Hancinemas Film Review Road To Utah

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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Road to Utah"

A Korean man (played by Lee Jin-wook) and a Korean woman (played by Ryu Hye-young) meet up at an online suicide forum. Together they end up deciding, somewhat arbitrarily, that they want to die on an island in Utah, starting from Los Angeles and driving eastwards. They have not planned this trip very well, though they definitely want to kill themselves, so the journey is fraught with self-imposed obstacles as they keep getting stuck along the way.

"Road to Utah" isn't quite a comedy or a drama, vacillating, as the lead characters do, between these two states of mind. The chemistry of the lead actors is defined mainly by the irony of their mutually critical demeanors. A rule is set early on about how they aren't supposed to discuss their motivations, or even their names. This limits the scope of their conversations, so the two end up hunting for other random topics of discussion in the wilderness.

[HanCinema's Film Review]
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[HanCinema's Film Review] "My Little Baby, Jaya"

The exploitation film is lurid for the sake of being lurid, enticing viewers with the promise that twisted depraved people will meet twisted depraved ends in the name of morose justice. The social awareness film, by contrast, seeks to make some sort of serious commentary about horrible unseen problems in daily life. "My Little Baby, Jaya" tries to be both of these things, with mixed success.

All right, I'll be honest. I kind of sort of hated "My Little Baby, Jaya" for nearly the entire runtime. We start out with Jaya (played by Oh Ye-seol) killing herself. Also her single dad Won-sool (played by Kim Jeong-gyoon) has cerebral palsy. High school bullying and cerebral palsy are conceivably interesting topics in their own right but undermine each other here. Considering Won-sool's cerebral palsy is at least partially why he couldn't do anything about Jaya's bullying, that kind of gives the impression that the social workers we see trying to take Jaya away as a kid had a point.

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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Marianne and Margaret"

Back in 1962, Marianne Suede and Margaret Pisarek came to the obscure island of Sorok, way on the southern tip of Korea from their home country of Austria. As nuns, Marianne Suede and Margaret Pisarek were driven by their desire to do good works for the less fortunate, and came to Sorok Island to care for the sick. That's pretty much all they did for forty four years. Then they went back to Austria, spending the rest of their days in a nursing home.

All I could really get from "Marianne and Margaret" was that they were decent human beings who devoted themselves to public service. Even now I struggle to try and describe how Marianne Suede and Margaret Pisarek even differ from each other very much. Aside from the minutae of their lives in Austria, as described by director Yoon Se-young, they're just a couple of random foreigners who were very concerned about the welfare of the people on Sorok Island.

[Guest Film Review]
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[Guest Film Review] "Mrs. B. A North Korean Woman"

Winner of the Best Film of the Documentary Competition in Moscow and Best International Documentary Film in Zurich Film, "Mrs B" is a very impressive documentary, shot in true guerilla style.

Jero Yun was conducting a research for North Korean refugees in China for his previous film, "Looking for North Koreans" and spent time with a network of smugglers working between North Korea, China, South Korea and the United States. That is where he met Mrs. B. (whose actual name is not mentioned in the film), who put him in contact with North Korean refugees living clandestinely in China, and eventually in her farm where she told him her story, thus becoming the focus of this film.

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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Suh-Suh Pyoung, Slowly and Peacefully"

Elizabeth Johanna Shepping's mother came to the United States in search of opportunity. That did not end well. After a disaffected childhood where she was used to having no friends, Shepping eventually moved back in with her mother and stepfather, only to have a falling out over religious differences. In her quest for salvation, Shepping eventually settles upon colonial Korea as the outlet for her work, adopting the Korean name Suh Pyoung in order to better fit in.

It's quite an appropriate title- literally meaning something like "reading instructor", Suh Pyoung made it her life's work to teach as many people as possible, particularly women and orphans, how to read. Hence the religious falling out with her Catholic mother, who did not see direct understanding of Scripture as relevant to salvation. But with every step Shepping makes in Korea, her ideals are vindicated. The people there need her.