2014.6.13 Now PlayingFor the Emperor (19)
With ambitious noir films such as “No Tears for the Dead” or “High Heel” opening in Korea recently, another movie from the genre is ready to hit local theaters.
Director Park Sang-jun’s new film “For the Emperor” traces how once-promising baseball player Lee-hwan (Lee Min-ki) is kicked out of the sports business after being accused of fixing a match.
Left with nothing, Lee-hwan sets foot in one of Busan’s biggest gang circles, Hwangjae Capital, headed by Sang-ha (Park Sung-woong), to make ends meet.
Despite opposition from other members, Sang-ha feels sympathy toward Lee-hwan and decides to scout the boy. However, as he adapts to the competitive and deadly world, Lee-hwan starts to show veiled ambitions and begins to covet what Sang-ha has.
Actress Lee Tae-im plays the femme fatal in the film that sees a risky love game between the two male leads unfold.
Directed by Korean-Chinese director Zhang Lu, the film’s lead, Choi Hyun (Park Hae-il), bears a lot of resemblance to Zhang.
Both are Korean, speak fluent Chinese, are professors and are mesmerized by a chunhwa - an erotic painting - they saw at a traditional tea house in Gyeongju.
This is where the similarities end.
Choi returns to the said tea shop, and while he can’t find the painting on the wall, he does strike up a friendship with the shop’s beautiful owner, Gong Yoon-hee (Shin Min-a).
Not all that much happens except the beginning of a friendship, and because of the film’s length, it feels like you are watching something unfold in real time.
Not quite romance, not enough drama, the movie is more like a snippet of real life, complete with awkward silences and uncertain moments and characters.
Director Ryu Seung-wan also makes a cameo, but it’s still not enough excitement.
Those who enjoy slow-paced tales centered on natural dialogue will enjoy “Gyeongju,” but those who want some excitement from their cinema experience may not be so enthused.
The Great Beauty (19)
Comedy, Drama / 141 / Italian
It has been 40 years or so since journalist Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) wrote his one-and-only novella.
Although he doesn’t really write anymore, Jep is immersed in Rome’s high-end life of the literary world, which includes alcohol, drugs and of course, beautiful women.
Not only does he wish to remain in the inner circle, he wants to be the king of it, and for that he is not afraid to use as much botox as he can to look young and brilliant.
While continuously reinforcing his position, he confronts the death of his first love at the age of 65 and starts to carefully retrace the most beautiful or ugliest memories of the past.
The film has already captured the hearts of international audiences by winning the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards along with a Golden Globe in 2014.
Having Italy’s capital as its backdrop, many foreign press have praised the beautiful depiction of how the city is today.
British daily newspaper The Telegraph described “The Great Beauty” as “a shimmering coup de cinema to make your heart burst.”
A Million Ways to Die in the West (19)
Directed and produced by actor, writer and filmmaker Seth MacFarlane, “A Million Ways to Die in the West” is a genuine American comedy set in the Wild West. Starring some of Hollywood’s most-loved, from Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson and MacFarlane himself, the film refers to the legendary western films like John Ford’s “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962).
When Albert Stark (MacFarlane) backs out of a duel, his girlfriend Louise (Seyfried) gets frustrated, and leaves him abruptly.
The problem comes from the fact that Albert, unlike the typical western heroes, is a coward, who is overwhelmed by the Old West’s idolization of masculinity.
When a mysterious gunslinger named Anna (Theron) rides into town, Albert starts to discover his courage, and the two fall in love.
But to Albert’s dismay, it is revealed that Anna was married to the notorious outlaw of the town, Clinch Leatherwood (Neeson).
Seth MacFarlane, the director and producer of “Family Guy,” peppers “A Million Ways to Die in the West” with dirty jokes, but it’s doubtful whether the Korean audience will understand all of the humor.
Angelina Jolie smolders and captivates as Maleficent in the Disney film about the malicious fairy who is to blame for putting Sleeping Beauty under a spell.
Maleficent needs no introduction to Disney fans in this refreshing take on an old tale, although sometimes the liberty taken with the plot seems to undermine the original. According to this newest movie, it turns out Maleficent did have a reason for being so evil after all.
There’s probably no one in Hollywood better suited for the role and Maleficent shows a range of emotions from anger, sadness and even giddiness as she keeps an eye out on the princess she has doomed to a tragic end.
The notion of true love is challenged, and it’s interesting to see Disney - the company behind all things lovely and dreamy - make fun of the message it used to sell.
Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora is also charming, and it’s hard to keep a straight face whenever she appears in all her ditzy, naive joie de vivre.
The juxtaposition of the two characters also creates interest. In terms of CGI animation, the film is probably not the best, but it’s a treat to see Jolie in a role that she fits like a glove.
Edge of Tomorrow (12)
Sci-fi, Action / 113 / English
It seems like just another Hollywood summer blockbuster, but under the direction of Doug Liman, “Edge of Tomorrow” develops a unique color of its own.
Tom Cruise plays Major William Cage in the story based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s military-themed science-fiction novel “All You Need Is Kill.”
Set in the near future, when an alien race has hit Earth with an unrelenting assault, Cage is deployed on a suicide mission and is killed within minutes.
But, strangely enough, Cage finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop - forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again and again.
The film’s production team features Hollywood’s dream team, ranging from production designer Oliver Scholl of “Jumper” (2008) to Oscar-nominated visual effects supervisor Nick Davis of “The Dark Knight” (2008).
The music for “Edge of Tomorrow” was done by Christophe Beck of “Frozen” (2013).