Monday, November 2, 2009

The Best Korean and Japanese Films of the 2000s: Inaugural Post

Yesterday I received an email from the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), a Korean government-supported, quasi-independent organization that funds, supports and promotes Korean films domestically and abroad. If you have even the smallest amount of interest in Korean cinema, I highly recommend checking out their website, where you will find a wealth of material on both current and older Korean films. You should especially explore their "Publications" section, where you will find PDFs that you can download of their published material on Korean film history, films, and directors, and their periodicals on the Korean film industry. This is an invaluable source of information, and one which I refer to frequently.

KOFIC's newest publication is Korean Cinema Today, a bimonthly periodical with articles, reviews, and interviews concerning the current state of the Korean film industry, and especially Korean films that have been selected for major film festivals. Their next issue will be a special one that will look back on this past decade, the first of the 21st century, and included in this issue will be a reader's poll of the 10 best Korean films of the decade. The email I received was in reference to this, asking me to choose the best 5 films of the decade. If you would like to participate in this survey, you can do so here. (Click the button at the bottom to send your message.) If you include your name, nationality, and mailing address, your name will be included in the printed list of participants, and they will send you a copy of the published issue.

KOFIC's project has inspired me to do something similar for this blog. So for the next several months or so, I will be posting periodically on my picks for the best Korean films of the 2000s. Since Japanese films are also a major presence on this blog, I will be doing the same for Japanese cinema. Some of the posts will be republished here from elsewhere, others will be original posts. These will exclude films that have already been reviewed on this blog, or that I have written for other sites that I have chosen not to republish here. Of course, there are far more than five films that are worthy of inclusion on my list for the best of the decade. There will be no rankings or evaluations of which ones are better than other films. I'll leave it to you readers to decide that for yourselves.

Here are links to my reviews of my first best-of-2000s selections:

Korean Films

Radio Star (Lee Joon-ik, 2006)

Our School (Kim Myung-joon, 2006)

Woman on the Beach (Hong Sang-soo, 2006)

Voice of a Murderer (Park Jin-pyo, 2007)

Ad-Lib Night (Lee Yoon-ki, 2006)

The Happy Life (Lee Joon-ik, 2007)

Forever the Moment (Yim Soon-rye, 2007)

Epitaph (Jung Bum-sik and Jung Sik, 2007)

Treeless Mountain (So Yong Kim, 2008)

Old Partner (Lee Chung-ryoul, 2008)

Breathless (Yang Ik-june, 2008)

Joint Security Area (Park Chan-wook, 2000)

Japanese Films

I Just Didn't Do It (Masayuki Suo, 2006)

Memories of Matsuko (Tetsuya Nakashima, 2006)

Sway (Miwa Nishikawa, 2006)

Dear Pyongyang (Yonghi Yang, 2005)

Matsugane Potshot Affair (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2006)

The Mourning Forest (Naomi Kawase, 2007)

All Around Us (Ryosuke Hashiguchi, 2008)

Confessions of a Dog (Gen Takahashi, 2006)

Halfway (Eriko Kitagawa, 2009)

Dainipponjin (Big Man Japan) (Hitoshi Matsumoto, 2007)

Yasukuni (Li Ying, 2007)

For the record, these are the Korean films I chose for the KOFIC poll:

Turning Gate (Hong Sang-soo, 2002) -- the above still is from this film.

A Good Lawyer's Wife (Im Sang-soo, 2003)

Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-ho, 2003)

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (Park Chan-wook, 2005)

Secret Sunshine (Lee Chang-dong, 2007)

Certainly I could have picked five completely different films that would have been just as good, but I'm fairly satisfied with the above list as representative of the best Korean films of the decade, within the limited parameters of KOFIC's survey. What are your picks for the best Korean and/or Japanese films of the 2000s? You can submit your responses in the comments below.


Dan Sallitt said...

I sent them these:

Bam gua nat (Hong Sang-soo)
Hængbok (Hur Jin-ho)
Mang zhong (Zhang Lu)
Jiltuneun naui him (Park Chan-ok)
Oh! Soo-jung (Hong Sang-soo)

Other Hong films might have competed for slots, but I tried to give the others a chance.... Wonder if they consider the Zhang Lu a Korean film - the link to their master film list didn't work for me.

Author: Christopher Bourne said...

All great choices, Dan. It's so hard to pick just five, isn't it? The Zhang Lu would definitely qualify -- KOFIC covers him in their publications and I believe they have supported his films.

BTW, I love the original Korean title of Park's film: "Jealousy is My Power." Better than the English one, I think. And if you like that one, then you'll love her new film, "Paju," which I saw at Pusan and which I think is damn near a masterpiece. It took Park seven years to make a second film, but it was well worth the wait. Seo Woo, the young actress at its center, is incredible. She was great in "Crush and Blush," the other film I've seen her in (I highly recommend it if you missed it at NYAFF), but she outdid herself in Paju. She's already one of Korea's best actresses.

I'll be reviewing Paju as part of my Pusan coverage for Meniscus. So look for that in the near future.

Dan Sallitt said...

Jealousy Is My Power is a much better title! I'm so glad she got another movie off - looking forward.

Filebook said...

I love all your lists. I'm not aware of some movies listed above, but I will definitely try to watch it.