I think it’s been at least a year or even longer since I last went to the movies. But they say when it rains, it pours… Last week I went to see two very different films at two very different cinemas in Korea.
Up until now I think I have seen maybe 3 Korean films, first of which was “My Sassy Girl” from over a decade ago. The second one was during the Tribeca Film Festival several years ago; I went to see “3 Iron” directed by Kim Ki-Duk (Korean title is completely different, 빈집 Binjip, means an empty house). And last winter during my stay in India for panchakarma a lovely American couple gave me a wonderful Korean movie to watch called “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring” (봄 여름 가을 겨울 그리고 봄) also directed by Kim Ki-Duk . Hmm… maybe a bit strange that 2 out of 3 Korean movies I know are directed by the same person?!
Well, since I’m in Korea I thought it’d be nice to go see a local film. I’d heard that this movie called “관상” (face reader) was breaking box office records over the Chuseok holidays so I settled on that. I was off to an early (10:50AM) weekday showing of “Face Reader” at a large multiplex at Lotte Cinema. By going to in the morning I thought I’d avoid the crowd and also get a matinee discount. Well, I got the discount (5,000 won ~ $5) but I couldn’t escape the crowd… who knew that the elderly would come as a group?! Honestly, they came as a large tour group and packed up the theater.
As for the movie, all I have to say is that I’m glad I didn’t pay the full price (~$9?). Maybe it’s because I couldn’t fully understand the dialogue and didn’t get all the twists and turns, but it really wasn’t to my liking. It hurts me to know that a beautiful autumn day was terribly wasted inside a darkened theater. There was very little I liked about the film so I won’t go into it, but what remained with me was a scene with a tiger that looked really fake. The beast was so obviously a stuffed animal that it made me chuckle and pulled me out of the movie completely. I tried to get into it, but all I could do was sigh and fight the urge to leave the theater.
Disappointed with the Korean film I wasn’t so sure whether I’d see another one while I’m here in Korea. But as luck would have it, someone I recently met told me about a small cinema that shows a selection of mostly independent films both foreign and domestic. She suggested that we go and see what was playing there. This theater happens to be within walking distance from my apartment so we made a date to meet there the very next day.
When I saw the poster for the film displayed outside, my heart smiled. It was an Argentine film set in Buenos Aires. I would get to reminisce about my ~5 months in that beautiful country, listen to the lyrical Argentine Spanish accent, and see the streets of BA again. Yay, yay, yay!
My brain was a bit jumbled for the first 20 minutes or so listening to Spanish and trying to read Korean subtitles. But I soon gave up on the subtitles and just enjoyed watching the movie. It was so much fun hearing Spanish again! The romantic comedy was lovely, and I thoroughly enjoyed the intimate theater and the experience.
On my way home that evening I came across a chorus singing by the steps of the Sejong Cultural Center. It was getting a bit chilly but I stopped by to hear them fill up the night skies with their voices.
Here is a shot of the big avenue leading up to Gyungbok Palace, on my way home…