2014.1.3 Now Playing
Drama / 121 / Korean
In this ode to youth (the Korean title literally means “Splendor of Youth”), the frivolities, fun and fleeting nature of people’s college years is compared to the harsh and ugly side of living as a white-collar worker in Korea.
Tae-pyung (Kim Nam-hee) leads a charmed life in college. People that he doesn’t know say hi to him, he is always going on dates and parties every night. Having fun with his two best friends and plenty of girls, the world is Tae-pyung’s oyster.
But it isn’t long before college days are over and, after two hellish years in the military, Tae-pyung is out in the real world. He hates his job, is overworked and underappreciated, and his friends are all on a similar journey.
Most of his nights are spent boozing and sucking up to doctors as he tries to sell his company’s line of drugs.
On top of the daily grind that is slowly eating away what’s left of Tae-pyung’s soul, it isn’t long before his long-term girlfriend gets pregnant and he has no choice but to marry her.
While depressing at times, “Animal” is also hilarious in its accurate depiction of the lives of Korean 30-somethings.
Adventure / 125 / English
Based on the famous short story of the same name, Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) is a modern office drone who dreams of great things. He works in a “negative asset department” at Life magazine. He has a crush on his co-worker, Cheryl Melhoff (Kristin Wiig), but is too shy to even try to talk to her in person.
But when Walter daydreams, he daydreams big, “zoning out” completely from real life, much to the delight of his bullying co-workers.
For the last edition of Life magazine, the publisher decides to include a photo of Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), the revered photographer, on the cover. But Walter cannot find the important photo, and his quest to track it down will take the timid daydreamer on an adventure around the world - to Greenland, Iceland and the Himalayas.
While based on the short story by James Thurber, published in The New Yorker more than 70 years ago, Stiller’s version has a very different feel.
But the message of this movie, about the necessity of pushing your way past obstacles and overcoming as you go through your life, is still a very relevant one to us today.
Ender’s Game (12)
Sci-fi / 114 / English
Adapted from the 1985 science-fiction novel by Orson Scott Card, the film takes place in the future. In a world ruled by a militaristic government, children are trained to fight against the enemies of Earth, the Formics, or “buggers” as they are more commonly called, extraterrestrials that look like giant insects.
While thousands of children are trained for combat, Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) and Major Anderson (Viola Davis) believe that Ender (Asa Butterfield) could be the one who can lead Earth to victory.
The novel was a big hit, but it is doubtful that the film will be a success in Korea, too. Ender, the natural leader, is described as rational but brutal. There are reasons for him to beat up other people, but one will nevertheless feel alienated by all this violence coming from a 12-year-old.
Butterfield is a serious actor, able to keep up with the impressive adult cast. Yet this is an action film that is in between being a family film and space adventure, and that unconventionality does not help it in Korea. But at least half of the film takes place in space, so there is plenty of eye-candy to watch and enjoy.
The Suspect (15)
Action / 138 / Korean
Dong-chul (Gong Yoo), the best special field agent in North Korea, was abandoned by his government. While he is on the run from assassins, he looks for his wife and child, who were sold as slaves to China, only to find out that they were killed. After that, he searches for his colleague, who was behind their deaths, while working under Chairman Park, who looks out for Dong-chul.
One day, the chairman is murdered and Dong-chul becomes the intelligence service’s suspect.
Within its lengthy running time, viewers will be surprised to find great action scenes, with more than half of the film filled with spectacular action.
Gong Yoo, who is back on the screen for the first time in two years, is highly received among viewers and critics.
Romance / 124 / Chinese
Wen Jiajia (Tang Wei), the mistress of a wealthy Beijing tycoon, arrives in Seattle from China, pregnant with her boyfriend’s son. She couldn’t get permission to give birth in China, but she is determined to give birth to her baby in the United States. In Seattle, she meets Frank (Wu Xiubo), a driver and a tour guide, and he takes Jiajia to the maternity center. He is a gentleman, whereas her boyfriend in China is a lout, standing her up during Christmas and not sharing his cash. She learns the hard way that cash isn’t enough for her to raise a child thanks to Frank, a divorced dad who had to give up his successful career in China as a doctor for his daughter.
Drama / 127 / Korean
With only a high school certificate, Song Woo-suk (Song Kang-ho) manages to pass the bar exam. But because of his limited education, he is an outcast and a joke to the rest of the attorneys. He accepts tax cases his colleagues regard as lowly cases and becomes affluent.
One day, he accidentally comes across a case in which Jin-woo (Im Si-wan), the son of Woo-suk’s acquaintance, is tortured. The case enlightens him and he becomes a human rights lawyer.
The film drew the public’s attention even before its release because its synopsis is based on the true story of the late President Roh Moo-hyun, which caused arguments among some viewers.
Song pleaded with viewers to focus on the film itself.
However, even if no explanation was included, the film can still be viewed as a touching story of an attorney who faced a life-changing experience. It is also a treat for fans of Song as he shines in the genre that he is best known for.
About Time (19)
Rom-com / 124 / English
Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) was never really good at first impressions. His encounters with the ladies in particular are extremely awkward. That is, until he learns from his father that the men in his family all have a special gift: They can travel back in time.
Tim gets to go back and rescue his buffoon-self from stuttered encounters and missed connections. After playing around with the gift, and learning that some things cannot be forced, he is soon presented with the chance to get it right with the love of his life, Mary (Rachel McAdams), whom Tim quickly falls in love with.
Yet when Tim travels back in time to help one of his friends, he discovers that his time traveling has consequences.
Directed by Richard Curtis, of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (1994) and “Love Actually” (2003), the film packs witty humor with touching moments.