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Living

Director – Oliver Hermanus – 2022 – UK – Cert. 12a – 102m

*****

Diagnosed with stomach cancer and given only months to live, a bureaucrat searches for something – anything – to give purpose to his hitherto meaningless life in this remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiruout in UK cinemas on Friday, November 4th following its screenings in the BFI London Film Festival 2022, while Ikiru is on BFI Player subscription

For anyone who has had the privilege of seeing Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952) it is a very strange thing to watch this remake of it. On the one hand, it is exactly the same film. It has the same plot. On the other, it is completely different. Both are set in the 1950s, the original in Japan and the new one in London.

At this point, I have to say that this remake sounded to me (until I’d seen it) like a very bad idea. Cinema is littered with great films that have been remade as shadows of their former selves. Generally speaking, most ideas like this are better left well alone. To make matters worse, this is a case of an established novelist writing a screenplay: producers love this because they see a bestselling author as having a reliable track record but, in fact, the skills required for writing a novel and a movie are very different indeed.… Read the rest

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Samjin Company English Class (Samjin Group Yeong-aw TOEIC-ban, 삼진 그룹영어토익반)

Director – Lee Jong-pil – 2020 – South Korea – Cert. 12 – 110m

*****

Three undervalued corporate women employees investigate an environmental cover up at their company – a teaser screening from the London Korean Film Festival

1995, Korea. Three twentysomething women working in the Samjin Company are consistently undervalued. They meet up after work and swap stories about their respective departments.

Lee Ja-young (Go Ah-sung from Snowpiercer, 2013; The Host, 2006, both Bong Joon Ho) is a Girl Friday smarter than most of the male employees in her office, including her immediate superior and corporate conformist Choi Dong-soo (Cho Hyun-chul), which would probably cease to function without her. Jeong Yu-nah (Esom from Microhabitat, Jeon Go-woon, 2017) is a marketing minion constantly held back by an immediate superior who does everything they can to take credit for her ideas. Sim Bo-ram (Park Hye-su) is a maths prodigy working in the accounts department where her forward-thinking, male boss Bong Hyeon-cheol (Kim Jong-soo), against the prevailing sexist norm, is possessed of the ability to recognise talent in employees regardless of gender and treat them decently as co-workers.

Sent to clear out the old offices of the boss’ son Oh Tae-young (Baek Hyeon-jin), Lee is told by a male colleague to flush a pet goldfish down the toilet “to set it free”.… Read the rest

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I Still Remember (Er Ci Ren Sheng, 二次人生)

Director – Lik Ho – 2021 – Hong Kong – Cert. N/C 15+ – 90m

***1/2

A young loser looks back on his life prior to running a 10K marathon to create an achievement of which he can be proud – online in the UK as part of Focus Hong Kong 2021 Easter from Wednesday, March 31st to Tuesday, April 6th

If you imagine that a movie with a title like I Still Remember would be chock full of flashbacks, you’d be dead right. Lee Chi Hang (Wu Tar Tung) fondly remembers his primary school teacher Wong Kwok Wai (Patrick Tam Yiu Man) who first encouraged him when he saw him cheering on his friend Yu Leung running the perimeter of a small playground and has continued to do so through most of his life.

Whatever he does today, though, Lee can’t seem to get it right. Working at the sales company run by the now grown up Yu (Johnny Hui), he consistently achieves the lowest scores in the weekly office tables. Lee fails for a long time to notice that co-worker and sometime fellow amateur runner Cheung Chi Ling (Sofee Ng Hoi Lam) is in love with him.

Her attempts to get him to run don’t work out either.… Read the rest