Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Random Notes - Vol. 2, No. 6

  • The Korea Times has an interesting little piece on Lee Chang-dong's new film, SECRET SUNSHINE. Lee, of course, was the Minister of Culture and Tourism around 2003-4, and this is his first film since leaving government. Considering it stars both Song Gang-ho and Jeon Do-yeon, that is quite a comeback. Lee's film opens on May 17 and I hope it does well.

    (Such an unflattering picture of Jeon, though. Is that some kind of new Korea Times policy to make women celebrities look hideous?

  • Those fun-loving Singaporeans have decided to ban the film ZAHARI'S 17 YEARS, about a journalist, Said Zahari, who was locked up for 17 years without a trial. They are demanding director Martyn See hand over the film. Idiots. I recommend everyone checking out the film (or at least what you can find on Youtube), just in principle.

    Of course, Korea has its own history of imprisoning dissidents. And of films about the subject, like REPATRIATION and THE ROAD TAKEN.

  • THE HOST is now up to $1.76 million at the US box office. Although it is showing signs of slowing down now (weekend revenues were off from the weekend before). The film has done surprisingly well in Spain, all things considered, with over $1 million since it was released March 2. Still waiting on the latest from China.

  • Just to keep that HOST stuff in perspective though, India has had SEVEN movies make over $2 million in the US market since the start of 2006. I had no idea until I read the latest by Nikki Finke.
    Certainly U.S. moviegoers can't get enough of Bollywood movies. Last year was a record-breaker for Hindi films at the U.S. box office: of the 14 foreign language films that grossed over $2 mil here in 2006, seven have been in Hindi. Until then, no more than two Hindi films made over $2 mil here in the same year.

    Very impressive for the Hindi-language filmmakers (but why have not India's other language films broken out yet?... Lots of good stuff being made outside of Bollywood).

    Also interesting in Ms Finke's article was the part about how India is a popular place for Hollywood types to make movies these days. Interesting that Korea has not been able to entice any projects here.

    A couple of years ago, at a BIFCOM meeting, I remember talking to a location scout who had spent a few days traveling around the Korean countryside, but was unable to find anything that caught his eye. But I got the feeling from talking to him that he was looking for something more "exotic" than what you typically find these days. I never could decide how much of his comments reflected aesthetic problems in today's Korea or his inability to see what Korea has to offer.
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