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A Breath of Scandal (1960)
Loved it! It's Not Citizen Kane But Who CARES?
I can't believe all the criticism of this film, it's a light ball of fluff, it's funny and fun, and Sophia is gorgeous and so is John Gavin who just died last month at age 86. Give it a break! It's not a masterpiece but it wasn't trying to be. Filmed on location in Italy and Austria the cinematography features a royal world gone by, and Sophia's character is a pip of a princess who makes everyone nervous because she keeps doing scandalous things like shooting at weather vanes and riding forbidden wild stallions and desiring romances with undesirables. Enter John Gavin an American who is good at heart and doesn't know she is a Princess at first, he thinks he hurt her by frightening her horse which threw her to the ground, so he takes her back to an inn to recover, only she's perfectly fine, she just loves the way he looks and is smitten. Then the real (royal) world comes back into play and she is called to be a responsible Princess again and possibly marry royalty but she just can't forget that handsome American who lives in Pittsburgh. :) Must say the clothes design in this movie was Oscar worthy, Sophia wears breathtakingly beautiful clothes, if you love the rich fashions of days gone by you should watch it with a keen eye toward its style. A nice film to drink hot cocoa to on a cold winter night.
The Caretaker (1963)
No likeable characters, thin on plot
Sorry I have to disagree with most folks here. This is a disagreeable movie from the get go. Donald Pleasance's character never shuts up and he's not likeable at all, if I were Robert Shaw's character I would have given him a fiver for a drink and sent him on his way, under no circumstances would I allow him in my house. Alan Bates' character is completely repugnant and completely wacko. All the talk talk talk might have worked well for a stage play but for a film version it was painful. If they were going to film an original stage play why not do a musical at least, it would have been wonderful if they had recorded the original casts of My Fair Lady, Fiddler On The Roof, The Sound Of Music, etc. and not this annoying dusty old thing with cantankerous characters you yourself wouldn't take a shine to if you met them in person. Pass.
After the Ball (1957)
I absolutely LOVED this movie!
What sourpusses among the other reviewers for this lovely film, covering the British hall music era from 1880's to after the WW1 era, and in particular one very famous male impersonator singer, dancer entertainer named Vesta Tilly. I thought Pat Kirkwood's Vesta Tilly was WONDERFUL! Even inspirational. I was happy the movie didn't shortchange scenes of actual stage performances. For the first time I actually enjoyed a performance by Laurence Harvey as Vesta's husband and manager, for once he wasn't cold and taciturn in a role but warm, smiling, supportive and loving. He should have played more characters like this one! The old songs were great to hear and if you flip on subtitles you can sing along with the original lyrics to the great old tunes. This movie was made in the 1950's so there would be people in their 70's or older still alive who would have remembered Vesta and her popularity on the English music hall stages of the turn of that century. I was left with a warm glow watching this movie. You can see it for free with an Amazon Prime membership streaming if you have a ROKU or similar device. Take yourself out of the harsh modern era and go back to a time when entertainment was more wholesome and enjoyable and just plain fun.
To Paris with Love (1955)
Pleasant Paris in 1955
While this gentle romantic film To Paris With Love (1955) is admittedly no masterpiece it does provide you with a nice cast, irreplaceable views of post-War Paris in 1955, including the grand old cars, stylish fashions men and women wore back then, the kind of music they listened to, how clean everything looked and how polite people were with one another in that era. All in Technicolor (it says Technicolor on the print itself right on the title frame, not Eastman Color as someone else stated, which is different and tends to diffuse more with time).
Alec Guinness is sweet in the film as he visits Paris with his 20 year old son (Vernon) in the hopes of finding a nice French girl for him. Little does he know that his son also hopes to find a nice older French woman for him. What occurs instead is that the son falls for an older woman and the father falls for a younger woman! I thought that both situations were understandable -- both women were attractive -- but still one senses early on they will merely end up being temporary flirtations and not the real thing.
If you are a romantic person you will probably enjoy the film. If you're not you're probably better off watching something else more realistic. I liked it. To each their own.
Seven Nights in Japan (1976)
An update of The Student Prince
Lovely romantic British film that is far more like an update of Sigmund Romberg's The Student Prince than the American film Roman Holiday. It's too bad this is only available on Region 2 PAL DVD more Americans can enjoy it. Just seeing Michael York in his hay day is worth the price of admission, and next the lovely scenes of Japan. A gentle and worthwhile film, even if a bit risqué.
