Top 5 reasons to love Korean movies

My initiation to Korean movies is fairly recent. I watched Old Boy couple of years ago, and that was it. It was only recently that I started devouring one Korean movie after another. In the last couple of months, I must have watched some 7-8 great movies. My colleagues are bewildered by my strange fascination with Korean cinema. Like most people, they think Korean movies are all about blood and gore. So it’s quite difficult for them to imagine a ‘nice, quiet’ person like me obsessed with Korean cinema.

To be honest, the more I watch Korean movies the more I loathe the Hollywood stuff.

Here are 5 reasons why I think Korean movies are simply the best.

Performances
I don’t think any other industry can boast of such magnificent acting talent. From Lee Byeong-heon to Choi-min sik, I think these guys can teach a thing or two to the Brad Pitts of the world. Most Korean movies I have watched had minimal conversations. The actors were either brooding or busy killing people, and that makes it so difficult to emote. If you want to know how it’s done, just watch A Bittersweet Life or 3 Iron.

Music

In India, music is just thrust upon the cinematic narrative. Yes, we are usually quite ostentatious. And that’s one of my biggest problems with Hindi movies. If you want to know how music can actually blend in with the themes of the story, catch the videos below. Of course, the impact is greater when you understand the context. But it’s superlative stuff nonetheless.


Imagery and Symbolism
Watching a good Korean movie is also about thinking beyond the obvious. Buddhist symbols and folklore find a very special place in some of the finest Korean movies. Even if you are not a spiritual person, you will find yourself captivated.

Easy on the Eye
Okay at the risk of sounding banal, I have to admit, Koreans are REALLY good looking. They have the perfect hair, the perfect physique and a perfect personality. It’s actually hard to choose between Jung Woo-sung and Lee Byeong-heon. The fact that both are tremendous actors only makes matters more complicating.

NOONE makes better thrillers than them

If you love thrillers like I do, you cannot and I repeat CANNOT miss out on Korean films. They are mostly inspired by real-life events, which makes it more intriguing to watch how the stories unfold.

So what’s your favorite Korean movie?

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Popular Characters From Movies and Their Probable Sun Signs

Growing up, I was fascinated by the intriguing world of astrology, sun signs and palmistry. I rummaged through the old pages of Cheiro that my father had bought years ago to learn more about ‘myself’. Why am I talking about astrology all of a sudden? Well, it’s simply a thought that came to my mind the other day. I love movies and some touch me in ways that I take days, even weeks to get the characters out of my head. So, how about identifying the traits of some of my favorite characters and guessing what sun sign they could’ve been. Still with me? Good. Now, some of these characters may have birthdates. But that’s not the point. The idea is to review the traits of some of my favorite/not-so-favorite characters and align them with probable zodiac signs.

So, here we go.

Lester Burnham (American Beauty)

Having watched American Beauty for some 70 times, I remember almost all the lines from the movie. One of my closest friends, who’s also an American Beauty fan, by the way, tells me that every time she watches this movie she learns something new. I cannot help but agree. What makes it so unforgettable is its characterization and the man who tells us the story is Lester Burnham.

Now let’s see what we can know from his characteristics. When the movie begins, he’s a friendless, unpopular guy. Someone whose company doesn’t leave an impression and whose absence doesn’t make any difference. Later of course, he turns into someone anybody stuck in a monotonous routine would be able to relate to. He quits his job, takes risks and ends up doing some rather impossible/improbable things.
I think Lester is a Taurean. A Taurus guy is usually described as the strong and silent type. He probably won’t even present his true self to the world before taking it by surprise. Precisely, what Lester does once he lets his hair down.

Theodore Twombly (Her)

I’m still unsure if I liked this movie or not. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore Twombly is one of my favorite characters from the movies. He’s shy, introverted and deeply emotional (P.S. Kind of man I’d normally avoid in real life, but I digress). I loved the scenes where he pens letters for people who can’t express themselves or perhaps don’t want to. He is someone who fails to connect with people around him but finds himself falling in love with his OS.

All these qualities make me wonder if he is a Piscean. Pisces are born romantics and veritable loners. They don’t find loneliness alarming rather they derive pleasure out of it. Plus, they are creative and Theodore’s heartfelt letters provide ample evidence that he’s a creative man too.

