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*OFFICIAL* Jung So Min Confirmed Dating And Her Boyfriend Is?
Korean , Imported Total admissions: During a drunken mash-up with his buddies, his best friend Ki-sang Yook Sang-yup: Next day, Hyuk-jin arrives at Jeongseon only to find himself stranded without his friends. He reluctantly spends the night in the town, in a wrong guest house, as it turns out. To add insult to injury, his awkward attempt to "pick up" the next-door neighbor Kim Kang-hee results in an ego-damaging brush-off by her thuggish companion Tak Seong-joon. But Hyuk-jin's troubles are far from over, as the weird locals he encounters, including a motor-mouthed woman with nasty temper Lee Ran-hee and a good-natured truck driver Sin Woon-seop , begin to pose threat not only to his financial security and mental stability but perhaps to his chastity? Filmed extremely cheaply with the total budget allegedly under 10 million won over a couple of years by director Noh Young-seok with zero film-school background, Daytime Drinking won an audience award at the Jeonju Film Festival and landed a robust distribution deal, even though its box office performance did not measure up to the mind-boggling success of Old Partner, another extreme low-budget indie feature. Daytime Drinking is definitely not a good showcase of filmmaking skills on the part of director Noh: For instance, the camera seems to have trouble keeping a proper focus in some distant shots, resulting in blurred edges, as if we are seeing them through an opaque window. What's funny is that these scenes, usually showing Hyun-sik stranded in the middle of nowhere, make him, in the context of this rough-and-tumble but strangely charming flick, appear sunk in the middle of a fish bowl, amusingly illustrating the character's exasperation and, shall we say, dork-ish qualities. The film is full of these even-its-goofs-are-hilarious moments. Outwardly Daytime Drinking could be mistaken for a low-octane parody of a Hong Sang-soo film the main characters swig hard liquor like whales in both cases: Song Sam-dong as Hyuk-jin, even though barely "acting" in the technical sense, serves as the perfect foil for the languorously surreal characters he runs into. Even when the troubles keep piling up, the doofus kid always stays one-and-a-half steps behind the right response, making his expression of slow-burn befuddlement, when done right, both droll and sympathetic. The film only loses its bearing in the last thirty minutes or so, when Hyuk-jin finally meets up with Ki-sang and visits the "right" "pension. I wish the movie had a more dynamic, emotionally cathartic resolution that shows Hyuk-jin actively taking some initiatives against his tormentors. I guess he does a tiny bit of that, off-screen Daytime Drinking may not be an earth-shaking masterpiece, but Noh Young-seok's no-budget comedy has its heart in the right place, and richly deserves the praise it has garnered from the viewers. Be careful not to be ambushed by the film's end-credit music, also composed by director Noh a la John Carpenter. It's a sort of techno-ppongjjak, like ballroom muzak played for International Conference of the Organ Grinder's Monkey Association: I warn you, you won't be able to get it out of your brain once you heard it. A bad gambling habit, however, ruins him financially. He gets willy-nilly recruited into a dope courier job for the gangster President Kang Jo Jae-hyun, Hanbando , Romance. The task seems to involve swimming past the Korea-Japan border with a string of bags filled with dope inside your intestines As I had suspected it would, the movie milks this set-up for ca-ca jokes, so sensitive viewers beware. Kang is obsessed with his former colleague's daughter, a fruit tart named Yuri Park Si-yeon, Dazimawa Lee , and naturally she and Cheon-soo fall in love with each other, after sharing several cosmetics-commercial moments of cocky stares and pouty insults. Marine Boy is a typical commercial "action film" being turned out with a sense of foot-dragging futility by the Korean industry these days. It takes a premise and a plot vaguely reminiscent of a '70s or '80s Hollywood action thriller this time, it's Peter Benchley's The Deep, itself more than a little schlocky and illogical and tries to update them with slick visuals imported from TV commercials, while "Koreanizing" the characters by burdening them with arch-melodramatic gestures, dialogues and motivations. Jo Jae-hyun and Lee Won-jong, both terrific actors, try gamely to bring some verve and finesse to their roles that seem to be defined more by their Kyongsang Province accents than anything else. Director Yun Jong-seok, like many Korean debut directors, is competent if not inspired, and knows how to wrangle camera angle and editing to keep the pace up. Unfortunately, the ridiculously convoluted plot and motivations quickly drag down the proceedings. Park Si-yeon, foxily charming in Dazimawa Lee, here has to grapple with a role that cannot decide if Yuri is just a spoiled brat with a drug problem or a manipulative femme fatale. And wasn't she supposed to be a serious addict? Or maybe that was a put-on, too, since we never see her once without looking like she just stepped out of a Vogue photo spread. I suppose since she and Cheon-soo got to sip Pina Colada at Palua in the end, we shouldn't be asking these niggardly questions. As for Kim Kang-woo, I still like his wild-cat hauteur with a dash of vulnerability, but he really should fire his agent or just stay away from whoever it is that advises him on choosing scripts. I think I would have been more charitable to Marine Boy if it, like The Deep, at least had a good sense to regale us with beautiful underwater footage. But no, the movie wastes most of its running time among boring characters jawing unconvincing one-liners and "tough guy talks," ensconced in chi-chi apartment living rooms, or seated in fancy cars barking into cell phones. Where