An Introduction to the ‘Korean New Wave’

Out of all the media I have consumed, nothing compares to the roller coaster of excitement that is seeing a new film out of Korea. After a turbulent 20th century (and even during the 20th century), the pennisula has produced some of the most celebrated films of recent memory.

My aim is to create a short guide that you might benefit from viewing first as you delve in to Korean Cinema. These films are often the most accessible foreign language films available and simply wonderful to watch.

The Good The Bad The Weird directed by Jee-woon Kim (2008)

Korean New Wave

Who doesn’t love a good Western? The Good the Bad the Weird is a Korean Western set in the 1930s in the former Japanese province of Mantruria. Two outlaws, a bounty hunter, and a whole host of others set out to posess a treasure map.

This film has got it all! Shoot outs, fight scenes, epic chases, Barbarians with hammers, you name it!

The Good the Bad the Weird succeeds in delivering a classic genre film in a truly unique way. It is funny, supenseful, and full of heart. I would recommend starting with this film first because it perfectly encapsulates what is so great about the Korean New Wave.

Train to Busan directed by Sang-ho Yeon (2016)

Korean New Wave

When is the last time you were actually emotionally invested in a Zombie movie? Wait no longer! Train to Busan is the story of a group a passengers survining the outbreak of the Zombie virus while stuck on a train from Seoul to Busan.

At its core, the film hangs on the relationship between the two leads, a father and young daughter. It keeps you emotionally involved throughout the entire film. It is very touching and saying more would ruin the film.

The zombie stuff is still awesome! It is the only film that I know of where you can watch someone puch Zombies to death!

Joint Security Area directed by Park Chanwook (2000)

Korean New Wave

Joint Security Area is the story of an investigation of a shootout in the DMZ between North and South Korea. Instead of uncovering malice and hatred, they uncover the tale of tragic friendship.

Joint Security Area is one of the best dramas I have ever seen. It is poignant and eternally relevant. The film is powerful and stays with you forever.

You can read more about my thoughts on it here.

Korean New Wave

I hope this will serve as a useful guide to start on your journey with Korean Film. There are still many wonderful films premiering every year, so don’t miss out on the fun of the Korean New Wave!

Thanks for reading!

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Best Films of 2018

2018 was a pretty mediocre year for film. Luckily, it was not all bad and there were some diamonds in the rough. I present to you my favorite films of 2018.

Isle of Dogs

films of 2018

Isle of Dogs is another charming entry in Wes Anderson’s career. It is a technical marvel with a heart. Read more of what I thought here.

Hold the Dark

Hold the Dark is Jeremy Saulnier’s latest and most brutal film yet. It reminds me a lot of Cormac McCarthy’s writing with its sparse dialogue and harsh landscape.

The performances were excellent. A lot of restraint was used and I appreciate that.

This film has the most intense scene that I have seen in along time (you will know it when you see it) and had me at the edge of my seat.

The film would have looked great in a theater, but it still looked good at home. I’m not heartbroken with the way distribution is moving. Not everyone lives in LA or NY and it is nice to be able to watch things closer to the release.

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn

films of 2018

As you may or not know, I am an evangelist for Jim Hosking. I’ve forced The Greasy Strangler on far too many people at this point. When I heard that Hosking made another film, I couldn’t be there fast enough.

An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn is not what you would expect. It is still weird, awkward, and vulgar, but it is also sweet and heartwarming. At its core, the film is a touching love story. It just happens to be with a bunch of weirdos.

I applaud of Jim Hosking for doing something different and surprising me!

The Favourite

films of 2018
Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman in the film THE FAVOURITE. Photo by Yorgos Lanthimos. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

The Favourite is undisputedly my favorite Yorgos Lanthimos film. It has everything you could want in a film and then some. The dialogue is amazing, the shots are magical, and the actors are at the top of their game.

Rachel Weisz please call me.

Thanks for reading! I know I probably left out some stuff. Check out my Letterboxd list (which will be updated) and subscribe to my blog for email updates!

The Human Condition Trilogy

The Human Condition is Masaki Kobayashi’s harrowing ten-hour trilogy about a Japanese pacifist in WWII.

The films are beautiful, heartbreaking, and a true testament to the human spirit.

