Film review: The Propaganda Game

The SOAS North Korea Society recently hosted a screening of Álvaro Longoria’s The Propaganda Game. The documentary is not going to tell you anything new about North Korea, its on-location original footage being the product of a fully-chaperoned three-day tour in Pyongyang and the DMZ. What it does do, however, is hinted at in its […]

Brief review: Kim Ki-young – The Soil

I’m not sure quite how to assess Kim Ki-young’s adaptation of Yi Kwang-su’s 500-page serial novel The Soil (흙, 1932-3). At 125 minutes, it doesn’t sound particularly long. But as we got up from our seats at the KCC last Thursday at around 9:15pm, it felt much later – maybe around 10:30pm. And that wasn’t […]

A look back at some of the films of 2017

A review of some of the films that screened in London during the 2017 – another busy year. For me the undoubted highlight of the London film year was the Bae Chang-ho retrospective at the London Korean Film Festival: a chance to see a couple of his movies – including the classic Whale Hunting (1984) – […]

Festival film review: Becoming who I was

Nine years ago Moon Chang-yong and Jeon Jin were in Ladakh, Kashmir – a mountainous region 100 miles or so northeast of where the Dalai Lama lives, and less than 50 miles from Tibet’s westernmost extremity. They were filming a documentary about practitioners of traditional medicine in the various regions of Asia. Their subject was […]

Festival film review: The Mimic

I don’t quite know how you go about reviewing a film like The Mimic. As I watched its early sections, enjoying the ride reasonably enough, I nevertheless thought back to some of the Whispering Corridors series (and sadly the weakest of them, Blood Pledge) in which plot is subservient to gratuitous scares. Probably if you […]

Film review: Memoir of a Murderer

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 […]

Film review: A Taxi Driver

I went along to watch A Taxi Driver out of a sense of duty. What can be said about Gwangju, I thought, that hasn’t been said already? I’d rather see a documentary. Plus, Korean movies with foreign actors always raise slight alarm bells with me (Isabelle Huppert in Hong Sang-soo’s In Another Country left me […]

Film review: The Battleship Island

Synopsis Some nasty Japanese are being beastly to the Korean forced labourers in an offshore Japanese coal mine as the Second World War comes to a close. And one or two Koreans aren’t exactly being that patriotic either. In the middle of it all is a weak, venal Korean who is among the labourers with […]