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Next Sohee
(Da-eum So-hee,
다음 소희)

Director – July Jung – 2022 – South Korea – Cert. 18 – 134m

*****

A schoolgirl on an internship is appallingly exploited by her employers, and a police detective is called in to investigate – out in UK cinemas on Friday, June 14th

Here’s a film which presents a real problem for reviewers. Something monumental happens in the middle of the film which entirely changes it. It’s a little bit like the shift from the traumatic drama to the police manhunt in High and Low (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) and a bit like the infamous shower scene in the middle of Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). And yet, the film is like neither of those classics in any other way (except, perhaps, the fact that it’s a remarkable film that will leave you with an indelible impression afterwards). Still, how much can a reviewer give away without ruining the film for audiences?

It’s very much a film of two halves. The first half centres around Sohee (Kim Se-eun), a star pupil at an average secondary school. She is obsessed with dancing, specifically the kind of dance moves associated with K-pop girl- and boy-bands. Among her friends are another former intern from her school who dropped out of her intern position and now spends her evenings getting paralytically drunk.… Read the rest

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Broker
(Beurokeo,
브로커)

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2022 – South Korea – Cert. 12 – 129m

***

Kore-eda’s second feature outside his native Japan is a curious tale of two traffickers of abandoned babies to childless couples whose business is disrupted by their latest charge’s mother– out in UK cinemas on Friday, February 24th

It’s an intriguing pitch. Kore-eda. the great humanist Japanese director of such extraordinary films as (among others) films After Life (1998), I Wish (2011), Like Father, Like Son (2013), The Third Murder (2017) and the Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee Shoplifters (2018), directs a movie in South Korea. And yet, Broker, like his previous The Truth (2019), similarly made in a country other than his native Japan – in this instance France – is strangely unmoving compared to his home-shot, Japanese work. Although he hasn’t lost his touch as can be seen from some of his work for Japanese TV (A Day-Off Of Kusumi Arimura, 2020).

Whatever the problems are with his working abroad, the the calibre of the cast the director attracts is not one of them. The Truth had Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke, two of the finest living French actresses and arguably one of the best American actors; for Broker, the cast includes top South Korean talent Song Kang Ho and Doona Bae.… Read the rest

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Barking Dogs
Never Bite
(Flandersui Gae,
플란다스의 개)

Director – Bong Joon Ho – 2000 – South Korea – 110m

****1/2

Available exclusively on Curzon Home Cinema from Friday, September 18th.

Lecturer Yun-ju (Lee Sun-jae) is looking out the window of his apartment in a block of flats and having been recently passed over for a professorship is on the phone to a colleague, but can’t concentrate because of a persistent dog barking. He resolves to do something about it. Chancing later upon a dog without an owner near his front door, he takes it up to the roof but then, unable to drop it off the balcony, takes it down to a basement corridor and traps it in an old wardrobe.

Maintenance office worker Park Hyun-nam (Doona Bae) is visited by a little girl in a yellow waterproof to get her missing dog posters officially stamped so that they won’t get taken down.

Hen-pecked by his working, pregnant wife Eun-sil (Kim Ho-jung), Yun-ju learns from a colleague that the person who got the professorship has died so the position should now be his – for a $10 000 bribe. And the barking hasn’t stopped – he got the wrong dog because the little girl’s posters mention that the missing dog can’t bark following a throat op.… Read the rest

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Air Doll
(Kuki Ningyo,
空気人形)

Director – Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2009 – Japan – Cert. 18 – 111m

****

Fantasia Film Festival 2020 virtual edition from Thursday, August 20.

An unusual film for director Kore-eda, closer to After Life (1998) than almost anything else he’s done because of both fantasy element and whimsical tone. An inflatable sex doll is affectionately cared for by its owner Hideo (Itsujo Itao) who has sex with it at night. He has named the doll Nozomi after a former girlfriend. One morning when he’s at work, Nozomi wakes up as a flesh and blood woman played by Doona Bae, goes to the window and feels rainwater on her hands.

Nozomi tries on some of her (sexualised fetish) clothes, settling on a chambermaid costume. She heads out into the world, where everyone is busy getting to school or work. She follows an old widow (Sumiko Fuji) around, then a party of young schoolchildren. She passes an old man in a park. Eventually she stumbles into the video store where Junichi (Arata) works. The shop appears to her as a wonderland and she lands herself the counter assistant’s job. However she’s not very good at it, her experience of life being virtually nil and her knowledge of movies even less.… Read the rest