The Interview -- would be a documentary that pairs North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il with a South Korea film director and his actress wife that the little dictator first has kidnapped and then "persuades" to make movies up north instead of down south. THE LOVERS AND THE DESPOT takes us back to the 1970s and 80s, while giving us a view of Kim Jong-il that is not quite like anything we've heard or seen.
Rob Cannan (shown below) and Ross Adam (shown at left), little Jong-il comes off nothing much like the man his better (or was it worse?) father, Kim Il-sung, but maybe slightly better (worse?) than his own son, successor and current ruler, Kim Jong-un. Because what we outsiders can learn and understand about this little country that has for decades been shrouded in secrecy remains so paltry -- also so uncertain:
Shin Sang-ok (above), though the two, I think, were already divorced by now (turns out that Mr. Shin was an unfaithful hubby), and the couple had two adopted children (whom we see and hear from throughout the doc). Shin, bereft at the loss of his leading lady (and maybe still his love), gets depressed and can't find work at home, so when rumors arise of this possible North Korean kidnapping of Choi, he somehow arranges for himself to be "kidnapped," too, so he can join his woman.
Under the Sun and Songs From the North) about this hidden little country: parades, awards, ballet classes, and the ever-conforming populace involved in group displays of pride, joy or grief when the dictator dies. (We're told here that, if one's grief did not seem real enough, one could be "disappeared.") All of which underscores the sense that nothing -- not now, not then -- comes out of North Korea that is not micro-managed.
Magnolia Pictures, The Lovers and the Despot -- in Korean, Japanese and English, with English subtitles when needed -- runs 98 minutes. It opens this Friday, September 23, in New York City, Washington DC, the Los Angeles area, Boston, and Philadephia, with further expansion across the country in the weeks to come. Click here and then click on GET TICKETS to see all currently scheduled playdates, with cities and theaters listed.