2013.10.25 NOW PLAYING
Drama / 98 / Korean
Oh-young (Lee Joon) is just another extra in the Korean film industry, yearning for stardom. But when he suddenly gets his wish one day, Oh-young finds himself drawn into a world of power, pleasure, corruption and lies.
Most notably, the lead is played by Lee Joon, a members of the K-pop group MBlaq. This isn’t his first time on the big screen - he played the young version of Rain in 2009’s “Ninja Assassin” for Rain’s childhood role - but it is his biggest role to date.
Also notable are the creatives behind “Rough Play.” It was written and produced by bad-boy director Kim Ki-duk, who won the Golden Lion at last year’s Venice Film Festival for “Pieta,” and nearly had his latest film “Moebius” banned altogether in Korea (some last-minute cuts finally got the movie into theaters). This is Kim’s third script that he’s written for other directors, following “Rough Cut” in 2008 and “Poongsan” in 2011.
Director Shin Yeon-shick, who won praise for his 2009 film “Fair Love,” presents “Rough Play” like it’s a sequel to Kim’s “Rough Cut,” a film about a gangster and an actor who get embroiled in a brutal feud. Indeed, the film’s Korean title, “Baeuneun Baeuda,” is very similar to the Korean title of “Rough Cut,” “Yeonghwaneun Yeonghwada.”
Drama / 114 / Korean
Tae-sik (Uhm Tae-woong), the manager of top celebrity Won-jun (Kim Min-jun), has long wanted to be an actor. He finally gets the chance after he takes the fall for Won-jun, protecting the actor from a hit-and-run charge. To thank Tae-sik, Won-jun arranged to give his manager a small role in a film.
It was just supposed to be a small role, but Tae-sik’s career soon takes off. As his star shines brighter, Tae-shik increasingly wants more, including Won-jun’s girlfriend Mi-na (So E-hyun).
“Top Star” was directed by Park Joong-hoon, who for years was one of Korea’s biggest actors, especially famous for his comedic roles. He has said that the film is very much the product of the strange and terrible things he has seen over the course of his long career.
Captain Phillips (15)
Drama / 134 / English
In the open ocean, anything is fair game - including people. When Somali pirates hijack the cargo ship of Capt. Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), the captain must fight to save the lives of his crew and his own. Based on true events, Phillips is the commander of the Maersk Alabama, sailing in the Indian Ocean and contracted to deliver cargo to Kenya. However, on the way, the ship becomes overrun by pirates led by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi), and so begins the life-or-death struggle between the pirate leader and Phillips. How far is Muse willing to go to get what he wants, and what is Phillips prepared to do to save his crew?
Paul Greengrass, director of two out of the four “Bourne” films, shows his usual flair for heart-pounding action and suspense.
Mr. Nobody (15)
Sci-fi, Drama / 139 / English
The year is 2092, and the 118-year-old Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto) is the last mortal on Earth. He is not, however, the last person. The Earth is still full of humans, only no one ever dies anymore. Futuristic medicine has put an end to death.
In a world without death, everyone is fascinated by the last dying man. So doctors have Nobody undergo hypnosis, to have him reveal the story of his life.
Told in a jumbled, nonlinear fashion, “Mr. Nobody” is a convoluted fairy tale of a story that constantly keeps viewers guessing.
Sci-fi, Drama / 90 / English
Sandra Bullock dazzles in this space odyssey about two astronauts whose lives are put into jeopardy after an accident while in space. In orbit around the Earth, some 600 kilometers (372 miles) above the surface, with no sound and no air, human perseverance and vulnerability are put to the test.
The film starts off with Ryan Stone (Bullock), a biomedical engineer, and Matt Kowalski (Clooney), a veteran astronaut, on a mission to repair a satellite. When things take a turn for the worse and an explosion destroys their space station and transportation, they are forced to dig deep and think fast to make it across the vast emptiness of space to the safety of another space station.
Just 90 minutes long, with no elaborate sub-plots or other distractions, director Alfonso Cuaron has been nearly universally praised for his amazing film, with incredible visuals and a more realistic presentation of space than ever before. Indeed, it has a 98 percent “freshness” rating on RottenTomatoes.com.
Made for the big screen and the 3D experience, the IMAX version of “Gravity” has especially been praised.
The Silk Flower (All)
Documentary / 91 / Korean
“The Silk Flower” is another documentary about the Korean shaman Kim Keum-hwa, who has been given the title Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 82 because of her rare skills and artistry at performing Korean traditional exorcism rites.
The granddaughter of a shaman, Kim started to have sinbyeong, or “spirit sickness,” when she was just 12 years old, and received the initiation rite to become a shaman when she was 17 years old.
Usually, Korean shamans are not well known to the outside world, but in the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, Kim was invited to perform a rite to commemorate the Korea-America centennial.
Today, Kim is probably Korea’s best-known shaman. Director and artist Park Chan-kyong has also made another documentary about her, “Manshin: Ten Thousand Spirits,” which should be coming to theaters soon.
Action, Thriller / 125 / Korean
Hwayi (Yeo Jin-gu) was raised by five men, all members of a notorious criminal group led by Suk-tae (Kim Yun-seok). One day, the group is assigned to kill a guy named Lim and his wife. Suk-tae forces Hawyi to take the job. Only after killing them does Hwayi realize that Lim was, in fact, his real father.
From that moment on, Hwayi vows revenge on his gangster fathers, using the devious skills he picked up from a life in crime.
Actor Kim Yun-seok - who won plaudits for his role in the hits “The Chaser” and “The Yellow Sea” - does a great job as the evil boss at the center of this film.
And protagonist Yeo Jin-gu, who just turned 17, displays some especially mature acting in the film. Yeo won the best child actor award at the 2012 MBC Drama Awards.
The director Jang Joon-hwan leapt to international attention with “Save the Green Planet” in 2003 - a highly praised science-fiction film that crashed badly at the box office.
Jang’s career has been stuck since then, and, after several aborted projects, this is his first movie since that promising debut.