2011.6.3 NOW PLAYING

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2011.6.3 NOW PLAYING

The True Taste Show (15)


Documentary / 70 / Korean

Broadcaster MBC filed a court injunction against this controversial documentary, which depicts how successful restaurants are created by brokers, broadcasting stations and restaurant owners. But MBC couldn’t make its case and the film is scheduled to open this week.

Directed by Kim Jae-hwan, a former MBC producer, the 70-minute documentary reveals the ugly truth behind how famous restaurants get featured on food shows aired on national television.

The documentary received the audience award from the 12th Jeonju International Film Festival last month.

To make the film, Kim opened a small restaurant of his own in Ilsan, Gyeonggi, and documented his attempts to get it featured on television shows.

Kim’s restaurant featured on SBS’ “Live Show Today” earlier this year, but to be part of the program, Kim had to give a total of 10 million won ($9,090) to a broker and the broadcasting station. He paid another 9 million won to get the restaurant featured on MBC’s “Find! Delicious TV.”

In the process, the documentary reveals that food shows are no more real than fictional dramas or comedies. People are hired to sit down and give a thumbs up when asked how the food is. Creative brokers even devise dishes like caviar samgyeopsal (pork belly) to impress broadcasting stations.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (All)

Animation, Comedy, Action / 95 / English

With “Kung Fu Panda 2,” the sequel to the 2008 mega-hit animated film about an overweight panda, Po (Jack Black), who becomes a martial arts warrior, you get the feeling that the producers might be trying to do too much.

It’s hard for any sequel to top the original with fun and flash all on its own. So the producers must have decided to just pack in all the famous actors and actresses they could find to fill new roles in the film.

In addition to the original cast of characters, including the “masters” and Furious Five, five additional actors with name-brand value appear in voice-over roles somewhere in the new film, all with varying degrees of importance to the storyline.

Gary Oldman plays Lord Shen, heir of the peacock clan and the main villain in “Kung Fu Panda 2.” Michelle Yeoh plays a goat soothsayer who gives advice to Shen that could have huge implications for Po. Victor Garber (“Alias”) plays a rhino that leads Gongmen City’s kung fu council. And Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dennis Haysbert, of “24” fame, round out the new additions to the cast as imprisoned council members.

They’re all in addition to the Furious Five kung fu masters Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross); Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu; and, of course, Black, who voices the hero on a mission to both find out the story behind his origin and help destroy Lord Shen.

There’s a story in the midst of all these stars, no doubt ready for a “Kung Fu Panda 3.” And this sequel should be received well in Korea because it was directed by Korean-American Jennifer Yuh.

Miracle on Jongno Street (15)


Documentary / 115 / Korean

The alleys of Nagwon-dong (In Korean, “Nagwon” means paradise) in Jongno District fill with gay men every night. Over the years, the neighborhood has become a place where gay men meet to talk, find new friends and lovers and share the difficulties of being gay in a society that has still not accepted them.

“Miracle on Jongno Street” is a documentary about four gay men who try to live a normal life in spite of their difference. It follows Lee Hyuk-sang, the director of the movie, who discloses that he is gay in the film, and the four men as they meet and become friends in Nagwon-dong.

Lee said in interviews with local media that with this documentary he hopes to shed light on the lives of gay men, who are often stereotyped as feminine men who are just interested in clothes and cosmetic products, and seeks to express their true feelings about coming out of the closet.

The four men portrayed in the movie come from different walks of life. Aspiring filmmaker Joon-moon loses his self-confidence because of the discrimination he faces for being gay. Gay rights activist Byoung-gwon dreams of establishing equal rights for sexual minorities in the workplace. Young-soo, a chef from the countryside, finds joy in life when he joins the gay choir G-Voice. Yol, who works for a major company, dreams of the day when gays can legally marry.

The movie won the Best Independent Film award from the Association of Korean Independent Film and Video late last year and is already receiving favorable reviews from movie critics.

Scream 4 (18)


Horror, Thriller / 111 / English

Ten years have passed and Sidney Prescott, who has put herself back together thanks in part to her writing, is visited by the Ghostface killer.

By now the “Scream” franchise has pretty much mashed itself into one giant, screaming mess of ghostfaced slashings. The cast is the same, pretty much, including the obligatory blondes, a knife wielding Neve Campbell, a gaunt and ghostly looking Courtney Cox and her real life spouse, David Arquette, who reprises his role as the goofy but apparently lovable Dewey, who is now the sheriff.

Like all of these franchises, if you liked the others you will more than likely enjoy this one, but like most franchises the first one is usually the best - as is the case here - and the rest get progressively worse or at the very least they don’t change one bit from one to the next. This means that all the good bits from the original are no longer surprising and you resent the writer and director for not caring enough to come up with anything original.

The tagline for “Scream 4” is “New Decade. New Rules” but perhaps it should have been “Same tried, tested and tired format.”

X-Men: First Class (12)


Action, Science Fiction / 132 / English

The X-Men movie franchise is back in play with the release of producer Bryan Singer’s and director Matthew Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class.”

A prequel that explains the origins of how the mutants came to be, the new film is smart, compelling and has a formidable cast of characters, led by James McAvoy as Charles Xavier (later Professor Charles Xavier) and Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr, the future Magneto.

The story introduces the audience to Xavier and Lehnsherr in the 1940s - Xavier growing up in upper-class privilege and Lehnsherr surviving the Holocaust. The two take part in a CIA operation in the 1960s to take down Sebastian Shaw, the main villain in “X-Men: First Class,” who is played by Kevin Bacon. Shaw, a mutant, aims to start another world war and wipe out mankind. The heart of the movie, though, is to explain how Xavier and Lehnsherr, who are friends in the movie, become estranged and choose opposing sides, laying the groundwork for the X-Men saga.
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