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Despite the high expectation, however, the movie had a disappointing domestic run, contributing to the latest industry wagging about the decline of so-called star power in Korean cinema. The story was reportedly based on the real-life Italian adventures of British Princess Margaret.

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Here is what I was able to come up with: Matilda's discovery of the Countess and her subsequent informing others of the Countess's presence destroys the Count's secret. Shortly after Matilda meets the Countess the Castle of Wolfenbach itself is destroyed in a fire, mirroring the destruction of the Count's attempts to keep his wife a secret and how his plots throughout the story eventually lead to his own destruction.

The major part of the action in the Romance of the Forest is set in an abandoned and ruined abbey and the building itself served as a moral lesson, as well as a major setting for and mirror of the action in the novel. The setting of the action in a ruined abbey, drawing on Burke's aesthetic theory of the sublime and the beautiful established the location as a place of terror and of safety.

Burke argued the sublime was a source of awe or fear brought about by strong emotions such as terror or mental pain. On the other end of the spectrum was the beautiful, which were those things that brought pleasure and safety. Burke argued that the sublime was the more preferred to the two.

Related to the concepts of the sublime and the beautiful is the idea of the picturesque , introduced by William Gilpin, which was thought to exist between the two other extremes. The picturesque was that which continued elements of both the sublime and the beautiful and can be thought of as a natural or uncultivated beauty, such as a beautiful ruin or a partially overgrown building.

In Romance of the Forest Adeline and the La Mottes live in constant fear of discovery by either the police or Adeline's father and, at times, certain characters believe the castle to be haunted.

On the other hand, the abbey also serves as a comfort, as it provides shelter and safety to the characters. Finally, it is picturesque, in that it was a ruin and serves as a combination of both the natural and the human.

By setting the story in the ruined abbey, Radcliffe was able to use architecture to draw on the aesthetic theories of the time and set the tone of the story in the minds of the reader. As with many of the buildings in Gothic novels, the abbey also has a series of tunnels. These tunnels serve as both a hiding place for the characters and as a place of secrets. This was mirrored later in the novel with Adeline hiding from the Marquis de Montalt and the secrets of the Marquis, which would eventually lead to his downfall and Adeline's salvation.

Architecture served as an additional character in many Gothic novels, bringing with it associations to the past and to secrets and, in many cases, moving the action along and foretelling future events in the story. Characterized by its castles, dungeons, gloomy forests and hidden passages, from the Gothic novel genre emerged the Female Gothic.

Female gothic differs from the male gothic through differences in narrative technique, plot, assumptions of the supernatural, and the use of terror and horror. Female Gothic narratives focus on topics of the persecuted heroine in flight from a villainous father and in search of an absent mother, while male writers tended towards a plot of masculine transgression of social taboos.

The emergence of the ghost story gave female writers something to write about besides the common marriage plot, allowing them to offer a more radical critique of male power, violence and predatory sexuality.

It has been said that medieval society, on which some Gothic texts are based, granted women writers the opportunity to attribute "features of the mode [of Gothicism] as the result of the suppression of female sexuality, or else as a challenge to the gender hierarchy and values of a male-dominated culture". Significantly, with the development of the Female Gothic came the literary technique of explaining the supernatural. The Supernatural Explained — as this technique was aptly named — is a recurring plot device in Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest.

The novel, published in , is among Radcliffe's earlier works. The novel sets up suspense for horrific events, which all have natural explanations. However, the omission of any possible explanation based in reality is what instills a feeling of anxiety and terror in both character and reader.

An 18th-century response to the novel from the Monthly Review reads: Radcliffe's use of Supernatural Explained is characteristic of the Gothic author. The female protagonists pursued in these texts are often caught in an unfamiliar and terrifying landscape, delivering higher degrees of terror. The end result, however, is the explained supernatural, rather than terrors familiar to women such as rape or incest, or the expected ghosts or haunted castles. The female gothic formula is said to be "a plot that resists an unhappy or ambiguous closure and explains the supernatural".

The decision of Female Gothic writers to supplement true supernatural horrors with explained cause and effect transforms romantic plots and Gothic tales into common life and writing. Rather than establish the romantic plot in impossible events Radcliffe strays away from writing "merely fables, which no stretch of fancy could realize.

English scholar Chloe Chard's published introduction to The Romance of the Forest refers to the "promised effect of terror". The outcome, however, "may prove less horrific than the novel has originally suggested". Radcliffe sets up suspense throughout the course of the novel, insinuating a supernatural or superstitious cause to the mysterious and horrific occurrences of the plot.

