Director: Jung Ji-woo
Cast: Choi Min-sik, Park Shin Hye, Ryu Jun Yeol
Cert 15, 125mins, 2016
Writer/director Jung Ji-woo translocates Fei Xing's courtroom drama Silent Witness (2013) to Seoul's elite. After celebrated singer Park Yu-na (Lee-Ha-nui) is killed, her fiancé, the older, super-rich CEO Yim Tae-san , hires lawyer and family friend Choi Hee-jung (Park Shin-hye) to clear his daughter Mi-ra (Lee Soo-kyung) of murder, even though there is evidence that seems to place the spoilt party girl - who had no love for her future stepmother - drunk and aggressive at the scene. "Money is everything," declares Chairman Yim, who believes that he can pay his way out of any problem - but Heart Blackened establishes a twisty dialectic between money and love, upending our expectations of its characters. Here the legal system is exposed to be an institution - not unlike cinema itself - of smoke and mirrors, where the right budget can manipulate anyone.
Regent Street Cinema, 09 Nov 2018 8:50 pm
Director: Kim Dae-woong
Cast: Yoo Hai-jin, Kim Min-jae, Lee Seong-kyung
Cert 15, 110mins, 2017
“Free yourself!” shouts widowed father and ex-wrestler Gui-bo (Yoo Hai-jin, 1987: When The Day Comes, 2018; The Unfair, 2015) to his 19-year-old son Seong-woong (Kim Min-jae, The Great Seducer, 2018, Hit The Top, 2017) during a wrestling bout. Thick as thieves, father and son need to free themselves from one another’s emotional grip. Complications, and a solution, will come when Seong-woong, about to declare his love to his best friend and neighbour Ga-young (Lee Seong-kyung), realises that in fact she has long been infatuated not with him, but more improbably with his much older father instead - something which forces both men to grow up, face some home truths and learn to live their own lives. Writer/director Kim Dae-woong's feature debut is at first a breezily funny, charmingly performed love triangle, before slowly letting more Oedipal emotions loose.
Regent Street Cinema, 10 Nov 2018 9:00 pm
Director: Hong Chang-pyo
Cast: Shim Eun-kyung, Lee Seung-gi
Cert 12, 110mins, 2018
Hong Chang-pyo's colourful Joseon-era romantic court intrigue is the second in a loose projected trilogy from Jupiter Films concerned with Korea's traditions of fortune-telling, following Han Jae-rim's The Face Reader (2013). In 1753, a time of drought, the King is advised to restore celestial balance by marrying off his daughter, Princess Songhwa (Shim Eun-kyung). The independent-minded Songhwa is herself desperate to escape the confines of the royal palace for an advance peek at her would-be suitors - but she finds her perfect match in a wise, honourable astrologist (Lee Seung-gi) tasked with testing her compatibility with the four candidates. Full of imposture and masquerade, The Princess and the Matchmaker tells the story of a woman whose name may have been struck from the annals, but whose comic adventures mark her as ahead of her times: a feminist avant la lettre, partnered with a male ally.
Picturehouse Central, 04 Nov 2018 7:45 pm
Director: Choo Chang-min
Cast: Ryu Seung-ryong, Jang Dong-gun, Song Sae-byuk
Cert 15, 123mins, 2018
Seven Years of Night is an intense, noirish mystery thriller set, like In Dreams (Neil Jordan, 1999) Jindabyne (Ray Lawrence, 2006) and Lost River (Ryan Gosling, 2014), around a small town and a dam with a ghost town sunk beneath its waters. After a drunken Hyun-soo (Ryu Seung-ryong) accidentally hits a young girl with his car, her monstrous father Young-je (Jang Dong-gun) seeks a vengeance that will involve Hyun-soo's son (Go Kyoung-pyo). Directed and co-adapted by Choo Chang-min (Masquerade, 2012) from a novel by Jung Yoo-jung, this highly accomplished tale of two (or three) errant fathers deftly confounds chronology to weave together an intricate narrative mosaic of guilt, revenge and legacy. It dives deep into the dark waters of patriarchy before opening its floodgates. Elegantly shot and confidently told, it exposes different generations struggling to resurface from suffocatingly toxic masculinity.
Picturehouse Central, 02 Nov 2018 8:45 pm
Director: Yim Soon-rye
Cast: Kim Tae-ri, Ryu Jun-yeol, Moon So-ri
Cert U, 103mins, 2017
"I'm hungry," says dissatisfied student Hye-won (Kim Tae-ri), explaining to her friend Eun-sook (Jin Ki-joo) why she has returned from her studies in Seoul to her rural village. Arriving mid-winter, she has come for only a few days - but will stay on for a year, rediscovering the patience and preparation necessitated by the rhythms of the seasons. Adapted from Daisuke Igarashi's 2002 manga series, Yim Soon-rye's film comes with the barest outline of a love triangle, but is mostly content to observe Hye-won slowly restoring both herself - and the viewer - with a gentle routine of good food and friendship. Along the way, she reestablishes her relationship to her absent mother (Moon Sori) and to mother nature, while reaping the rewards of her own replanted joie de vivre. With its heavy focus on cooking and eating, Little Forest will have you feeling hungry too.
Rio Cinema, 03 Nov 2018 6:30 pm
Director: Cho Kyu-jang
Cast: Lee Sung-min, Kim Sang-ho, Jin Kyung
Cert 15, 111mins, 2017
Returning drunk to his newly purchased Gwacheon apartment late at night, middle-aged Han Sang-hoon (Lee Sung-min) witnesses a baseball-capped man (Kwak Si-yang) battering a woman to death in the street below. Dogged police detective Jang Jae-yeob (Kim Sang-ho) is on the case, and needs someone who can identify the wily perpetrator - but Sang-hoon keeps quiet about what he has seen, terrified of exposing his wife Soo-jin (Jin Kyung) or young daughter Eun-ji (Park Bom) to reprisals from the murderer. As other witnesses are viciously attacked, Sang-hoon will learn that selfishness brings deadly consequences. In a country where civilisation is never far from the wilds, Cho Kyu-jang’s (serial) killer thriller uses cat-and-mouse tropes to hammer home its dispiriting picture of bourgeois, educated Koreans more concerned with the prices of private property than with the values of social responsibility.
Picturehouse Central, 06 Nov 2018 9:00 pm
Director: Hong Sang-soo
Cast: Ki Joobong, Kim Minhee, Song Seonmi, Kwon Haehyo, Yu Junsang, Park Ran, Shin Seokho
Cert 18, 96mins, 2018
Is Hong Sangsoo thinking about death? This wintery comedy-drama conjures together five characters – all in search of outcomes. A famous poet is staying in a riverside hotel, for free, and summons his two semi-estranged adult sons (they rarely see each other either) to discuss his death. He thinks he’ll die soon, though there’s no evidence to support it. Meanwhile Sanghee checks in for a few days, on the rebound from a failed relationship; she and her friend Yeonju are both fans of the poet’s writing and are thrilled to find him there. Between the enthusiasm of the women and the awkward embarrassments of the men, Hong weaves a conundrum to die for. Ki Joobong as the poet (Best Actor, Locarno 2018; and star of last year’s Merry Christmas Mr Mo) heads a perfect cast of Hong Sangsoo regulars – including his muse Kim Minhee and the ever-charming Yu Junsang.
Regent Street Cinema, 08 Nov 2018 9:00 pm