Korean Cinema – 누구의 딸도 아닌 해원 (Nobody’s Daughter Haewon)

Poignant, thought provoking and subtly charming. Hong Sang-soo blends reality and whimsy in this snapshot of life.

Haewon is a young woman still trying to find her place in the world when she finds herself abandoned by her mother who has suddenly decided to emigrate to Canada. And to make matters worse soon after her affair with a melancholy married professor comes to light, she is thus ostracised by her classmates and feels utterly alone. 

I loved the simple direction in this film which made it feel really real, like I was simply observing a moment in someone else’s life. This effect was also helped by the natural and conversational dialogue and the lack of a soundtrack (except for a key recurring song). This style of filmmaking is to me simply wonderful, it’s perhaps the closest you can get to reading a book which makes it an utterly charming experience to watch.

Another key factor that makes Nobody’s daughter Haewon such an interesting watch is the abundance of recurring motives throughout the film. And for the sake of not spoiling what that alludes to I’m just going to leave it there. So if you haven’t watched the film yet keep your eyes peeled for them and if you have seen this indie gem then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

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You can catch this film and 5 more of Hong Sang-soo’s films as part of the Mubi “selectrospective” of the prolific directors filmography titled Solving Puzzles: The Cinema of Hong Sang-soo. If you don’t want to miss this movie Mubi works is a little different to Netflix or other online streaming platforms so you do have to watch the films within 30 days before they disappear from the library making way for new content!

P.S. I have started a little film club over on Instagram on my Film Account so if you fancy joining head over there and get involved!!! This film was my first pick as I was super excited to find out about Mubi showcasing Hong Sang-soo’s work as most of his films have never been released here in the UK!!

The Best Films of 2018

Here is a countdown of The Best Films (IMO, you may think differently) that came out last year. In no particular order they are as follows:

THE SHAPE OF WATER 

Guillermo del Toro’s latest film is a revelation, it’s beautiful, and it harks back to a golden age of cinema. The love story is bizarre but completely heartwarming and feels very much like an adult fairy tale. Sally Hawkins plays Eliza stunningly and if it wasn’t for Frances McDormand’s equally phenomenal performance in Three Billboards (which is also on this list) I’m pretty sure she would have got the Academy Award for Best Actress.  

암수살인 (DARK FIGURE OF CRIME)

This year I finally got a chance to attend LEAFF (the London East Asia Film Festival) and what a film to watch. Dark Figure of Crime is a crime thriller subverted, we know the killer from the beginning, the suspense of the film is from Detective Kim Hyung-min’s challenge of finding evidence for all of Kang Tae-oh’s murders so that he can be kept in prison for life. 

Kim Yoon-seok and Ju Ji-hoon are spectacular as there respective characters and director Kim Tae-kyun expertly paces the film for maximum effect. Also, another factor that made my watching of this film even more spectacular  was the fact that LEAFF hosted a Q&A with th director and main actor of the film! 

ZIMNA WOJNA (COLD WAR)

A beautiful and heart-wrenching romance set in a time of political upheaval. Joanna Kulig is a revelation as Zula, the cinematography is stunning and the story of two star-crossed lovers is fascinating and devastating. This masterpiece is available to watch on Curzon Home Cinema here in the UK.

CRAZY RICH ASIANS 

One of the best Rom-Com’s that come to mind in recent years, Crazy Rich Asians is big and flashy in its presentation but at its core, there is an uplifting romance. Let’s talk about the cast, can you really believe that this is a groundbreaking movie in the fact that it’s the first film in 25 years that has had an all Asian cast! Alarming. This year Crazy Rich Asians (and Black Panther) have proved that a lack of diversity is no longer permissible in Hollywood, the world is diverse so we want our movies to be diverse too.

ANNIHILATION

Daring and oh so very disturbing, this film is a modern sci-fi masterpiece. Annihilation follows a group of women who go on an expedition into a biological anomaly, it is both Sci-Fi and Horror along the lines of Alien. A must watch which is on Netflix.

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri sounds like it should be a really boring movie about not much at all. But it is quite the opposite. McDormand’s protagonist Mildred is one of the most fascinating and hilarious characters I’ve seen in a film for quite a while. Her brutal honesty and vulgar language are really quite funny but underneath the bravado lies a woman profoundly broken.

I tried to find ten movies but I think I’ll settle with six. There are loads more movies that I really enjoyed and quite a few that I haven’t gotten around to watching just yet (Roma & The House that Jack Built) and there are quite a few international films like Burning and Shoplifters which have not come out in England yet, and I’m pretty sure they would have made the list (and will most probably make the 2019 list)

Let me know in the comments section what your Best Movies of 2018 list looks like!

Music I’m Loving Right Now Vol IV – Chilled Out Winter Days Playlist

I am such a homebody as soon as sweater weather hits, I literally have to force myself to leave the house to go to work or to pick up groceries to ensure my survival. Socialising, well you can forget about that, I am not leaving the house unless it’s a life or death situation.  So to fill my time I read, watch tv and study…ooh très excitant! And I also spend a weird amount of time curating perfect playlists for the mood I’m in…so here is the Chilled Out Winter Days Playlist  

This playlist features some rather eclectic songs and genres…like who’d thought a film soundtrack reworking of a classic Punk Song (Hong Kong Garden I’m looking at you) would fit into a playlist with Korean Hip-Hop and soft indie folk…I think it does…this would be rather embarrassing if it doesn’t…Please tell me it does! 

