[MOVIE PREVIEW]Bleak Look Forward to the '70s

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[MOVIE PREVIEW]Bleak Look Forward to the '70s

If you are determined to watch this film, you should prepare yourself. If you know nothing of its director, Kim Gi-duk, you are likely to be confused, perhaps disgusted, for Kim has a reputation for putting on screen what your ordinary Joe might find revolting.

Kim's last movie, "Seom" ("Island") shocked audiences with graphic depictions of a woman inserting a fishhook into her own genitals, but this did not stop the film from earning critical international acclaim.

This time, Kim's extraordinary style of cinematography is a little more sophisticated and a little less gory, though be warned - it does contain scenes of a woman maiming her breasts and dogs being beaten to death.

The director defended these controversial scenes: "It was just a way of openly referring to the desperation that pervades our reality."

The film tells the story of Koreans living in U.S. army barracks in Korea in the 1970s and is based on the real-life experiences of the director.

Chang-guk (played by Yang Dong-geun) is the child of a Korean mother and an African-American father, a soldier who disappeared back to the United States 17 years before. Chang-guk's mother is ever hopeful he will return, writing letters that are always returned stamped "address unknown" (hence the film's title).

Meanwhile, a love triangle develops around Eun-ok, a 17-year-old suffering an unsightly cataract condition in one eye. The once good-natured, but embittered Ji-hum falls for her, while she has eyes only for the U.S. soldier who helps her find treatment for her condition.

This film is a frank, warts-and-all representation of what was for many the gloomy reality of the 1970s, portrayed through characters trampled under desperate, hopeless lives.

The movie serves to illustrate the director's conviction that, for ordinary people, the 21st century is no better than the 1970s. Kim said, "I think most people's lives are much the same as they always were. I wanted to ask, what has changed?"

The actors put on outstanding performances with the exception of Mitch Mahlum, who plays the American soldier rather woodenly. Despite the somewhat distracting way the story unfolds, it's a job well done on a tight budget of just 800 million won ($600,000).

The film is due for release on June 2.

by Chun Su-jin

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