Amid ‘Matrix’ frenzy, small films hang on

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Amid ‘Matrix’ frenzy, small films hang on

While Keanu Reeves is back reloaded in his Matrix sunglasses, Julianne Moore is resurrected from her far-from-heaven box office results. “The Matrix: Reloaded,” which opened May 23, gathered more than 1.2 million viewers its first weekend, establishing a new record in the Korean movie scene. Ms. Moore’s “Far From Heaven,” released on the same date, however, was overshadowed by the powerful science fiction sequel, ending up with fewer than 30,000 viewers.
For cinephiles of small art films, “The Matrix: Reloaded” was not a welcome guest, for it almost devoured the local theaters’ offerings. With almost every theater showing “The Matrix: Reloaded,” “Far From Heaven” survived only at Core Art Hall, a compact art house theater in Jongno, central Seoul, and at a once-a-day screening at Lumiere in Nonhyeon-dong.
Cinephiles kept filling Core’s seats, however, so managers decided to extend its run at least through next Friday.
It’s not only “Far From Heaven,” directed by Todd Haynes, which has survived. “Better Than Sex” by Jonathan Teplitzky, and released May 23, has hung on as well. The romantic comedy has attracted 70,000 viewers so far, still by no means an eye-catching record. Cine Cube, the lone theater in Seoul to show the film after others dropped it, will keep it on its marquee until next Thursday.
“It’s true that the film did not attract as many viewers as the giant-budget action flick,” said Kim Sang-a, the movie’s local publicist. “But we’ve had groups of viewers whose numbers are relatively small but whose love for the movie is just remarkable. That is why we decided to run the film, though it’s not so commercially successful.”
Along with these two English language films, the German classic “Gloomy Sunday” and the Spanish drama “Talk to Her” have returned. “Gloomy Sunday,” showing at 8:30 nightly at Core Art Hall, drew fewer than 34,000 viewers during its first Korean run in 2000. In the first stage of the theater’s ambitious plan to air lesser-known art films, “Gloomy Sunday” was back on the silver screen May 30. The film’s publicist, Kim Ji-woon, said “We’re surprised that viewers are filling in more than 80 seats on weekdays. On weekends, tickets are nearly sold out.”
“Gloomy Sunday” will stay at least two months longer. Core Art Hall will also revive films like the acclaimed coming-of-age film “Ghost World” starring Thora Birch. Cine Cube is second to none in its commitment to art house films, showing Pedro Almodovar’s “Talk to Her” daily at 11 a.m.
If you’re fed up with Keanu Reeves doing his Superman thing, try these four films that are back, fully reloaded.


by Chun Su-jin

To reach the Core Art Hall, take subway line No. 1 to Jonggak Station, and use exit 5. To reach Cine Cube theater, take subway line No. 5 to Gwanghwamun Station and use exit 6.

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