a round-up & rambling
I’m doing a round-up for the first time in forever! These are just thoughts on a few movies & dramas.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) - dir. Victor Fleming
I watched this movie for the first time ever last week (no one is more shocked about this than I am). I was so sure I’d seen it before. But I was super lucky that my first viewing was on a big screen! I will most likely write my longer thoughts somewhere else, but the short version is that it exceeds the hype and is a perfect coming-of-age fairy tale. One of my best friends gave me the first book in the series which I'm keen to read, and I'd also like to get my hands on Salman Rushdie's book-length essay on the film.
Midnight Lace (1960) - dir. David Miller
Was reminded of how great a film this is, stunningly lit and stylized. It has this atmosphere of plush terror where Doris Day is menaced by an unseen tormentor. She’s so good, you guys. Enthralled by the look of the film, too: intoxicating colors, elegant shot compositions, and lavish yet tasteful set design.
Intruder (2020) - dir. Sohn Won Pyung
Hypnosis in a haze. It's not the cleanest or tightest script, but that really works in the movie's favor: everything is murky and confused. The feeling of being unmoored is so potent. It almost fooled me in that middle stretch by disguising itself as a horror movie, but then it slinks back into an unnerving mystery. I hadn’t realized it at first but this is similar to Midnight Lace: domestic terror but with a male victim.
Chimera (2021) - dir. Kim Do Hoon
I actually watched this last winter. Maybe I’ll write more about it. It is the perfect k-drama TO ME. This is my Squid Game. Like the former it stars Park Hae Soo, but it doesn’t have the global appeal. Chimera is more intimate and straightforward. A slow burn crime thriller, it travels from point A to point B while zigzagging through detours, but it’s still quite easy and exciting to follow along. The commentary on injustice and corruption is also brilliantly done.
Embrace the Panda: Making Turning Red (2022) - dir. Erica Milsom
Erica Milsom’s short film Loop is a triumph so I was overjoyed to see she directed this one. I loved the visual harmony of Domee Shi matching with a pink background. That may have been the highlight for me, along with the concept art and archival footage of Andrew Stanton from 16 (!) years ago. The entire look of the doc is very bright much like Turning Red. Pink room aside, it’s lovely and illuminating.
There’s still a lot more I can write about Turning Red. One of the things I was most excited for was its portrayal of female friendship, which was so authentic and positive. That same essence of friendship and camaraderie is echoed in this doc with Domee and her core team of women. Yet another important Pixar first!
Something else I cherish about Turning Red is the vibrant confidence of teenage girls. Mei, Miriam, Priya and Abby are unashamed of who they are, fearless in their self-expression and attitude. Stories that celebrate children liking themselves are vital. Also, the girls remind me of a certain k-pop quintet with bold anthems about being unabashedly themselves. I can vividly see Mei and her crew singing along to ITZY’s DALLA DALLA and WANNABE. I wish ITZY was on TR’s already flawless soundtrack.
Now consider the following:
Juvenile Justice (2022) - dir. Hong Jong Chan
I added this k-drama to my watchlist immediately for Kim Hye Soo, a queen. I wasn’t planning to watch it right away, but Park Bo Young gave it her seal of approval. I had no choice but to skip the other dramas that were on my priority list and start this one.
Juvenile Justice started off strong and did sustain momentum throughout the ten episodes, each one more harrowing and heart-wrenching than the last. It is an incredibly difficult watch. I cried several times, and was reminded to pray for real victims like those depicted on the show. I don’t think it’s stellar (they don’t make shows like Chimera anymore), but I did enjoy it. Kim Hye Soo’s performance is the real draw. I cannot stress enough how riveting she was, embodying the steel and vulnerability of a frigid loner.
Kim Moo Yeol was great in this drama too, a real darling. I recognized him from an earlier film, The Gangster, the Cop and the Devil (2019). I thought he was handsome in that film but I wasn't really paying attention to him.1 It was a big mistake searching him up on google. I skimmed over his Wikipedia page and opened the personal life section. A mistake of epic proportions. It's such a brief, simple entry and yet. I was not prepared for what was contained within.
Back in 2012, Kim was dating actress Yoon Seung Ah (I adore her in the low budget Panda and Hedgehog, a show so bonkers and maudlin that only the most perceptive viewers can love it). He sent her a drunk tweet that was meant to be a private message, professing his love, and accidentally revealed their relationship. I have been fixated on nothing else since! My mind is also reeling over him sending the tweets when they’d only been seeing each other for a few months.
I had to wonder why he couldn't have just texted her (thank God he didn't, this story is too perfect) but he explained that he was obsessed with twitter at the time ☠️ I think this man should be studied.
When he appeared on the variety show Ask Me Anything/Men on a Mission in 2020, not even two minutes had passed before they called him a good husband. “You love your wife.” “Of course.” Lee Soo Geun then read the infamous tweet aloud:
“When I drink late at night, thoughts of you keep entering my head. I want to hear you talk and see your face. I want to call you, but I am afraid it will wake you up. So I send you a message instead as always. An uncontrolled variable that is you filled my days with uncertainty, unfamiliarity, and anxiety. You did that to Kim Moo Yeol, a man who was broken in half. I think you will make me whole. I don’t know why I wrote all these difficult words. ‘I miss you’ would have sufficed.”
Unbearably cute! :(
That’s all for now 💘 Here’s some inspiring images:
I wasn’t paying attention to Kim Moo Yeol in The Gangster, The Cop and the Devil because I was a bit more preoccupied with Lee Marvin lookalike, Choi Min Chul. Korean Lee Marvin can't hurt you but it still freaks me out that he exists! Lee already has modern counterparts in Jim Jarmusch (the resemblance is uncanny) and Benicio Del Toro (his cinematic successor). He doesn’t need any more…