Saturday, November 27, 2010

The 2010 Blue Dragons. (Plus: Korean Films on Netflix)

The news coming out of Korea these days is upsetting so... let's direct our focus on something beautiful from thereabouts: the movies. The 31st annual Blue Dragon Awards were held this weekend in Seoul. Here are the winners and a few comments. [photo and info sources]

Picture: The Secret Reunion
This is an espionage thriller involving North and South Korean spies. It stars the seemingly ubiquitous Song Kang-ho who you've probably seen if you've ever seen a South Korean picture. He previously starred in the monster flick The Host, the disturbing vampire romance Thirst and the drama Secret Sunshine. The Secret Reunion won the top prize over kidnapping thriller The Man From Nowhere, Moss, epic action flick Woochi and the erotic Cannes drama The Housemaid (a remake of a classic). Lee Chang-dong's awesome Poetry (my review) was not nominated. Apparently he has a rough history with this awards body.
Director: Kang Woo-seok (Moss)
Actor: Jung Jae-young (Moss)
Actress: Yun Jeong-hee (Poetry) and Soo Ae (Late Night FM)
Supporting Actor: Yu Hae-jin (Moss)
Supporting Actress: Yoon Yeo-jung (The Housemaid)

Steamy trailer for The Housemaid starring the brilliant
Do-Yeo Jeon from Secret Sunshine.

New Actor: Choi Seung-hyun also known as T.O.P. (71: Into The Fire)
New Actress: Lee Min-jung (Cyrano Agency)
New Director: Kim Gwang-shik (My Gangster Boyfriend)
Screenplay: Kim Hyun-seok (Cyrano Agency)
Art Direction:
Lee Ha-joon (The Housemaid)
The Secret Reunion
Lighting: I Saw the Devil
Music: Mowg (I Saw the Devil)

Technical Effects: Park Jung-ryul (The Man From Nowhere)
Popularity Awards:
Won Bin, T.O.P., Jo Yeo-jung, Sohn Ye-jin
Box Office Award: The Man From Nowhere

A couple more things just because.

You may remember popular star Won Bin (or Bin Won) from two previous Oscar submissions (Mother, which was released in the US to great acclaim early this year, and Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War). He escorted child star Kim Sae-ron down the red carpet. They co-starred in the Box Office champ The Man From Nowhere which rather confusingly has two separate additional titles depending on which websites you go to. It's also known as Ajusshi and This Man.

This is Soo Ae (Late Nite FM). Either Soo Ae is exceptionally popular as a celebrity or she's a magnificent actress because she somehow tied Jeong Hee-yoon who was so moving as the ailing grandmother in Lee Chang-dong's Poetry (see my review) for "Best Actress".

And like all awards shows they have cheesy musical numbers. Here's KARA performing "Jumping"

Bin Wo
Are any of these films available on Netflix? The answer is "not yet" but you can save the following four to your queues for when they're released: THE HOUSEMAID, POETRY, WOOCHI and THE SECRET REUNION. If you'd like to catch up on recent Korean titles that made something of an international splash try THIRST (instant watch) or MOTHER (instant watch).

Kang-ho Song


Simon said...

I haven't been able to keep up this year, none of the current titles are available yet. Which is a shame, because Poetry looks amazing.


well that's why that "save" feature is a godsend if you have netflix. Because who knows when foreign titles ever open. Best to "save" them when you first become aware of them and be surprised when they show up on your doorstep :)

Unknown said...

oh boy, I've been living in Seoul for 2 years and a half now and really really cannot get into Korean films, not to mention K pop. I am constantly given the bad eye for publicly disliking the latter.

But the worst thing has to be that 50% of the films out in theaters have to be Korean. YUK!

I can only imagine when Black Swan is gonna reach this country.

OtherRobert said...

I, for one, love K-Pop and will have to get a copy of that song somehow. The Korean and Japanese girl group format just fascinates me with the verses broken up into multiple solos. K-Pop doesn't normally use a lot of harmonies, either, so the group is either a wall of sound or separate voices.

The Housemaid looks very interesting based on that trailer. At the very least, it's a pretty film. I want to see Poetry, too, because I'm curious to see how well the two (three, possibly, but the third might be more understated social commentary or context than plot) plotlines mesh considering how far apart they seem in theory. Not that there hasn't been crossover between poetry and violent crimes before, it just seems like an odd blend for a character study.

joy said...

