BFI London Film Festival

Memoir of a Murderer asks us to step inside the mind of someone who is losing his memory, a sufferer of Alzheimer’s disease. The movie opens with a scene focusing on the face of a gaunt and aged-looking Sol Kyung-gu as single dad Kim Byung-soo. As we watch, his face begins to twitch. At first […]

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Film review double bill: Bamseom Pirates and Criminal Conspiracy

by Philip Gowman 8 October 2017
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This weekend gave us the opportunity to watch two very different documentaries which cast their critical eye over contemporary Korean society and recent political history. Part of the fascination of both of them for UK-based Korea-watchers is the way they resonate: they provide, in the one case, a laser-like dissection of an issue of which […]

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LEAFF, LKFF and the battle for our diaries

by Philip Gowman 4 October 2017
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The film festival season is upon us, and this requires some serious diary planning. Fortunately the BFI London Film Festival remains serenely distant from the ignominious tangle caused by the collision of LEAFF and LKFF. With four titles scheduled earlier in the month, including the movie that I’ve been most looking forward to all year […]

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Korean films at the 2017 BFI London Film Fest

by Events Editor 31 August 2017
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As far as I can see there are four Korean movies at the 2017 BFI London Film Festival: two very contrasting documentaries; the movie from festival favourite Hong Sang-soo that won Kim Min-hee the Silver Bear for best actress in Berlin this year; and an adaptation of a novel by Kim Young-ha by Won Shin-yeon, […]

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BFI Festival Film Review: Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing

by Philip Gowman 16 November 2016
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Na Hong-jin can sure put you through a mental wringer. Mysterious and very bloody murders, extremely nasty skin conditions: who or what is to blame? The choice seems to be between a mind-altering magic mushroom concoction and a strange Japanese guy who lives in the forest, fishing and living off the land. And what of […]

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Brief review: Park Chan-wook’s Handmaiden

by Philip Gowman 9 October 2016
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I’ll leave others to do the detailed review of Park Chan-wook’s Handmaiden (아가씨), which screened at the London Film Festival this week and which will return later in the month at the London East Asia Film Festival. Suffice it to say that it’s gorgeous-looking, both in terms of costume and interiors, great story-telling and totally […]

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Korean films at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival

by Events Editor 3 September 2016
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If I were to draw up a list of feature films that I simply *had* to see this year, the following three would be on it. Thanks to the BFI selectors for securing them for the festival. There’s also a short film showing. Text below is from the BFI website. Tickets go on sale to […]

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Festival Film Reviews: the four Korean films at the BFI London Film Fest 2015

by Philip Gowman 17 October 2015
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It was a very pleasing selection of Korean films at the BFI London Film Festival this year. And for the first time that I can remember, I managed to get to all of them. Here are the verdicts.   The Assassination 암살, Dir Choi Dong-hoon, 2015. With a fantastic ensemble cast, including Jeon Ji-hyun as […]

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Korean films at the 2015 BFI London Film Festival

by Events Editor 7 September 2015
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The programme for the BFI London Film Festival has been announced and as usual there’s a decent Korean representation. It’s great that Assassination is coming, though I was secretly hoping that it was going to open the London Korean Film Festival in November, giving the organisers an excuse to bring over Jeon Ji-hyun as star […]

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Seven ways in which Hill of Freedom is different from other Hong Sang-soo films

by Philip Gowman 11 October 2014
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… and some ways in which it isn’t. Hill of Freedom (자유의 언덕) is Hong Sang-soo’s 16th feature, and could not have been made by anyother director. The awkwardness of human interaction and conversation, the bonding over alcohol, the fragmentation of the narrative, the aim to rekindle lost love – all are common features of […]

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Korean films at the 2014 BFI London Film Festival

by Events Editor 3 September 2014
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There’s rather a good haul of Korean movies at the BFI London Film Festival this year, including a Hong Sang-soo which looks a little different from the usual, a treat for fans of the remarkable Bae Doona, a charming animation and a “tense, kinetic and darkly funny neo-noir”. Tickets go on sale on 18 September. […]

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The tweet that launched a podcast

by Philip Gowman 6 December 2013
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I was watching Nobody’s Daughter Haewon as part of the BFI London Film Festival this year, and was rather enjoying it. I’ve done a little review of it here. It was nice to see some familiar locations in the film. And then I saw something even more familiar: one of the characters in the film […]

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Festival Film Review: Nobody’s Daughter Haewon

by Philip Gowman 6 December 2013
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I often find myself falling asleep during Hong Sang Soo films. But my two most recent experiences – a second viewing of HaHaHa as part of the KCC’s Moon So-ri season – and Nobody’s Daughter Haewon at the ICA, coinciding with its screening at the 57th BFI London Film Festival, have been exceptions. Part of […]

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Korean films at the 57th BFI London Film Festival

by Events Editor 29 September 2013
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The London Film Festival is upon us with its annual treat of Hong Sang-soo premieres and one or two other films, mostly screened at inconvenient times and / or places. Didn’t we have a Choi Min-sik gangster movie which broke the sensitive two-hour barrier last year too? This year’s looks a bit more promising though. […]

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K-film at the BFI London Film Fest: A Fish — mysterious, tantalising and rewarding

by Philip Gowman 15 November 2012
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What a stunning first film. Park Hong-min is still a graduate student at Dongguk University, but this debut is amazingly confident. A truly mysterious creation which has you wondering throughout what is going on, and when it finishes you want to watch it again immediately to see if it makes more sense the second time […]

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K-film at the BFI London Film Fest: Nameless Gangster outstays its welcome

by Philip Gowman 13 October 2012
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What a disappointment. One of Korea’s biggest grossing films this year is just not good enough. It’s a perfectly acceptable gangster flick, but is as bloated as Choi Min-sik, who must have eaten a serious number of pies to get to his fighting weight for this film. The plot is rather charming in the way […]

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K-film at the BFI London Film Fest: Doomsday Book is really not worth the effort

by Philip Gowman 13 October 2012
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Doomsday Book, the first of six Korean films to screen at the 56th BFI London Film Festival is a set of three short films based loosely on a science fiction theme. The two outer segments, gentle comedies directed by Im Pil-seong (임필성), sandwich a semi-serious but nevertheless meagre filling by Kim Ji-woon entitled Heavenly Creature […]

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