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Festivals: Busan IFF

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Busan 2016 Review: HOTEL SALVATION Finds Rebirth in the Pursuit of Death

Daya is ready to shuffle off this mortal coil. The 77-year old patriarch of a middle class Indian family suffers from recurring nightmares. After one such episode, he bluntly declares to his family that he is ready to die. His...

BiFan 2016 Review: GRANNY'S DANCING ON THE TABLE, Beautiful and Brutal

It might seem that we have choices for our life’s direction; we can choose whom we spend tie with, who we marry, whether or not to have children, our career. But often those choices are invisible to us, impossible to...

Busan 2015 Review: TWENTY TWO, Sober But Slow Portrait Of Chinese Comfort Women

One of most sensitive topics in regional Far East Asian politics these days, Japan's use of comfort women during the wane of its colonial empire is a constant talking point on the news. Among the more sobering and least sentimental...

Busan 2015 Review: RECORDING Chronicles Charming Cast In Forgettable Story

It's the small moments that work in Recording, a story that is low on ambition but infused with a winning charm even as it drags in the scripting department, particularly in the back half. Sweet and unaffected, Park Min-kook's debut...

Busan 2015 Review: SPECIAL ANNIE Awkwardly Switches From Subject To Artist

Ten years after her feature debut What Are We Waiting For?, documentarian Kim Hyun-kung returns with an intimate film that is both a portrait of a HIV-positive New Yorker and a filmmaker uncertain of her aims. Awkwardly straddling the border...

Busan 2015 Review: BAD GUYS ALWAYS DIE Suffers A Slow Death

One of the more high profile among the many China-Korea collaborations being made these days, Bad Guys Always Die teams Taiwanese star Chen Bolin with top Korean actress Son Ye-jin in an action-comedy (leaning more towards the later) set on...

Busan 2015 Review: ALONE Winds Its Mystery Through The Backstreets Of Seoul

Four years after his experimental 3D shaman mystery Fish, Park Hong-min returns to BIFF with another singular work that offers one of the most compelling examinations of gentrification in Seoul. Alone follows a single character as he hops from one...

Busan 2015 Review: STEEL FLOWER Offers Wilted View Of Korean Youth

A year after Wild Flowers, Park Suk-young returns to the Busan International Film Festival with Steel Flower. Gritty, intimate and centering around a young girl lost in a harsh urban world, Park's latest kicks off on the same foot as...

Busan 2015 Review: REACH FOR THE SKY Goes There And Beyond

The last few BIFFs have each afforded us one great documentary (Non-Fiction Diary, Factory Complex), and 2015 proves to be no exception with the discovery of the timely Reach for the SKY, a compelling look at a common but disastrous...

Busan 2015 Review: ORDINARY PEOPLE Offers Tired Gags In Familiar Situations

Three years after his debut Over and Over Again, director Kim Byung-june returns to Busan with a much livelier effort that strives to mixes social realism and situational crime comedy. Aping the lowbrow comic efforts of Korea's commercial realm, Ordinary...

Toronto 2015 Review: COLLECTIVE INVENTION Asks The Right Questions, But Has None Of The Answers

Wrapping a raft of social issues plaguing modern Korean society into a simple allegory, Collective Invention, a quirky new comedy-drama with dashes of the same humor found in Bong Joon-ho's work, is a succinct but relatively straightforward affair. The setting...

Busan 2015: BIFF Goes The Distance With Jam-Packed 20th Edition

For its 20th edition, the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) has cooked up something pretty special, as it is set to deliver a jam-packed lineup sure to satisfy viewers of all tastes, and then some. Opening with the vivid Indian...

Busan 2014 Review: YOU (US) ME Finds Beauty In Deplorability

Max Sobol's début directorial feature You (Us) Me is a fast paced, funny, shocking, tragic and ultimately cogent view of dysfunctional relationships at their extreme.Edward is a serial killer, stalking the dark canals and abandoned parts of London to quickly...

Busan 2014 Review: THE NIGHT Boasts Strong Cast And Clear Message

The Korean winner of this year's Sonje Award for Best Short Film at the Busan International Film Festival, The Night is a simple 35-minute tale of college friends who fall prey to the norms of Korean society. Yet by touching...

Busan 2014 Review: Peter Chan's DEAREST Devastates

Based on multiple true story accounts of child abduction in mainland China, Peter Chan's latest film Dearest is definitely not an easy watch. It follows a divorced couple in Shenzhen, the father Tian Wenjun (comedic actor Huang Bo) and mother...

Busan 2014 Review: THE TRUTH SHALL NOT SINK WITH SEWOL Invokes Tears And Outrage

The Sewol Disaster, the most significant event to rock South Korea since the IMF Crisis in 1997, gets its first big screen treatment with The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol, the first of what are sure to be many...

Busan 2014 Review: The Wonderfully Surreal SELF-MADE Has More Than A Few Screws Loose

Shita Geffen's Self-Made could be the strangest film I have ever seen. Part black-comedy, part surreal drama, and all feminist parable, the film follows two very different women as they inexplicably swap identities.This is vastly complicated by the locations...

Busan 2014 Review: KABUKICHO LOVE HOTEL, A Raunchy Charmer

Kabukicho Love Hotel (better translated as Sayonara Kabukicho) is the latest urban-centric film from esoteric director Hiroki Ryuichi (Vibrator). Although the film contains the sprawling metropolitan malaise that permeates his contemporary films, this is a far more accessible and crowd-pleasing effort that plays...

Busan 2014 Review: FIRES ON THE PLAIN Drags Us Into The Abyss

Though based on Ooha Shohei's book of the same name rather than Ichikawa Kon's languid and harrowing 1959 film, Tsukamoto Shinya's Fires on the Plain was always going to be an entirely different beast. Low-budget and with a frenetic and...

Busan 2014 Review: PARALLEL Means Well But Lacks Drive

The heart-warming story of a disabled ice hockey team's journey to the World Championships, Korean documentary Parallel is a testament to perseverance and passion in the face of adversity. However, at 70 minutes and with an all too easy to...