Favorite films

  • Sacrificed Youth
  • Letter Never Sent
  • Beau Travail
  • Cameraperson

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  • The Lovers and the Despot

    ★★★

  • Commitment

    ★★★

  • The Color of Fear

    ★★★★

  • Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women

    ★★★½

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  • The Lovers and the Despot

    The Lovers and the Despot

    ★★★

    The approach adopted is odd – by not providing any real context on Shin Sang-ok, including who he was and why he mattered, or even the titles of his films excerpted throughout, the documentary appears to demand a degree of foreknowledge about its subject. Yet it’s too cursory to serve as anything but a primer – like, did you know that North Korea is a dictatorship ruled by the Kim family? Still, this certainly has its strengths, among them Choi…

  • Commitment

    Commitment

    ★★★

    Playing a North Korean almost seems like a rite of passage in the South Korean entertainment industry. To use a crude analogy, it's the rough equivalent to how an actor ‘branches out’ in Hollywood by using a different accent. The problem: most performers neither look or behave anything like a North Korean (I’d nominate Song Kang-ho’s turn in Joint Security Area as the clear standout in a crowded field; after that… maybe Bae Doona in As One?). And so it…

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  • Beau Travail

    Beau Travail

    ★★★★★

    March Around the World 2021 - #18: France

    Prefacing this review with a confession: that famous ending was the first part of Beau Travail that I saw. That is not the way I prefer to discover movies – in fact, I would usually consider it ‘cheating’ – but I came across it in passing, via Marc Cousins’ The Story of Film: An Odyssey (I know opinions divide on that series; for me, it was a fount of cinephilic inspiration). It…

  • Boat People

    Boat People

    ★★★

    The story behind Boat People is fascinating: it was shot in Hainan, becoming the first Hong Kong production to film in mainland China, with the permission of a PRC government that had recently fought a war with Vietnam, and was therefore eager to capitalise on anti-Vietnamese propaganda. It's a reconstructed vision of the country in 1978, based on refugee accounts and comprehended through the eyes of an outsider, both literally and figuratively - the protagonist, a Japanese photographer, is an…