However, the suspense is relieved with the Supernatural Explained. For example, Adeline is reading the illegible manuscripts she found in her bedchamber's secret passage in the abbey when she hears a chilling noise from beyond her doorway.

She goes to sleep unsettled, only to awake and learn that what she assumed to be haunting spirits were actually the domestic voices of the servant, Peter. La Motte, her caretaker in the abbey, recognizes the heights to which her imagination reached after reading the autobiographical manuscripts of a past murdered man in the abbey. He then informed her, that when he thought Monsieur and Madame La Motte were asleep, he had stolen to her chamber door This account of the voice she had heard relieved Adeline's spirits; she was even surprised she did not know it, till remembering the perturbation of her mind for some time preceding, this surprise disappeared.

While Adeline is alone in her characteristically Gothic chamber, she detects something supernatural, or mysterious about the setting. However, the "actual sounds that she hears are accounted for by the efforts of the faithful servant to communicate with her, there is still a hint of supernatural in her dream, inspired, it would be seem, by the fact that she is on the spot of her father's murder and that his unburied skeleton is concealed in the room next hers".

The supernatural here is indefinitely explained, but what remains is the "tendency in the human mind to reach out beyond the tangible and the visible; and it is in depicting this mood of vague and half-defined emotion that Mrs. Transmuting the Gothic novel into a comprehensible tale for the imaginative 18th-century woman was useful for the Female Gothic writers of the time.

Novels were an experience for these women who had no outlet for a thrilling excursion. Sexual encounters and superstitious fantasies were idle elements of the imagination.

However, the use of Female Gothic and Supernatural Explained, are a "good example of how the formula [Gothic novel] changes to suit the interests and needs of its current readers". In many respects, the novel's "current reader" of the time was the woman who, even as she enjoyed such novels, would feel that she had to "[lay] down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame," [94] according to Jane Austen , author of Northanger Abbey.

The Gothic novel shaped its form for female readers to "turn to Gothic romances to find support for their own mixed feelings". Following the characteristic Gothic Bildungsroman -like plot sequence, the Female Gothic allowed its readers to graduate from "adolescence to maturity," [96] in the face of the realized impossibilities of the supernatural.

As female protagonists in novels like Adeline in The Romance of the Forest learn that their superstitious fantasies and terrors are replaced with natural cause and reasonable doubt, the reader may understand the true position of the heroine in the novel:. Her sensibility, therefore, prevents her from knowing that her true plight is her condition, the disability of being female.

The heroine in The Castle of Wolfenbach , Matilda, seeks refuge after overhearing a conversation in which her Uncle Weimar speaks of plans to rape her. Matilda finds asylum in the Castle of Wolfenbach: Matilda, being the courageous heroine, decides to explore the mysterious wing of the Castle. Bertha, wife of Joseph, caretakers of the castle tells Matilda of the "other wing": However, as Matilda ventures through the castle, she finds that the wing is not haunted by ghosts and rattling chains, but rather, the Countess of Wolfenbach.

The supernatural is explained, in this case, ten pages into the novel, and the natural cause of the superstitious noises is a Countess in distress. Characteristic of the Female Gothic, the natural cause of terror is not the supernatural, but rather female disability and societal horrors: There are many Gothic subgenres, including a newly-minted "environmental gothic" or " ecogothic. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

It may also refer to texts in the extinct Gothic language. Glossary of Literary Terms 6 ed. The creepy tale that launched gothic fiction". The Supernatural in Gothic Fiction: Horror, Belief, and Literary Change. Gothic and the Comic Turn. Retrieved May 3, An Evaluation" , The Victorian Web: An Overview, July Or, The Problem with Burke and Lewis. A Journal of Germanic Studies. Karamzin's Gothic Tale, p.

At the origins of the Russian gothic novel, p. Does Russian gothic verse exist, p. European gothic and the 19th-century gothic literature , p. Lord Byron to Count Dracula. Reading the Romantic Text , 10 June Retrieved on 18 September Retrieved 26 March The Taste for Terror, to Present. Continuum International Publishing Group.

The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne. University of Paris X-Nanterre. The Villain Character in the Puritan World. Retrieved 20 November Retrieved 30 April Humanistic Perspectives in a Technological World , ed. Richard Utz, Valerie B.

Johnson, and Travis Denton Atlanta: Historical Dictionary of Gothic Literature. The Castle of Otranto. Archived from the original on Expansion in Gothic Literature and Art. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.

