Hancinemas Film Review Dances With The Wind

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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Dances with the Wind"

What is the purpose of artistic interpretive dance? That's kind of an unfairly open-ended question. You might as well ask what the purpose of art is. Nonetheless, director Choi Sang-jin attempts to answer this question by looking over the life of Lee Sam-heon, a man who once dreamed of ballet. Lee Sam-heon modified his ambitions in response to the Gwangju Uprising, having concluded that the power of artistic interpretive dance can and should be used to further the cause of social justice.

In general I don't like the idea of social messaging in media, mostly because the usual dumb thinkpieces completely lose sight of how most of our entertainment is an explicitly commercial enterprise intended to sell merchandise. "Dances with the Wind" is a weird case in that Lee Sam-heon abandoned the possibility of media respectability in order to stage complicated traditional Korean shaman style dances at political rallies. If you've ever been to a South Korean leftist political rally and saw a guy dancing, it was probably him.

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[Guest Film Review] "Faceless Beauty"

Kim In-sik's second and last film takes a rather strange approach to the concept of hypnosis and psychiatry in general, through an even stranger narrative.

Ji-soo is a woman committed to a psychiatric hospital after she experiences a nervous breakdown. Seok-won, the psychiatrist who is treating her diagnoses a Borderline Personality Disorder. A bit later, both of them leave the hospital, Ji-soo to continue her life with her adulterer husband, Min-seok, and Seok-won to open his own practice, after a tragedy involving his wife. One year later, the two of them meet again by accident and they agree on a treatment plan, as they also become friends. Through hypnosis, Seok-won manages to steady her, but as he learns the facts of her life, he starts losing himself and gradually becomes obsessed with her. At the same time, her husband's guilt for his behaviour starts getting the better of him.

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[HanCinema's Film Review] "3xFTM"

The title of "3xFTM" at first probably looks like random gibberish. But director Kim Il-rhan explains in short order what they stand for- 3 examples of Female to Male. That is, "3xFTM" is the story of three transgender individuals living in South Korea in the mid two thousands. Technology is just on the cusp of being able to make gender transition a reality for everyone. Until that time comes, though, they just muddle about their daily lives as men.

"3xFTM", is, in a word boring. This is pretty clearly intentional. In stark contrast to Harisu, who normalized transgender identities by being an attractive tv personality, the transgender men in "3xFTM" are very schlubby, average looking, and at points even unattractive. Sure, they're all very nice. They have great personalities. And they have man boobs that are actually woman boobs.

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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Our President"

You might know Roh Moo-hyun as the pre Park Geun-hye president that got impeached. Or as the guy who gave North Korea nuclear weapons. Or as the leftist human rights lawyer whose incompetency prompted two conservative administrations. Or as the ex-president who killed himself over bribery allegations. But South Koreans, and particularly the South Korean left, venerate him as a hero. Although "Our President" contains almost no detail about Roh Moo-hyun's actual presidency, having watched this documentary, now I know why.

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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Biting Fly"

Hae-wook (played by Kim Jin-woo) is a government employee who stumbles upon an interesting financial venture. Apparently, for the small price of putting up all your real property as collateral, an investment will return a healthy amount of money into your bank account on a regular basis. Hae-wook tells his family about the project and...well, it doesn't go well. As the saying goes, if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

"Biting Fly" is at its most powerful when it's forcing us to look at the very real, human element of scam victims, and note how these financial scams destroy lives. Jeong In-gi gives a supremely powerful performance as Hae-wook's father, Man-sik, who just sells produce for a living and doesn't really know anything about finances. So he trusts that people who wear suits and have resumes know what they're talking about and that the government wouldn't allow them to make bald-faced lies so blatantly.