So happy for Yoon Yeo-jeong, truly the lifesaver of "The Housemaid". It's the sixth win for her performance this year and is now only one award shy before complete the awards grand slam in Korea.

Though not as deserving as Jeong Hee-yoon, Soo Ae was indeed terrific in "Midnight FM". Her performances in "Sunny" and "A Family" were also very impressive.

Jin said...

Yavor // That's just simply not true. First, screen quota policy of domestic films in Korea was 33% since 1973, changed to 40% in 1985, and was reduced again to 20% in 2006. Second, FYI, Black Swan is going to be released on February in Korea.


I for one applaud countries which make it a rule that a healthy percentage of their screens go to homegrown product. Countries that don't do this risk losing any cinematic national identity... which is, if you ask me, a horrible horrible thing to lose. Can you imagine if we didn't have French cinema for example? yikes.

Jin said...

In Korea, we don't have the most prestigious, famous, and influential film award like Oscar. Instead, a number of film awards with different bodies and timelines. Grand Bell, Blue Dragon, Korean Film Awards, and Baek Sang Art Awards (with TV, like the Golden Globes) to name a few.

Blue Dragon Awards are considered somehow conservative and sometimes populist. That explains the history between Lee Chang-dong and the awards committee, since he had worked as the minister of culture under the most liberal government we've ever had. Except for blue dragons, Poetry won best picture at all the other major awards and of course, critics awards too. This is a huge deal, because there are a lot of film awards and Korea produces quite a lot of movies, they usually have a tendency to "spread the wealths" to different films in a given year and try to distinguish themselves from other award ceremonies. I guess Poetry was accepted that well. It's also my favorite Korean film of the year too.

Mirko said...

Another very good korean movie I watched this year is CASTAWAYS ON THE MOON directed by Lee Hae-jun, it won the two main prizes in FAR EAST FILM FESTIVAL here in Italy (btw, FAR EAST FILM FESTIVAL is one of the most important european festivals dedicated to Asian films) but I couldn't find it in any lists of korean awards...maybe it opened before in its home country...

Unknown said...

hmm, I'm not a hater when it comes to Korean films but the experience of going to the cinema here is somewhat... hmm, I cannot find the right word for it, limiting? for a person that's not really into K movies.

And Jin, Black Swan in February is a loooong time!!!

and Jin, FYI, Koreans told me bout that policy, I guess they were wrong, but going to Megabox, CGV and Lotte cinema regularly, it does feel like 50% of the films are Korean.

I know I should try to get into K films, it's the best way to learn the language, but I continue not to be able to.

I'm really angry at myself for missing "Oranges and Sunshine" with Emily Watson at the Pusan film festival in October. Did any of the Koreans chatting here see it? Is it good?

Jin said...

Yavor -- I know. As a long time oscar follower, it's always frustrating for me to watch oscar ceremony without actually seeing a lot of serious contenders. Nowadays I guess it's not really about screen quotas, but just simple economics. Not a lot of Korean people will care for films like black swan or winter's bone, I presume. The market is just too small, even in Seoul. And as a matter of fact, a lot of Koreans actually really love and care about Korean cinema.

IMO, basic strategy for foreign film distributors in Korea these days is that they just wait until all the awards season ends, and release the film when the results are good enough to create a (delayed) buzz locally. Up In the Air and Crazy Heart were released in March. The Hurt Locker and The Blind Side were released in April. But that's some of the better cases. Sometimes you have to wait for a few years! For example, after two long years, Milk, The Class and Man on Wire were finally released this year in Korea. But even so, I have to be grateful, because there's a bunch of movies that I'm still waiting to be released (but probably never will.)

Hey, I saw Oranges and Sunshines at this year's PIFF! It was world premiered, and Jim Loach and Rona Munro (writer) was there too. Q&A session was held. Quite powerful film, and Emily Watson looked great in it.

Unknown said...

oh! thanks Jin, and I'm envious too haha, I love Emily Watson, I hope the film will get it's public and I hope they'll finally nominate her again in the 2012 Oscar season (thinking too far ahead hahahz, can't help it)

Anonymous said...

I'm also a South Korea resident and I have to say, most of those nominated films are pretty bad (sans The Secret Reunion which was enjoyable). This year's best films like Poetry, Hahaha, or Bad Deal didn't even get nominated. That sucks.