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Fahrenheit 11/9

The messiness of Moore’s film starts to feel appropriate for the times we’re in. With a new issue being debated every day, is it any…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Seongyong Cho

Seongyong Cho

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.

A man with storms in his head

May Contain Spoilers

A professor at my department who studied neuroscience, once told us something you have probably heard elsewhere: If you think you're crazy or getting crazy, that means you are not crazy because crazy people do not know that they are crazy. This sounds like the famous dilemma in Joseph Heller's "Catch-22." I thought it was useful advice for students who had to deal with lots of pressure and stress in the academic process. It could also be good advice for the hero of "Take Shelter" (2011), because he thinks at first something is wrong with his head, but cannot ignore what disturbs deeply him. He tries to quell his mental turbulence as much as he can, but is transformed into a more disturbed man obsessed with visions attacking him every night. It is possible that he himself is the threat to the family he wants to protect, not the catastrophe of epic proportion he fears.

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A family secret

May Contain Spoilers

Looking back at when I watched "Life, Above All" (2010) last December, I discern that I'm a more jaded person than I think. At one point in the story, I wondered if its heroine really had to do what she was determined to do. I understood her motive, but I thought it might be better for her and her family to leave the problem alone because there was really nothing she could do for changing the circumstance. However, it was what should have been done, her heart knew that, and I was eventually moved by her determination while recognizing that she was right after all.

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A world of one's own

May Contain Spoilers

In a science magazine I used to read during my high school years, one of my favorite sections was on the science in SF movies. (The magazine is still published; whenever I come across it at the campus book store, it takes me back to when I was less jaded and more anti-social.) It answered my doubts on the climax sequence in "Total Recall" (1990), and pointed out that there were several implausible aspects in the premise of "Jurassic Park" (1993). In case of the movies like "Armageddon" (1998) and "Independence Day" (1996)--well, it didn't require a lot of scientific knowledge to discern that they were brainless.

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A taxi driver goes South

May Contain Spoilers

Looking back at the Hollywood blockbuster action films of 2011 when the year was about to end, I found none of them could top the raw realism of the ambitious South Korean thriller "The Yellow Sea" (2010). When I endured "Transformers 3" last summer, I had no excitement at all with its pointless loud action scenes decorated with weightless CGI. In the case of "The Yellow Sea," real people and real vehicles are put into the action on the screen, and they are far more visceral than those big, humongous CGI robots fighting on the streets of Chicago.

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Bullhead: A man running from his past

May Contain Spoilers

He wants to forget about it, but it is impossible for him to get away from it, because that has driven him to be who he is now. As the opening narration suggests, even if it is buried below and everyone including him is silent about that as if nothing ever had happened, it never goes away. It remains beneath the surface, and it is bound to be brought up again in one way or another, and there is no way of release possible for him.

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Fighting after the war is over

May Contain Spoilers

There exists a stationary phase in wars unless they end quickly. The soldiers on both sides doubt whether they can survive; they are more exhausted day by day and it seems their hardship will last forever until they are killed in the battlefield. Even so, when the time to battle against the enemy comes again, they have no choice; they always do whatever their survival instinct drives them to do, and there come more scars and pains to be stored in their hurt lockers.

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In search of a miracle

May Contain Spoilers

I have never been to Lourdes, a small town near the Pyrenees in southwestern France, but, considering Jessica Hausner's film "Lourdes," it looks like a nice place to visit. The hotel shown in the film looks good, and they serve visitors with care and respect. The landscape surrounding the town is nice to look at; at the meadow around the tops of mountains, you can see the green land below and the other mountains covered with snow.

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A Simple Plan

May Contain Spoilers

Sometimes ordinary people becoming evil are more frightening than Dr. Hannibal Lector or Frank Booth. Villains like them are downright scary, but they are basically outsiders with a monstrous nature beyond our common sense. In contrast, the characters in Sam Raimi's crime thriller "A Simple Plan" (1998) are nice, ordinary people we can identify with, at least in the beginning. We can recognize their human wishes, desires, and motives. We can understand why they are driven into the plot while it's getting bloodier and more complicated. As a result, it is frightening to observe them doing horrible things, and one question immediately pops up in our minds - what would I do if I were in their circumstance?

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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

May Contain Spoilers

To anyone who wants to watch an offbeat movie for the upcoming holiday season, "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" can be a nice mixed bag full of the goodies to be appreciated. The movie is a dark, amusing horror fantasy with Santa Claus as a malevolent supernatural entity far different from the one we are familiar with. He surely knows whether you are naughty or not, but, instead of giving a present to you, he will punish you if he thinks you are naughty, and his punishment will not be merely shoving coal in your stocking. I have no clear idea about what exactly he can do to those poor naughty'children put into sacks, but I guess he is as savage as that murderous Robot Santa in the TV animation series "Futurama," one of whose memorable lines is "I'm going to tear off your skin like wrapping paper and deck the hall with your guts!"

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Our neighbors the sociopaths

May Contain Spoilers

While revisiting David Michôd's "Animal Kingdom" (2010), I wondered what it was like for its passive teenager hero to live with his heroin addict mother at their small home. We can only assume that she definitely could not get the Mother of the Year award, considering the mundane but eerie opening sequence. It's around afternoon, and her son is watching some TV show, and she seems to be asleep next to him on couch - but we soon learn she died from an overdose.

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