2013.12.13 Now Playing
Documentary / 96 / Korean
Poignant, intriguing and inquisitive, the first documentary by Zhang Lu is a triumph that merges an art-house film with non-fiction. By asking 14 immigrant workers about the most vivid dreams they had while living in Korea, Zhang shows not just his prowess as a filmmaker but his capacity as a human being. With respect to his subjects, Zhang said that he chose to ask the question concerning dreams rather than ambitions because sleep-induced dreams “never result in a lie from the teller,” and secondly, he felt as if he had “no right” to go nosing in other people’s desires. The way that the subjects (who are not trained actors) open up and let the cameras in to some of their deepest memories and past events is astounding, and a testament to Zhang’s capability. Visually, Zhang manages to take what could have been very drab scenes from one factory to the next to a fanfare of colors and textures. The scenery depicted is the other side of Korea that locals try to ignore and a portrayal of the second-class “foreigners” that the nation just doesn’t seem to know how to deal with. Through his telling of the “other’s” dreams, Zhang said he is posing a rather bold question to the Korean public. Knowing that they are just like you and I, Zhang asks: “Will you still keep your distance?”
Romance / 104 / Korean
Animator U-joo (Shin Myeong-geun) and webtoonist (a cartoonist who draws on a portal page) Bo-eun (Son Min-ji) are raising an abandoned cat and dog, respectively. After bumping into each other at an animal hospital, they believe that they could have a relationship that would be different from their previous ones. However, they are as different as their animals. Plain yet special moments in their relationship are suggested through the behavior of the dog and the cat, and the man and the woman. Some audience members will have empathy for the characters because they might have similar experiences in their relationships. “Cats and Dogs” is an autobiographical film that was Korea’s and the world’s first feature film shot completely with an iPhone 4S. Also, the cat and the dog that appear in the film are abandoned animals that are being raised by the director and his girlfriend. Using a smartphone was useful because no delay time was needed to capture the animals’ expressions. Some of the profits from the movie will be donated to animal shelters.
Way Back Home (15)
Drama / 131 / Korean
Although Jeong-yeon (Jeon Do-yeon) and her husband, Jong-bae (Ko Soo), are strapped for cash, they have a peaceful life until Jong-bae’s best friend kills himself. This is a problem because the husband had guaranteed to pay Jong-bae’s friend’s debts. The couple gets into a vicious fight about the money and have no choice but for Jeong-yeon to accept a deal from Jong-bae’s other friend. She is told to deliver gemstones from Paris to Seoul, which she thought would be legal, but it turns out she was delivering more than 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of cocaine. The film is based on a true story that seems almost fictitious. It is the story of Jang Mi-jeong, an ordinary housewife who was arrested for carrying narcotics at France’s Orly Airport on Oct. 30, 2004, and imprisoned on Martinique in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The complacent attitude of the Korean Embassy in France resulted in Jang being imprisoned for about two years. Even before its release, the movie garnered a lot of attention for Jeon Do-yeon, who is referred to as the “Queen of Cannes” for her 2007 best actress award for her portrayal of a woman down on her luck in “Secret Sunshine.” As expected, her performance is said to fill the movie with an outstanding presence that cannot be disregarded.
Escape Plan (ALL)
Action / 115 / English
Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) is a former lawyer and an expert on breaking out of prisons. Following his series of successes, the CIA offers him double the usual pay to make another breakout attempt. But the prison turns out to be a privately funded facility based on a book Breslin wrote about how prisons are incomplete. Breslin now has to figure out how to escape the prison and who put him there, with the help of his new cellmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
The film can be put into few phrases: an older version of “Prison Break.” Contrary to expectations that the film might contain lots of action scenes, Stallone uses his brain much more. The pairing of the two veteran actors isn’t bad at all, and the film meets general expectations for its setting. In fact, the setting is both the film’s strength and weakness, as the scenes are limited but also focused.
Drama / 106 /English
Steve (Matt Damon) works at a natural gas company known for its “fracking” (fracturing of rock by a pressurized liquid) procedure. He watched the devastation of his hometown in Iowa and believes that rural life cannot be sustained by agriculture alone. So he goes to a small town, promising landowners future profits and the potential of a new life. But when old man Frank (Hal Holbrook) raises environmental questions, Steve is stuck. Then, Dustin Noble (John Krasinski), an environmental activist, comes by, trying to overturn Steve’s actions. The idea for the film came from Josh Fox’s “Gasland,” an Oscar-nominated documentary that dealt with the natural-gas boom in 2010. It conveys the same message, rather familiar to most people. The film is more of a fable in which a boy drops into a country town to become a “good” person in the end. Some call the film “both honorable and disappointing” at the same time. Yet it received praise for the acting of Damon and others.
Rom-com / 124 / English
Tim was never really good at first impressions. His encounters with the ladies in particular are extremely awkward, and he never says the right things. That is, until he gets the chance at saying them right the first time.
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns from his father that the men in his family all have a special gift: They can travel back in time. At first, Tim thinks it’s crazy. After all, what’s crazier than going into a dark closet and wishing to go back in time? Except, in Tim’s case, it actually works. Tim gets to go back and rescue his buffoon-self from stuttered encounters and missed connections. What’s more is that he gets the opportunity to get it right with the love of his life, Mary (Rachel McAdams), whom Tim quickly falls in love with at a party. Yet when Tim travels back in time to help one of his friends, he discovers that he encounters a new set of consequences - such as losing Mary to another man. Each time Tim tries to balance his love for Mary and his penchant to take care of others around him, he faces new and grave obstacles, and learns that there are some things time travel just can’t fix.
Directed by Richard Curtis, of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (1994) and “Love Actually” (2003) fame, the film packs witty humor with touching moments between Tim and his father, played by the British actor Bill Nye.