Scarlett O’Hara (Gone with the Wind)

I’ll be honest. Linda Goodman herself likened Scarlett to the fiery Aries women. So nothing I write here will be absolutely original. She’s my favorite nevertheless. So, I have to include her in the list. Anywhere, here’s my two cents. Unlike the perfect female protagonists of those times, Scarlett is surprisingly real and even a flawed character. Perhaps, that’s what makes Gone with the Wind such a timeless classic. It doesn’t preach, doesn’t give us a damsel in distress and a knight in shining armor. The central protagonists are conceited, disreputable people, facing real dilemmas and moral crises. And that’s precisely why I find Scarlett more relatable than say Elizabeth Bennett.

Now the Aries qualities that Scarlett possesses. Throughout the narrative, she makes decisions that make her look selfish and narcissistic. Most Aries are derided for the exact vices. They can’t think beyond their needs, it is said. In their defense, Aries are like overgrown kids. You can’t call a child selfish, can you? It’s more or less same for the Aries folk. They think about themselves first, but calling them selfish is overly harsh. Remember, Scarlett’s toils to keep her father’s legacy (Tara) alive?

So, what’s your sun sign?

Tom Cruise: The Actor in Magnolia

Back in the 90s when I was still some time away from the much awaited teenage years, boys and girls had hardly anything in common. If boys had their WWF stars to talk about, girls had all the time in the world to discuss MTV and their favorite nail polish color. It was also fashionable for the boys to dislike everything the girls liked (and vice versa). So, boys would laugh at Spice Girls while the girls would scoff at Schwarzenegger. There was one actor though who bridged the divide without much effort (not counting the charm and good looks here). That was Tom Cruise.

Every girl’s pin-up star whose pictures in the papers were stuff to gab about in the class next day. Interestingly, I never came across a guy who said he hated Cruise. Pierce Brosnan. Too gay. Nick Carter. Too girly. Keanu Reeves (before Matrix). Too lame. But Tom Cruise? Now, he was someone every boy wanted to be like and I can see why. At 5 feet 7, he is certainly not the ‘hunk’ women would fall in love with. Instead he just appeared as this unassuming cool chap who despite being aware of his drop dead good looks and effect on women, never acted as a douchebag. (Katie Holmes was still in school, I think and the couch act was still some years away). Boys wanted to grow up to be a guy like him. Someone who could melt hearts with a smile and look killer in Aviator glasses.  

The boy next door

 

As I grew up and watched him in his famous flicks, I felt his movies could somehow never tap his acting talent. Good looks, yes charm, definitely. But acting? Most of the movies he acted in had very little of the character he was portraying (barring Jerry Maguire, of course. Though that movie too harnessed every inch of his superstardom by making him ooze charm in every frame). He has always been Tom Cruise, the highest earning star in Hollywood, the man who sends hearts aflutter and who is perhaps more known for his personal life than professional work.

One movie though that attempted to give a glimpse into Cruise’s acting potential is Magnolia. Cruise plays a pickup artist, a really annoying guy who helps frustrated men hit on women and get them onto their beds. He has everything working for him, fans, money, fame; a perfect life.

The douchebag

You’d be pissed off by this know-it-all misogynist guy who seems to be doing quite well in his career. I was too but Cruise with his innate likeability kept me glued. Plus, the movie’s not about Cruise. It has other interrelated stories and he’s just another character in the plot.

The movie progresses and Tom Cruise’s cocky, egoistical self-obsessed character meets his match in a mean TV interviewer. In a couple of minutes, she tears down the character’s veneer of love, success and perfection. We come to know about Cruise’s troubled childhood, his loss and difficult years while growing up in a broken home. In a flash, Cruise transforms his character and you can’t help feel sorry for him. A guy who had to watch his mother die, leave home, stay with some relatives and build everything from the scratch. He looks dazed as the interviewer starts tearing him apart and when she asks him what he’s doing, he simply answers that he’s quietly judging her. The words cave in and I imagine the tough road he’s had to take to reach wherever he is.

Much later, he reunites with his ailing father who’s on his deathbed. He is apprehensive, almost shaking as he enters the house and asks the nurse to stay close because he might kill him if they are alone. Finally as he sits next to the dying man, he gives in to all the pent up emotions that were choking him all these years. He cries out for him, screams at him and expresses his innermost feelings that he could not share with anyone all those years. It’s such a poignant moment that chokes you up when Cruise angrily demands his father not to leave him again. Loss. Abandonment. Pain.

