2012.9.7 NOW Playing
Drama / 95 / Korean
Based on the director’s personal experiences while fulfilling his military service, “The Ugly Duckling” is an inspiring story of a clumsy 23-year-old soldier in the politically turbulent 1980s.
Kwak Kyung-taek is one of Korea’s most established directors with renowned works including “Friends” (2001) and “Typhoon” (2005). As in his perhaps his biggest hit “Friends,” Kwak effectively emphasizes camaraderie, courage and perseverance in his latest film.
Private Jeon Nak-man (Kim Jun-ku) is a soldier whose father, a former photo journalist, is mentally disabled from the aftereffects of torture. Nak-man’s compulsory military service has been reduced to six months from 24 due to his family’s tragedy. During his military service, the protagonist is tested physically and mentally as he is looked down upon by fellow soldiers and relegated to tedious chores. One day, when he is forced to abuse inmates at an installation confinement facility, Nak-man must grapple with the irrationality of the system. “The Ugly Duckling” underscores the suffering of the volatile 1980s. With unexpected humors and the subsequent gravity, the film brings back the old adage that greatness is hidden in humility.
Drama / 103 / English
Jada Pinkett Smith, a famed American actress and wife of Will Smith, directed and wrote the 2008 movie “The Human Contract,” which is expected to be released in Korea on Sunday.
Left unhappy and feeling lost after his decision to divorce his wife, successful but uptight Julian Wright (Jason Clarke) is fascinated by and befriends an inarguably seductive and free-spirited stranger, Michael (Paz Vega).
The attraction sparks as both Michael and Julian discover they share the commonality of a somber childhood due to abandonment from their mothers. Her uninhibited lifestyle is hard to understand yet Julian finds himself more engrossed in Michael, who encourages him to ditch his tense lifestyle and explore reckless love.
Meanwhile, Julian’s family poses problems; memories of his childhood and his sister’s abusive husband threaten his balance.
The firm for which Julian works requires traditional values to be upheld for the possible buying out by a household name which will eventually bring wealth and fame.
When Julian’s desire for Michael’s comfort intensifies after facing unfortunate circumstances but does not go his way, he falls into deep paranoia. Will self-control hold obsession and rage in check or will Michael add fuel to fire?
Musical, Drama, Romance / 121 / English
If you’ve experienced the magic of the famous romance musical “The Phantom of the Opera,” you don’t want to miss the action of this sequel “Love Never Dies,” also composed by the famous Andrew Llyod Webber. He began working on the musical in 1990, but it was not until 2007 that he began to write the music. Ten years following his vanishing without a trace at the Paris Opera House, the Phantom (Ben Lewis) invites a renowned soprano Christine Daae (Anna O’Byrne) to his new vivacious amusement resort in Coney Island. Christine shows up with her husband and children to enter the world of Phantom once again. The night is full of unexpected events as Christine is left puzzled after the Phantom professes his everlasting love for her while Raoul (Simon Gleeson) fights to keep her, and Meg Giry’s (Sharon Millerchip) secret love for the Phantom is revealed.
Phantom presents a new song titled, “Love Never Dies” to Christine, giving her an ultimatum. The choice is up to her - perform the song on stage and accept the Phantom’s love or leave the stage to continue her life with Raoul.
One movie critic praised the film for featuring spectacular opening, scenery, costumes, lighting and acting by two lead actors. You can relish in the striking musical performance and wait in suspense for the love story to unfold before your eyes.
Drama / 132 / French, English
“The Lady” tells the story of the love, sacrifice and courage behind the struggles of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition politician who remained under house arrest for over a decade.
During her education in England, the daughter of the former Burmese political martyr, Suu Kyi (Michelle Yeoh), meets the love of her life, Michael Aris (David Thewlis), and builds a family. Their time together is cut short when Suu Kyi returns to Burma after hearing of her mother’s poor health.
While visiting her hometown, Suu Kyi realizes the need for reform and spearheads a democratic rebellion against an oppressive, hostile regime at the request, and crying pleas, of the people. She eventually wins the 1990 election. Yet any democratic achievements were soon suppressed by the Burmese military junta and went so far as to ban Suu Kyi’s family from visiting Burma and placing Suu Kyi under house arrest for more than a decade. Despite her well-recognized acknowledgement, Suu Kyi is unable to enjoy the honor as she is denied the chance to see her husband one last time before his death after Aris was diagnosed with terminal cancer. With the support and love from her family, “The Lady” inspires people with the account of a woman’s bold movement in making great sacrifices for the greater cause of the people.
Red Lights (15)
Thriller, Drama, Horror / 113 / English
Psychologist Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) investigate paranormal experiences, debunking them as frauds. After world-renowned psychic Simon Silver (Robert DeNiro) resurfaces, who disappeared years after his toughest critic mysteriously disappeared, Buckley becomes obsessed with exposing him.
In the course of investigating Silver, several unexplainable phenomena happen to Buckley, only increasing his paranoia toward the case and Silver himself. The film has had lukewarm-to-negative reviews, with critics saying the plot becomes a bit contrived in the second half, especially with the twist upon which movie hinges.
Such a flaw is lamentable, considering that most thrillers rely on the payoff inherent in a mind-blowing revelation, rather than cinematic tricks.
Still, Spanish writer-director Rodrigo Cortes also took the helm for the lauded 2010 thriller “Buried, and fans of that film may find something to love in this genre movie.
It certainly isn’t lacking in talent, and Murphy isn’t a stranger to the spotlight after his international debut in the zombie-apocalypse flick “28 Days Later” and his Golden-Globe-nominated performance as a transgender glam orphan in “Breakfast on Pluto.”
DeNiro, Weaver and Murphy can’t cover up the flaws in the film, however enticing the image of DeNiro playing a mad, murderous psychic might be.