Contemporary Classics: Lee Myung-se & The 1990s
Director: Lee Myung-se
Cast: Park Joong-hoon, Choi Jin-sil, Choi Chong-won
Cert 15, 111mins, 1990
Would-be poet Yeong-min is ready to pop the question to college sweetheart Mi-yeong just at the moment when she is convinced Yeong-min is ready to break things off. They meet, argue, she storms off. The story of this young couple will be shaped by a series of comical mishaps and misunderstandings that run the gamut from the mysteries of the condom, a bride who locks her groom outside the honeymoon suite, to stubborn male jealousy that puts the whole love story in peril.
The director keeps melodrama at bay through the humor of his script and an emphasis on visual style and experimentation. Animation, thought bubbles, sets that revel in their staginess, even the clumsy specs foisted on lead actors Park Joong-hoon and Choi Jin-sil: all contribute to an emerging Lee Myung-se aesthetic.
Close-up Film Centre, 09 Nov 2018 8:00 pm
Director: Lee Myung-se
Cast: Kim Hye-soo, Choi Chong-won, Cho Min-ki
Cert 12, 108mins, 1993
Yeong-shin is an innocent young woman from a nice family living in a pleasant if fairly poor neighbourhood in a town somewhere far from the big city. When her am-dram club decides to invite a writer from Seoul to come direct their production of Our Town, Yeong-shin, despite an inauspicious first encounter with a grubby, hard-drinking Chang-wook, manages to fall head over heels.
The film plays with our melodramatic reflexes, involving us in a sentimental education made all the more bittersweet through the nuanced acting of Kim Hye-soo. Rather than offering melo-realism, however, the film revels in the sheer beauty of its sets, subtle lighting, fantasy scenes – Yeong-shin’s ghostly visit to Chang-wook is both funny and heart-warming. Our Town has been termed a form of meta-theatre. Maybe we could consider Lee Myung-se’s aesthetic a kind of meta-cinema.
Close-up Film Centre, 10 Nov 2018 8:00 pm
Poet-professor Yeong-min meets Yeong-hee, a journalist who has reviewed a collection of his poems. They click: literary criticism is far from their minds as they dash off to a hotel room for some fairly acrobatic lovemaking. He becomes obsessed with Yeong-hee; she makes an effort to resist, but not for long. Yeong-min, pretending to need time away from family for the sake of research, sets the two of them up in a beachside shack where domestic routine vies with passion. How long can this world apart contain them?
The film playfully wrong-foots us at the outset. We begin in what looks like a noir crime caper, only to drop into the first encounter of the two main characters. Much later, even amid the passion and increasing tension in scenes at the beach house, the story maintains its balance of humour and visual beauty.
+ Short film, Can't Live Without You
Close-up Film Centre, 11 Nov 2018 8:00 pm