2012.1.13 NOW Playing

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2012.1.13 NOW Playing

Never Ending Story (15)


Romance, Fantasy / 114 / Korean

This film looks at death from the point of view of a couple diagnosed with cancer.

Taekwondo master Gang Dong-ju’s (Um Tae-woong) biggest pleasure is buying lottery tickets in hopes of one day hitting the jackpot. In reality, however, he’s an incompetent young man who barely makes ends meet and mooches off his younger brother.

But Dong-ju’s life changes radically when he is diagnosed with brain cancer and given just three months to live. On the day he gets his diagnosis, he meets Oh Song-gyeong (Jung Ryeo-won) who has just received the same diagnosis.

When their doctor’s appointments bring them into regular contact, the two fall in love and decide to live their remaining days together. With time running out, the two plan their funerals and spend time searching for clothes and coffins.

The film is directed by newcomer Jeong Yong-ju and stars Um of 2010’s “Cyrano Agency” and Jung of last year’s “Pain.”

My Way (15)

War / 137 / Korean, Japanese

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

There are stark differences between Kang’s newest war film and his “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.

The concept for “My Way” emerged from a TV 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 TV documentary.

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, but they become archrivals when Tatsuo moves to Korea during Japan’s colonial rule.

The film also 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 Devil’s Playground (18)


Horror / 97 / English

When the characters in “The Devil’s Playground” signed up for a research study, they expected that the new drug they were given would change their lives. But no one could have predicted the disaster it would unleash.

Drawing on our deepest fears about advancing pharmaceutical technology, this gory horror flick shows just what could happen when a scientific experiment goes terribly wrong. Soon after taking the drug, study participants vanish, replaced by raging lunatics who spurt blood and violently attack anyone who gets in their way.

This situation is more than bad PR, company officials soon realize, and erupts into a national emergency. In typical horror-movie style, the patients-turned-zombies spare no one, attacking without hesitation and at the least-expected moments.

Unlike similarly themed bio-thrillers that get caught up in the special effects, there’s a real personality to root for in “The Devil’s Playground.” Angela (MyAnna Buring), a striking blond, is the only survivor of the experiment as she - and the child she is carrying - are immune to the devastating side effects of the drug.

The drug company, eager to put an end to the catastrophe in whatever way it can, dispatches a burly mercenary named Cole (Craig Fairbrass) to go after her, but Angela is determined not to go back.

Faced first-hand with the sheer terror imposed by his employer’s mistakes, Cole has doubts about the job he is assigned. We watch with great anticipation as Cole’s conscience starts to get the best of him - that is, if he can survive the blood-thirsty zombies that attack around every corner.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (18)


Mystery, Drama / 158 / English

Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) is given a chance at career resurrection when he is asked to locate a young heiress who went missing nearly 40 years before.

Computer hacker and asocial Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) is eventually brought on to assist him - though at times roles reverse as she begins to both unravel the mystery and execute personal demons with efficient and often bloody adroitness.

David Fincher’s latest directorial work comes two years on the tail of the Swedish adaptation, and less than a decade after the posthumous publication of Swedish novelist Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, on which the film is based and which sold 50 million copies in 46 countries, becoming a worldwide literary blockbuster.

The movie seems likely to set on a similar course, with strong deliveries from Daniel Craig and a star-forging breakout performance from Rooney Mara.

Fincher, best known for “Fight Club” (1999) and “The Social Network” (2010) manages to transmute a dense crime novel into a smoldering thriller, and is credited by Ben Sachs of the Chicago Reader for “a triumph of craftsmanship over material.”

The Darkest Hour (12)


Sci-fi / 89 / English

Five young people, on the holiday of a lifetime in Moscow, are caught up in an alien invasion attempt. The aliens are not little green men or anything you might recognise for that matter. They are invisible. Here to sap Earth of its energy and, while they are at it, destroy all life on the planet.

Somewhat inexplicably set in Moscow, the film follows a group of five attractive young people who battle against the odds to survive against the ruthless alien invaders.

The screenplay, which has been criticized as lazy and one-dimensional, mainly due to the fact that making the aliens invisible is perhaps the easiest way to get around the problems of what aliens should look like, was written by Jon Spaihts, a credited writer on Ridley Scott’s much anticipated “Prometheus.”

Director Chris Gorak, who was art director on “Fight Club,” “Minority Report” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” makes only his second attempt at directing with “The Darkest Hour.”

“The Darkest Hour” seems to have little to offer in the way of originality and composed of elements you may well recognise from every other alien invasion film you have ever seen.
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