Are you a collector? Do you willy-nilly collect every piece of your favorite actor’s work without pausing to check if the piece is worth the collecting? Are you also an optimist? A movie title such as “Haunters” should stop you in your tracks since you shun anything remotely suggestive of horror, but now you pick up the DVD with an ear-to-ear grin, sure in your newly acquired bravado. Ghostly movie or not, I shall watch this just for you, Kang Dong-won!

Alas. At the one-hour mark I begin what the lizards in my room call The Thundie Wiggle. I stretch, I scrutinize the ceiling for cobwebs, I slap my face in four places.

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[K-movie scribbles] Maundy Thursday

[The fourth quarter of the year is when life gets pretty hectic for me. At the same time, though, I don’t want to neglect the blog. How to reconcile the two? I mulled over the matter for a few days and realized that this could be the push I need to finally publish the dozens of drafts that I have accumulated. When I started the blog, my intent was simply to park in one place the mini-reviews I’ve written over the years. But being anal-retentive, I wanted to revisit the dramas and movies so that I could polish the drafts to death and made them fit for consumption. However, with so many dramas vying for my time, that intent is not going to be realized, not till 2020! So I’ve decided, what the hell, I will just publish the pieces now. Consider these scribbles of yore (short, incomplete, disjointed) as pages from a notebook, the emotions in them oft-times unprocessed because they were mostly written as soon as I finished the drama or movie. Some are on specific episodes or scenes; I will tell you if I’m giving away major spoilers. Thanks for reading!]

Maundy Thursday (2006)

I really love the movie, especially the second half which starts from the part where Yu-jeong (Lee Na-young) is telling Yun-soo (Kang Dong-won) about her past.


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Favorite Male Roles (Part 1)

Today’s a wonderful day because one of my favorite stars was discharged from the army. It makes me so happy to know he’s back!

I’ve been thinking about Chun Jung-myung all day and revisiting memories of his past roles. Which of those have I loved the most? One thing led to another and I thought, “Hey, let’s have a poll!” The last (and only) poll on the blog was so very long ago.

Here in random order (except for the first one because today is his day; welcome back!) are twenty actors and seven of their most recent or most prominent roles. Some of them I love ardently, some of them you love ardently. All of them are familiar names, I’m sure.

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Anticipating Jeon Woo Chi

Is it December yet? The reason I’m asking is because around the time the streets and malls are going to be packed with merrymakers and carolers, my most anticipated movie is going to be released.

Why am I so hyped up about Jeon Woo Chi, a film about an ancient Taoist monk teleported into modern Seoul? Well, do you know who’s the male lead? And have you seen him in a period movie? I present Exhibit A below:

See? Now you realize why Duelist reminds me of the following quote by Rumi:

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When a fellow fan of Duelist told me he hated M (2007), my heart sank.

But the more I read people chastising the movie, the more determined I was to like it. Call it childish faith if you will, but Duelist was so perfect in my eyes it was impossible for me to accept that Lee Myung-se could make a bad movie. I read reviews that slammed M for being all style and no substance, for being absurdly difficult to understand. And I told myself, “If I can understand William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, I jolly well am going to understand M.”

Then I watched the movie and after 45 minutes I couldn’t continue. It left me so befuddled I hated it.

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I remember a Christmas day in New Zealand. The weather was perfect, the kind you wanted to bottle up and save for dreary days and moods. Unlike windy days in Wellington, the breeze was gentle that day and the air so crisp I wanted to eat it.

Alone and carefree, I walked up the lane and came to a house that was under construction. Seeing no one around, I stepped recklessly inside. At the end of the hall a large window, paneless, beckoned. I walked close and there, beyond the window, was the whole expanse of sky, sea and hills, as far as my eyes could see, their colors as vivid as my eyes could see. How long did I stand there, rooted to the ground and awestruck?

Christmases have come and gone, but I will always remember that day in Wellington where a sight too wondrous and spiritual for words took my breath away. Not for me carols and crowds and caveats (do this, don’t do this). Show me nature in all its beauty and Christmas may yet regain its meaning for me…

Why am I telling you a travel tale and what does it have to do with a Korean movie? Because watching Duelist (2005), I experienced the same rapturous feelings as I did that day in Wellington.

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Too Beautiful to Lie

I hesitated for several weeks before buying Too Beautiful to Lie (2004) because I’m generally not a fan of Kim Ha-neul’s acting (blame the caterwauling in Piano for a poor first impression). Finally bought it for Kang Dong-won whom I thought was pretty cute in Temptation of Wolves.

The movie turned out to be a hoot. This must be my favorite Kim Ha-neul role yet, much better than My Tutor Friend. (I know, many people think My Tutor Friend rocks, but it didn’t do anything for me… and I did watch it twice just to see if I could at least conform to mainstream opinion but nah.) Too Beautiful to Lie was so funny right from the start, and it maintained its rollicking pace all the way to the end.

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