Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
A remarkable tale of immigrant success, wrapped around a crime story.
Seongyong Cho was born in Jeon-ju, South Korea. He did graduate work at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science
and Technology (KAIST) in Dae-jeon. His passion
for good movies continues its primitive rampage, which includes weekly pilgrimages
to the local multiplex. He started his blog in 2008 and writes nuumerous reviews. In the midst of that, he manages to find time for
books, music, exercise (usually treadmill and swimming), and corresponding
with other bloggers.
Far Flung Correspondent Seongyong Cho discusses "Kinyarwanda," a powerful look at the genocide in Rwanda.
Call it a "torture film" if you want, but the South Korean film "National Security" (2012) darkly resonates with raw disturbing power. The movie itself is a fiction, but the terrible historical fact revealed through that fiction gave me a memorably uncomfortable experience at the screening room last November. We all knew what was depicted in the movie actually happened many times during that dark era in South Korean history, and the movie deeply disturbed us with its unflinching observation of authorized force brutally and mercilessly stomping on basic human rights.
You'll probably despise the main characters in the coldly lavish new South Korean film "The Taste of Money" (2012). I was about to describe them as belonging to the top 1%, but given how shallow and hateful these people are, I think it would be more accurate to say "the bottom 0.01%." They're a plutocratic family at the very top of South Korean society. They run a big, influential conglomerate like Samsung and LG (which are also family businesses at their core). They can buy and do anything because of their wealth and the power which comes with it. In their view, they deserve to be called VVIPs, or very, very important people.
"Transsiberian" is a Hitchcockian thriller decorated with icy wintry landscapes. It sets its tone right at the beginning, carefully developing an unstable feeling while loading the story. It steadily amplifies a sense of dread within its closed space. We sense something terrible will happen, and it does happen, but we are surprised because we suddenly find the movie rapidly accelerating on an unexpected course--and it never stops until it reaches to its finale literally approaching toward it from the opposite side.
Ik-hyeon is a sleazy piece of work you cannot help but look at with disgust and wonder. While he is corrupt, greedy, treacherous, opportunistic, vain, and foolish, he is also a wily scoundrel who may get away with his crimes and misdemeanors even when everything seems to fall down on him, and he is willing to win the game by any means necessary for his survival and advance in the system.
Fathers are usually proud of their sons' achievements, but that is not the case with the orthodox scholar patriarch of the Israeli film "Footnote." His son's success adds another layer of envy and resentment to a lifelong grudge, and he hates when that happens. He has regarded his son and other prominent scholars as a bunch of superficial philistines who merely happen to be more popular than him, but he cannot help but envy their academic positions, and he desperately hopes for recognition as he stubbornly and solitarily sticks to his own uncompromising research methods deep in the library.
Sometimes movies provide the moments I empathize with even though I am completely different from their characters. I remember how I sympathetically reacted to one particular scene around the end of "The Hurt Locker" (2008) because I would also be at a loss in its hero's circumstance unless my family or others accompanied me. Several months after watching that movie, I thought about that scene after wandering alone around the aisles of a big supermarket in the suburban area of Des Plaines, Illinois for at least more than 20 minutes until I settled on a loaf of white bread and a bottle of marmalade after lots and lots of hesitation.
While he has been called "the Master of Suspense," Alfred Hitchcock has also been called "the Master of the Macabre," and that title is exemplified by his delightful black comedy "The Trouble with Harry" (1955). On the surface, it looks quite atypical compared to Hitchcock's more famous works, but this is a vintage story from a great director with a wry sense of humor, and it is also one of the most liveliest works in his exceptional career. Although somebody is dead, there is no suspense or danger or blond lady in the movie, and all we have to do is leisurely enjoy a pleasant walk with its funny characters as they try to deal with bizarre trouble on one fine autumn day in their ordinary peaceful rural town in Vermont.
When I watched "The Ides of March" (2011) early in this year, it took me back to my memories with Mike Nichols' "Primary Colors" (1998), which already told us almost everything the former wanted to tell. When I watched it in 1999, it looked like a sarcastic story inspired by Bill Clinton's first presidential election campaign in 1992, but now the movie looks more like a timeless political comedy drama which understands a lot about how politicians alternatively dazzle and disappoint us with their better and worse sides.
Some horror movies have mercy on uninformed audiences who have no idea about what they will get. The opening sequence of New Zealand horror film "Dead Alive" (1992), which is also known as "Braindead", is a good example because it kindly gives the audiences a very clear idea of what it about and how it is about. As the hero escapes from the natives of Skull Island (Southwest of Sumatra) with a mysterious creature dreaded by the natives, he accidentally gets bitten by the animal, hidden in a wooden crate. He says he's all right, but his local employees are suddenly frightened about that.