I liked the music too and the scenes with the little Japanese children. As with The Student Prince the ending is pretty predictable, the prince in love with the Japanese tour guide will probably have to give her up at the end, and marry an English maiden hand picked for him instead.
However stick it out because life is a journey, not just a destination.
Unforgettable, destined to be a classic
I regularly watch Korean television dramas because of their exceptionalism (I have completed 316 as of this writing!) and so the excellence of this cast was no surprise to me when I started watching A Werewolf Boy (I had bought it on DVD off Amazon two years before it even showed up on streaming Netflix).
However the depth of the story was a surprise to me, and I think the quality of the film itself is spectacular - gorgeous cinematography, music, great sets, solid writing, and fluid, romantic direction.
The story is even conceivable: the premise is that scientists during the Korean War had taken orphan young boys (there were plenty of them during that war), isolated them from human contact so that they could not learn languages or social skills, and programmed them to be vicious animals -- all for the war effort. The thought was that if they could breed a group of young men who acted like wolves in combat they would be an excellent fighting force and capable of viciousness that even human soldiers could not duplicate at their worst.
Then the scientist dies, the war ends, the wolf boys scatter -- all except one. The house, barn, and grounds are the only home he has ever known. When the home is rented by a young family they are at first frightened of this animal-like boy and then, in their innocence and kindness, try to feed him, clothe him, socialize him, teach him to speak (which they fail at - at first!).
However the young teen girl in the home, schooled at home because of sickness, is pursued by the son of their landlord and he basically is criminally insane and quite capable of rape or murder. So, who is the REAL monster? This slime-ball young man, or the gentle (until provoked) young man who was raised as a wolf?
Although it doesn't start off that way the romance between the girl and the wolf boy becomes the focus of the story by the time it ends. The faithfulness of the wolf boy in loving his "owner" (she pets him on the head like a puppy) is the most poignant and unforgettable aspect of the story. He will do anything for her, even patiently wait for her for decades if need be. That's the constant love of a tamed animal for his owner. If only most human beings could love unconditionally like that.
The Book Thief (2013)
This lovely and haunting film really touched my heart and my daughter's who watched with me. The Book Thief is based on a novel and after seeing the film I had to get the book too and now both my daughter and I are sharing reading it. It is not as violent as some films on the Holocaust, and it's very humane: war seen through the eyes of two children, Liesl and Rudy, both played by outstanding child actors. Loved the score by John Williams too; he should have won the Oscar for it, though he did win a Grammy. I loved the cinematography too. The film is not too long so it would be a great intro to WW2 history for children today, many who have short attention spans. This is a film that will stay with you. I loved it.
Two Weeks (2013)
Extraordinary and Exciting Korean Drama
Not to be missed, folks! This is so much better than about 3/4's of all the K-dramas I have watched so far, equaling 136 at last count. Jun Ki Lee leaves his pretty boy looks behind him after his military service to get into a modern story of a man who changes dramatically when he discovers he has a biological daughter he's never known about before, and that she is sick and that without his help she will die.
I love the way Koreans have their characters grow and change and reform for the better. Petty gangsters become decent human beings. Fast women reform and become noble. It's very inspirational and you rarely see that king of process on American shows.
The little actress who played his daughter was so adorable I wanted to capture her out of the screen and make her my own daughter! She was perfect for Jun Ki Lee. I always say they are the most loving couple in K-drama history!
A ghostly masterpiece
This was a 4 episode Korean drama that aired in Feb. and March, 2014. It is available to watch on the dramaload.com site, you can download avi video files and English subs for it there.
The story is beautifully shot and well written, has a lovely musical score, and the two main actors are breathtakingly beautiful to look at, especially the lead actor.
A young artist has lost his memory after an accident and no longer remembers the girl he loved in high school, whose ghost follows him around, hoping to find some way to get him to remember her. A grim reaper warns her that if he does remember her that she will have to leave his side permanently. The grim reaper gives her a box of matches with the word Lupin on it and tells her that whenever a match is lit that the boy will be able to see her for just that amount of time that each matchstick burns.
Little by little he regains his memory but then he falls in love with her ghost and does not want to part from her.
The whole ambiance of this short drama is haunting and I wished it had gone on for more episodes. I will be following the careers of these two lead actors because they were so impressive in their roles.
If you love Korean drama do not miss this one.
