Wednesday, March 7


Korean film watch

On March 21st, exactly two weeks from today, this site will be the hub of a Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors Blog-A-Thon, timed to coincide with the the Hong Sang-soo retrospective at Frisco's upcoming International Asian American Film Festival, or SFIAAFF. But Hong's films are not the only ones made on the Korean peninsula that Frisco audiences can catch in the next few weeks. The SFIAAFF is showing two others: a Dirty Carnival (March 16, 18 and 24) and King and the Clown (March 18 and 24). The Tiburon International Film Festival is showing Bloody Tie on March 23rd. And of course Bong Joon-ho's the Host opens at the Embarcadero, the Stonestown and the Rafael theatres this coming Friday. Monday night I attended a special screening of Bong's debut feature film, Barking Dogs Never Bite at the Clay Theatre introduced by the director in person. He seemed a little sheepish about showing a seven-year-old film to an audience of a hundred or so, making a joke about wanting to erase all our memories, Men In Black-style, after we'd finished watching it.

He needn't have been concerned. Barking Dogs Never Bite doesn't have the awkward feel of many a first feature, if that's what worried Director Bong (as he was addressed by Roger Garcia when bringing him and a translator onstage) was worried about. The film is full of assured silent storytelling as well as bitter dialogue, strong photography with each frame emphasizing whatever is most crucially important to the narrative, and good acting. It's true the he characters he created this first time out aren't always very easy to relate to, not because they're of another culture but because they seem programmed to always make the absolute worst decisions available, until the plot dictates otherwise. There were times when I was annoyed by contrivance and others where I was bothered by the dim view Bong seems to take of his fellow humans. But these apartment dwellers' consistent indifference to and passive (sometimes aggressive) aggression against each other is used as a landscape from which to highlight a few genuine acts of courageous humanity. More importantly, the "loveable loser"-dom of the leads, Lee Jung-jae and Bae Doo-na, is an asset to the plucky scenes that exhibit what seem to be Bong's real strengths as a director: gifts for putting together top-notch physical comedy and action sequences. I'm glad my memory didn't get wiped; I'm more excited than ever to finally catch up with the Host, said to heavily feature both of these pleasures, this weekend.

The screening was presented by the SF Film Society, which is gearing up for its 50th annual International Film Festival April 26-May 10th. And they clued us in that this mini-Renaissance of Korean filmwatching opportunities won't be followed by a long drought. At least two Korean films will be part of the 50th SFIFF: Ad Lib Night by Lee Yoon-ki, and the Old Garden by Im Sang-soo, who directed the President's Last Bang and a Good Lawyer's Wife.

March is coming in like a lion for KFilm fans. Along w/ what you've mentioned Brian, TAZZA just finished screening at the 4Star and LINDA, LINDA, LINDA (yes, it's a Japanese film, but it features Bae Doo-na) should be opening there this weekend or next; BLOODY TIE is screening at the Tiburon Festival March 23rd; and WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN will be released on Stateside DVD March 27th. I'm in Hanguk Heaven!!!
Well, Linda Linda Linda is not scheduled for the Four Star this weekend. So hopefully next. I'll be sure to mention when it officially does.
The Host is also opening at the California, for those of us who live in the East Bay. "Memories of Murder" is on my Comcast pay-per-view as well, if I get the chance...
Thanks for the tip, archiveguy. The California Theatre or the Rafael would be the choice places to see the film, as long as it was in the main house. I'm not sure if that's the case in either situation though.
Frank Lee has penned in LINDA LINDA LINDA to open 4/6 at the 4 Star. Can't wait to see it again along with all the other films y'all mentioned. Now if KIMA would just announce their Korean Film Festival all would be right in the world!

Thanks for the tip, Jennifer. I'm glad to hear you use the word "penned"- hopefully not in erasable ink!
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