Saturday, June 03, 2006

Cinema of Sang-jin Kim

I "discovered" this director by picking up the comedy "Attack the Gas Station" on a whim from Scarecrow video. The movie, I thought, was a laugh riot. It had a group of actors who rob a gas station, and then, because they are bored, they rob the same gas station again. This time, one thing leads to another and they are holed up in the gas station for the entire night. The movie builds up to a very entertaining climax, and in the process packs in a lot of whimsical, quirky incidents.

I happened to "meet" the director at one of the Seattle Film Festivals -- he was there with his another incredibly funny movie -- Jailbreakers. All his movies, as I think many Korean movies do, have plenty of small, quirky sides to their characters. In Jailbreakers, one of the guys, when he breaks out of prison, sits on the ground, arms raised in sky, eyes closed -- reminiscent of Tim Robbins from Shwashank Redemption. Why does he do that? Because he always wanted to. The movies also pack in some bizarre situations, e.g., the jailbreakers looking for a way to break back into the jail that has cops under seige by the prison inmates. The movies don't try to explain away the quirkness of the characters -- they are there, and others have to deal with them. And I loved this about his movies.

His latest movie is out -- "Ghost in the House/Gwishini Sanda" -- but unfortunately it isn't available on Amazon or on Netflix -- so I ended up ordering it from some obscure online store. Meanwhile, if you are up for some entertaining, quirky cinema, you can rent two of his movies from Netflix. (Sang-Jin Kim on Netflix)

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