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Trailer Weekly day. I’m back in London and suffering from the sudden 15 degree drop in temperature (the weather is just miserable!) and the fact that my breakfast doesn’t include mango anymore. Boohoooo. Never mind that the autumn months are looking insanely busy already, leaving me unsure whether I’ll have even time to breathe… all my September weekends are already planned out and some of October’s as well. Although I’m still a bit disappointed that I had to turn down presenting at the Cultural Translation and East Asia: Film, Literature and Art conference, which takes place in Bangor, Wales, next week, I know it was the more sensible decision in terms of time and workload. Despite the full schedule ahead, I’m hoping I will fit in more film reviews this month, as only three in August was a new low – sorry!

On to trailers, trailers: we are 50/50 this week: 50% Korean, 50% Japanese.

  • 두 번의 결혼식과 한 번의 장례식 (Doo Beoneui Kyeolhoonsikgwa Han Beon-eui Jang-rye-sik/Two Weddings and Funeral, South Korea, 2012) – Colour me interested when a filmmaker from a conservative country tackles a taboo subject like homosexuality and gay marriage. Particularly when it’s a romantic comedy. In this story a gay man, Minsoo, and a lesbian, Hyo-jin, get married… to each other. Next door reside their real partners, allowing them to share their lives with the one they love while appearing to the outside world like ‘normal couples’ – at least until Min-soo’s parents start to get a little bit too interested.
  • 나는 행복합니다 (Naneun Heangbokhabnida/I Am Happy, South Korea, ) – At the 사랑한다, 사랑하지 않는다 (Saranghanda, Saranghaji Anhneunda/Come Rain Come Shine, South Korea, 2011) screening earlier this week one audience member asked the director, who was present for the post-film Q&A, why he had cast Hyun Bin in the role of such a reticent and subservient character when the actor had alway been the playboy protagonist in films and dramas. Not surprisingly, Lee Yoon-ki disagreed, stating that Hyun Bin had taken on and impressed him with other kinds of performances in the past. Duh! It’s pretty obvious if you have watched anything of the director’s oeuvre that Lee wouldn’t just pick someone for the fangirls and even if Hyun Bin had only had only been the playboy-on-the-screen, recruiting him would have come down to the director seeing the potential of Hyun Bin’s acting range. Anyhow, that exchange led me to check out the actor’s filmography and although I don’t know which film(s) Lee Yoon-ki was referring to specifically (we can rule out 만추 aka 晚秋/Manchu/Late Autumn, South Korea, 2010, 시크릿 가든/Sikeurit Gadeun/Secret Garden, South Korea, 2010, 백만장자의 첫사랑/Baekmanjangjaeui Cheossarang/A Millionaire’s First Love, South Korea, 2006 and 내 이름은 김삼순/Nae Il-eum-eun Kim Sam-soon/My Name Is Kim Sam-soon, South Korea, 2005 which do see Hyun Bin as the arrogant ladies’ man) I think Naneun Heangbokhabnida might fit the bill: Man-soo, a deeply troubled man, comes under the delusion that he is a millionaire and ends up in a mental hospital, where the head nurse, another wounded soul, watches him every day.
  • 꼭 껴안고 눈물 핑 (Kkok Kkyeanga Noonmool Ping/Drifting Away, South Korea, 2010) – I was googling for some film poster and an image from Kkok Kkyeanga Noonmool Ping caught my eye:

The story – about married people who fall in and out of love and engage in affairs that should not happen – doesn’t sound too special and the trailer isn’t an all-engrossing masterpiece either, but glimpses of certain scenes pull me in with the rawness of emotions displayed. Maybe it will be nothing special. Maybe it will be terribly irritating. Or maybe it will be a little gem. I will give it a try in any case. (Quite like the film poster too.)

  • 「ピンポン」 (Pin Pon/Ping Pong, Japan, 2002) – Also digging into another actor’s past: Sometani Shota’s to be precise. His first appearance – not a lead role – on film comes in Pin Pon, which he made aged 10. It is, as the title already says, a film about ping pong as two teens, Peco and Smile, who could not be more different from one another. Friends and fellow ping pong players, their personalities as well as their motivations to play differ radically. From the reviews I have been browsing it seems that everyone starts of somewhat doubtful – it’s a film about table tennis, of all things – but ends up loving it. The Pin Pon poster is certainly totally awesome already – such simplicity in design and yet it so rocks.
  • 「嘘つきみーくんと壊れたまーちゃん」 (Usotsuki Mii-kun to Kowareta Maa-chan/A Liar and a Broken Girl, Japan) – One more with Sometani. Don’t try the synopsis on asianwiki.com this time, because you’ll end up more confused than not. To put it in a single and simple sentence, teenage students Maya and Mii-kun (Sometani) together suffered the trauma of a kidnapping in their childhood. They finally meet again, but the truth of what happened ten years ago has yet to emerge.
  • 「悪人」 (Akunin/Villain, Japan, 2011) – I’m dead certain that some of the loyal readers of this blog (you know who you are) already watched this film long ago, I however never paid much attention to it as the poster screamed “Terror! Gore!” just a little too loudly. But then I heard that Satoshi Tsumabuki (not instantly recognisable with the white hair) stars in it and stumbled over a trailer. And watched (the trailer) and realised that it’s psychological terror a la 「告白」 (Kokuhaku/Confessions, Japan, 2010), which I can kinda handle: A meeting of two young would-be lovers ends in murder as one kills the other. It is however another young man that ends up as the prime suspect and Yuichi, the murderer, who has a troubled and lonely past, must live in fear and hiding as the truth slowly begins to catch up with him. In the UK Akunin is distributed by Third Window Films, meaning it’s actually relatively easy to get hold of. (Kokuhaku, by the way, is also on their catalogue.) Going for the UK poster in the gallery here because I think it’s pretty stellar and better than the Japanese one.

Bonus Bits:

  • Bad news for USAmerican anime fans: The North American theatrical release of 「ももへの手紙」 (Momo e no Tegami/A Letter to Momo, Japan 2011), originally planned for the end of this year, has been pushed back. The decision from GKids, the US distributor, came so as to qualify Okiura Hiroyuki’s film for the 2014 Oscars. GKids’ Studio Ghibli acquisition「コクリコ坂から」 (Kokuriko-zaka Kara/From up on Poppy Hill, 2011), meanwhile, will enter the race for the 2013 Oscars.
  • I keep forgetting to include this (uncredited) photo, which a friend found (I think on the Studio Ghibli’s facebook page) and shared with me. Just plain brilliant:

  • Half-counting down the days to both Raindance’s and the BFI’s press releases for the upcoming film festivals – the former is out on September 4th, the latter the day after. Fingers crossed for some cinematic treats!