Very sad and mystical
This is one of the saddest movies I have ever seen. I love Nam Gil Kim and bought this DVD off Amazon; even though it was a low budget independent film I will watch anything he is in. The man seethes with a Brando-like sensuality in every K-drama and film I see him in. There may be other even more handsome Korean actors out there but there's just something about this guy the others don't have, a touch of sadness and forlorn resolution, which is perhaps why his characters so often die in the end.
Woo-seul-hye Hwang is also very lovely in this film. Her character has to learn in the most difficult, violent ways possible that life is hard and unfair -- the male character she falls in love with already knows it's hard and nothing really surprises him but kindness when he finds it -- rarely. The girl suffers so much in this story, and only finds comfort in this man on the run from the police.
I don't want to give away too many plot details, but if you don't mind sad stories and you like the actors then give this one a try. I would say it's not for anyone age 17 or younger. Adult material is pretty much consistent throughout.
One of the best romances ever from Korea!
I watched The Classic a number of years ago and have since re-watched it several times. It's very much a part of my heart, one of the best Korean films I've ever seen. Ye Jin Son and Seung Woo Cho have a potent romantic chemistry together that is simply unforgettable (I wish they'd pair them up again sometime). Jo In Sung is also nice in the second male lead role. I have followed all their careers in the years since and they are all prolific artists. The screenplay is excellent and the direction is solid. The soundtrack is one of its best features, just beautiful!
This is the type of film that would receive so many more fans in America if it was on Streaming Netflix. Ye Jin Son's other most popular movie, A Moment To Remember, made a year after The Classic, is on Netflix, but not this stunner. It's a shame. I am very happy to see, however, that The Classic has received over 4000 votes here on IMDb. Korean films and actors seem to get short shift on this website, for whatever reason, but The Classic continues to find its audience who are hungry for pure romantic escapism in an entertainment world that pushes a much more violent world view on us. Korea is the nation to go to for entertainment that is geared toward timeless feelings like love and devotion. They are not afraid of sentimentality in their films and dramas.
Bomui walcheu (2006)
Breathtaking and unforgettable Korean Drama
Spring Waltz remains my favorite of the "Four Seasons" K-dramas. I love the cast and find the story very powerful, the main theme is forgiveness. The young man Jae Ha has many demons related to being abandoned by his alcoholic father as a child. He carries these personal demons deep within himself until as an adult he meets a girl Eun-young who somehow reminds him of a girl he lost in childhood whom he deeply cared about.
How Jae Ha comes to forgive those who wronged him, and how he comes to a place where he can trust and love again, is often a painful journey to watch, but inspiring all the same.
The romance is hard to beat in Spring Waltz. I totally disagree with the other reviewers here in that I think the two leads have VERY strong chemistry between them! The way they look at each other is breathtaking! Very few American shows ever show this deep level of spiritual combined with physical passion between the leads.
There's also American actor of Korean descent Daniel Henney as eye candy, many great character actors, and an absolutely gorgeous soundtrack with lots of genius composer Yiruma romantic pieces.
Don't miss Spring Waltz! It's a classic for a reason.
Soosanghan Gajungboo (2013)
Suspenseful K-drama with magnificent performances
Here we have Ji-Woo Choi (Winter Sonata, Stairway To Heaven) giving a MAGNIFICENT performance as an unsmiling housekeeper to a family who just lost their mother to suicide. The children remaining latch on to her, despite her failings, because they are grieving the loss of their mother and dealing with a wimpy father who was having an affair with a co-worker which brings on the wife's suicide. If he had only kept his pants on she never would have died! The children are all great little actors in this show; how Korea keeps finding these incredible child actors I have no idea, but they knock it out of the ballpark compared to child actors from Hollywood, bringing depth to their characters, even the tiny five year old girl who is an absolute treasure of a performer. I am not sure I could even read a script at five years old, much less have the depth to bring dramatic emotions to the surface.
You can watch this show on websites like dramafever.
Don't miss this addictive drama, it gets 10 stars from me!
When a Man Loves (2013)
Reformation of a gangster / loan shark
Flawed but nevertheless engrossing drama of a man and woman's reformation into grown up human beings. Song Seung Hun gives a brilliant and unforgettable performance as a former gangster - loan shark trying to live a decent life after falling in love with Shin Se Kyung's feisty but often childish and girlish character, the daughter of a poor bookstore owner. The secondary characters will probably drive you a bit nuts during this series but stick with it anyway. All the fears and joys of an older man slavishly in love with a young girl are expertly displayed in a very intimate and interesting script.
