Thursday, February 23, 2012

Film #001.

     Here's to my first film critique.  I decided in the beginning of 2011, that once I started summer vacation, I would watch a film a day (maybe two), and write a quick little critique about it.  Mind you, I'm no professional film critic, and I'm no writer.  I'm merely a film-buff; but aren't we all?  (Especially in this "hipster age" that we live in).  Some films may be ones that I've watched multiple times (such as this one), and some are ones I haven't seen at all and I'm eager to watch and write about them.  But what ended up happening was... so... I decided to hand write everything in a journal right, and then this dog came out of nowhere and ate it.  Just ate everything... the lead pencil, the .05 lead case, my eraser...  Now it's 2012...

     Anyways, let's roll right along.

     Why did I start with this film? I actually have no idea.  I wasn't even looking to watch a rom-com (romantic comedy).  This film is pretty old.  It came out in 2001.  There was a horrible American remake in 2008.  But when I was thinking of what to watch, the first film that came to mind was this one.  And I'm glad that I started off my "2011-summer" movie list with My Sassy Girl.  If there's anyone that hasn't watched this yet, please do.  It'll lighten your soul for about 90% of the film and the ladder 10% it'll make you feel.... what's the word - apathetic?  That might be the wrong word, but that was the first word that came to mind.  The best way to describe this movie is that it's basically, the korean version of 500 Days of Summer before 500 Days of Summer was even written.  It's directed and written by Kwak Jae-Yong (곽재용), he also wrote and directed The Classic (클래식) and Windstruck (내 여자친구를 소개합니다).  Apparently this movie was "based on a series of true stories posted by Ho-sik Kim on the Internet describing his relationship with his girlfriend. These were later transformed into a best-selling book and the movie follows the book closely."  

     Judging from his film resume, it seems like he loves exploring the subject of Love.  Most of his films, if not all, have been romantic comedy/drama genres all relating to love expressed by characters that have very similar qualities of innocence and purity - platonic feelings of love turning into eros.  Similar to 500 Days of Summer, it is narrated in favor of the guy (in My Sassy Girl the narrator IS the main guy), and the whole movie unfolds in the guy's perspective.  However, unlike 500 Days of Summer, My Sassy Girl stays true to the formula of a rom-com.  Boy meets girl; boy falls in love with girl; they can't/won't be together for some reason (mainly due to issues of past relationship troubles); years pass and the girl realizes she loves the boy; then by fate they meet once again; then everything is happy go lucky.  Anddd scene.

     This was probably my fourth time watching this movie and it still makes me laugh out loud.  What I realized this time around was how immature the script was and how ridiculously simple the editing was done.  It honestly seems like the work of a first time writer/director.  The writing is very cheesy and almost unrealistic to the point where I wouldn't be surprised if the first draft was written as an undergraduate's thesis project.  And the editing.... it looks like it was done by a high school student learning final cut for the first time (I'm sure they used Avid or Adobe Premiere Pro.... or maybe some korean editing program that I've never heard of).  There were no fancy camera movements or any interesting camera angles, yet the film is still amazing.  I want to believe that all this was intentionally done by the director.  Reasons: 1. As a writer, he probably wanted to portray the child-like innocent, lovey-dovey side of falling for someone. 2. To portray that visually, the best way IS to keep it as simple as much as possible - almost like it was shot in DV by a student filmmaker. 3.  Keep the editing as "traditional" as much as possible - meaning, exhibiting what you need to see and nothing else; no extra B-roll was needed; keeping the images very "flat" and "2D", so the audience will only feel the surface of their relationship.  Seeing that the director does a great job sticking to this style, he was able to create a very light-hearted tone from beginning to end.  Also, the acting is very over exaggerated to match the humor in the writing.  Not to mention, the main male actor breaks the fourth wall several times to compensate for how two dimensional the images are in hopes to bring the audience in a little "closer" into the relationship between him and the girl.  If you didn't notice yet, everything falls into place - the writing, the editing, the acting, the directing.  In my opinion, it was perfectly executed.

     What I loved most about this movie was that it was purely a telling of a story.  In this dot com generation we live in, story-telling has been tainted with special effects.  I'm not saying special effects is bad or anything, it's just that "movie magic" was always the magic of telling a story, not the voodoo of using a green screen and computer animation.  The ability to transport the viewer into a state of wanting to be IN the story was the magic.  It seems like film makers nowadays have forgotten how to tell a simple story.

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