Reprinted in Three Gothic Novels. The History of the Caliph Vathek. The Castle of Wolfenbach. The Romance of the Forest. Fleenor, Eden Press Inc, Fleenor, Eden Press Inc. An Essay on Gothic Nature. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment , 16 4. Andrew Smith and William Hughes, eds. Edinburgh Universiyt Press, Mentioned at the end of the movie is the fact that the characters of Cho-won and his mother are based on real people.

Cho-won was inspired by Bae Hyeong-jin. Just years old at the time of this film's release, Hyeong-jin had already participated in several marathons and a triathlon. He has since gone on to become somewhat of a celebrity, appearing on talk shows and even having a line of TV commercials with SK Telecom. Described as 'having a mind of a five-year old', Mr. Bae is an accomplished athlete and many of the events of his childhood are depicted accurately on screen.

His mother involved him in many physical activities which he seemed to enjoy as a form of therapy, and had him keep a journal. It is from here that the misspelled Korean title of the movie originated. While he had directed a couple of short films prior to Marathon , the last being in , Jeong had more recently worked as an editor for the film Three and as an art director for Wonderful Days.

After this emotionally-charged runaway hit, it seems likely that we will be seeing more from him in the near future. Although Korea has changed beyond recognition in the 25 years since Kim Jae-gyu pulled the trigger, Park's legacy remains an unresolved question for much of the Korean populace. Complicating the matter, Park's daughter now leads Korea's centre-right opposition party, ensuring that the historically themed Last Bang would be read as a comment on the present as well as the past.

The film itself has got somewhat lost in the controversy surrounding its release, at which time a judge from the Seoul Central Court ordered that four minutes of documentary footage be removed, since it might "confuse" viewers as to what is fact and what is fiction. The footage -- clips of anti-government protests shown at the film's opening, and images from Park's funeral that accompany the end credits -- were important to the overall work, and the four minutes of black screen which appear in their place leave the audience with an altogether different viewing experience.

Many have viewed Last Bang as a bit of character assassination aimed at the late President Park. An observant reader on the Koreanfilm. The most offensive bits may actually sneak past the radar of many foreign viewers: Just why Park's fondness for things Japanese should be so controversial requires a short history lesson, but suffice it to say that he is being portrayed as being associated and aligned with Korea's former colonizers.

Personally, I love the George Bush analogy and I agree that director Im was out to settle a few scores with the many admirers of the former president. However I can't accept that this is the film's key purpose. If that were the case, there would be no reason to structure the film in the unusual way it is put together. Namely, the emotional climax -- Kim blowing Park's brains out -- occurs not at the end, but halfway through the film.

As much of the plot is devoted to what happens after the event, as to what comes before. Few filmmakers adopt such a strategy, though Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter comes to mind as another example of a film with its emotional climax in the middle, rather than the end.

The unusual structure has opened Last Bang up to criticism, with many maintaining that the work loses its energy or focus in the second half. The result for me, however, is to make it much more of a thinking film than an emotional film. And I maintain that there is enough going on here to justify it as an object of study. I should also note here in fairness to the director that the documentary footage that is meant to be screened over the end credits does pack a complex emotional punch.

Without it, the film's ending is emotionally monotone. I read Last Bang as a film about history. Of course, it covers a specific historical incident, and also tries to capture the mindset of an authoritarian nation the press kit calls it a film about "when a military society turns the gun on itself". But most of all, this is a film about a small group of individuals who consciously decide to change history.

To what extent can an individual, or a small group of people, really do that? This is what I think the movie is asking. The process of unleashing change is portrayed as being unexpectedly simple. Im Sang-soo brings the events of this famous night down to a very human level, through evocative details concerning the many personalities involved, and through his liberal use of black humor a perfect antidote to the chest-thumping heroism we see in other Korean films based on history.

Thus, the final act that brings down the Park era comes across as being quite matter-of-fact. Yet in the chaos that follows the shooting, we gradually realize that Kim Jae-gyu's ambition to transform Korean history is up against forces more powerful than the slain dictator. An individual can set loose the forces of history, but cannot control them. Those who are familiar with Korean history will know that Park may have made his exit on that night, but the oppressive military dictatorship lived on in another form.

Every sentence uttered by Baek resonates beyond its immediate context, and his actions embody a prototype that reappears in many guises throughout history. True, the entire ensemble cast is nothing short of fantastic, including a career-reviving performance by Han Suk-kyu, but everything in the film boils down to Baek's character.

