2012.5.25 NOW Playing
Drama / 100 / Korean
“Children of Heaven” (2012) was directed by Park Heung-sik, who has a strong reputation for producing heart-touching films, as shown in his movies “I Wish I Had a Wife” (2000) and “My Mother The Mermaid” (2004). In his latest film, Park again puts forth an emotional story, this time at a middle school where a temporary teacher is called on to take care of troubled students.
This movie attracts special attention as its production was funded by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education. It raises awareness of the issues teenagers often face, such as school violence.
In the movie Yoo-jin (You Da-in), the temporary teacher, leads a group of troubled students including Jung-hoon (Park Ji-bin), who was kicked off the soccer team for violent behavior, and Sung-ah (Kim Bo-ra), who smokes cigarettes on the street, to create a musical group and perform in the up-coming talent show. The musical training gives the students confidence as they gain a sense of accomplishment that they have never felt before.
Despite the troubles the students cause and their negative influence at school, the movie shows sympathy toward the teenagers and turns the perspective around to educate the school system to build a friendly environment that encourages support.
Park said that the expected typical story line was avoided. Although the message the movie ultimately conveys to the audience might seem typical, the individuality of this film is separates it from other teen movies as it approaches the students and sympathetically.
Action, Drama / 123 / English
Scottish heartthrob Gerard Butler stars in this 2011 biopic film “Machine Gun Preacher” about Sam Childers, a biking preacher-defender of orphans in Africa. At the helm is talented German-Swiss director-screenwriter Marc Forster who has brought to life many thought-provoking films like “The Kite Runner” (2007) and “Stranger than Fiction” (2006) as well as Hollywood blockbusters like “Monster’s Ball” (2001) and the 22 Bond film, “Quantum of Solace” (2008).
The film is adapted from Childers’ memoir “Another Man’s War” and largely follows the footsteps taken by Childers himself. Sam Childers, an alcoholic drug-using biker with a stripper wife, is recently released from prison and goes through a major transformation which leaves him a devout Christian.
Upon taking a missionary trip to Uganda and Sudan to build homes for refugees and offer medical help in the war zone as part of his new calling as a Christian, he learns of the terrible predicament in which Sudanese children find themselves as they sleep outside huddled around a building of a relief station, far away from their own village at their parents’ urging because of the dire safety issues posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
That evening, LRA promptly burns down the village and brutally murders the parents of the children taking temporary refuge from this senseless violence. Childers then decides to build an orphanage for the children of South Sudan which is subsequently burnt down by the LRA. This leaves Childers in despair while his ex-stripper, newly converted Christian wife gently urges him not to give up and to rebuild the much-needed orphanage for the children. Childers is eventually successful in securing a safe haven for the Sudanese children and in the process in rescuing more children from the LRA.
The movie starts off with a violent scene of trudged-upon human rights in South Sudan and is intended to be an uplifting movie about saving lives and doing good. However, it perhaps would have benefited greatly in terms of critic reception if it were filmed as a documentary instead. It’s a grim and battle-packed war drama that does justice in shedding light onto the grim situation in Sudan, though it is a shame the film lacks originality as cliches abound and plot entirely too predictable.
Sci-fi, Comedy / 106 / English
Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) have to save the planet again, but this time they’re traveling back in time to the 1960s. Their particular task is to save a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin) from being rubbed out of history by extraterrestrials.
Reviews are mixed. Critics have been especially delighted with Brolin’s idiosyncratic rendition of a character 40 years younger than the one made famous by Tommy Lee Jones, as well as Will Smith’s perpetual charisma.
Some have scratched their heads at the film’s very existence - 10 years after the last installment in a franchise that is now showing its age - and comment that the jokes and screenplay, though decent enough, feel a little lifeless. Nonetheless, the film remains true to series’ big, cartoony spirit and merits a watch for those who appreciate that.
Sci-fi, Drama / 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.