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May 10, 2006

Love and Sex in Korea

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A Good Lawyer's Wife/Baramnan Gajok
Im Sang-soo - 2003
Myung Region 1 & 3 DVD

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Woman is the Future of Man/Yeojaneun Namjaui Miraeda
Hong Sang-soo - 2004
Bear Region 0 DVD

I sometimes see films that I don't feel like I can discuss with the kind of insight that will add to the understanding about the film or filmmaker. For a deeper understanding of these two films from Korea, I encourage reading the analysis from Filmbrain twice. What I am seeing in general is that at least for now, Korean films do something that you don't have much in U.S. films which is study relationships between adults.

Part of it is the sex. Ignoring all the hysteria regarding Brokeback Mountain, American movies depicting consenting heterosexual couples are pretty much relegated to the ghetto of late night CineMax. Setting aside the nudity in A Good Lawyer's Wife, an American movie about a woman's declaring control of her sexuality would be labelled and dismissed as a "chick flick". Even a commercial and critical success like Unfaithful can be considered the exception that proves the rule being a remake of a French film. I have seen three films with Moon So-ri and consider her one of the bravest actresses working in cinema today.

What makes Woman is the Future of Man more interesting than its American equivalent, Sideways for example, is how messy the relationships are. The two main male characters get together to eat, get drunk and talk. What Hong shows is the competitiveness and distance that marks relationships. It may be called friendship, but what Hong films are closed entities bumping into each other before going off in their own orbits.

Posted by peter at May 10, 2006 04:20 PM