Why Did You Come to My House (Woo-ri-jib-e wae-wass-ni) [2009] • South Korea

This is an ugly film. Yes, it's about a suicidal man and a homeless lunatic woman who invades his life but that doesn't mean the photography has to suck. It could just be a poor DVD transfer but many parts of the film are too dark to make out what's going on. There's a fine line between making actors unattractive and making them unappealing. The script for this film helped land its actors on the unappealing side of that line.

The film starts off with the suicidal main character being interrogated by the police. Right away we know this isn't going to be an active story but a passive one that is revealed through the telling of various stories. This kind of technique isn't that uncommon and it can result in effective engagement, but that didn't happen here. As the man tells his story, the homeless woman is introduced. She in turn, within the story that the man is telling, has to tell her story so we understand who she is and why she's in his story. Her story introduces us to another character who has to have a story and the net effect of this is that the film never gets out of background mode until the very end where the cliché of love that arrives after death has intervened to make it impossible, and consequently tragic, attempts to tickle our heartstrings and make us forget that we really don't care.

Kang Hye-jeong is a wonderful actress and is almost able to make something of her character but she isn't given enough raw material to get completely there. This film relies on background stories for its grill so she is required to be a twenty-something hobo for most of the film and then a high school kid for some of the background. I don't know what it is about her face but she is able to believably portray a realistic looking teenager. This film is only for devoted fans of hers who must see every minute they can of her on the big screen. It is not recommended for anyone looking to see a good movie.


Director: Soo-ah Hwang
Starring: Kang Hye-jeong, Park Hie-Sun


Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience [2009] • USA

I've finally seen Avatar in all its glorious 3D IMAXness. I applaud the commitment and the massive amount of work that went into making it, which is just a different way of saying I give it an A for effort, but I'm not sure I'm ready to respond to it as merely an experience and set aside thoughts on how it fares as a film.

The problem with, like, solidly professional filmmakers who make big ass films like this is that they often rely on cardboard cutout stereotypes for character development. For every beautiful set piece, every touching ritual or philosophical bit of soul candy in Avatar, and there are lots of them, there are moments of groan out loud, eye-rolling plot points and dialog. I understand the need for expediency when creating a brand new world and trying to tell a story within it (within the running time of a movie) but that doesn't mean it's exempt from taking hits for it. If you are the type to overlook things like this, like so many seeds in a watermelon, then you will probably enjoy this movie, a lot. And by 'things like this' I mean almost all the moments and characters in the film that are negative in some way. The Colonel, why is he so shiny? Maybe there are tools like him in real life but he seems more irratating than badass. As good as Giovanni Ribisi is, he really goes dumpster diving for this role. Sigourney Weaver plays an ultimately good character, and it's actually developed pretty well, but every time she has to act tough, or act like a bitch, I sighed silently in protest of the script. The same is true of Tsu'tey, the jilted heir.

Creating conflict and character development in films is tough. At almost three hours, the film didn't feel long to me at all. I was never bored and if some of the blunt shallowness could have been presented in a more ripened form by extending the running time I would have been happier, overall.

I don't mind one bit that Avatar is a story that we've heard before and will hear again. That's the nature of good stories, educational fables. They keep getting retold. All in all, Avatar has some incredibly beautiful scenes and some very uplifting and touching moments and if you're not a film creep like me who prefers character studies to fantasy and action, you will love this movie.


Director: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez


Lost in Love (Sarang-eul nochida) [2006] • South Korea

This is one of the strangest, silliest romantic melodramas I think I've ever seen. It must be approached like a train wreck. It's not that it's bad in a sickening or cheap way ... it's just wrong at most every turn because it tries too hard to be controlling.

There are two fine actors in the lead roles: Sol Kyung-Gu as the guy, he's from Oasis and such, a great film. I think he's one of the best Korean actors behind Song Kang-ho, from The Host and Thirst and such. The girl is his real life wife, Song Yun-Ah. I haven't seen her before but she's very attractive and and has a genuine quality as an actress. I look forward to seeing more of her.

But gee whiz, this film plays the most sentimental music at all the right times ... which means all the wrong times. It's unabashedly blatant and tries but fails to be manipulative. It's basic blunder of a story seems ill-conceived and executed haphazardly. It will make you laugh at times when you're not supposed to.

I guess the characters are meant to be proletariat types because they use foul language when it's not called for and the guy has bad table manners. The girl's mom doesn't wear a bra and has sex with an unattractive yet sweet man, and she rides a motor bike scooter thing. She's hip. We like her. She might die.

No tears but it's good for a gawk.


Director: Chang-min Chu
Starring: Sol Kyung-Gu, Song Yun-Ah