2013.7.12 Now playingPluto (15)
Drama, Thriller / 107 / Korean
“Pluto” is a thought-provoking film that gives an insightful look at the status-quo of hyper-competitive high schools in Korea.
The story revolves around prestigious high school students who pull out every stop to get higher grades. Newcomer Jun (Lee David) who has transferred from a general high school, is no exception and he immediately hops on the brutal competition train.
As Jun is not from an affluent family, he strives to fit in with the other students as well as to get higher grades, so he goes to extremes when he finds there is a special club for rich, top students, led by Yu-jin (Seong Joon).
The clique forces him to do abnormal things in order to be accepted and the film takes a sinister turn when Yu-jin, the head of the clique, is found dead on the hill at the back of the school. The group’s members point to June as the suspect.
At this point, Jun realizes that he can never be part of an elite group, no matter what he does, just like the planet Pluto, which has been excluded from the solar system due to its volume, size and distance. Through the movie, the ugly truth behind the elite group unfolds.
The film gained rave reviews from critics and viewers at the Busan International Film Festival last year and was deemed the best independent feature at the 11th Florence Korea Film Festival.
Pacific Rim (12)
We knew this day was coming: robots versus aliens, or sea creatures that from this point will be just called the Kaijus, because the film is quite vague about that aspect.
Despite the lack of knowledge on what exactly they are, where they’re from and the like, these Kaijus are a focal point of the story, because it’s to combat these deadly creatures from “the drift” (under the sea) that humans had to conjure up super-robots called the Jaegers, that need not just one, but two pilots to operate.
But as technology catches up, the monsters are also adapting, and the world is at peril. Cue the pilots.
Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) one of the best Jaeger pilots who has gone into hiding after losing his co-pilot and brother, is given the chance to resume his duties, with the help of a female co-pilot with a past, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), and other pilots from far and wide, they are sent on a mission to wipe out the Kaijus one last time.
The plot is not the film’s forte; but it’s plain to see that action was what director Guillermo del Toro was concerned about. Action and monster depiction: those Kaijus are scary.
It is an awesome 3D feature, but many aspects of characters’ ties to one another remains untapped amidst the chaos of people and cities being swiped out, which unfortunately make the loss all the more trivial.
Kong’s Family (19)
The comedy revolves around a dysfunctional family in which each member has their own skeleton in the closet. Family man Jang Baek-Ho (played by Kim Byung-ok) goes to jail every four years, and, as a result, he has three children who were each born four years apart.
But Baek-ho has a big dream of setting up his own noodle restaurant. With this dream in his mind, he returns to his house after serving one of his four-year jail terms, only to find his life savings of 5 million won ($4,387) gone.
Baek-ho grows suspicious of his family and launches his own investigation, locking his family members in a storage room. During the investigation, the four members’ secrets inevitably unravel. He soon discovers his family’s secrets: His wife, Oh Jung-suk (Yoon Da-kyeong), has been cheating on him, and his oldest daughter, Jang Sook-hee (Shim Eun-Jin), the seemingly perfect career woman who is the anchor of the family, has been living a double life. The younger daughter is a notorious femme fatale who mooches off of a bunch of men and the youngest son, a high school senior, refuses to go to school.
The Master (19)
Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a sex-obsessed alcoholic World War II veteran who struggles to adjust to post-war society. Quell drifts through a series of post-traumatic stress disorder breakdowns, leading him to drift from job to job.
One day, Quell comes across a religious cult known as The Cause, led by a charismatic intellectual leader known as Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Dodd takes interest in Quell and takes him in, providing him with guidance in order to help him reintegrate into society. The film explores their relationship in-depth, and follows Quell as he attempts to conquer his past traumas with the help of Dodd.
“The Master” was released last year in the United States and was acclaimed by both critics and audience members. The film received three Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor for Phoenix and Best Supporting Actor for Hoffman. The cast delivers an absolutely astonishing performance, and Hoffman and Phoenix in particular display great chemistry on-screen, making this film a masterpiece that should not be missed.
2012: Ice Age (12)
Action, Sci-fi / 91 / English
A volcanic eruption in Iceland sends a glacier moving rapidly towards North America, bringing with it an impending Ice Age. In the face of disaster, scientist Bill Hart (Patrick Labyorteaux) seeks to bring his wife Teri (Julie McCullough) and two children westward.
The movie was released in the United States in 2012 to overwhelmingly negative reception by the critics, and rightly so: the only standard the film measures up to is that of the other films produced by independent film group The Asylum. Dubbed as “mockbusters” by the critics, these films are usually low-budget and created with the apparent intention of riding on the coattails of the publicity of a major film with a similar title or theme.
“2012: Ice Age” is unoriginal. The movie boasts a striking resemblance to the 2004 disaster film “The Day After Tomorrow,” which is also about climate change. The plot of the film is implausible, such as the notion that Iceland can spawn a glacier larger than the country, or that this glacier is rushing towards North America at approximately 86 miles per hour. The movie does have its merits, however, as a treat for bad film connoisseurs. At times the film is so ridiculous that viewers will find it hard not to smile.
Cold Eyes (15)
Action, Thriller / 118 / Korean
A recent fad of installing black boxes in cars reflects how much modern society has become highly-digitized and network-oriented. Such change allows police investigations in “Cold Eyes” to progress only through surveillance. This action-packed thriller is directed by rather unfamiliar faces in the Korean film industry, Cho Eui-seok and Kim Byung-seo. As a remake of a Hong Kong film, “Eye in the Sky” (2007), the directors had to spend the given running time wisely. More emphasis was placed on action scenes; the unconventional use of long takes on Jung’s wire act, a car chase down the buzzing streets of Teheran, Gangnam, and other scenes will provide plenty of entertainment.