Saturday, January 21, 2012

Korean Cultural Service hosts free series of films by up-and-coming filmmaker Jang Hun

NEW YORK CITY -- The Korean Cultural Service's 2012 film series began last week at New York City's Tribeca Cinemas, with the East Coast premiere of Korea's submission to this year's Academy Awards, The Front Line on January 10th and will continue, with a movie shown every other Tuesday night at 7pm, through February 28.  (This Tuesday's movie is Rough Cut -- see below.) All screenings are free and open to the public -- a situation that TrustMovies dearly loves -- and this initial series is dedicated to the work of up-and-coming Korean filmmaker Jang Hun (it's titled, poetically, Jang Hun Plus One). Details are listed below:

Korean Movie Nights at Tribeca Cinemas
from January 10, 2012 - ­ February 28, 2012
Courtesy of the Korean Cultural Service

Screenings take place every other Tuesday @ 7:00PM
Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street, Manhattan
(on the corner of Canal Street, one block from the A, C, E, and 1 train Canal Street stops)

Admission is free, but all seating is first-come, first served. Doors open at 6:30PM -- so arrive early!

Series One: Jang Hun plus one!

Starting out as an assistant director to Kim Ki-Duk, with his first film, Rough Cut, Jang Hun (shown at right) is said to have established himself as Korea's answer to Steven Soderbergh: a director making big budget movies with an independent sensibility. Three of the films shown in this series -- Rough Cut, Secret Reunion, and The Front Line -- have all become massive South Korean box office hits without making compromises or talking down to their audiences. The series will be rounded out with the North American premiere of a film that's in a similar genre as Jang's but directed by Park Shin-woo: White Night.

Tuesday, January 10 @ 7PM 
THE FRONT LINE (East Coast Premiere, 2011) 

(Yes: this screening has concluded but the film itself just opened and so can still be seen)

One of the biggest Korean hits of 2011, The Front Line is the simple story of a hill: Aerok Hill, a small rise on the Eastern Front of the Korean War that changed hands 30 times over 18 months of fighting. A military investigator is dispatched to see if allegations that the South Korean soldiers tasked with taking the hill are collabora-ting with their North Korean enemies to deliver letters to their families. It turns out that they are, and that's the least of it. A movie about men (and some women) trying to hold onto their humanity in the midst of war, The Front Line is Korea's official submission to this year's Academy Awards. The film opened this past Friday, January 20, in New York City at the AMC Empire 25 and in New Jersey at the AMC Loews Ridgefield Park 12, and in Los Angeles at the CGV Cinemas and in Monterrey Park the AMC Atlantic Times Square 14.

Tuesday, January 24 @ 7PM
ROUGH CUT (2008)
Kim Ki-Duk wrote this wonderfully high-concept (Asian-Mafia-meets-moviemakers) genre-mash-up that's part thriller, part love story, part identity-changer.  It concerns a spoiled actor, famous for playing gangsters, who, for reasons that make excellent sense when you see the film, hires a real-life gangster to appear in his new movie. Filmmaker Jang probes personality, how we see ourselves, and how others see us -- while layering his movie with humor, anger, social comment and fights aplenty. 

"Acting" (indeed the whole moviemaking process) gets a good going-over, and both leading men -- So Ji-Sub as the gangster (above, right) and Kang Ji-Hwan as the actor (above, left) -- are gorgeous, sexy and charismatic. This is probably as good an introduction to Jang's work as any, so if you're interested and live in the Tri-State area, try not to miss it.

Tuesday, February 15 @ 7PM
TrustMovies hasn't seen this one yet, so the below is what the film's publicist has to say about it:  I'll post my own thoughts here, just as soon as I've had time to watch  the screener....  

Two of Korea's best actors face off in this blockbuster action flick that manages to be sly, subversive and really funny while delivering white knuckle thrills. Song Kang-Ho (The Host) is a South Korean secret agent who fumbles a sting operation on a North Korean spy. Pop star Gang Dong-Won (Haunters) is the North Korean assassin who has been embedded in the South. After the botched operation, both men are cut loose by their respective agencies and Song becomes a private eye, while Gang sinks into deep cover, trying to survive long enough to go home. Years later, they cross paths and what audiences are treated to is a buddy movie to end all buddy movies.

Tuesday, February 28 @ 7PM
WHITE NIGHT (North American Premiere, 2009) 
TrustMovies hasn't seen this one yet, so the below is what the film's publicist has to say about it:  I'll post my own thoughts here, just as soon as I've had time to watch  the screener.... 

White Night is a sprawling, evil epic about an unsolved crime that happened 14 years previously that has spilled its poison out over the subsequent years. Based on a best-selling Japanese novel, and featuring a riveting performance by Ko Soo, star of The Front Line, director Park Shin-Woo turns this movie into a slick, beautifully realized film about true evil, as a detective refuses to let go of this single case, instead insisting on following its threads for years no matter where they lead. And where they lead is dark and truly shocking. This hit film has been called the best Korean film of 2009 by several critics and once you've seen it, it's hard to forget.

Currently, only The Front Line is viewable anywhere except this Korean festival, though both Rough Cut and Secret Reunion can be saved to your Netflix queue (whether "saving" on Netflix means eventually "getting" is debatable these days). White Night is available nowhere on DVD (in a North American NTSC version) that I could find, but maybe, after this premiere screening, some company will get wise and pick it up.

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