This probably won't be in many people's Top Ten Dramas List because much of it is depressing - it's in the melodrama category, after all - but it's still worthy enough to be enjoyed. I marathon-ed it, so that should tell you something!
Deurim hai (2011)
I loved this K-drama about high school kids pursuing their artistic dreams, and I'm a 55 year old woman! The soundtrack was awesome, and toe tapping, good for dancing! I even bought the CD on Amazon.
Dream High was on Streaming Netflix but for some unknown reason they recently removed it. I am so glad I got to enjoy it before it was taken off! You can still see it on the DramaFever website but it's not as much fun when watching on a computer instead of a 60 inch HDTV - plus unless you pay monthly on that site to take the ads off you are interrupted with them on DramaFever every ten minutes. Annoying!
I particularly enjoyed the story of the fat girl who lost weight in order to be taken seriously by her peers. Her transformation was beautiful.
The boy I liked the best ended up winning the girl in the end, but that was hard because the other boy was very nice too. I felt sorry for his character, he was obviously still in love with her.
Apparently there is a Dream High 2 sequel but none of the same cast returned so I will not be bothering with that one. I am not sure why they bother doing that -- bring back the same cast whom people felt close to the first time around.
Pulls At The Heartstrings
Postman to Heaven aka Heaven's Postman is a film which will take you to another dimension, a twilight zone of romantic lyricism that few films can reach. It's an intimate movie and a thoughtful one. Quiet and pensive, humorous at times, but always deep, because we are dealing here with feelings of loss people have after tragically losing someone they love.
The two stars are perfection: Hyo Ju Han (Spring Waltz) a wonderfully expressive actress with a rare childlike presence, who can show you about twenty different emotions in one ten second close-up, and Jae-Joong Kim (Protect the Boss) who has a sublime dignity and reserve about him which is perfect for the part of the postman. It's difficult to imagine anyone else in their parts.
A simple film but a profound one. I won't talk about the plot here for risk of revealing spoilers but if you are a romantic at heart and consider yourself a spiritual person buy Postman to Heaven and go with the flow. It's a keeper.
Operation Proposal (2012)
Heartfelt and beautiful K-drama
Operation Proposal = addictive gem! Yet another Korean drama with profound lessons for people who are up to learning something deep about life and love and themselves, instead of simply wanting to be "entertained" with sex and gore and foul language, which is the diet of American TV shows and films today. I watched on Streaming Netflix the day before it was stupidly removed by them. So glad I did! I loved it! It's the story of a young man and a young girl who fall in love as children at age 8, attend the same schools through college, yet they never can seem to connect romantically and actually say "I love you" to one another. When he sees the girl he has loved his whole life getting ready to marry another man he is distraught and is visited by a male angel who gives him an elixir to go back in time and change his mistakes with the girl which led her to seek solace in someone else.
Even after multiple chances to fix his mistakes he still makes more of them! He has to be the most bungling hero in K-drama history but still endearing due to his sweetness.
Baseball figures largely in the storyline and the metaphors with the passion of sport and the passion of love erupt continuously.
If you are a romantic at heart don't miss this winner. It's probably available on DramaFever website or YouTube.
Chanranhan yusan (2009)
Very nice K-drama
I enjoyed Brilliant Legacy aka Shining Inheritance very much. It's from 2009 and features a great cast and interesting story. It is available to watch with English subtitles on Instant Netflix.
The actor who plays the autistic teen brother was the highlight for me in this series. He was brilliant at showing the inner world of autism. If you have a family member with autism you will definitely be touched by his storyline.
The music soundtrack is perfect for this series. I wish American television could produce something as inspiring and compelling as Shining Inheritance or other top-notch K-dramas I have watched, like I'm Sorry, I Love You, 49 Days, Autumn Sonata, etc. All we ever get are boring reality shows.
Groucho Marx's Home Movies (1933)
1 minute and 38 seconds of family fun
This is bittersweet footage of Groucho's first two children (Arthur and Miriam) and himself with his first wife Ruth, taken in 1933 outside their California home. The two children leave for school, kissing their mother goodbye and waving to her as they skip away. Then Groucho leaves the house, sans mustache, but smoking his cigar and tries to kiss his wife twice, once with the cigar and the second time without, but their lips do not touch (on purpose?). Ruth stays behind and Groucho skips along like he is going to school too. He and the children take off for their day leaving wife Ruth to tend the home. Then we cut to a picture of the 4 of them mugging for the camera.
