Lyrical and magical: Set in medieval Maghreb, animation film "Azur and Asmar" is filled with colorful spices and intricate geometric shapes. The film premiered in Korea at the Jecheon International Music & Film Festival and is now showing at Cinecube, near Gwanghwamun, for the Full Moond Day special. /Courtesy of Cinecube
By Lee Hyo-won
THEATERS OFFER FESTIVE FILM FEAST
Celebrate the golden Chuseok weekend with a festive film feast. Catch premieres of critcally acclaimed movies at Cinecube and new movies ranging from comedy to romance that are now showing or awaiting release in theaters near you.
Full Moon Day at Cinecube
Cinecube, a local hub for art film buffs, celebrates Chuseok by offering moviegoers a chance to enjoy the premiere of 14 critically acclaimed pieces due to show until earlier next year.
The lineup includes heart-warming movies fit for family audiences. An animation film ``Azur and Asmar'' by Michel Ocelot offers a breathtakingly beautiful fairytale about a blond, blue-eyed French boy and a dark-skinned, dark-eyed Maghreb who, once were close brothers, reunite after years of separation due to contending forces.
``Return'' portrays the love and reconciliation between a son and his father who returns home in 12 years. ``The Butterfly,'' a box office hit in France, traces the heartfelt friendship between a young girl and an old man.
In addition to family movies, Full Moon Day includes a lineup of heavyweight stories. ``All the King's Men'' starring Sean Penn, Jude Law and Kate Winslet portrays individuals involved in high political games from a realistic eye. In ``Grbavica,'' a mother and daughter struggles to make their way through the aftermath of the Balkan war. The film won numerous awards including the 2006 Golden Berlin Bear.
Tickets cost 7,000 won for adults, and 6,500 won for students and early morning screenings. Visit www.cinecube.net for a complete list of screenings and more information. Cinecube is located near exit 6 of Gwanghwamun station on line 5. Call (02) 2002-7770.
Chuseok Events at Lotte Cinema
Why not enjoy traditional Chuseok games at the theater? Lotte Cinema is offering moviegoers not only the latest films but also games in its multiplex theaters, Sept. 24-26.
Jegichagi is a simple game of kicking a jegi, a feathered ball, with your inner heal, keeping it in the air for as long as you can. Couples can participate in a jegichagi competition and win prizes at Lotte Cinema Avenuel near Myeong-dong.
Family and friends can enjoy a super sized board game of yutnori at Lotte Cinema theaters located near Kunkook University and Nowon on subway line 7.
Also, Lotte Cinema Nowon offers free gifts to children visiting the theater wearing hanbok or traditional Korean clothes during the Chuseok weekend. Seongnam, Guri and Byeongjeom chains will give out gifts to all guests wearing hanbok on a first-come first-serve basis.
For more information and ticket reservations, visit www.lottecinema.co.kr.
SHADES OF LOVE
Heartthrob Joo Jin-mo (``200 Pounds Beauty,'' 2006) and the lovely Park Si-yeon (``The Fox Family,'' 2006) star as modern-day Romeo and Juliet in director Kwak Kyung-taek's latest film
In-ho (Joo) is a tough teenager, who is trying hard to stay out of trouble, but he willingly sacrifices everything to protect his childhood girlfriend Mi-ju (Park). Years later, In-ho becomes a trusted secretary for a big-time executive, and Mi-ju appears before him as his boss' lover.
In-ho has held onto his unwavering love for Mi-ju throughout his prison term and long days of separation, and for Mi-ju, it has always been impossible to forget her beloved In-ho. But the more their love for each other deepens, the more difficult it becomes for the star-crossed lovers to be together.
As typical of director Kwak's other works, the film paints a stark urban portrait filled with human struggles that are far from romantic. ``A Love'' is a bit old-fashioned, with one-dimensional characters who are either purely good or evil. The romanticized love romanticized love between Mi-ju and In-ho is completely Shakespearean with a touch of ``Carmen,'' which is bearable if you're in the mood for something sappy. Yet, Joo's frank portrayal of In-ho is a breath of fresh air for the film.
Just as superstar Jang Dong-kun managed to cast off his Greek god image through his thick-accented tough-guy role in Kwak's ``Friend'' (2001), Joo Jin-mo shows that he's more than just a pretty face. Joo carries out no-cut action sequences, but will melt the hearts of audiences with his devoted love.
Now showing at Megabox COEX; CGV Apgujeong; Lotte Cinema Konkuk Univ.,; Artreon Sinchon; CGV Daehakno; Primus Sillim.
Jamie is a witty young American that names various products for a living. In the love department, sex is easy but love isn't for this promiscuous modern woman who has always been plagued with terrible relationships -- or lack thereof -- that end the instant the delete button on her answering machine is pressed.
