2012.4.27 NOW Playing
Drama / 109 / Korean
“Spring, Snow” is a heartbreaking tale depicting the last spring days of Sun-ok’s life, who must say goodbye to her family as she dies from a disease that we all fear at some point in our lives, cancer. Sun-ok, played by Yun Suk-hwa, has dedicated her entire life to her husband and children, but they pay little attention to her and ignore her deep commitment to them up until they receive the news that she has cancer and has only a short time left to live. Though the film deals with oft-used themes like human mortality and family love, it still manages to project a deep sincerity with the bitter reality that love is hardly realized until it’s not there anymore, something we don’t know until it’s too late.
Director Kim Tae-gyun draws inspiration for “Spring, Snow” from his sister’s 10-year battle with cancer. He said he wants his work to carry the paradoxical message that people can experience life’s most memorable moments even during times of great suffering.
The film is also a comeback for actress Yun Suk-hwa, after being away from the big screen for 25 years. Yun previously appeared in the films “Nunsense,” “The Last Empress” and “Agnes of God.”
Documentary, War / 108 / Danish
Danish war documentary “Armadillo” follows a platoon of soldiers and their journey to and through the unforgiving terrain of the Helmand province in Afghanistan. The film opens with the soldiers preparing to leave Denmark, saying their final goodbyes to loved ones and attending one last party before they enter arguably the most tumultuous six months of their lives.
“Armadillo” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival where it won the Grand Prix de la Semaine de la Critique (Critics’ Week Grand Prize). The jury called it “a journey into the soldiers’ minds and a unique film on the mythological story of man and war.” It generated a huge amount of both positive and negative buzz in Denmark, where it topped the box office and compelled hundreds of journalists around the country to write a slew of articles and critiques on the film, particularly surrounding a graphic scene towards the end in which a firefight between the Danish soldiers and the Taliban is captured, showing the exhilarated men after they kill their enemies and drag the dead bodies out of a ditch.
But ultimately, director Janus Metz aims to show the daily lives of soldiers on duty in the most foreign of lands as they grapple with their lost expectations of war and a harsh life constantly under siege and devoid of any sense of stability. Audiences will feel emotion, edge-of-your-seat tension, shock, anger and hope thanks to Metz’ brilliantly focused storytelling, stunning cinematography and the heart of the documentary: the soldiers’ humanity and the psyche of life on the very edge. American audiences may find it interesting to see how differently (or perhaps not) the Danish troops view the war from U.S. soldiers. As Carsten Jensen, Danish author and columnist, said, “After ‘Armadillo,’ it will not be possible to talk about Afghanistan in the same way as before.”
The Avengers (12)
Action / 144 / English
The long-awaited superhero blockbuster has arrived. Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor and some secret agents combine forces to save Earth from a bleak future at the hands of a manipulative and delusional space god.
Reviews have been almost unanimously positive. Christy Lemire of the Associated Press writes, “The dialogue sparkles as brightly as the special effects; these people may be wearing ridiculous costumes but they’re well fleshed-out underneath. And so in every regard, this movie truly fulfills its hype.” Justin Chang of Variety avers, “Like a superior, state-of-the-art model built from reconstituted parts, Joss Whedon’s buoyant, witty and robustly entertaining superhero smashup is escapism of a sophisticated order.”
A tiny voice of dissent, Box Office Magazine’s Amy Nicholson, contends, “The bad news is that if you haven’t seen Thor, Captain America and Iron Man 2 - that’s six hours and three minutes of homework - The Avengers won’t make sense. The good news is if you’re a human under the age of 45, you probably already have.” For not wholeheartedly blessing the film, her review was splashed with a gout of inflamed and bloody-minded comments, presumably from maws of die-hard comic book nerds.
Drama / 96 / Korean
Child actress Ko Ah-seong, who received accolades for her role as the youngest daughter in the hit blockbuster film “The Host” (2006), returns to the screen as aspiring singer Nancy, who leaves
Korea for the U.K. to get over a breakup. The role is the first starring one for Ko, who is also set to star in “The Host” director Bong Joon-ho’s much-anticipated film “Snow Piercer.”
In “Duet,” Nancy meets a British guy Jude (James Page) on her trip, and the two develop a relationship as they talk about their mutual interests in music, photography and travel. Filming takes place in numerous locations throughout the U.K., including the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Nancy is portrayed as a sentimental and purehearted girl, while Jude’s laid-back, artistic character is the perfect complement to her personality. However, the romance comes to an end when Nancy has to eventually return to Korea. During production, Ko said that she introduced some of her favorite Korean indie tracks to Page in order to get closer to him before filming started.
The soundtrack for the film is filled with tracks by both mainstream and indie artists in Korea, including Yojo, Kim Joo-yeon and music director Kim Young-soo.
A Cat in Paris (12)
Animation / 70 / French
From Folimage, the animation studio behind “Raining Cats and Frogs” and “Mia & the Migoo,” comes a beautifully hand-drawn animation in the shadow-drenched alleyways of the city of light. The film’s French title, “Une Vie de Chat” which literally translates as “a cat’s life,” encapsulates exactly just that in a retro style, distilling “Hitchcock into 63 minutes of action-packed crime thriller for middle schoolers,” according to Time Out Chicago Kids’ movie review.
The film features Dino, a conflicted cat leading a secretive second life. By day, he lives with a little mute girl Zoe, whose mother, Jeanne, is a Parisian detective. But at night he sneaks out the window to work with Nico, a burglar cat, who ultimately steals the show, whose graceful, balletic movements are melodic and poetic. The film also takes the audience on a whirlwind tour of the city of light from the familiar Rue Mouffetard to Notre Dame de Paris. The two cats’ worlds collide when little Zoe decides to trail after Dino on his nocturnal adventures and falls into the hands of a blustery gangster planning the theft of a rare artifact. Now, Dino and Nico must team up to save Zoe from the fumbling thieves, leading to a thrilling acrobatic finale on top of Notre Dame. “A Cat in Paris” is a warm and humorous serenade to French noir.