Three cheers to Im Sang-soo. In making this leap from sex a preoccupation of his previous films Girls Night Out , Tears and A Good Lawyer's Wife to politics -- perhaps not such a long leap after all? Now, the only work remaining is to get this film back from its censors. Unlike decisions made by the ratings board, the court's ruling applies internationally as well as in Korea, so it is illegal to screen the uncut version of the film anywhere in the world.

Godspeed to the appeals process. She lives alone in a cheap-looking apartment building, politely answering her aunt's irritating phone calls, purchasing meals, even packets of kimchi , through mail-order service, and taking care of plants. Jeong-hye is neither autistic nor misanthropic: It is only that she is perfectly happy with remaining in the background of the hustle-bustle of Korean city life.

Nonetheless, Jeong-hye's life is beginning to show signs of change. She adopts a lovely kitten. Finally, a chance encounter with a troubled young man Seo Dong-won leads her toward an attempt to address a long-repressed trauma. Winner of the Best Film Prize at the Pusan Film Festival's New Currents Section, This Charming Girl is a quietly effective character study, made in cinema verite style but nearly completely devoid of the kind of pretensions and self-importance that plague many first-time features.

Director Lee Yoon-ki shows a commendable discipline in keeping his hands largely invisible. It is no mean feat to capture the characters in intimate, unguarded moments with handheld camera but to keep the stance non-intrusive, which is what Lee accomplishes here. When the film slides from objective reality into Jeong-hye's subjective vision limited to the daydream visitations of her mother, played by veteran actress Kim Hye-ok [ Green Chair, Our Twisted Hero ] , the transition is so natural that we do not even question whether she is experiencing a flashback, visualizing a wish, or seeing a ghost.

Much of the film's strength must be attributed to the brilliant casting of Kim Ji-soo in the role of Jeong-hye. When I first saw the film, I pegged Kim to be a newcomer with only a theatrical background: I was therefore stunned to find out later that Kim was a well-known figure in TV drama, most recently featured in MBC's The Age of Heroes , with more than ten years of experience in front of the camera.

Not only does she not break the rhythm of her performance against extreme long takes and close ups, that reveal minute abrasions and scars in her face, she also makes Jeong-hye absolutely believable in her hesitation and withdrawal, without making her neurotic or eccentric. It is an eye-opening performance the likes of which has seldom been seen in Korean cinema, especially melodramas that often push the actor's emotive capacity to maximum overdrive.

Part of the film's attraction comes from the thrill of anticipating when Jeong-hye will break from her routine and reveal her inner turmoil. When it does happen, the "revelation" is inevitably disappointing in its predictability.

The plot development leading to Jeong-hye's confrontation with the source of her trauma is one of the film's few obvious weaknesses, even though the sequence in question features another terrific performance by Lee Dae-yeon Camel s , the psychiatrist in A Tale of Two Sisters and a breathtaking long take inside a lady's restroom, showcasing Kim's tour de force performance.

We live in a world where cinema verite takes of sweaty, gymnastic sex or of characters languorously inhaling cigarettes with vacant eyes automatically cue us that they are meant to be serious "art" films. This Charming Girl , on the other hand, is like an entire film devoted to one of the "extra" figures appearing for a minute or so in these movies, say, a post-office clerk who processes the protagonist's Sturm und Drang letter to her divorced husband, and immediately exits the movie.

Director Lee Yoon-ki and the filmmakers, adapting Woo Ae-ryung's novel, deliberately focus on such a seemingly boring and inconsequential character, and restore her integrity as a personage: In the end, it is the film's unwavering gaze, close and proximate, yet deeply compassionate and respectful, that renders This Charming Girl so powerful, and, in collaboration with Kim Ji-soo's superb portrayal, makes Jeong-hye one of the most fascinating characters in recent Korean cinema.

Here, they said, was a uniquely talented director with a hard-edged, innovative style who could breathe new life into the aesthetics of independent-minded cinema. Few people listened to Ryoo's protests that he was, at heart, a genre filmmaker. He pointed to his goofy internet short Dazimawa Lee as much more in keeping with his innate style.

Sure enough, his next two features, No Blood No Tears and Arahan were more obviously structured around genre cinema, though he dissected and blended genre archetypes in fascinating ways. Critics, their expectations confounded, were unimpressed, particularly with Arahan. When will you stop fooling around and make something serious, they seemed to be asking. Though not really a submission to the critics' wishes, the gritty and at times shocking Crying Fist represents a synthesis of the harsh realism Ryoo displayed in Die Bad and the commercial elements of his later work.

