Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Went on a bit of a tangent in the foreign-film department over the last few days, selecting two Korean movies that were interesting and disturbing, but well done and intriguing. They couldn't have been more unalike.

First, The Uninvited, is a psychological ghost story concerning a interior designer (soon to be married) who suddenly finds himself dealing with guilt and two small ghosts (their death he witnesses; he fails to even try to help, though he could not have known). Their presence shakes him severely and forces him into an arrangement with a deeply troubled woman, who has special powers, in which his repressed past is startingly revealed. The whole story is really about how the revelation of terrible truths can haunt and destroy---in fact I thought it was interesting that the director employed nazi symbols in at least one scene. It is a deeply troubling film (definitely not something you would want someone under about 16 to see), and the main victims in the tale seem to be children and mothers. The colors used are often depressing; lots of rain. There really isn't much humor in the film, although there are several quite interesting observations, as when his fiance points out that if a crowd has come out of church, only to have the worshipers caught in a sudden downpour, they will run off, but not go back inside the chapel.

The second film, Untold Scandal, is an erotic, beautiful story about a manipulative, jealous matriarch in eighteenth-century Korea, who manuevers her philandering male cousin (a real cad, who revels in seductions, especially of women who are more difficult to corrupt) into several trysts that she thinks will benefit her and punish her husband (for taking a much younger concubine). As in all tragedies, the fates are more powerful than human action, and unexpected prices must be paid. The costumes and scenery are absolutely gorgeous, as are several of the actresses (sue me for having a weakness!). The movie provides some interesting insights into Korean culture of this period. Yes, there is nudity and sex, but I would recommend it, especially for lovers of sad romantic stories.

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