2012.5.11 NOW Playing
Drama / 108 / Korean
Director Jo Jeong-re had only been focusing on short films such as “The Seoul Guardians” (1998) and “Love Wind Love Song” (1999) until he heard about how National High School of Traditional Arts students had a hard time making a choir named Duresori in 2008, which led him to make his first feature film.
Jo purposely filmed the movie at the high school where the story actually happened and also auditioned students from the Duresori choir to play the parts of their choir seniors. The actors also used their real names, and choir teacher Ham Hyeon-sang plays himself.
Pansori (narrative singing) student Kim Seoul-gi (Kim Seoul-gi) is born to a prestigious pansori-singing family, leading to high expectations for Kim. On the other hand, Jo Are-um (Jo Are-um), who majors in Gyeonggi minyo (folk song), lives with her aunt after losing her parents. Jo has a hard time both studying and working part-time jobs to earn money for private music lessons to keep up with her classmates.
With some of the most talented students lacking attendance, the school decides to hold a summer school for students to fill up class dates, and this is where Kim and Jo meet. The two never wanted to attend the summer school in the first place but they soon face a bigger struggle with the choir teacher Ham Hyeon-sang (Ham Hyeon-sang), who is trained in classical music and does not understand Korean traditional music much.
The choir is obliged to participate in the local government concert, leaving no time to struggle and the need to harmonize.
Comedy, Crime / 104 / French
One of the most critically acclaimed French directors, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who brought to life timeless masterpieces such as “Delicatessen” (1991) and “Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain” (2001) - known as “Amelie” - brings the French satirical comedy “Micmacs.” The film’s original French title “MicMacs a tire-larigot,” which roughly translates to “Nonstop Shenanigans,” ironically encapsulates the movie’s trickery as audience expectations are grossly misguided by the director’s previous unparalleled gems. The movie constantly borrows elements from other films and ends anticlimactically, leaving the film in an awkward limbo between an adult black comedy and a children’s movie.
The beginning starts off promisingly enough with a classic French element of irony surrounding the depressing existence of a morose but mild-mannered video rental shop clerk Bazil (Dany Boon). The movie takes a turn as Bazil gets a bullet lodged in his cranium, which leaves him a walking time bomb of a person who could drop dead at any moment. Bazil loses his job and becomes homeless. He then meets a colony of scavengers and fellow homeless Parisians of highly unrealistic characterization, including a contortionist, cook, former ethnographer, human cannonball, guillotine survivor and math genius. One day, Bazil overhears a conversation of a CEO of the arms manufacturer whose product is lodged in his brain and also learns of the rival CEO of a land mine manufacturer whose mine killed Bazil’s father long ago. Bazil plans a revenge on the CEOs and at this point, the plot takes on the theme of good versus evil - and it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens next.
The movie references and borrows scenes from movies such as Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” and even his own “Delicatessen,” as it unsuccessfully attempts to draw laughter and knee slaps from an increasingly disappointed audience. Jeunet’s surprising discontinued genius displayed in this film is a solid reminder of the timeless axiom, “Nothing is permanent.”
Dark Shadows (15)
Fantasy, Comedy / 113 / English
Tim Burton brings a ’70s gothic soap opera back from the grave in “Dark Shadows,” a vampire horror-comedy centering on suave 18th-century New England landowner Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), who is cursed by the jilted and jealous witch Angelique (Eva Green) and entombed until 1972. Hijinks ensue as the hero tries to cope with culture/future shock, rebuild his once-grand estate, restore his cursed family’s fortunes and fight off Angelique’s sexuality and sabotage. More a cross between “That ’70s Show” and “Twilight” with a healthy dose of acid, the film isn’t terribly faithful to its source material: a kooky, melodramatic but beloved daytime drama crammed with werewolves, ghosts and sorcery - but it doesn’t abuse it, either. Depp himself stated that the show was a childhood favorite of his, and he was once so obsessed with Barnabas that he dreamed of being him. It certainly is good to see Depp in another zany role, this time as a bombastic vampire: In his first encounter with an automobile’s headlights, he shouts “Show yourself, Satan!” When asked by a teenage descendant if “he is stoned or something,” he answers with the utmost gravitas, “They tried stoning me my dear - it did not work.”
Reviews of the film have been mixed. Fans have praised its eccentricity, impressive costuming and gonzo goofiness, while more serious viewers have panned its thin substance, length and general sloppiness.
Horror, Comedy / 85 / Dutch
Sinterklaas - or Saint Nicolas, the winter holiday figure who is celebrated every Dec. 5 and 6 in the Netherlands, Belgium and related territories - is rendered in an entirely different light under the direction of Dick Maas, the famed Dutch horror master well known for his 1998 serial killer flick “Amsterdamned.” In “Saint,” the widely-loved, grandfatherly personality who served as an inspiration for Santa Claus is portrayed as a murderous horse-riding bishop who rises from the grave every full moon on December 5 to kidnap and violently kill hundreds upon hundreds of innocent Sinterklaas revelers.
In the movie, Sinterklaas was originally killed in 1492 by villagers who were fed up with him and his gang committing crimes throughout the country. One December 5th in the present day, Sinterklaas returns once again to commit mass murder. Villagers are fully unaware of his existence, prompting celebrations without hindrance. A little boy when his entire family was murdered by the evil bishop, main character Goert is now a police officer who grows increasingly concerned and must act on his suspicions despite hushing from the government and the Roman Catholic Church.
“Saint” was released in 2010 and subsequently gained widespread attention in its home country while garnering positive reviews at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It also prompted plenty of criticism from those who were upset by the frightening movie posters prominently displayed around the country that were deemed inappropriate for young ones who believe in Sinterklaas as a benevolent national figure. But for those a bit more mature, “Saint” triumphs as an unabashedly gory, all-out slasher/laugh fest.