Monday, September 25, 2006


“I will not miss this one,” I said to myself as I read the e-mail from an organization of film enthusiasts. It was the schedule of the Korean Film Festival at UPFI. Since graduating from college, I had to give up my regular movie binges; I just don’t have the time. I already missed countless film showings since then, the screening of Spanish films at Instituto Cervantes last August and the Chinese Film Festival at SM Mall of Asia two weeks ago are two of the most recent.

The festival showcased films that feature the “dynamic culture of South Korea ,” so the poster said. The line-up included Il Mare (2000), A Day (2001), Art Museum by the Zoo (1998), I Wish I Had a Wife (2001), Old Boy (2003), and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (2003). I only got to see two out of these six, a shame compared to my previous movie-going performances. But then again, it’s better than not seeing anything at all.

I really wanted to watch Il Mare (to compare it with its Hollywood adaptation The Lakehouse), but it was screened on a weekday, so seeing it was out of the question. At any rate, the two movies I’ve seen are quite noteworthy.
I Wish I Had a Wife is a romantic comedy by Heung-Sik Park , about a guy who is getting old and is desperately searching for a wife, all the while avoiding the girl who might bring about the end of his quest. The movie celebrates the ordinariness of love, with its ordinary characters in their ordinary world (The guy is a bank employee, and the girl is a teacher. How ordinary can they get?). No picturesque settings, gorgeous characters, and romantic movie lines, yet the magic is quite palpable. Viewers still chuckle and sigh inwardly, but the “kilig” would have been more felt if they chose more dashing protagonists. On second thought, that would be self-defeating.

Jeong-hyang Lee’s Art Museum by the Zoo, also a romantic comedy, tells the story of Chul-soo, a soldier who returns from his base for a break, only to find out that his girlfriend has left their apartment and Choon-hee, a wedding videographer, lives there instead. Chauvinist Chul-soo spends his ten-day break with eccentric Choon-hee, and a riotous battle between the sexes ensues. The title refers to the script the two co-writes as an entry to a scriptwriting contest, which is inspired by, well, an art museum and a zoo (duh?) that lie on the opposite ends of an intersection, with the protagonists’ significant others as the lead characters. It could very well denote the dichotomy between the two characters, or the parallel existence of the two places, or if we could stretch it further, to the dual progression of the film (The story of their script develops alongside the film’s plot, and scenes from the work-in-progress are interspersed throughout the film.).

I’m still in the process of thinking what to write next, and finding that I’ve grown too lazy to add more, I will stop here. Hehe, bitin.

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