2012.5.18 NOW Playing

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2012.5.18 NOW Playing


All About My Wife (15)

Drama, Romance / 121 / Korean

In this film, actor Lee Sun-gyun turns in his strong and independent persona, made famous in drama series “Pasta” (2010) and movie “Petty Romance” (2010), for a much more timid character.

From the first day Doo-hyun (Lee Sun-gyun) accidently bumps into Jung-in (Lim Soo-jung) in Japan, he can’t stop thinking about her. They soon get married, but seven years quickly pass and Doo-hyun tires of his wife, who is beautiful until she opens her mouth. Jung-in even jabbers when Doo-hyun is in the bathroom and doesn’t hesitate to make spiteful remarks to strangers.

Though the relationship takes its toll, Doo-hyun doesn’t have the courage to ask for a divorce and so decides a plan while away from his wife in Gangwon. After coming across handsome ladies’ man Sung-gi (Ryu Seung-ryong), he asks the acquaintance to have an affair with his wife so that there are more justifiable grounds for separation.

True to his reputation, Sung-gi instantly succeeds in grabbing Jung-in’s attention, and the two slowly develop feeling for each other. But though Doo-hyun asked for it, he grows to regret his decision and decides to spy on his wife and her lover.


The Future (18)

Drama / 92 / English

In “The Future,” Jason (Hamish Linklater) and Sophie (Miranda July) are that couple: the one always around at parties but with nothing exciting to contribute. The two are pitiful for their all-encompassing mediocrity from their dead-end jobs - Sophie teaches dance to toddlers and Jason gives tech support over the phone - to their worn-down furnishings that try to be different but just don’t get there. While the two are not particularly unhappy with their lives, they obsess over their age - mid-30s - and embody a kind of naivete about life to which most people beyond their college days can relate.

To spice things up, Jason and Sophie make a predictably boring choice in deciding to adopt a cat, but when told the animal could live at least five years, they panic. Life, of course, ends at age 40 ? or at least the parts worth living, and so the two quit their jobs, turn off their internet and resolve to life it up until the cat comes home next month. What results is a humorous but disconcertingly relatable end-of-life story that revolves questions like “Why are we here?” and “Why is life so damn boring?” Maybe Jason and Sophie are not outcasts, after all.

Dark Shadows (15)

Fantasy, Comedy / 113 / English

Tim Burton brings a ’70s gothic soap opera back from the grave with a vampire horror-comedy centering on suave 18th-century New England landowner Collins (Johnny Depp), who is cursed by the jilted and jealous witch Angelique (Eva Green) and thereby entombed until 1972. Hijinks ensue as the hero tries to cope with culture 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. 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.”


Melancholia (15)

Drama, Sci-Fi / 136 / English

“Melancholia” is a 2011 film written and directed by Danish film director and screenwriter Lars von Trier whose most famous and experimental work “The Element of Crime” (1984) won him the Palme d’Or, the Grand Prix and the Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival. The film features household names like Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland and Kirsten Dunst who won her first Palme d’Or for best actress. Trier’s inspiration for the film came from his own experience going through a depressive episode which helped him to a harsh and visceral understanding of the psyche of the depressed and their surprising calm with which they react in high-stress circumstances. The film is set in a pre-apocalypse where a rogue planet called Melancholia is on its trajectory to collide with Earth to end all life effectively. The film starts with a sequence shot in slow motion from a vantage point in space where the giant destructive planet peacefully wafts toward Earth. The film then shifts focus to a wedding reception of Justine and Michael. Justine is a highly capable advertisement copy writer who recently married, but she is not moved by her husband’s devoted love or by his repeated gestures of adoration. At the party, she is harshly chastised by her own mother and also by her sister and even her boss. Justine drifts away several times from the party. In one instance, she sleeps with her co-worker and thereby forces Michael to leave her. After the reception, Justine becomes severely depressed and unable to carry out normal everyday activities. This is when the news of the imminent apocalypse reaches the sisters Justine and Claire and her family. After confirming this incredulous news on the Internet, each character tries to cope with the end of life as they know it though their own, personal methods. Claire becomes distraught and tries to have a farewell party, while Claire’s husband John commits suicide. Justine consoles her little nephew Leo. With each passing moment, Melancholia is ever closer to colliding with Earth.


The First Grader (12)

Drama / 105 / English

In a mountaintop village in Kenya, a new government offers free primary school education. Against this backdrop, Maruge (Oliver Litondo), an 84-year-old villager and Mau Mau freedom fighter, faces one last battle: the struggle for his wish to attend public school and finally learn to read, even if that means sitting among 6-year-olds and defying a tide of nay-saying parents and officials. Persuaded by his plea, a young school teacher (Naomie Harris) assists him, and together they triumph over not only their nation’s colonial past, but ignorance itself.

Based on a true story, the film was shot in Kenya’s Rift Valley and directed by Justin Chadwick, previously credited for the 2005 serial drama “Bleak House” and the 2008 historical drama “The Other Boleyn Girl.”

Populated by bewildered villagers, cute kids and a stubborn grandfather, the story makes for a blatantly pro-education, anti-war, feel-good flick. Unabashedly melodramatic, sometimes corny, it nevertheless avoids teetering into the saccharine by honestly confronting the violence - physical and sociopolitical - of the Mau Mau Uprising, the doomed anti-colonial conflict that set the stage for Kenya’s independence from Britain in 1963. The consensus is that this film does have the potential to be a pretty solid heart-warmer - but only if you check your cynicism at the door.
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