You notice a few things -- there was a lot of empty space around Groucho's home. Lots of palm trees. This was filmed before CA was very developed, obviously; it must have seemed a paradise back then. I'll bet that street is a jungle of homes and cars today! There was no gate around Groucho's home, no security. Anyone could just walk up to the house from the sidewalk and knock on the door; the house was not fancy, not a mansion; they might not even have owned a car.
Also I thought Ruth his first wife was very pretty and natural looking. She smiled broadly and laughed at Groucho, which belies what the grown up Arthur said about his mother in the documentary Marx Brothers In A Nutshell. He said she had no sense of humor where their father was concerned. Judging by these home movies he was flat out wrong! But who knows what really goes on between two people in a marriage? Groucho would go on to have other wives and another daughter, Melinda, but this time capsule is a charming moment which shows a happy home life in 1933. Whether this was reality, who knows? but it could have been taken at a happier time for the marriage.
Preserved by the Smithsonian and available on the Treasures of the American Film Archives box set.
Enjoyable but not faithful to the novel by James Matthew Barrie
This afternoon I had the wonderful pleasure of watching something I never thought I'd ever get to see, the 1975 British production of James Matthew Barrie's beautiful Victorian novel The Little Minister.
It is out on a brand new DVD set called Helen Mirren At The BBC, along with other TV shows she appeared in during the 1970's and 1980's.
You have to understand that I have about 10 copies of The Little Minister, I have loved it so for many years, from an original 1889 edition to the gorgeous Maud Adams edition to several Photoplay editions of the lost silent version with Betty Compson and the 1930's version with Katherine Hepburn and John Beal. So I was thrilled when my friend emailed me and told me this version was now available on DVD at last. I looked and Netflix carries it so I didn't have to pay for it! This version takes away several important characters like the mother and the father of the minister (the father is the narrator of the story), and changes the end around to make it more of a drawing room comedy a la Noel Coward. It was entertaining and fun but not faithful to the novel. The original novel had a much more dramatic and serious ending, raising many issues having to do with how a church reacts when its leadership, in this case the minister, disappoints them in some fashion.
Here the new minister at Thrums, Gavin Dishart (played by Ian Ogilvy) falls in love against his will with an apparent gypsy woman named Babbie (played by Helen Mirren). His congregation are very fond of him and when they become aware that he has an attachment to a mysterious woman they are very concerned and the church elders move to fire him.
Later it is revealed that Babbie is really the spoiled, willful daughter of the local Lord Rintoul and not the gypsy she made herself out to be. This is also a change: in the original novel she was the ward of Lord Rintoul and not his daughter and had actually been the daughter of gypsies.
In the original story she is at first toying with his feelings and then slowly she realizes she has fallen in love with him.
Gavin: "Can a man fall in love with a woman against his will?" Babbie: "Of course he can. That is the nicest way to fall in love." I love the original story because the minister is shown to be a good man with deep moral convictions, yet he isn't stuffy but makes decisions out of compassion and love. A far cry from the ministers one sees in other books like Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, or the Jane Austen novels like Emma, which make ministers out to be buffoons or evil people. Gavin is a romantic figure but strong and reliable, principled, and a true believer.
In this TV version they make Gavin out to be more of a clown, especially toward the end. I really prefer the way John Beal played him in the Kate Hepburn version. Plus Ian Ogilvy towered over much of the cast and he is supposed to be the **little** minister, short in stature and slightly sensitive and embarrassed by it. That point was missed entirely with Ian's casting. Remember in real life James Matthew Barrie (author of Peter Pan) was very short and was sensitive about it, so this is just one reason why he wrote the character the way he did.
But Helen played Babbie with a lot of flirtatious joy and I really enjoyed her performance. She has said that out of all the TV shows she made that are included in this box set that The Little Minister is her favorite.
9 stars out of 10. It's not perfect but it's enjoyable for what it was, a TV production from the 70's and not a major feature film.
Perhaps someday now that the novel is public domain again someone in the UK will have the bright idea to make a truly romantic and serious film out of this wonderful story, and next time try to make it more faithful to the beautiful novel.
I Love The Host !!!