is "marine" in Marine Boy? Frankly, who gives a sardine's fin if President Kang is in love with Yuri? Was that the point of this alleged "action film? I somehow doubt that's what this movie's crew and cast had in mind while making it. Second, Sang-in quits his high-end stockbroker job so that he can devote himself to his lifelong dream of running a fancy restaurant. Third, while shopping for an anniversary gift for Sang-in, Mo-rae sneaks into a closed gallery, where she encounters another illicit visitor -- a very handsome young man with whom she hides when the gallery owner turns up. Mo-rae, overcome by heat and dizziness, has a sudden sexual encounter with the stranger, who then vanishes. Fourth, Sang-in tells Mo-rae over dinner that he's expecting a mentor to help him plan the menu for his dream restaurant: Fifth, you guessed it: Park Du-re Ju Ji-Hoon, Antique, Princess Hours , the French-Korean mentor, turns out to be Mo-rae's zipless stranger, who now will be staying with the young couple, sleeping in the room that had belonged to Sang-in's late mother. From there the story goes about as you would expect. Mo-rae is powerfully drawn to the seductive Du-re while Sang-in gets cooking lessons from him. Eventually everything comes crashing down, but Kitchen is a comedy, so it turns out all right in the end. The official English title of this movie is The Naked Kitchen, but it's a cheap tease, since nobody gets naked, even metaphorically. This is a very buttoned-up movie. The Korean title is nothing but the English word Kitchen, so that's what I'll call it here. Kitchen didn't do well at all, which is surprising since it features three bankable stars. It wasn't even noticed as a coming release here at Koreanfilm. I wouldn't have known about it if it hadn't been featured in a book-length survey of Korean movies for , which gave some idea of its visual appeal and emotional dynamics, so I picked up the DVD. First-time director Hong Ji-young made a very pretty movie, her cast turned in fine performances. So what is wrong? If not for the fact that not many other people liked it either, I'd guess my lack of enthusiasm for Kitchen was just my personal hangup. First, I suspect someone loved Jean-Pierre Jeunet's hit Amelie, a movie I hated for the way it reveled in its own cuteness - so if you liked Amelie, maybe you should give Kitchen a try. Shin Min-a seems to be channeling Audrey Toutou, and has been made up and coiffed to recall her perky obnoxiousness. The soundtrack slathers on a Parisian-style waltz, Sang-in's restaurant will feature a Korean-French fusion cuisine, and of course Du-re is a French-Korean adoptee. The food is a major character in the movie, with lots of close-ups of yummy-looking table spreads. Under all the Francophile syrup there are interesting characters. Mo-rae and Sang-in have been friends since childhood. He didn't mind that she followed him around, calling him hyung or Big Brother though Korean girls are supposed to call their older brothers oppa , and their marital relationship is an odd but appealing mix of hot sex and best buddies. The script explores this intelligently, as when Mo-rae tells Du-re, "To me, love doesn't mean much. Not because I don't love someone, or love more someone else. I'm just trying to be me. There's a hint that Sang-in and Du-re had an affair when they met in France; when Sang-in shows Du-re his room, Du-re asks him to spend the night with him. Sang-in begs off awkwardly: I have a wife. It always draws back to the pretty surface. In this it suffers by comparison with the far superior Wanee and Junah Kim Yong-gyoon, , which shares some of its topics: Kitchen just frustrates me, though; because it falls so far short of what it might have been. The film seems torn between taking chances and playing it safe, and playing it safe didn't help either artistically or at the box office. Duncan Mitchel Handphone A warning: That type of film must meet several conditions. First and foremost, we should be able to feel for its protagonist. Conversely, the piece's villain should brook no sympathy. The violence the good guy employs against the villain must be clean-cut, not messy like one we see in real life. Handphone ignores these conditions. In fact, it gleefully violates them. Seung-min the entertainment agent, the film's alleged hero, is not someone we would voluntarily feel any sympathy toward. He is shallow, low-rent and lacking in conscience. Yi-gyu, who accidentally picks up Seung-min's cell phone and decides to blackmail him, is, on the other hand, someone easier for us to root for. Yi-gyu is slowly crumbling under the pressure of working life, unlike Seung-min, whose shallow character seems to actually enhance his ability to navigate through the treacherous waters of his profession. The film is aware of this contrast, and puts Yi-gyu through a wringer to prove its point. Naturally, the violence eventually sparked between these two disturbed characters does not help the viewers whatsoever in reducing the latter's stress. Well, what can I say? Handphone is masochistic, cynical and ultimately misanthropic. Few characters in this film are mentally stable or morally upright. Most of them are seriously flawed in one way or another: Of course, since Handphone's hateful depiction of humanity is based on the relational dynamics of the Korean society as well as the stereotypes of its members, we might accept that the scope of its misanthropy is limited to those whom we see around us. Whatever the director originally intended with all this is rather beside the point. How does Handphone stack up as a thriller? Its structure is rather loose. The cell phone in question can only do so much as a multi-purpose McGuffin. The filmmakers eventually resort to improbable coincidences and a bit of cheating. As in his previous film Paradise Murders, director Kim Han-min does not quite know when to end the movie.
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