One day she meets her former professor, John, who seems too good to be true. But her affair with the prince charming leaves her broken-hearted, and she finds comfort in an unlikely friendship with Mick, a good-hearted Irish comedian.
Meanwhile, Jamie embarks on a celibacy mission, but becomes caught in an emotional tug of war between Mick and John. While this film may sound like a typical romantic comedy, the focus is more on Jamie's soul-searching and troubles reconciling love and lust.
Dramatic side stories including Jamie's estranged relationship with her father and her sister's romantic dilemmas heighten the realism of the movie. Director Jane Weinstock offers believable and completely lovable characters, and a delightful yet brutally honest view of sex and love.
To be released over Chuseok weekend. Exact date and theater to be soon announced. Call Coral Pictures at (02) 3443-5526.
Oliver Hirschbiegel offers audiences an updated version of Jack Finney's classic story ``The Invasion of the Body Snatchers'' starring Hollywood superstars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.
Something alien has hit Earth with the crash of a mysterious space shuttle, and those who come in contact with it are changing in bizarre ways. In Washington D.C., psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) and her friend, Dr. Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig), learn that the extraterrestrial epidemic attacks victims in their sleep, leaving them physically unchanged but devoiding them of human emotion.
As the infection spreads, the city spirals down into mayhem. Now Carol's only hope is to stay awake long enough to find her young son, who may hold the key to stopping the devastating invasion.
As a sci-fi film, it's rather lackluster, but Nicole Kidman's portrayal of tender but strong motherly love shines through.
Now showing at Megabox COEX; CGV Apgujeong; Lotte Cinema Konkuk Univ.; Artreon Sinchon; Primus Sillim.
`The Mafia, The Salesman'
Feeble thief Do-beom, timid Geun-yeong and unemployed Jong-man are broke and desperate. The three awkward men scheme to kidnap Mrs. Kwon Sun-bun or ``Granny K,'' the rich owner of a big restaurant. But the old lady not only assists her kidnappers in getting her ransom money from her indifferent children, but raises the amount to 50 billion won.
Comedy guru Kim Sang-jin, director of hit comedies ``Attack the Gas Station'' (1999) and ``Kick the Moon'' (2001), creates a comical energy like no other in ``Mission Possible.'' Along with big laughs, the film offers loads of action complete with high-flying helicopters, fast trains and speeding cars.
Supporting actors from films like ``King and the Clown'' (2006), ``Public Enemy'' (2002) and ``Tazza: The High Rollers'' (2006) shine as the main cast. Veteran actress Na Moon-hee, who is enjoying a newfound peak in her career following a series of comical roles in TV dramas and sitcoms, dazzles the silver screen in her role as a wealthy but lonely mother trying to provoke the affection of her children.
This family comedy is in for lots of laughs but also sends out a message about family values.
Now showing at CGV Apgujeong, Gangbyeon, Guro, Yongsan, Myeong-dong; CINUS Myeongdong; Megabox COEX, Shinchon; Lotte Cinema Nowon.
`Mission Possible: Kidnapping Granny K'
Korea's favorite gangster comedy series is back with its third installment. Tough but good-hearted gangster Gye Du-sik has survived high school in ``My Boss, My Hero'' (2002) and made it through as a student teacher in its sequel ``My Boss, My Teacher'' (2006).
Actor Lee Sung-jae (``Public Enemy,'' 2002) replaces Jeong Jun-ho in ``The Mafia, The Salesman,'' where Du-sik trades in his guns for a white-collar position at a big-time corporation, to master the art of business management so he can better organize his mafia in the age of globalization. The slapstick traces the high-flying adventures of the gangster's corporate invasion and office romance, but is also packed with lots of action when troubles with opposing mafia forces ensue over labor union issues.
Now showing at CGV Guro, Yongsan; Primus Doksan.
SENSUAL TALES FROM JAPAN
This highly stylistic period piece shines upon the sensual world of a Japanese geisha. A relentless tomboy grows up to become a smoldering temptress who captivates men with a single glance, but true love is doomed impossible for the geisha.
The film may suggest immediate comparison to ``Memoirs of a Geisha'' (2005). But the vibrant costumes and decor reinterpreted with a modern edge enthrall viewers like that of Sophia Coppola's ``Marie Antoinette'' (2006).
Now showing at CGV Apgujeong; CQN Myeongdong; Myungbo Theater
In Tokyo, a young man and woman meet through a chat room, and are lead by mysterious channels to the seductive art of tattoos. In this erotic thriller, two estranged people discover deep compassion and mutual affection in a world marked by indifference and instant gratification.
To open soon online, at portal sites Daum (http://cuve.daum.net) and Megapass (http://tv.megapass.net).