2012.1.6 NOW Playing

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2012.1.6 NOW Playing

I Wish (All)


Drama / 128 / Japanese

Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda comes back with a new film, “I Wish,” more upbeat and lighthearted than his previous works.

“I Wish” tells a story of two young brothers who become separated after their parents divorce. The brothers wish against odds to reunite. Meanwhile, the completion of a new bullet train is announced, and the elder brother Koichi (Koki Maeda) comes to believe that his wish will be granted if he gets a glimpse of the moment when two bullet trains pass in opposite directions.

From that point on, Koichi, his younger brother Ryu (Ohshiro Maeda) and their friends plan a trip to the site where they can witness this transportation eclipse. Each is driven by a different wish. To raise funds, they rifle through coin-return slots on vending machines and sell possessions such as comic books and action figures.

With meaty, natural performances from seven child actors, the film deals honestly with societal family issues.

Koreeda is famous for his previous works including “Air Doll” (2009), “Still Walking” (2008) and “Nobody Knows” (2004).

Wonderful Radio (15)


Drama / 120 / Korean

In her heyday, Jin-ah (Lee Min-jeong) was a popular singer, but all she has left now is her manager (Lee Gwang-soo) and her job as a radio disc jockey for “Wonderful Radio,” a program on the verge of getting canned. Fiery and outspoken, Jin-ah is an unrestrained DJ who spouts everything that enters her head on air and changes song requests at whim.

One day, the station brings in a new producer, Jae-hyuk (Lee Jeong-jin), as a last attempt to raise the program’s dismally low ratings. He wants to revamp “Wonderful Radio,” while Jin-ah suggests they instead add a new segment in which listeners share their life stories and favorite songs on air.

To her disappointment, the first broadcast is a wreck, but the program soon begins to take off as one listener’s heartwarming story encourages more listeners to tune in.

The director of “Wonderful Radio” is Kwon Chil-in, who has also directed movies “Singles” (2003) and “Hellcats” (2008).

The film’s scenario was written by Lee Jae-ik, producer of SBS Power FM’s “Cultwo Show,” who has incorporated his own experiences in the movie, thereby giving viewers a realistic glimpse at the behind-the-scenes processes of a radio program.

My Way (15)

War / 137 / Korean, Japanese

Filmmaker Kang Je-kyu is back in seven years with another war film “My Way,” featuring top actors, Jang Dong-gun and Joe Odagiri, from Korea and Japan.

With stark differences between his newest war film and the previous one “Taegukgi: Brotherhood of War” (2004), “My Way” is a global project involving Korea, China and Japan with a much larger budget of 28 billion won ($24.3 million), the highest in Korean film history, and far more crew members, at about 170.

The concept for “My Way” emerged from a television documentary about the tumultuous life of a man who was conscripted into Japan’s Kwantung Army and forced to fight for three countries - Japan, the Soviet Union and Germany - during World War II. Perhaps coincidentally, Kang decided to make “Taegukgi” after he watched a television documentary.

Based on the true story from a Korean soldier, the film adds fictional elements by creating a rivalry between the Korean and Japanese characters. Jun-sik (played by Jang) and Tatsuo (played by Odagiri) are both top marathoners in their country, but they become archrivals when Tatsuo moves to Korea during Japanese colonial rule.

The film blends fact and fiction using Korean marathoner Sohn Kee-chung. Sohn won a gold medal in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin as a member of the Japanese delegation, but a picture of him on the podium during the medal ceremony showing that he covered the Japanese national flag on his chest is still remembered by many. The film takes liberties with this moment. In the film, after Sohn wins the gold medal, Korean marathoners are not allowed to participate in the Olympics. But Jun-sik gets a little help from Sohn, and the marathon elevates tension between Jun-sik and Tatsuo, who are eventually embroiled in World War II.

The Lion King 3-D (All)


Animation, Adventure / 89 / English

Naaaants igonyamaaaa bagithi baba. Most adults today would recognize these Swahili words when sung loudly with the right intonation. Try it next time you’re in a noisy bar. But it’s safe to generalize today’s movie-going tots as unfamiliar with Elton John’s anthemic sound track. Thus is the circle of life.

“The Lion King” seems to have sustained its franchise through a number of reincarnations.

From VHS to DVD special editions to a sell-out Broadway musical, Simba’s coming-of-age adventure has remained in the spotlight.

And for the first time, the Disney film will be available in 3-D.

After Mufasa, the Great King of the Pride Lands, falls victim to his jealous brother Scar’s coup d’etat, Simba, along with his pals Timon and Pumbaa, must reclaim the Kingdom.

The tale of a young heir struggling to overcome power struggles and legitimize his place on the throne is a familiar story on the Korean Peninsula. “The Lion King” offers a message we should all take to heart: “Hakuna Matata.”

The Skin I Live In (19+)

Drama, Thriller / 117 / Spanish

In “The Skin I Live In,” Pedro Almodovar throws sex, romance, violence, tragedy and psychosis into one big blender and gets expectedly a brain-twister plot but perhaps more surprisingly a film that pushes all kinds of boundaries in exactly the right way and is worthy of critical acclaim. This is not a film for a causal evening at the theater but rather one to watch before some serious reflection on issues like rape, medical ethics and the boundaries of sexual identity.

Puss in Boots 3-D (All)


Animation, Adventure / 90 / English

Known to most as the vain Spanish cat accompanying Shrek and Donkey on their adventures, Puss in Boots finally has the spotlight to himself. The high-heeled Zorroesque lover and outlaw embarks on his own journey in the latest DreamWorks production.

Antonio Banderas provides the perfect voice for the animated cat, and Zach Galifianakis seems to have found a fitting computerized personification in Humpty Dumpty.

Puss in Boots, a notorious swashbuckler, becomes cotraveller with Humpty Dumpty and the street-smart Kitty Softpaws in an effort to save his town.

Directed by Chris Miller (“Shrek the Third” and a storyboard artist for “Antz”), this 3-D film is the purrfect way to spend a weekend with the kids, especially if the family received the “Shrek” series well.
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