aim it to the world
a round-up of divas, liars, thieves & more
Happy Easter! This season lasts until Pentecost on June 5th. Spring is finally here, and with it, the eternal victory of Jesus over sin and death. Really makes this earthly slog bearable. Dare I say, meaningful!
And on that note, here are a few sights & sounds that didn’t make the cut in my last round-up.
Grounds for Marriage (1951) - dir. Robert Z. Leonard
I first watched this back in 2016, a few months before I became afflicted with
Van Johnson brain disorder. I thought he was cute and liked his voice. My thoughts are still the same but now characterized by feverish longing :)
The film has one of those preposterous studio era plots — a doctor's ex-wife loses her voice because she can't accept they're not getting back together — and it's a delight. Long live dumb old movies that don’t make me think critically! Kathryn Grayson plays the wife, an opera diva. She was so good in this type of role (see also Kiss Me Kate) but she doesn't talk or sing for the majority of the film, which is really impressive. I love her and I love her with Van! This also gets my seal of approval because Graysie wears his pajamas, which was masterfully done in Roman Holiday two years later.
Cruel Gun Story (1964) - dir. Takumi Furukawa
Don't think I've ever seen a film edited like this before. The editing is swift and sharp, much like the film itself, which leaves no room to pause. Gleeful (?!) nihilism permeates this one, but there’s hardly any actual glee. Pretty cool that two other films on this list, including the next one, similarly deal with people double and triple crossing each other.
The Thieves (2012) - dir. Choi Dong Hoon
A heist movie that is a lot of FUN! Everyone is a liar who lies. Beyond that I won't even bother to summarize its maze of a plot.
The Attorney (2013) - dir. Yang Woo Seok | A Taxi Driver (2017) - dir. Jang Hoon
These films were part of my mini Song Kang Ho marathon on OUR birthday. Coincidentally, they were both perfect for Martin Luther King Day: in each, Song plays a man who is indifferent to social upheaval surrounding him before he gets involved. Both are based on true stories.
A Taxi Driver affected me the most, but The Attorney is also worth mentioning, not least because Song Kang Ho meows in it. That was cute!
Rising from a poor background to become a successful attorney, Song Woo Seok is ridiculed by other lawyers for only having a high school degree. He’s jolted out of his comfortable law practice when he learns that the son of an acquaintance was unlawfully imprisoned, tortured, and charged with sedition. Song takes on the case against his law partner’s wishes. The trial is merely a farce, but Song’s determination to expose corruption and the torture of students transforms it from a spectacle into a true plea for justice.
The Attorney is the latest addition to the Song Kang Ho White Tee Collection and the Big Men Drinking Out of Small Teacups Cinematic Universe (just a small selection so far).
NEW: Song Kang Ho In a Leather Jacket
The events of A Taxi Driver unfold during the Gwangju Uprising of 1980, a bloody massacre carried out by South Korea’s military government. German reporter Jurgen Hinzpeter (Thomas Kretschmann) sneaks into the country to broadcast the protests to the rest of the world, as Korean media suppresses the truth. Hinzpeter needs to find a way into the tightly patrolled Gwangju. Kim Man Seob is the taxi driver for the job, or so he thinks. Kim only wants the large sum of money Hinzpeter promises. As a widower raising his daughter alone, money is always his primary motivation. He's portrayed sympathetically except for one scene that condemns his selfishness. I like Kim Man Seob a lot. He's just an ordinary guy thrust into turmoil, frequently unheroic, but he redeems himself.
Assassination (2015) - dir. Choi Dong Hoon
First movie of the year that I watched with Emmy 💓 Another plot maze that I don't feel like summarizing, but it's almost non-stop breathless action set during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Jun Ji Hyun hiding a pistol in her wedding bouquet is what we like to call cinema poetry around here.
Brandy - Full Moon
I hadn’t even realized this album was twenty years old when I listened to it earlier this year (on Brandy’s birthday in February). I was 11 when it was released and I knew the two singles Full Moon and What About Us?, but I didn’t listen to the album in its entirety until now. Though it was a modest success upon release, it was — and is — an immense feat (Billboard), with Brandy calling it her third life changing album. Definitely forward thinking and so exciting to hear all these years later. I didn’t know I was craving heartbreak ballads until I listened to Nothing and Love Wouldn’t Count Me Out. Brandy is called the
Vocal Bible for abundantly good reason!! In love with how she layers her voice and her husky low register. Just one favorite from the album:
ITZY - Weapon / Voltage / Spice
Weapon was released in January for the dance competition show, Street Woman Fighter. It’s crazy good. More of their signature energy lights up Japanese EP, Voltage. It’s also good but b-side Spice is the best!
Lia - Always be your star
Released at the same time as Weapon, for k-drama The Red Sleeve. Lia’s got incredible range: from a fierce ITZY anthem to a gentle ballad. I really like her tone. I’m so proud of her and can’t wait for her next solo.
Kai - Come In
My favorite track off Kai’s second solo EP, Peaches. I think this is my most played song of the year (would be fun to see it square off with 4*TOWN’s Nobody Like U — there can only be one!!!). I wasn’t really feeling the album at first which was a shock. But then a second listen completely won me over (hated Domino initially; what was I thinking?! why you dumb dumb dumb don’t be stupid, indeed). I cannot remain unmoved by an EXO release. Come In is perfect.
From the ‘80s vault: Prism Train by Amii Ozaki
That’s all for now, later days!