Saturday, March 10, 2012

A second, free Korean Film series -- It's a Fine Romance! -- begins at Tribeca Cinema

According to The Korean Cultural Service of New York -- which has been presenting a kind of introduction-to-Korean-film, beginning this past last February with a quartet of excellent crime and war movies -- fans of filmmakers Jang Hun and Park Shin-Woo turned out in droves to scare up the biggest numbers ever for the Cultural Service's film program. Now, turning to a very different genre, the romantic comedy, TKCS announces 2012's second series, "It's a Fine Romance!" -- which screens free at New York City's Tribeca Cinemas throughout March and into April.

The one film in the new series that TrustMovies has seen so far -- Cyrano Agency -- was more than was enough to send him back for seconds and thirds.

Tuesday, March 13, 7pm
Korea's biggest romantic hit of 2010, this high-budget rom-com won South Korea's “Best Screenplay” award, while its star, Lee Min-Jung (from the last Korean series' White Night) won a truckload of “Best New Actress” awards. The movie is actually a very smart update of Rostand's classic play Cyrano de Bergerac, in which the long-nosed Cyrano, though in love with his cousin Roxanne, offers his help to the tongue-tied and not very bright young man, Christian (whom Roxanne loves) and helps him win her. In this adorable, but never cloying movie, some out-of-work theater students have opened a business called the Cyrano Agency, that -- via very elaborate (and costly!) set-ups -- helps its clients win the girl or boy of their dreams.

In a way, the movie does the exact opposite of the recent French film Heartbreaker, in which the business was dedicated, in the same elaborate, costly way, to breaking up the couple instead of bringing it together. The movie has a fascinating arc. At roughly the 15-20 minute mark, it appears to be over -- with its couple firmly in love and that happy ending upon us. Ah, but then we have a new client, a young, cute, smart hedge fund manager (shown at top, with flowers) who's tongue-tied around the girl he wants to love. Except that this girl, below, happens to be the "ex" of the boss of the Cyrano Agency (above), a no-longer-so-young man who once staged that very play in a theater. Suddenly we have our own Cyrano situation being acted out in earnest and in modern dress.

The delightful, surprising, ironic and funny changes the movie manages to ring on the play itself are almost all for the good, and the young cast is more than up to the task. And while the movie is often laugh-out-loud funny, it also tweaks the tear ducts now and again because its theme of how love rarely works out to suit both parties (one of his helpers at the agency pines badly for her boss, who is still carrying that torch for his ex).

There is also a kindness, a sweetness to Christian in this movie that has been missing from literally every production of Cyrano that I've ever seen. This adds immeasurably to our pleasure, as well as our sadness in knowing that someone here is going to be very disappointed. And yet the movie holds true to its source, while finding a way to make everyone happy. The ending is delicious, with a magic moment that manages to break the fourth wall. Is this the best Cyrano ever? Maybe. Which means, by any standard, that this is a very good film. Come early; it's bound to be crowded.

TM will try to report on both these upcoming films in the weeks ahead. For now I'll just give you the information that the publicist sent me....

Tuesday, March 27, 7pm (New York Premiere, 2009)
Opening at number one, and staying in the box office top ten for nine straight weeks, MY GIRLFRIEND IS AN AGENT is the Korean version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Kim Ha-Neul gets dumped by her boyfriend, Kang Ji-Hwan, because she’s never around. Actually, she’s a spy. Three years later, he runs into her again, only now he’s also joined the intelligence service too, albeit in a different department. Now they both have undercover identities they both have to keep hidden and they’ve got secret missions they both have to fulfill, while working out the trauma of their past relationship. Full of high-speed chases and plenty of glossy gunplay, it’s easy to see why a movie this fast on its feet is already slated for a Bollywood remake.

Tuesday, April 10, 7pm
PETTY ROMANCE (New York premiere, 2010)
A word-of-mouth hit in 2010, this romance is set in the world of manhwa (Korean comic books), and the couple at the center of the story have chemistry to burn. TV star Lee Seon-Gyun is a struggling manhwa artist who enters a competition with a massive cash prize. To raise his chances of winning, he hires a sex advice columnist, Choi Gang-Heui (star of the breakout hit, My Scary Girl), to write his erotic comic. Little does he know that she plagiarized her column from the Kama Sutra and the Kinsey Report because her ideas about sex are a bit…vague, to put it kindly. PETTY ROMANCE been winning hearts and minds on the film festival circuit for a year and it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Korean Movie Night
March 13, 2012 through April 10, 2012
Every other Tuesday @ 7pm at Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street, on the corner of Canal Street
one block from the A, C, E and 1 train Canal Street stops)

Price: Free!

All seating is first-come, first served.
Doors open at

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