No Greater Love

human condition

We meet Kaji, our protagonist, as he contemplates the upcoming war. He gets married to his sweetheart Michiko despite his worry for the future. His luck seems to change when he gets exempted from the draft and gets a job managing a labor camp in Japanese occupied Manchuria.

human condition

The labor camp is a very interesting setting both narratively and visually. The rolling hills of dirt are not the epic location you think of when of WWII. However, after watching the film, I cannot help, but think of them whenever I imagine the Eastern Front.

At the camp, it is very clear that they are under staffed and overworked. The Manchu workers themselves are worked to death and there is every incentive to do just that. Kaji insists are treating the workers like human beings, but his superiors blow him off.

But, things aren’t that bad until the POWs arrive.

The Military Police orders that the POWS be kept behind an electric fence. Things slowly deteriorate and some of the POW are accused of crimes they didn’t commit. Kaji tries to strand up for them, but they are still executed.

Kaji is taken to prison, interrogated, tortured, and then drafted into the military.

Road to Eternity

human condition

Kaji fares well in the military. He is a model solider, but is under constant suspicion because of his past.

This film was the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. The Private Pyle subplot was completely lifted from Road to Eternity and many shots look very similar.

After training, Kaji gets sent out to the front and combat deeply changes him. After the vast majority of his unit is wiped out in his first battle he is desperate to make it back to his wife.

A Soldier’s Prayer

human condition

Kaji and two other soldiers make the arduous journey back towards friendly territory. Along the way they see what the war has done to the land.

This is definitely the most heartbreaking of the three. Eventually, Kaji is captured by the Soviets and works at a labor camp in a situation that mirrors the first film. The situation is even worse than when they were wandering in the middle of nowhere.

Kaji tries to advocate for himself and his people with the Soviets, but it is no use. Eventually he escapes and vanishes in the snow.

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I intentionally glossed over some major points in the film. You should definitely check it out! These are some of the most important films ever made and are (for at least now) my favorite films.

The Human Condition shows us the evil of war and ideology, but also gives us hope for a better future.

The trilogy is available to watch (in some form) on Filmstruck, Amazon, and YouTube.

Thanks for reading! Remember to subscribe to this blog and my email list to never miss a post!

 

Chronicles of Weeaboo- Chapter 3

Another episode of The Chronicles of Weeaboo has been completed!

Read about Chapter 1.
Read about Chapter 2.

This one was especially interesting because I couldn’t get all the locations I wanted. Luckily, I found a soultion that worked better!

In this episode, Wally recieves help from a familar face that puts him back on track for his adventure.

I hope you enjoy it!

Special thanks to Trisha Wheeler for awesome performance as Kyoko!

Happy Lizards

Last week while watering my plants, I came across a little group of lizards (Carolina Anoles) sunning in a patch of kudzu.

This is a pretty ordinary sight around my house, but the lizards were in absolute bliss in the warmth. They stretched and turned to get every inch of their skin in the light.

Luckily, I got my camera in time to capture the experience in 24 fps.

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I’m really grateful to live in a time where people can share these experiences so quickly and in high quality with one another.

Check out The Nerdy Naturalist for more of my wildlife stuff. If you like the content, please considering donating to the Patreon.

Please follow me a on this blog nd join my email list, so you never miss a post!

The Chronicles of Weeaboo- Chapter 2

Read about Chapter 1. 
Read about Chapter 3. 

I didn’t have a chance to write about the newest episode of The Chronicles of Weeaboo when it was released, so now is a as good a time as any.

The premise of this episode is interesting to say the least.

Wally (Jack Kujo) tries to buy a mech suit from Jeff (Walker Harris), but gets his car stolen and discovers a dark secret.

Production started off rough with Jack and I being stranded on the side of highway.

The rest in the went well though thanks to my awesome team! Jack and Walker are great actors (and crew when necessary).

I hope you all enjoy it.

The Chronicles of Weeaboo

Last week, I released the first episode of a web series that I created with my friend, Jack Kujo.

The Chronicles of Weeaboo follows Wally Smith on his quest to save his waifu. The whole series is an absurdist romp through Otaku culture and self ignorance.

Loosely inspired by a video we made together a few months ago, we aim to make something new by combing elements from disparate forms of media and our own warped sense of humor.

We are filming the series as our schedule allows, so please be patient with us!

Subscribe to Dysfunctional Films to keep up to date!

