IN OUR DAY – Review by Diane Carson

In Our Day captures real, unadorned, but noteworthy lives. The prolific South Korean writer/director Hong Sang-soo never fails to surprise and educate with his unique technical and thematic choices, a pattern that holds true in his recent film, In Our Day. As usual, he begins by dropping into the middle of conversations, here eavesdropping on popular actress Sangwon, in her forties, living with friend Jungsoo.

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SLEEP (TIFF 2023) – Review by Karen Gordon

Charming, and original, South Korean Jason Yu’s directorial debut is a character driven clever blend of horror and black comedy. Sleep is entertaining on the surface, but could also be read as a metaphor for a father’s fears in the face of having his first child. Jason Yu He divides the movie into three distinct chapters, gives us a trip into Crazy Town, and even gets dark, but he never loses the comedy, or–more importantly- the normality of the couple at the centre. That’s the big charm that holds this film together.

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CONCRETE UTOPIA (TIFF 2023) – Ulkar Alakbarova

Penned by Lee Shin-ji and Um Tae-hwa and skillfully directed by Um Tae-hwa, Concrete Utopia artfully captures the selective kindness within individuals and how they can succumb to greed in the most trying of circumstances. The central dilemma in this post-apocalyptic thriller lies in questioning why those who have survived choose to hoard food from those who are denied entry to their homes, rather than sharing their provisions with those who continually display hostility.

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WALK UP – Review by Diane Carson

In his film, Walk Up, South Korean director Hong Sangsoo remains true to his distinctive style. A handful of characters reconnect and share wine and food as they converse, talking and talking and talking with a static camera watching from medium long shot. As in real life, the casual exchanges reveal a world of psychological attitudes and cultural attributes. Shot in beautiful black and white, adding a documentary feel, Walk Up unfolds through fanciful imaginings, but collapse time or brilliantly immerses us in the way we access memories. Hong Sangsoo proposes a mind-bending, fascinating, episodic narrative.

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THE NOVELIST’S FILM – Review by Diane Carson

In The Novelist’s Film South Korean director Hong Sangsoo proves that he craftily, masterfully reveals individuals’ challenges, misgivings, and aspirations through casual conversation. Here he adds an astute interrogation of cinema itself, of directors and writers as well as viewers. He seldom movies his camera, most medium distance shots playing at length without edits. As a result, I consistently feel Hong, his own cinematographer here, inviting me to become a participant in the interaction.

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THE WOMAN WHO RAN – Review by Diane Carson

In his relaxed style, South Korean writer/director Hong Sang-soo observes individuals, casually but meaningfully, as they reveal themselves in informal, quiet moments. He again demonstrates insightful perception in his 2020 film, The Woman Who Ran. The setup is elegant and simple. Gam-hee takes advantage of her husband’s business trip to visit three friends in a small town outside Seoul.

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HOUSE OF HUMMINGBIRD – Review by Diane Carson

South Korean filmmaker Bora Kim’s House of Hummingbird burrows convincingly and completely into the psychological and emotional world of a lonely fourteen-year-old girl who, like the country, stands on the verge of change. The film’s young star, Ji-hu Park, observes, processes, and reveals her deepest thoughts and emotions through her eyes.

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WOMAN ON THE BEACH – Review by Diane Carson

South Korean director Sang-soo Hong observes a romantically involved couple and a friend in an isolated location, as they reveal their inner selves. What at first seems a microscopic study has universal implications about attempts to forge complex human connections despite a myriad of psychological and emotional complications.

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AWFJ EDA Award 2019, Best Film: PARASITE – Review by Diane Carson

South Korean director Joon-ho Bong’s Parasite lives up to its name, meaning that it feeds off several film genres while remaining impressively unique. As with his earlier works (The Host, Mother, Snowpiercer, and Okja), Bong embeds a biting social critique in a dynamic narrative with unexpected risks and satisfying surprises. In Parasite, social inequality and class collision take center stage.

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