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Choked (Joong-Hyun, 2011) - #Berlinale 2012 #koreablog

A young man is confronted with his mothers worsening debts. Things spiral out of control when she suddenly disappears.

Most notable about the film for me was the insight into the Korean society - the filmmakers seem to suggest that basically everyone in Korea seems to live way over their means. The pressure on the son to get a "good life" in terms of owning an apartment of good size determines the happiness of his fiancee. The characters talk plainly about the subject of money to each other with a frankness that would not be seen in other societies. I wonder if this was a fiction or conversations can be that open in Korea.

Something I've noticed recently in some Asian films with a similar style is a sort of liberation of the genre, I cannot really describe it any better. At any point during this film I expected it to turn funny, bloody, dramatic or simply weird. And to a very slight degree it really turns this or that direction. Maybe it was just me, but that rather diffuse feeling of "loss of genre" put me at a certain distance of the story and I wasn't convinced with what was happening to the main characters.

There is a certain twist at the end of the film that I thought didn't work out too well. Actually, I felt more confused after that revelation - I would have left it out.

The film has this very sharp imagery, something I've noticed quite often in Korean films at festivals lately. Maybe it's got to do with their digital post production facilities that convert to DCP. This style works very well with these type of films giving a sort of documentary hi-def style, but it also has a certain aseptic quality which I feel a bit uncomfortable with.


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They drive by night (Walsh, 1940) #DTC #161

Two truck-driving brothers dream of a better future and financial independence in a sea of good and bad fortune.

Although the film has all the ingredients of a film noir, like the selfish femme fatale, Bogart, and many night scenes, this is something you could consider a feel-good movie. It pretty much surprised me with its turns and twists and I also wasn't prepared in the least to see Bogart as the sidekick, instead of the lead.

In terms of interesting characters, Ida Lupino as the selfish wife that tries to seduce George Raft's Joe she is definitively at the most intense when she slowly sheds all the layers of sanity towards the end. Although her motives are a bit unclear - the amazing thing about her behavior is that she values love over money. In that perspective the movie feels like a tragedy, as (except for the loan shark) everybody has comparatively sophisticated understanding of emotion and life.

Au revoir les enfants (Louis Malle, 1987)

During second world war the monk running a boarding school for upper-class kids hides Jewish kids.

This highly personal movie is very touching and manages to avoid all the pitfalls of being overly emotional. Music and editing are very subdued and carefully used to underline situations. This makes the story ring true (which it was) and gives the viewer good time to settle into the universe that these kids live in.

There are many quite complicated scenes and I was interested in one particular: When Jean gets invited on parent's day by the mother of his new best friend into a posh restaurant. In that very restaurant there are Nazis at one side of the room and an elderly Jew sitting on the other side. The table of the family is right inbetween. Many things about France during the war are told during this scene, I'll just try and focus on camera placement.

The focus shifts twice in the scene: From the family table to the French Jew's table  (who I have been told wears the red …

Glory (1989, Edward Zwick)

A young commander in the civil war is asked to recruit and lead the first all-black Confederate battalion into the Civil War.

I am not too interested in details of the American Civil War but the film managed to stir my interest in some ways. I might want to look up the difference in treatment of the many Chinese laborers that were employed in the development of the West and what kind of legacy this particular group of people has to suffer from in contrast to the better-known fate of African-Americans.

There are some interesting scenes in the film. I decide to examine the battle scene in the beginning. It introduces Broderick's character as a naive and brave but inexperienced soldier - a great choice of casting, especially in contrast to the hardened appearance of Washington. According to imdb footage was used from re-enactment groups and intercut with the staged film.

Before the battle scene commences Broderick walks in row of soldiers and talks over the pictures of the gathering…