2012.6.8 NOW Playing

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2012.6.8 NOW Playing

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The Concubine (19)

Romance, Drama / 122 / Korean

Following her steamy romantic scenes from the movie “The Servant” (2010), actress Jo Yeo-jeong has starred in yet another period film, “The Concubine,” directed by Kim Dae-seung. Kim began his career on the silver screen as the protege of legendary Korean director Im Kwon-taek, serving as assistant director for films including “Seopyeonje” (1993) and “The Taebaek Mountains” (1994) before making his debut with his own features such as “Bungee Jumping of Their Own” (2000) and “Blood Rain” (2005), which have been screened at international film festivals in Tokyo, Seattle, Brisbane and Montreal.

“The Concubine” is an erotic historical film set in the Joseon Dynasty. It centers around Hwa-yeon (Jo Yeo-jeong), who decides to enter the royal palace as one of the king’s concubines in order to escape poverty, Kwon-yoo (Kim Min-jun), a man torn between love and revenge, and King Seong-won (Kim Dong-wook), who has his heart set on Hwa-yeon despite the countless women available to him. These three characters form a love triangle which is ruled by dangerous passion. The struggle to survive within the tight-spaced boundaries of the palace is intense, and only those who are strong enough to overcome the hell-like milieu can survive.

Viewers have praised the film for its in-depth depiction of love and the striking imagery of ardor between the characters. Overall, “The Concubine” is a film devoted to the vivacity and intimacy of love that, at the end of the day, we all desire.



In Another Country (19)

Drama / 89 / Korean

French actress Isabelle Huppert, one of four women to have won two Best Actress awards at the Cannes Film Festival, starred this time in Korean movie “In Another Country” (2012) directed by Hong Sang-soo.

The director of “Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors” (2000) and “The Day He Arrives” (2011) has now had his films featured at the Cannes festival eight times.

The movie centers on a young film student, Won-ju (Jung Yoo-mi), and her mother, Park Sook (Yoon Yeo-jeong), who run away to a small seaside town called Mohang, where they escape from mounting debts.

While relaxing in the peaceful environment, Won-ju writes a script in which three “charming” French women all named Anne visit the town of Mohang. The first Anne is a successful film director; the second is a married woman secretly in an affair with a Korean man; and the third is a divorced woman whose husband left for a Korean woman. Each Anne in the script stays at a small hotel with the assistance of the owner’s daughter and meets a lifeguard (Yoo Jun-sang), who often wanders around the beach near the hotel.



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Men in Black 3 (12)

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 the series’ big, cartoony spirit and merits a watch for those who appreciate that.



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Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (All)

Comedy, Kids / 93 / English

Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo and Melman the giraffe are still struggling to get back to their beloved New York City - along with the penguins and chimpanzees. Now stranded in Europe, they go undercover as a traveling circus in Monte Carlo while dodging the captain of the local animal control unit.

Though this is the third installation in the animated series, it is the first in 3-D. Voices are performed by an all-star cast that includes Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen and Martin Short.

Critical reception has been fair to middling, with a score of 76 percent on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. While some have knocked the functional plot and hyperglycemic level of eye candy so native to kid flicks today, others have called “Madagascar 3” the best in the series, praising its wit and stunts. The kids will probably love it, and the parents won’t find it half bad either.



Machine Gun Preacher (15)

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 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 safety issues posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). That evening, LRA promptly burns down the village.



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Blue Valentine (19)

Drama, Romance / 114 / English

Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine” was quick to excite and draw much attention from many fans of romantic films with much anticipation for the likes of “My Week with Marilyn” (2011), “Crazy, Stupid, Love” (2011) and “The Notebook” (2004). They were seriously misled as the romantic drama film directed by Derek Cianfrance turned out to be a heart-wrenching tale of a dissolution of marriage that shifts back and forth in time from the sweet beginnings of their courtship through desperate and futile acts to salvage the long-gone love and finally to the bitter, heartrending end.

This critically acclaimed independent film evokes strong emotions and memories of loss of love and family as it moves slowly through an intense, doomed relationship.
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