Much of the film concentrates on the day-to-day experiences of two unrelated men, and contains almost nothing in the way of genre elements. The movie's resolution then plays out along the lines of the boxing film, but with one key difference that turns the genre completely on its head. His past glory worth almost nothing in the present day, he has found a creative but strenuous way to earn money: In the meantime, his disintegrating marriage places great strain on both wife and husband, not to mention their young son.

Yu Sang-hwan Ryoo Seung-beom is a delinquent from a crumbling neighborhood who gets by on committing petty theft and harassing students. His relationship with his father, younger brother and grandmother is tenuous at best.

One day his life is turned upside down, and like Tae-shik, he reaches the nadir of his existence. More out of frustration than anything else, he takes up boxing.

In Korea this film has drawn interest for pairing an acclaimed veteran actor with perhaps the most talented of the younger generation stars. All the more interesting, then, that Ryoo Seung-beom, the director's younger brother, should end up outshining the lead from Oldboy. Ryoo's portrayal of Sang-hwan which incidentally is the same name of the characters he played in Arahan and Die Bad is a perfect embodiment of caged fury.

He speaks very little, but his body language radiates deep-seated anger and pain. Put simply, Ryoo's performance is mesmerizing, and watching him is one of the film's biggest pleasures. Those who saw him in Arahan will find him completely unrecognizable. Meanwhile Choi Min-shik also gives an excellent performance, but since he portays a character whose spirit has essentially been snuffed out, it's harder to relate to him.

We get a strong sense of the aimlessness and desperation he feels, but this also makes the middle sections of the film somewhat tiring to watch. The viewer's patience is rewarded by the end, however, in a resolution that is emotionally moving on the level of Failan , and backhandedly subversive in its construction.

Think of virtually any boxing movie, and you envision a likeable central character underdog fighting at high stakes against a formidable opponent. As viewers, our emotional energy is funneled into the main character, almost to the point where we're the ones throwing the punches. Unspoken nationalistic or prejudicial feelings sometimes creep unawares into our minds.

Now imagine a boxing movie where two men who desperately need a break in life, who we both empathize with so much that it hurts, step into the ring against each other. Who do we cheer for? It's such a simple variation on the standard formula, but it causes the whole generic structure of viewer loyalties and triumph-against-odds expectations to crash down like a house of cards.

Watching this film's gripping resolution play out, we have no idea what will happen, and we hardly even know what to wish for. As color slowly starts to bleed into the frame, we hear a voiceover by the main character Sun-woo: For the past seven years he has served his gangster boss with unflinching exactitude.

He manages an upscale bar called La Dolce Vita which echoes the film's original Korean title , and he despatches people who get in the boss's way with skill and efficiency. The boss Kim Young-cheol trusts him so much that he asks Sun-woo to look after his mistress Shin Min-ah , and to kill her if she is being unfaithful. A Bittersweet Life posits what might happen if, after all those years, a frozen pysche such as Sun-woo's should suddenly start to melt.

This would seem at first to be an overly romantic notion to throw into a Korean-style noir film, where the violence is gut-wrenching and the hero feels no qualms about putting his gun to a man's forehead and pulling the trigger. But the emotions that seep into Sun-woo's mind unleash a recklessness in him, that will later transform into fury once he senses that he has been betrayed.

The familiar stylistic traits of director Kim Jee-woon , seen before in A Tale of Two Sisters , The Foul King , and The Quiet Family , can be spotted here in abundance, and yet he has never made a movie quite like this one. It feels nihilistic at times, and as in Oldboy -- which will surely be compared to this film countless times -- the violence is strong and innovative enough to become a topic of conversation.

Mixed in with the cruelty is a bit of absurd, black humor in the middle reels, but not enough to lessen the heavy feel of the work as a whole. The end result is a visually stylish, cool film that is both very commercial even though it underperformed in both Korea and Japan , and also complex enough to make it hard to pin down. One way to approach this film is to simply revel in the details.

I love the way Lee Byung-heon savors the last bites of his dessert before going downstairs to beat the pulp out of some rival gangsters who have wondered onto his turf. Perhaps in defiance of Korean critics who, after watching A Tale of Two Sisters , accused Kim of having a foot fetish, the director introduces his striking lead actress Shin Min-ah with a huge shot of her bare feet.

