-gun, Park Jung-geun, Cert 15 , 120 mins.
The Bamseom Pirates (named after an island in the Han River) were a post-punk base and drums duo active for a while in the early 2010s. Most of their performances, some involving non-musical instruments, were at student demos and benefits, and Seoul Inferno was their only album, still available as a free download. Jung’s essay-doc starts out as a very funny chronicle of what they got up to and the noises they made, but then turns its attention to the attempted prosecution of the band’s ‘manager’ Park Jung-geun under the National Security Law: he was accused, absurdly, of ‘promoting’ North Korea. Anyone looking for a sardonic portrait of Korean politics under two recent right-wing presidents need look no further than this. Likewise anyone interested in the student movement’s evolution from Marxist militancy to anarchic humour. Voted a top favourite in Rotterdam Film Festival’s audience poll this year!
Close-up Film Centre, 05 Nov 17 8:00 pm
2016. Directed by Lim Dae-hyung , starring Gi Ju-bong, Oh Jung-hwan, Go Won-hee, Cert 12A , 101 mins.
Lim Dae-hyung’s tragi-comic debut feature stars veteran character actor Gi Ju-bong (lately seen in Hong Sangsoo’s Right Now Wrong Then) as a taciturn, lonely widower with a secret or two. Mo Geum-san’s provincial life seems orderly and governed by routine: undemanding days in his small barber-shop, daily visits to the local swimming pool for his fitness, a drink and a snack on the way home and nights spent wrestling with a pillow that’s too lumpy. Mr Mo’s first secret is that he’s semi-estranged from his son, a student in Seoul; some bad news from a doctor makes him want to reconnect. His second secret is that beneath his placid and slightly dour exterior, a Chaplin-esque slapstick comedian is struggling to get out. Lim tells Mr Mo’s story across five chapters, using images which seem classically restrained but at the same time startlingly precise.
Picturehouse Central, 28 Oct 17 6:30 pm
2017. Directed by Park Jeong-hoon , starring Kim Dong-won, Kim Hyun-jin, Kim Pan-kyum, Cert 15 , 112 mins.
The title tips you off that this isn’t a film for everyone, but we should nevertheless start by stressing that Park Jeong-hoon’s film (his second feature, after 2012’s December) presents itself as one single, uninterrupted take. The camera is set up in a small, plain studio. Young men and women enter, sit, respond to off-screen questions from the crew, and leave. Or rather, that’s what’s supposed to happen. But it turns out that one female subject has a prior, broken relationship with a member of the crew – which brings submerged tensions to the surface. So what we have here is an emotional drama in inverted commas, spiked with some satirical thoughts about representing ‘reality’ on a screen, filmed by a director who might have seen too many Andy Warhol films. It’s a genuinely engrossing experience for any viewer with a taste for committed minimalism.
Picturehouse Central, 29 Oct 17 6:30 pm