Film Review The Handmaiden

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[Guest Film Review] "Breath"

Kim Ki-duk's fourteenth film screened in festivals all over the world, found distribution in a number of countries and was nominated for the Palme d'Or.

Joo-yeon is an unhappily married sculptor and mother, who finds out that her husband has an affair. On a whim, and after watching on the news the case of a man on the death row who has committed suicide twice, she decides to visit him. The first visit is almost typical, but starting with the second one, she begins decorating the visiting room with wallpaper and singing songs to him that correspond to a different season. Furthermore, each time she shares a very intimate story with him and leaves him a picture of hers. The two of them start falling in love, but have to face a number of issues, apart from the obvious: He a fellow inmate, who has feelings for him and his jealousy makes him go to extremes to obstruct their relationship and she her husband, who finds out about her and eventually becomes violent.

[HanCinema's Film Review]
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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Delta Boys"

Il-rok (played by Baek Seung-hwan-I) is a soft-spoken machinist who eats ramen three times a day and somehow still has washboard abs. Anyway, at the beginning of "Delta Boys" he's hanging out with his old friend Ye-geon (played by Lee Wong-bin) who has just come back from a long stint in the United States. We can tell because Ye-geon is constantly inserting gangsta style English into his Korean sentences. This is intended to impress the people around him, but mostly all Ye-geon does is annoy them.

[HanCinema's Film Review]
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[HanCinema's Film Review] "Yongsoon"

Yongsoon (played by Lee Soo-kyeong-I) is a generally crabby teenager. She lives in the middle of nowhere, resents the childhood loss of her mother (played by Lee Wun-woo), is mad about the apparent indifference of her father (played by Choi Deok-moon), and has ultimately decided the best way to spend her time right now is away from home. It is from this backdrop that Yongsoon decides to join the summer running squad, and it is in this capacity that she becomes close to her coach (played by Park Keun-rok). That doesn't end well, as it gives Yongsoon a weapon with which to further badger people.

[HanCinema's Film Review]
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[HanCinema's Film Review] "The Villainess"

The opening scene of "The Villainess" has the deeply unsettling look of a video game. Specifically, first-person shooters, which require the perfect mix of head shots and anticipation of predictable AI behavior necessary to get through the few dozen mooks that stand between you and the next level. The sense of discomfort is further heightened by how obviously human all the various stuntpeople in this movie are. So for this, and all subsequent action scenes, horrified as I was by the unbroken chain of grotesque violence, my eyes were glued wide open in sheer overwhelming shock.

[HanCinema's Film Review]
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[HanCinema's Film Review] "I Am a Cat"

The story of "I Am a Cat", narrated rather winsomely by Kang Min-hyuk, is about how cats are adorable and our friends, and how we are lucky to live in a world where kind-hearted volunteers provide the services necessary for cats to live as our neighbors. There are interviews detailing what this care entails. There are also cat photographers, who dedicate their lives to catching cats in their most natural moments, recording them for posterity.

And that's where "I Am a Cat" has a point that is somewhat distinct from, say, whatever cat pictures or videos you are likely to already have seen as general Internet distractions. Cats in East Asia predominantly live outside. Housecats are relatively rare, so the Korean cat, in motion, is a predator and scavenger who avoids human contact. Even the regular promise of food is often not enough to cajole them into easy petting distance.