The Host is one of my favorite Korean movies. It has everything: suspense, energy, love, humor, pathos, political intrigue, and lots of unique imagination compared to your typical monster movie.
An American scientist in a lab in Korea orders a Korean clerk to dispose of large quantities of formaldehyde in the Han River at Seoul (this at least was based on a true incident). A few weeks later two fishermen spot a strange amphibian creature in the water, pick it up, examine it, then let it go. Months later this creature has grown into an enormous man eating monster who attacks the people living and congregating near the Han River. He kidnaps a little girl and brings her to his lair in the sewers (the sewer scenes were actually filmed in real sewers and the cast all needed tetanus shots before they worked on those scenes). Her family have to fight city hall, the police, the medical profession to get their daughter back on their own.
The acting was terrific in this film; it's a perfect cast. The music is fantastic and adds a lot of character to a film already brimming over with it. The film is now out on Blu-ray as well as DVD, with excellent English subtitles. Please do not watch the film with the English dub. Go to the menu set up and choose Korean language with English subs instead. Believe me you will enjoy the picture a whole lot more. I've never seen a film with a good dub yet; the lips are always out of sync with the voices, no matter how hard they try. You need to hear the original Korean actors' voices to appreciate this film fully.
10 out of 10 for entertainment value. You'll want to watch this more than once. :)
Le roman de Max (1912)
Adorable, Charming Silent from Max Linder
The story is simple: Max and a pretty young lady, whom he has never met before, arrive at the same time at a luxury hotel on the Riviera, each for a little vacation by themselves. They are placed in adjoining hotel suites. Both Max and the pretty lady place their shoes outside their hotel room doors to be cleaned by staff, and the shoes fall in love. They dance around together and they hug and "kiss".
Once back in their shoes, the lady and Max find their feet are quite restless. All of a sudden the shoes fly off their feet and take off, trying to re-unite. Max and the lady chase off after their shoes and meet at a park bench, and put their shoes back on. Max and the lady then fall in love too and start to kiss. Finis.
Although this film was made in 1912 you already see film artists like Max Linder were experimenting with time lapse photography and special effects. It's very effective, very romantic, and quite charming.
You can view this silent on YouTube.
The Garden Of Eden on film
Last evening I watched the most beautifully photographed film I have ever seen in my life. It leaves even David Lean's cinematic masterpieces in the dust.
It's the earliest South Korean film I have been privileged to watch, called The Shower (1978, in Korean: Sonagi) and was restored by the Korean Film Archive a number of years ago. It's available in a beautiful box set with accompanying book in both Korean and English.
Directed by the prolific Young Nam Ko, who had over one hundred films under his belt when he made this one for which he is most remembered, every individual frame glows with beauty and is breathtaking in its layout and construction. I was getting teary-eyed from the sheer artistry of what I was seeing! The colors were so vibrant and gorgeous that it seemed that every few minutes I was exclaiming: "Wow!"
The story, written by Sun-yeon Hwang in 1953, is famous in South Korea, and is read by all Korean schoolchildren as part of their literary curriculum in elementary school. It's a coming of age story of two children, a boy (Seokee, played by Lee Young Soo) and a girl (Yeonee, played by Cho Yoon Sook), who are going through puberty and discovering the opposite sex for the first time. The girl comes from the big city to the country with her father after he loses all his money in a bad business transaction. They leave the girl's mother behind with her parents and they move in with the father's parents on a sprawling country estate. The parents are very angry with their son for losing the family fortune, since they will be forced to sell their own home, but they love their granddaughter and care for the pretty but frail girl like their own child.
The young boy that the girl befriends has his own troubles at home and is always being yelled at by his mother. He prefers to commune with nature rather than doing his chores. He becomes attracted to the new girl, although at first he avoids her and hides from her because she laughs at his country-bumpkin ways. Then a group of ruffians attack the girl in the forest and the boy defends her. They become fast friends and explore nature together in all its glory.
A sudden heavy rain shower throws them into close proximity and they only have themselves to rely on until it's over. Then the sun comes out and the countryside reverberates with life again. The boy and girl enjoy a country fair together. They seem to only exist for one another by this point in their relationship. The boy refuses to take the clothes off that he wore on that special day that it rained, much to his mother's chagrin.
