Festivals: Pifan Reviews

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BiFan 2017 Review: SUDDENLY IN DARK NIGHT Goes Bump in All the Right Places

From Kim Ki-young's The Housemaid in 1961 all the way to Park Chan-wook's The Handmaiden last year, Korean cinema has delighted in torrid tales of disruptive house servants. Whether as a way to contrast social classes or explore illicit sexuality,...

BiFan 2017 Review: COFFEE NOIR: BLACK BROWN Brews Fresh Prohibition Drama with a Bitter Kick

An intriguing concept can be enough to pull you into a film, but what keeps you there is a sense of purpose and steadfast execution. Korean indie Coffee Noir: Black Brown, the third film from emerging talent Jang Hyun-sang, which...

BiFan 2017 Review: MON MON MON MONSTERS, Giddens Ko's Brutal, Stylish High School Horror-Comedy

Taiwanese filmmaker Giddens Ko returns to high school for his follow up to the massively entertaining and successful You Are the Apple of My Eye, but things take a much darker turn in Mon Mon Mon Monsters, a mile-a-minute horror-comedy...

BiFan 2017 Review: RYEOHAENG Casts Abstract Light on NK Refugees

Director Im Heung-soon returns for his third feature, casting his artistic light on another under-served segment of the population with the documentary Ryeohaeng. Focusing on the lives of several female North Korean defectors in Korea, Im contrasts talking heads positioned...

BiFan 2017 Review: BEHIND THE DARK NIGHT Swedes Its Way to Victory

Low-budget, semi-autobiographical indies about young men trying to make their feature film debuts have been done to death in Korea (Cheer Up Mr. Lee, We Will Be OK and Director's Cut come to mind), so expectations were muted for Behind...

BiFan 2017 Review: GODSPEED Revs Up Violence and Humor in Artful Road Movie

Hong Kong comedy star Michael Hui returns after a long absence in the latest from Taiwanese filmmaker Chung Mong-hong. A road movie about a drug deal gone wrong, Godspeed may not appear special on the surface, but this mashup of...

BiFan 2017 Review: ROOM NO. 7 Gets A 6 At Best

Following his acclaimed indie 10 Minutes, director Lee Yong-seung once again examines the plight of the working man in Korea with his commercial debut Room No. 7, which serves as the opening film of this year's Bucheon International Fantastic Film...

BiFan 2016 Review: EVA DOESN'T SLEEP Spins a Elliptical and Thought-Provoking Tale

Few politician's wives have been as mythologized as Eva Peron. The wife of the President of Argentina in the late 1940s, she reached iconic status during her life, as a poor girl from the countryside who married well, rose to...

BiFan 2016 Review: CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Takes Quirky Journey to Known Destination

There's a certain type of film that'e become prominent and popular among a lot of American indie filmmakers in recent years; I like to call it the Sundance Film (though not all have played at that festival). It's a social...

BiFan 2016 Review: INSANE, Kinda Lame

Released earlier this year, the surprise hit Insane is the sixth film from versatile director Lee Cheol-ha. Employing a less than original premise, this new thriller turns out to be a middle-of-the-road attempt that pales in comparison to a slew...

BiFan 2016 Review: UNDER THE SHADOW Scores with Strong Scares and Social Sting

A well-executed jump scare can deliver one of the strongest physical reactions possible in a theater, but by and large, horrors that go bump in the night rely on little more than technical scares. This leads to a parade of...

BiFan 2016 Review: THE LURE, The Polish Mermaid Horror-Musical You Never Knew You Wanted

In the crowded world of cinema, many filmmakers set out to try something different. However, it's one thing to be novel, which normally means stretching a thin gimmick over other recycled bits of past films, but another thing entirely to...

BiFan 2015 Review: DEADMAN INFERNO Pits Iconic Aikawa Sho Against The Undead

Director and comedian Hiroshi Shinagawa has focused his film career on mining the drama, and subsequent comedy found in the relationships between partners and prospective teammates. Debut feature Drop followed a juvenile delinquent group, Manzai Gang features similarly unruly youths...

BiFan 2015 Review: OWNERLESS FLOWER UHWUDONG Can't Choose Between Erotica And Drama

Thirty years after Lee Jang-ho's landmark film Eoh Wu-dong (available to watch for free on the Korean Film Archive's Youtube channel), a period ero that became a surprise critical and commercial hit in 1985, Lee Soo-sung offers up his own...

BiFan 2015 Review: 12 DEEP RED NIGHTS: CHAPTER 1, A Competent But Unremarkable Practice Run

Horror anthologies are a great way for new filmmakers to take a swing at bat, while viewers (or industry folk) get the opportunity to seek out new talents in the making. Unfortunately, that also means they're mixed bags, to say...

BiFan 2015 Review: STUNG's Bite Quietly Fades Away

Benni Diez takes on the creature feature in his debut film Stung, which, while set in the US, was actually shot in Germany. With a few familiar faces in the supporting cast and generally strong production values, his film coasts...

BiFan 2015 Review: ANGRY PAINTER Presents Artsy Revenge Erotica

Following his trip From Seoul to Varanasi in 2011, arthouse filmmaker Jeon Kyu-hwan takes a bigger leap overseas with his latest project Angry Painter, an indie tale of revenge and despondency that spends much of its running time trapping through...

PiFan 2014 Review: GIOVANNI'S ISLAND, A Moving Tale of Post-War Survival

Director Nishikubo Mizuho's ode to post-war survival, Giovanni's Island (Jobanni no shima), offers a heartbreaking account of the struggles of two brothers, as the world they grew up in changes around them, amidst the aftermath of the Second World War. Junpei...

PiFan 2014 Review: Horror Comedy MOURNING GRAVE Aims Low But Hits Its Mark

Korean horror has been in the midst of a rough streak for the past half decade. Relying on worn out themes, new works been have trotted out regularly every summer but even with lowered expectations, each year has put forth...

PiFan 2014 Review: MY ORDINARY LOVE STORY Is Not Your Ordinary Rom-Com

Expectations play a large role in how we consume and react to cinema, particularly in the commercial realm. Genre formulas are so clearcut than any deviation is immediately noticeable. Some variation is required to prevent things from getting stale but...