Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Ninja kiss.


Starring: Jae Hee (Sassy Girl Chun Hyang) / Lee Seung-yeon (Piano Man)

Director: Kim Ki-duk (Bad Guy, The Bow)

Lee's only lines are at the end of the movie: "Let's eat" and "I love you". Brave and simmering, 3-Iron is almost a silent movie. Twitchy fingers, sideways glances do the talking and really, it is one of the best written movies ever.

Jae Hee's a bum who breaks into empty houses for shelter and food. He washes clothes and fixes broken things around the house (clock, gun) for rent. Fair deal (except for the gun bit, that, scary). Lee's a battered wife who refuses to talk, and when Jae Hee crashes their house, she doesn't do anything except watch him (take a bath and masturbate). The husband comes home, Jae Hee aims golf balls at the husband's balls, and the rest -- thoughtful, curious, distraught, yearning silence.

Jae Hee and Lee explore houses as they search each other's faces for comfort. The silence they share is almost magical; it does hold the best lines, bouncing off walls and drifting through corridors. Creases, pillows talk in Kim Ki-duk's humming world, and when Lee utters her first phrase, it's the ringing happiness in her voice that matters. Words distract while salvation, puzzling and weightless, kiss her on the lips. ****

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Agressives

Skater boys Mogi and Soyo and a very big water bottle.

Taepoong Taeyang (The Agressives)
Starring: Cheon Jeung-myeong / Lee Cheon-hee (A Good Lawyer's Wife) / Kim Kang-woo
Director: Jeong Jae-eun (Take Care of My Cat)

When asphalt virgin Soyo (Cheon) asks Mogi (Kim) about his scars, the dogtown lord replies, "These are not scars; they are kiss marks." So, this is love.

Jeong's second feature, The Agressives, does unfurl like a love story: boy meets rollerblades, boy throws away rollerblades, boy falls in love again with rollerblades. Disappointingly conventional. Sacharrine for adrenalin. The fast and furious editing also wears off a few mintues into the first half. Disjointed and blurry, the rushed, fractured storyline is a speeding ticket waiting to happen.

But somewhere in between are quiet sparks of brilliance. Soyo's imitation of Mogi in front of the bathroom mirror is part de Niro spunk, part Slacker lost. The finger skating bit -- secretive, unfiltered, almost untouched -- is easily the most resonant in this glossy but surprisingly subdued movie.

Sports is painful and dirty. Extreme sports, excruciating and fucking repugnant. Love and extreme sports? It can never be this pretty. **

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

My Little Bride

Matinik ka talaga, Kevin.

EORIN SHINBU (My Little Bride)
Starring: Kim Rae-won (Attic Cat) / Moon Geun-young (Tale of Two Sisters)
Director: Kim Ho-joon

Snogging a sixteen year-old girl, yeah, sweet. But hello licking flames of hell. Then, there's also prison. My Little Bride has neither dancing devils nor shiny handcuffs because in Korea, it is legal to marry a minor. You read it right boysies, it is LEGAL to marry a sixteen year-old girl (with the parents' consent, but still) in Korea, or at least, that's what this movie makes us believe. (Insert disclaimer: no cultural judgment here, general queasiness mostly from catholic high school background.)
Sang-min (Kim) and Bo-eun (Moon) are childhood buddies; one is twenty-two and a compulsive flirt, the other's sixteen and is just starting high school where she spends most of her time silently watching a particularly polite softball jock. And as fixed marriages go, they got fixed, and the funnies begin to roll and rock their worlds. Giggling in bed, giggling at underwear, giggling in aisle 4, the first half is giddy with games of hide and seek encounters as their lives begin to overlap. Sex is easily dismissed; it is just not in Bo-eun's mind.
Any tension under the sheets is dealt with tenderness, sweet and uncomplicated.
Bo-eun's slow unraveling is kick-in-the-shin painful. Going steady with the jock, her teen fantasy turns to hop-skipping with adultery. Being a PG comedy, the movie sidesteps the real issues and ends a little abruptly with a cringe worthy speech. But never mind that. Kim, with his sparkly charm, and Moon's feisty innocence collide and merge like atoms: charged, fateful. ***1/2