The girl becomes sick from being chilled during the rain storm, and the boy has to play by himself for a few days. Then tragedy strikes, as it often does in Korean films. There is much symbolism in the haunting dream sequences that result, and the images are unforgettably exquisite. What a work of art this film is! There were many shots that reminded me of Japanese director Ozu's "pillow shots" in his films: moments where the camera lingers on something beautiful for a few minutes, as a pause until the narrative picks up again, but if anything the images here in The Shower transcend Ozu's work.
I can imagine that heaven would look like this film! Or at least the Garden of Eden. South Korea looks so beautiful in this film that it's almost painful to watch. I was reminded of a scene in I'm Sorry, I Love You (2004) when Su-jeong Im's character Eunchae tells Moohyuck (So Jisub) that if she were to come to life again after death that she would only want to live in her home country of Korea because she thought it was the most beautiful place on earth.
The sensuality of the film is very subtle and told in images: the children watch some grasshoppers mating, during the rainstorm the girl scratches the boy's back, the girl cuts her knee and the boy "sucks the germs out", the color red predominates in some scenes such as the boy eating red fruit while watching the rain sprinkle on the girl's arm. No kisses are ever exchanged but they don't have to be. They "kiss" with their eyes. This is a much more effective and gentle way to teach budding teenagers about the birds and the bees, rather than some embarrassing technical film about sex in 6th grade health class.
I cannot recommend this lovely film highly enough. Now that I have seen it I can easily recognize what an influence it has had on other Korean filmmakers. South Korean filmmakers have excelled over America's for decades.
My words are poor substitutes to describe its beauty. 10 out of 10 stars for The Shower. A true masterpiece!
Buy it at yesasia.com for 15 dollars. It's the best money you will ever spend on a movie.
Hatsuyuki no koi (2007)
An Exquisite Beauty!
Why isn't this film better known? It's so beautiful it melts your heart! Virgin Snow (2007) is a simple story of a Korean boy and a Japanese girl who fall in love. The boy goes to Japan with his father, a potter, for one year and though he doesn't know the Japanese language he is enrolled in school and has to acclimate to new surroundings and people. On a bike ride he stops by a shrine and meets a lovely traditional Japanese girl in a kimono and there is an instant attraction. Though they don't know each other's languages, they manage to communicate with sign language and a few words of English both know.
They fall in love but the girl has a secret: her home-life is a tragic one, which she keeps from the boy, only showing him her happy side. Eventually they are parted but will fate intervene and bring them back together again? I thought this film one of the most beautifully photographed films I have ever seen. Have you ever seen Japanese director Ozu's classic films? He had in them what is called by movie critics "pillow shots": moments in his films that add a punctuation to certain scenes, focusing on the beauties of nature. This film has some outstandingly beautiful moments just like those, but even prettier.
The English subtitles were excellent, but the film is so beautiful you would not even require any subtitles to enjoy it: you are seeing the Language of Love, which is universal. The two main actors: Jun-ki Lee of Korea, and Aoi Miyazaki of Japan, are dreamy to look at. They have a gentleness about them that is impossible to see today in the youth of the West, a spiritual beauty that shines forth like a full moon on a Spring night.
You can buy Virgin Snow on yesasia.com or eBay. RUN, don't walk, and get it, especially if you enjoy Asian films or Japanese / Korean culture.
Kurau: Phantom Memory (2004)
Lovely anime, it deserves more recognition
I picked this Kurau: Phantom Memory anime DVD set up really cheap at Big Lots. I had never heard of it before but thought for under 5 dollars for six discs how could I go wrong? ;) It turned out to be a very moving and heartfelt anime series about a motherless young girl named Kurau who lives with her scientist father. It's 1000 years in the future and he's experimenting with an alternative energy source called Rynax.
He takes his daughter to the lab with him on her 12th birthday and she is the victim of an accident; she is hit by this energy source and while her outside body remains the same she is inwardly a Rynax, with no memories of her past. She has special powers including flying, going through solid matter, and turning into light beams.
Ten years later she works as a detective / agent of sorts, until one day she is re-united with her energy source "pair", who is like a younger version of herself. She calls her "Christmas" because she's so sweet and Kurau passes her off as her younger sister to other people.
Each episode builds upon the next as Kurau and Christmas work to prevent the Rynax from entering other human beings. They also have to battle a security force called the GPO who are out to destroy them. There is a bittersweet ending that is beautifully animated.
Well worth your time if want to watch something where characters truly love one another and help each other. The music soundtrack is beautiful too and the animation quality is above average for anime series.
10 out of 10 stars.