The man dies and Cruise looks composed, as if he has accepted everything and can now go on to become a better man.

The performance is so heartfelt that I didn’t feel Cruise was acting in any of the scenes. As someone who keeps his past buried somewhere to create an image of success, Cruise is the veritable loner here. He doesn’t have a girlfriend or close friends, just an entourage in charge of polishing his celebrity status. In the end, you feel for him. You do, like I did.

The fact that Cruise himself grew up in a troubled house and his relationship with his father was far from being cordial perhaps brings that level of authenticity in the final outburst. I don’t know how much of himself he was playing in this one but the final scene broke down that pinup boy’s mirage. He was nominated for an Oscar and I honestly feel he should’ve got it. Not taking away anything from Michael Caine who received it that year.

Which is your favorite Tom Cruise movie?

Gone Girl, the Movie and the Long Wait Begins!

Have you heard this? Gone Girl, the bestseller by Gillian Fynn is all set for a movie adaptation now. David ‘awesome’ Fincher is said to be at the helm of the project and the movie is going to star Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike! Can it get any better than this?

Nick Dunne

I can’t begin to tell how exciting all this sounds right now. First of all, anything involving David Fincher has the word ‘superlative’ written all over, isn’t it? The guy has given us some of the most memorable movies of recent years. The cast is also quite interesting, though I must admit I am not well acquainted with Pike’s work (apart from Die Another Day, the bond flick). And then there is the story. If you haven’t read the book yet, you don’t know what you are missing out on and I am not exaggerating one bit. I finished reading it last week and I am yet to get it out of my head.

She’s pretty, for sure

Gone Girl, The Book – A Synopsis  The book is about a ‘happy’ couple, the Dunnes. In their mid 30s, they seem ‘perfect’ for each other, until one day Amy (the female protagonist) goes missing on their 5th anniversary day. From thereon, layers of their relationship are unraveled brilliantly by the author. The narrative is from the central characters’ point of view. So, we get two versions of the story that keeps you guessing on what exactly is happening and how everything is going to unravel.

Gone Girl is a study of the complex husband-wife relationship and what makes it so good is that it’s very topical. A seemingly happy couple, their lives in a fast-paced city first and then in a small town, marital discords, appearances, deception and crime. (Yes, there is a murder)

But more than a tout thriller, the book is a commentary on the constantly changing and unpredictable world we live in. How it impacts our relationships, our decisions and future. The economic crisis takes huge toll on the central characters and the choices they are forced to make. As someone who started working in 2007, I know exactly how Nick feels when he’s laid off from work or when he has to go back to his home town to start afresh.

There are not many characters in the book and it is to Flynn’s credit that she fleshes out each one of them so brilliantly in her narrative. I’ll be judging (yes, judging) every scene of the movie when it comes out to see if the director does justice to the book because it’s one engaging story with not even one dull moment. It’s like one of those novels that you just can’t keep for another day, you have to know how it all ends and decide whose side you want to be in.

My Cast

Unlike most book lovers, I have never been against movie adaptations of good books. It’s a matter of perspective I guess. A fresher take and a different interpretation and also a great way to reach millions of people who don’t like reading (beats me though). After reading the book, I googled to find that Reese Witherspoon’s company holds the right to the script and for some odd reason I read the name Renée Zellwegger. The cast wasn’t decided yet and I imagined the Chicago star as Amy. Wouldn’t have been bad though, had it not been for the age factor. (Amy is supposed to be in her late 30s). Zellwegger could bring the right amount of vulnerability and astuteness required for the character. (P.S. Really glad Reese didn’t think of playing the character herself).

As for the guy, I somehow couldn’t think beyond Jake Gyllenhaal. The guy can pull off a writer’s role, someone who has just lost his job and has gone back to his sleepy home town to open a bar. But of course, Jake and Renée would look totally bizarre as a couple for this movie.

Anyway the cast sounds interesting right now and with Fincher donning the director’s cap, I think we are in good hands. If Pike can get into the skin of the character, I bet she’ll be a top contender for the Oscars (it’s that great a role).

Till then, I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for all the updates.

 

Have you read Gone Girl? What do you think of it? Are you excited about the movie like me?