2011.4.1 NOW PLAYINGClash of the Families (12)
The classic “Romeo and Juliet” story is transplanted to Korea in a tale the exploits the deep-seated regionalism between Honam and Yeongnam.
When cartoonist Hyun-joon (Song Sae-byeok) falls in love with Da-hong (Lee Si-young), one of his fans, it sets up the archetypal battle between their two families, who are from rival regions. Hyun-joon comes from the politically liberal Honam region (North and South Jeolla) while Da-hong comes from the conservative Yeongnam region (North and South Gyeongsang). When the two declare their intention to marry, they are confronted with a seemingly endless number of barriers that threaten their happiness.
The Yeongnam-Honam regional divide dates back to the 60s when most governmental development projects were concentrated in Seoul and the Yeongnam area, excluding Honam and sparking the rivalry between the two regions.
To win the approval of Da-hong’s parents, Hyun-joon pretends he is from Yeongnam. His attempts to change his dialect and conceal his identity provide moments of comic relief in an otherwise heavy drama.
The film’s stars are actors to watch. Song gained popularity for his recent starring role in “The Servant” last year. Lee is known for her prowess on screen, in 2009’s “Boys Over Flowers,” and in the ring, winning the women’s amateur boxing championship last month.
Vanishing on 7th Street (12)
Characters in this post-apocalyptic survival horror film directed by Brad Anderson are scared of the dark.
And for good reason.
Hayden Christensen stars as a television news anchor in Detroit trying to survive in a world devoid of light. The only sources of light remaining in the world seem to be slowly dimming - street lights, flashlights and signs - and once you step into the darkness, you’re lost forever, seemingly vanishing into thin air with nothing but your clothes, shoes and accessories left behind.
Luke (Christensen) leads a band of survivors, including Rosemary (Thandie Newton) and Paul (John Leguizamo), from the safety of a bar in downtown Detroit. From there they try to rejig a generator to provide a long-term light source.
It’s not clear what has caused this new world or how to stop the darkness from completely taking over, but Anderson doesn’t need to focus on the story when he uses spooky shots of the dark and cityscapes completely devoid of people.
Never Let Me Go (15)
Mystery, Romance / 103 / English
A haunting, poignant film adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s celebrated 2005 novel, “Never Let Me Go” hews closely to Ishiguro’s trademark tendency to reveal key plot elements in a slow-moving, disturbing manner, until the full scale of the horror confronts you at the end.
Kathy is a “carer” who attends Hailsham, a British boarding school in the countryside, with Tommy and Ruth. The children live normal lives at the school, playing and learning, except for the casual reminders from the adults that they exist in the world to provide organs to dying people. Indeed, they are carefully cloned people for the sole purpose of extending the lives of the sick and elderly in England.
Fast forward to the recent past, when Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield from “The Social Network”) are adults. The three of whom are involved in a love triangle of sorts, and it is Kathy’s job to lead people to their eventual deaths - in this case, her two friends.
Well-received by critics, but by no means glowingly (unlike the 1993 film adaptation of another Ishiguro novel, “The Remains of the Day,” which was highly acclaimed), the film has been noted for its lack of a sense of hope and its tight plot that leaves no room for air.
Directed by Mark Romanek and based on Alex Garland’s screenplay, “Never Let Me Go” is a chilling reminder of life’s finite quality as well as the acceptance of our fates and the duties we are presented with.
Graeme and Clive, played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, are two British geeks traveling to America to attend the annual San Diego Comic Con convention.
This is their first time in the U.S. and, thinking they should make the most of it, they decide to rent an RV and travel to the desert to visit places like Roswell, N.M., site of what many believe was a UFO crash and subsequent cover-up.
Along the way, a car speeds up behind them and passes by, eventually crashing off the side of the road.
The two investigate the scene and meet Paul, an alien who is trying to escape from authorities who have kept him at Area 51 for years.
The government has decided that Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen, is no longer of use to them alive and plan to dissect him for further study.
So the rest of the movie evolves into a buddy comedy, road-trip film and conspiracy sci-fi action flick all-in-one.
“Paul,” directed by Greg Mottola, seems to be one of those movies that everyone can enjoy just for the premise, characters and action.
Bleak Night (15)
Drama / 117 / Korean
“Bleak Night,” directed by novice filmmaker Yun Sung-hyun is a coming-of-age story about three high school boys.
Devastated by the death of his son Ki-tae (Lee Je-hun), Ki-tae’s father (Jo Sung-ha) starts to investigate his son’s short life. The first thing he does is rummage through his son’s drawers and finds a picture of Ki-Tae and his friends Dong-Yun (Seo Jun-yeong) and Hee-Jun (Park Jung-min).
When he finds out that one of the boys transferred to another school and the other doesn’t show up at Ki-Tae’s funeral, Ki-Tae’s father becomes suspicious.
The film won the New Currents award at the Pusan film festival last October.
Last Night (18)
A refreshed telling of an age-old story line of marriages gone awry by temptation, “Last Night” tells the story - over one night - of an affluent couple whose relationship is on the rocks.
Joanna (played by Academy Award-nominee Keira Knightley) is furious at her husband, Michael Reed (Sam Worthington), because she suspects he has his eyes for one of his co-workers, Laura (Eva Mendes). When Michael admits to his wife that he finds Laura attractive, he is scheduled to fly out with the co-worker on a business trip.
With Michael away, together with Laura, Joanna happens to run into an old flame, Alex (Guillaume Canet). They agree to meet up for drinks.
Over the course of the film, the couple must figure out whether to give in to temptation and spoil their marriage of seven years.
Written and directed by Massy Tadjedin, “Last Night” is a movie about the choices people in relationships make.