Here are my weekend movie picks designed for a comfy yet engaging weekend filled with drama, emotion and fun. Since this is my first time writing one of these I didn't want to pick a theme, I just wanted to recommend some high-quality films. These movies have been on my mind recently because they left an emotional impression on me that was hard to shake. If I had to discuss one thing they have in common is that they deal interestingly with the way we relate to each other, but that being said they are absolutely nothing alike.
This movie opens with our protagonist (Jung Jae Young) trying to jump off an overpass because he no longer has the will to live. Don't worry, because like everything else in his life, Seung Keun fails. finding himself alive and well on a little sandy island just underneath the highway. The irony and brilliance of this story are that he is now stranded, outside of cellphone reception, and just out of anyone's view, and yet he is smack dab in the middle of Seoul. Kim must now learn to survive as if in the heart of the wilderness, but surrounded by towering modernity and millions of people. His only hope is Jung Yeon (Jung Ryeo Won), a shut-in, obsessed with the moon, and yet horrified of leaving her room. Jung Ryeo Won wonderfully plays the agoraphobe who suddenly notices through her telescope that a man is stranded on the inner city island. Thus we have the unfathomable stalemate of Seung Keun stranded on his sandy bridge foundation, and Jung Yeon too scared to leave her apartment in this utterly original comedic bundle of fun.
This movie strives on its utter originality, I can safely say I haven't really encountered a plot like it. Beyond that Castaway on the Moon does an unbelievable job of reaffirming one's hope in humanity. Between the resilience of the once suicidal Seung Keun, and the bravery of the cripplingly anxious Jung Yeon, you can't help but be inspired. Definitely a feel-good comedy, despite its potentially tragic and dramatic themes.
Mi So (Esom) one day realizes she is out of money and has a decision to make, either she has to give up whiskey and smoking or move out of her apartment. As any responsible adult would do, she packs up her bags, buys some more cigarettes, says goodbye to her apartment and goes on a road trip to visit all of her old college friends. What ensues is a fascinating look at what it means to get older, and how society can mould and organize people into different types whether they like it or not. Each one of the four friends she visits displays a different outcome of modern day living and its relationship with adulthood. Mi So refuses to grow up, but the more of her friends you meet, the less you think she should. One of Korean indie production company Gwanghwamun Cinema's first big hits, Micro-habitat is a scathing analysis of young adulthood in the age of late capitalism.
Jeon Go Woon, the film's writer and director, portrays brilliantly how success and responsibility seem to conflict constantly with honesty and exuberance. She shows the emotional complexity of adulthood in many different and sometimes hilarious ways. For a fascinating and yet understated film, I would definitely give this movie a try, especially because Go Woon is destined for great things.
Winner of Europe's most prestigious cinematic prize last year (the Palm d'Or), Shoplifters is a masterpiece of raw emotion and clinical subtlety. The film is about a makeshift family who can barely scrape by, but stay close through their overwhelming love for each-other and mischievous propensity to steal. One day Osamu (Lily Franky) and Shota (Jyo Kairi) come upon a hungry and bruised young girl (Sasaki Miyu) who appears to be abandoned. They take her in, and soon find out that she has been reported missing and is on the evening news. Seeing that she has been mistreated by her parents, and needs a lesson in what it means to have a family that loves you, Osamu and his family decide to keep her and treat her as their own. What ensues is an utterly human, heart-wrenching, and gorgeous exploration of what it means to be a family, written and directed by the Japanese master of drama Hirokazu Koreeda.
This movie is truly amazing, but you don't realize just how good it is only some time afterwards as you try to pick it apart and try to understand just what it was trying to say. If you have ever taken the idea of family or parenthood for granted this film will make you reimagine and rethink those ideas in the best and most emotionally exhausting ways possible. Definitely one of the better movies I have had the privilege of seeing.