I love the way Shin Min-ah's home is decorated production designer Ryu Seong-hee is Korea's most famous; she also worked on Memories of Murder and Oldboy. And finally, I love the ending, even if I can't speak about it here. If the ending of A Tale of Two Sisters disappoints, the final shots of this film make up a sweet, indelible set of images. The presence of the mill has spawned a bustling village, and given its townspeople a certain degree of wealth.

With climate and trees perfectly suited for papermaking -- and a location remote enough to ensure both privacy and secrecy -- the island has established a profitable business in high quality paper, with trade routes stretching as far away as China. It is on this isolated and largely self-autonomous island that a string of gruesome murders start to take place. It's not just the growing number of dead bodies, but the sickly innovative cruelty of the killing that breeds apprehension in Won-gyu Cha Seung-won , a government investigator sent from the mainland to solve the case.

Soon he discovers that the murders are linked to an incident seven years in the past, in which the former owner of the mill was executed for practicing Catholicism. The townspeople, for their part, are convinced that the dead man's ghost has come back for revenge. Blood Rain no relation to the famous Korean novel of the same title is the odd fusion of a labyrinthine, complex narrative that calls for one's deepest concentration, and heaps of medieval, gory violence to sicken one's stomach.

Straight-on shots of skulls being crushed and men being torn limb from limb are interspersed with ruminations on class relations in Confucian society, and applications of Western and Eastern science as a means of solving the film's central mystery. The end result is certainly unique and memorable, but sadly its central concept seems to work much better as ideas in a screenplay, than as images on celluloid. This is not to say that the film isn't beautiful.

The colors and cinematography, not to mention the rugged setting and elaborate set design, may indeed be the film's strongest element. But despite the fact that Lee Won-jae and Kim Seong-jae's screenplay has won praise within the local film community, the completed work struggles to hold all of the material contained within it.

Major plot points are revealed by voiceover, rather than onscreen action, and to accomodate the film's two-hour running time, many ideas are simply thrown at the viewer, rather than being fully expressed.

Partly as a result, much of the gory violence feels like compensation for a lack of drama. It's a shame, because this project seemed to hold so much potential. Kim does have talent, and he employs some creative transitions in moving from scene to scene.

Unconventional casting was also used in putting Cha Seung-won in the lead role, for his first non-comic effort since Libera Me However, lower marks go to the musical score by Jo Young-wook Oldboy, Silmido , which features a distracting reworking of Rakhmaninov that manages to snuff out much of the film's poetry.

According to traditional shamanist beliefs, chicken blood is supposed to provide some protection against malevolent spirits. Towards the end of the film, we are shown the depths of the villagers' panic in a scene where at least five real-life chickens get their heads chopped off in gory closeups no time to close your eyes -- it's upon you in an instant.

Clearly there was no CG imagery at work here. I imagine the crew simply cooked them up for lunch after the scene was shot, which makes you think: But philosophical issues aside, the shots are so viscerally disturbing that they distract from a major plot twist that occurs just moments before, and it gives moralizing film critics like myself?

After all the ink spilled in newspapers worldwide over the fish in The Isle and the octopus in Oldboy , Korea is probably now going to become known as that country that likes to rip apart live animals in front of the camera. It's perhaps fortunate for the makers of Blood Rain that in the same month as its debut, Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier premieres his Manderlay at Cannes with a scene featuring a live donkey slaughtered on set. People don't judge movies purely by objective criteria; they are also drawn to particular works because it says something to them personally.

The Bow , I'm sad to say, was an even tougher slog for me than usual, and a critical consensus seems to have emerged that it is not up to the level of Kim's other recent work. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times went so far as to call it "risibly bad", which is about as nasty a term as I can think of. So what went wrong with The Bow , anyway? The story centers around a man in his sixties who has been raising a young girl since childhood on a ship that floats unanchored off Korea's western coast.

Though the borders of her world are obviously quite limited, she seems happy, and the old man plans to marry her the day she reaches legal age. The two make their living by hosting fishermen aboard the boat, and also tell fortunes in a rather bizarre and dangerous fashion, by shooting arrows whizzing past the girl's head into a Buddhist painting on the side of the boat.

This method of fortune-telling appears to have been invented by Kim, though possibly inspired by the common practice of dropping a dart onto a spinning disc The film opens in striking fashion with a shot of the weapon that inspired the film's title. When fitted with an additional piece, the bow becomes a stringed instrument.

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