WALK UP (Melbourne IFF 2023) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Split into four distinct sections, the same story is told numerous times across the movie’s runtime, altered slightly each time and with shared intersections that seem to acknowledge each different variation in ways both big and small. In true Hong Sang-soo style, much of the film’s improvised action takes place across a dinner table as characters eat, drink and share their stories, creating a sense of intimacy and immediacy that has very much become a major part of Hong’s trademark. Walk Up is a formally cheeky, confident film from one of contemporary cinema’s true masters.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 9, 2023: ALONERS

Hiding behind a carefully constructed wall of aloofness and solitude, Jina (Gong Seung-Yeon) successfully avoids feeling grief, anger, and…pretty much everything else in South Korean writer/director Hong Seong-eun’s delicate feature debut Aloners. As it explores the potentially devastating impact of denying yourself the time and space to experience pain and loss, the film ultimately makes a clear argument for the importance of establishing genuine connections with other people.

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Berlin Film Festival 2023: Female Filmmaker Wrap – Serena Seghedoni reports

The Berlinale has been publishing a gender evaluation since 2004, and though the festival hasn’t reached gender parity yet, their inclusivity has significantly improved since 2019. If from 2002 to 2018 their percentage of female-directed films in competition amounted to 5-22%, in 2019 they almost reached gender parity with 41%, and the percentage has exceeded 30% every year since then. Their internal organization also reflects their desire to be inclusive, as they have achieved gender parity in almost all of their committees, juries, and even festival directors.

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PAST LIVES (Berlinale 2023) – Review by Serena Seghedoni

A favorite amongst audiences and critics and a strong contender for the Golden Bear is without a doubt Celine Song’s Past Lives, screened in competition after its World Premiere at Sundance and about to be distributed theatrically in the summer by A24. We first meet the film’s protagonist, her name is Na Young (Seung Ah Moon), she’s 12 years old and she lives in South Korea. But her family soon has to emigrate from the country, which means that Nora has to leave her childhood sweetheart/best friend Hae Sung behind and take on not only a new name, but also a new identity.

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DECISION TO LEAVE – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Korean director Park Chan-wook, who earned a best director award for this film at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, packs several twists and engrossing camera work into this murder mystery, but also an elegiac romance. Think of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and how the femme fatale eventually became obsessed with the detective obsessed with her.

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DECISION TO LEAVE – Review by Diane Carson

Decision to Leave profiles a South Korean detective’s obsession. What subjective filters cloud any attempt to discern the truth of events, much less throughout an investigation by an experienced, self-aware South Korean homicide detective Jang Hae-joon? That’s the intriguing question director Park Chan-wook answers in exquisitely complex fashion in Decision to Leave. The catalyst for Hae-joon’s immediate crisis is a dead businessman discovered at the foot of a mountain.

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ALONERS (TIFF 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Hong Sung-eun’s Aloners is an engaging film about a woman who is completely disengaged. Currently playing as part of the Discovery stream at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the programme tells us that our protagonist Jina (Gong Seung-yeon) is part of a lifestyle phenomenon known as holojok, “a neologism formed by combining the Korean words holo (alone) and jok (group) to define the growing number of people who prefer to be left alone in one-person households, accounting for one-third of total homes in Seoul”. A low-key, thoughtful meditation on the difference between being alone and loneliness, isolation and independence, Aloners is a quiet, thoughtful and sensitive debut feature from a filmmaker to watch.

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AN OLD LADY (TIFF20) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

If elder abuse is a taboo subject that is rarely afforded the serious consideration and action that such horrors demand, then elder sexual abuse is even more so. There’s a sense of sadness that courageous and well executed film about such a difficult subject may pass unseen because the taboo nature of the subject may turn an audience off. But that is what makes this film so urgent; An Old Lady tells us something we don’t want to hear in a way that makes us forget why we refused to listen for so long.

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PARASITE – TIFF19 Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The success of Parasite is not merely marked by great filmmaking and an intriguing storyline, but deep within its foundations lies an overwhelming understanding on Bong’s part of how bigotry operates at an almost molecular level. It’s everywhere. Parasite is a truly original black comedy about the tragic, casual normalization of the uneven terms upon which everyday class warfare is waged.

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