A look back at the films and music of 2015

by Philip Gowman on 19 January, 2016

in 2015 year-end posts, Documentaries, Film, Fusion music, Im Heung-soon, Pop rock and indie, PSY, Ryu Seung-wan, Western classical music

film and music collage

In the second of two articles (the first looked at the world of books) we look at some of the releases of 2015 that caught our eye.

Film

Crowdfunded movies

Two Kickstarter-funded films to which LKL contributed came to fruition: Twinsters, the story of twin sisters adopted in different continents who discover each other through Facebook; and Remember You, a feature length film by Yoon Jung Lee and starring Jung Woo-sung and Kim Ha-neul. We look forward to watching both of them.

Among films with a rather bigger budget we really enjoyed Assassination (a fast-moving romp set in the Colonial period), and the tear-jerker Ode to My Father which told the story of South Korea’s rise from poverty after the Korean War.

A still from Im Heung-soon's Factory Complex

A still from Im Heung-soon’s Factory Complex

Winning Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale, Im Heung-soon’s Factory Complex is certainly on my watch-list, along with two more crowd-pleasing films with strong central female characters: Coin Locker Girl (dir Han Jun-hee) and Shameless (dir Oh Seung-wook).

A Matter of Interpretation

Shin Dong-mi (right) with Kim Kang-hyeon in A Matter of Interpretation

But my two favourite releases of the year were Veteran (Ryu Seung-wan) for its energy, speed and execution and A Matter of Interpretation (Lee Kwang-guk) for its quirky looping narrative and the performance of actress Shin Dong-mi.

Hwang Jung-min in Vetera

Hwang Jung-min in Vetera

Music

Classical and fusion

Bulsechul's debut album

Bulsechul’s debut album

In the world of Classical music, Cho Seong-jin’s victory at the Chopin competition was celebrated in a Deutsche Grammophon release of his award-winning recital. And – music with emotional restraint and impeccable craftsmanship – Telemann’s 12 Fantasies for solo flute were released by Jasmine Choi in another Kickstarter funded project. Both regularly feature on my playlist at home as I blog, along with, in the genre of contemporary / fusion music with traditional instruments, Bulsechul’s first album. Thanks to Dami Eniola at SOAS Radio’s Gugak Sounds for introducing Bulsechul to her audience. Here’s hoping they come to London soon.

Indie and K-pop

I am grateful to Anna Lindgren over on Indieful Rock for her work in aggregating the “Best of 2015” blog posts (though I confess not many of the headlined albums appealed much to me, and only the honourable mentions such as Bye Bye Badman, f(x), Hyukoh and Yi Sung-yol made it into my iTunes library). More useful for me was her more personal post which detailed what she herself had been listening to. This added Flash Flood Darlings to my library. Finally, she also has a handy post analysing the Gaon charts in which she notes, 2015 was the year of Hyukoh. As it happens, a version of Hyukoh’s Gondry topped the list of Is this how you kpop’s best tracks of the year (so many on that list is worth a listen) and was number two on Beyond Hallyu‘s list of best videos of the year.

A still from Psy's Napal Baji music video

A still from Psy’s Napal Baji music video

Two tracks I absolutely hated this year were the debut singles of CL, whose people rather overdid things in their efforts to make her the “baddest, coolest female out right now“. Her music videos in praise of a fizzy drink and female dogs were painful to watch and listen to. By contrast, two tracks that were quite fun were by the master of humorous K-pop videos, Psy. While not likely to rival the near 2.5bn Youtube watches that Gangnam Style has so far gained, Napal Baji (trumpet trousers / bell-bottoms) and Daddy (which also features CL) contain all the visual eccentricities that are trademarks of a Psy video. Not great music, but annoyingly good to watch.

So here’s what’s been on my playlist this year. Thanks to Anna for directing me to one or two of these, especially Yolhoon, the collaboration between Yi Sung Yol and DJ Clazzi, a sample of which is in the YouTube video above.

Purchases 2015

Update:

  • Anna has just added a few of her personal favourites here.
  • HelloKpop have a series of “best of 2015” posts which you can find here.
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