warning: contains ever so slight spoilers!
Park Gwang-Hyun's 웰컴 투 동막골 (Welcome To Dongmakgol) managed, in one day, to sort of create a "breathing space" for itself, and just about every other film not called Sympathy For Lady Vengeance. So even if 80% of the Korean Press is worried about Lee Young-Ae being the only actress Park Chan-Wook has seen who never blinked shooting a gun, the press screening of this genreblender of a film generated some of the best responses I've seen since a certain film about saving a Green Planet appeared on the big screen. Which is not to say I'm already tired of "Lady" coverage (frankly, we've all been waiting for it so long, it deserves it), but seeing critics almost unanimously give positive reviews to this film, and forecasting good to great potential at the box office, kind of cooled down the entire media industry after yesterday's gazillions of theories over vengeance, the role of Choi Min-Shik, and cakes (you'll know what I'm talking about soon enough, trust me). and honestly, it makes me happy, 'cause this is the kind of film Korea CAN make and SHOULD make more often.
Director - Cast Interviews:
Director Park Gwang-Hyun: "To tell you the truth, showing both North and South working together to lift a weight off their shoulders was difficult. You cna't shoot guns using a rational way of thinking, so we opted for fantasy (the famous Popcorn snow scene) instead. It really took a long time to produce ... It's a film that begins and ends with a [yellow] butterfly. Fantasy is really the only difference between the film and the [Jang Jin's] stage play: the village's deity is a butterfly and if people die become one ... I tried to make this film communicating honesty, and the actors did the same. I'm a debut director but I hope you'll enjoy the film."
Jung Jae-Young: "Looking at the questions you might think the film's selling points are popcorn, wild boars and butterflies more than actors (laughs) ... I watched the completed film for the first time today, and I had a lot of expectations but also some concern: can fantasy and the 6/25 war really mesh together? But I think my expectations were fulfilled, more than anything."
Kang Hye-Jung: "I cried a lot thanks to Im Ha-Ryong, and laughed a lot thanks to Jung Jae-Young. I also want to thank Shin Ha-Gyun, who took the burden of being the at the core of the film ... [about using the Gangwon Province accent in the film] I tried my best to make it look natural, but it was just funny to me."
Music Director Hisaishi Jo: "Since my first collaboration with Korean filmmakers looked so good, it was an honour for me. I still haven't seen the film, but since I like the actors I think it'll be good ... The letter I received from director Park said that the compensation wasn't much, but his enthusiasm and sincerity was something no production company in the World could ever give, and that impressed me greatly."
Post Screening Reactions:
Film2.0's Choi Kwang-Hee: It looks like Jang Jin's stage play was upgraded for its film version. Kang Hye-Jung "Crazy Bitch" acting is lovely, the boar raiding scene was delightful, the last bombing scene definitely majestic. Laughing and crying, 2 hours went by. What I really want to say, you can add this as a great exemple of talking about modern society's tragicomedy with a contemporary sensibility.
Shim Young-Seob: I really had fun. It's been a long time since I've seen a happy movie like this, and while we're at it I feel it will be a huge success. I think it's a movie that benefitted from the behavior and relationship between Director and cast. And more, while the film reminds of 공동경비구역 JSA (Joint Security Area) and Mediterraneo for that "heaven on earth" atmosphere, it still retains the unique Jang Jin style of comedy. Even though the direction shows inexperience as it's always the case with first time directors, Park shows promise. You could say even without Jang Jin's script, Park could make a good film out of this. This film will make its viewers happy.
Seoul Scope's Tsuchida Maki: To a Japanese like me, there's still things to understand, but I really liked the uniquely Korean harmony presented by Director Park. As a foreigner, it was an interesting lesson. Even if at first I thought Hisaishi's music wasn't working well with the imagery, at least on the surface, as the movie progressed I started to feel like it was a great combination. Park might show inexperience but he really looks like a promising talent.
Ladies and Gentlemen, raise your expectations. Now!