 

 

 

 

Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent, is the first feature film to be entirely painted. While this achievement is momentous enough to receive attention, the underlying story of the film and its production is even more magnificent!

Loving Vincent Review

The film started out as a simple idea in the mind of co-director Dorota Kobiela. She had been reading the letters of Vincent van Gogh and fell in love with them. She decided that she should make a short film about the famous artist, hand painting each frame herself.

After receiving a grant for the short,  Kobiela started working for BreakThru Studios as an animator and a concept artist. There she met the other co-director of the film, Hugh Welchman who thought her short might have more potential as a feature film. 

The film is an interesting combination of CGI and oil-paintings that bring the world of Van Gogh’s paintings to life.

Loving Vincent Review

To achieve this stunning look, the filmmakers separated the animation process from the painting process. They would shoot reference footage of the actors against a green screen, then the artists would paint the actors and the background into the scene frame by frame.

The distortion of Van Gogh’s original paintings proved to become an issue for film translation. A post production team was on set throughout principal photography to ensure that the footage shot would actually be usable.

Aside from the spectacle of the visuals, the story of Loving Vincent, is what distinguishes the film from other biopics like it. The film follows the aftermath a year after Vincent van Gogh’s suicide. We only get glimpses at the artists through the eyes of other people, but doesn’t make him any less sympathetic or what he did any less sad.

Loving Vincent Review

We see how it affected the residents of the artist’s final destination and the people who were closest to him. Whoever they were, his death affected them greatly.

The most valuable thing about Loving Vincent, is not the dazzling visuals; it is the added dimension we receive the a great man like Vincent van Gogh. Throughout the film, the viewer witnesses pivotal moments in the artist’s life that shaped him and perhaps destroyed him.

What did you think of the film? Do you have any suggestions for what film I should watch next?

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Why Make Films?

Film is a popular industry. People pay billions of dollars every year to essentially sit in front of a large piece of fabric and watch images flicker by quickly. Why is that?

In this rational, scientific age Film seems the be the only form of magic left in the world. It entrances, inspires, and even bewilders us. The Federal government even archives these mystical images for future generations to behold.

Why people watch films varies from person to person. Some people enjoy a spectacle, some want to learn something, and others simply want to past the time.

Stranger still, some people dedicate their entire lives to creating images for other people to watch. Do they do it for the money? Why else would they do it?

The art of Filmmaking has seduced geniuses, idiots, saints, and the some of the most evil people in history to its siren song. This is why.

Creating New A World

“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.”

-Stanley Kubrick

Fictional world-building has existed long before the invention of the camera, but it has never been so real and awe-inspiring.

Why Film?

A film can transport you across time and space in a way that no other medium of art can. You experience the world of the film as you experience the majority of the real world; through dynamic sight and sound.

Simple lighting tricks or a different lens can make you totally engrossed into the world of the film/

Even lines drawn by a pen, are perceived as living creatures through the power of Film. Nothing is impossible when it comes to Filmmaking.

Strong Reactions

“Where film is infinitely superior to any other medium is emotion and story and character. ”

-Peter Jackson

I love music, literature, theater, and various visual arts, but nothing has a stronger effect on me than Film.

Images that cause you to feel real emotion and sounds to reinforce that emotion. Unlike literature or theater, you see,  hear, and feel the story unfold in the way that will have the most impact on you.
Why Film?

Film is all about the audience’s reaction. It is specially crafted to get the desired response. It requires a sort of empathy with the moviegoer that the other arts don’t require.

To be the person that makes the audience laugh, think, or be emotional is a very gratifying position to hold.

Uncovering the Truth

“Photography is truth. The cinema is truth twenty-four times per second.”

-Jean-Luc Godard

I originally wanted to be an ornithologist. I spend hundreds of hours birding and volunteering for bird banding projects. When I made the decision to become a filmmaker instead, I didn’t want to give all that up.

I made my first documentary short about bird banding on Jekyll Island. In my  mind, it was the perfect way the combine both of interests with the added benefit of exposing more people to the awesome work they do.

Why Film?

Documentaries have been some of the most visceral films I have ever seen. They expose the secret world (good and bad) that we live in and let us know what is happening.

Film has the power to expose great causes and information to millions of people. Simply by recording and editing images, you can change the world.

Thanks for stopping by! Why do you think Film is important? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to follow this blog for weekly updates!