Also is it just me or does Sofia Coppola have such awesome soundtracks to her movies, Lost in Translation is one of the first films that I watched as a child that made me fall in love with cinema and I have watched it a million times since, and that soundtrack is just so iconic! I’ve also been obsessed with the soundtrack to Goblin which is honestly one of the best Korean Drama’s I’ve ever watched (and believe me I have devoured many!!!) and considering much of the series is set in Winter the soundtrack is perfect for this playlist. And the final soundtrack goodness that found it’s way onto this playlist is Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, this classical piece is sublimely beautiful and considering Christmas is in the title I can be my festive song of the playlist.

5 Reasons Why I’m Obsessed with Maniac and Why You Will Be Too!

Maniac is a limited series based on the Norwegian series of the same name (though many things have been changed as far as I’m aware). Its a Psychological Sci-fi drama with an awful lot of dark humour thrown in. There is also a whole lot of bizarre quirkiness…which leads me to the 5 reasons why you will become obsessed with Maniac 

THE RETRO FUTURE AESTHETIC 

If you put Maniac side by side with Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the obvious comparison to be made is the Retro Future setting. I love this aesthetic, it’s clear that Maniac is a weird mixture of 60’s, 80’s and the present time albeit in an alternative universe to our own. The attention to detail in creating the world of Maniac is impeccable and the experience is fully immersive and the fact that no real world issues are explored there isn’t a hint of preachiness in the storyline at all which is also rather refreshing. 

AZUMI FUJITA 

Okay, Annie and Owen are awesome, beautifully realised complex characters but Azumi, one of the central scientists on the drug trial, is personally for me the best character in the series. I don’t know what it is…it could be the similar haircut and glasses, the apparent lack of emotions, the cool fashion sense, her overall juxtapositions in characterisation. Either way she’s an awesome character and I’m kinda obsessed.

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Monday mornings got me like…

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DREAMS VS REALITY

I love how this show deals with Dreams vs Reality. Annie abuses a drug so that she can see her dead sister in a hallucinatory state. It’s totally messed up and dark, but it makes sense, its rather painfully beautiful. Owen himself is stuck in a family dilemma and struggles with the possibility that he may be  suffering from schizophrenia

Maniac raises the question, would you rather be stuck in a dream than face the reality of the situation?

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AI

I love Science Fiction, it’s one of my favourite genres in film, tv and literature. I also am extremely interested in Robotics and AI, I think it’s so fascinating. GRTA is a quirky computer that was the brainchild of the equally quirky characters Dr Azumi Fujita and Dr James Mantleray. I’m not going to spoil anything but a self aware computer is never a good thing in fiction is it?

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INTELLIGENT STORYTELLING

This is a series that you have to pay attention to, it’s full of recurring details, connections and faces. But your attention will be rewarded with one of the most thought provoking and emotionally rich tv series I’ve watched in quite a while. And once you finish the series you’re going to want to restart the journey all over again.

So what are you waiting for…

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Music I’m Loving Right Now Vol III – Autumn Days Playlist

Autumn is upon us. And as the days get shorter and colder my listening habits change, gone are the fun and exciting party tunes of summer, it’s all about Indie Rock and a little dash of chilled out Hip-hop.

Recent Music Discoveries From The Playlist

Nell

Nell is a Korean Indie-Rock band, they have been around for ages but it was only in early September that I discovered them. My favourite song so far has to be Broken (hence why it’s the opening track on my playlist), I love how deep the song is…I just can’t get enough of it.

The 1975

I’ve known of this band for quite a while and I never actually took the time to check them out. But as I’ve been in an Indie-Rock mood recently I decided to finally listen to a few tracks. As a result, I’ve fallen in love with their Electro-Funk-Indie-Pop-Rock vibe!

This track is super reminiscent of Fame by David Bowie…Was it intentional for a band called The 1975 to release a song with a very similar vibe to a song from that very year!? Hmm

The Solutions 

Another awesome Korean Indie-Rock Band. And this music video is rather aesthetically pleasing too.

Music I’m Loving Right Now Vol. II

My last music update was back in March where I declared my love (and obsession) with DEAN and DPR Live. So as it’s been a while I thought I would update you on what music I’m loving right now.

JUNHO – 想像

First up we have Junho (from 2PM) and his new Japanese song 想像 which translates to Imagination. There is a mini album that this song is part of but I haven’t been able to listen to it yet as I can’t find it on iTunes, Spotify or Deezer!! (edit: The Album is now on Spotify and iTunes!!!)

The song and its accompanying music video are rather sensual , I mean look at how gorgeous Junho is! The basis of this music video is essentially a fantasy from the POV of the woman reading the book who I assume is his girlfriend. Her fantasy of him is set in a very minimalistic world with a very cool and sophisticated colour palette, the ultimate metrosexual male. However, the ending of the video is juxtaposed with Junho smiling at the woman while watching tv in a much warmer toned setting. Fantasy vs Reality!

JANELLE MONAE – DIRTY COMPUTER

If you guys follow me on Instagram then you will now that I have been obsessing over Janelle’s latest album on my insta stories quite a bit!

I absolutely love her latest album Dirty Computer (and the short film that went with it). It is such a fun and catchy collection of songs, but there is also such an important message flowing through them! Janelle speaks for the LGBTQ community, the Black community and Women. There are also commentaries on Trump’s America.

I love all of the tracks on the album but Make Me Feel is just perfection. I love the Prince feel to the song and it’s such a fitting tribute to his legacy as one of the coolest and most interesting musicians.

HOLLAND – I’M NOT AFRAID

As the first openly Gay K-Pop Idol in Korea Holland is making waves with his song I’m Not Afraid, It’s a celebratory track that declares That he’s not afraid of judgement and can be free to live his life the way he wants to.

And, the music video is amazing, it’s a further celebration of the LGBTQ community that includes Lesbians and Drag Queens and people of all different races. Inclusion at it’s best! It’s quite shameful that youtube originally put an age limit on the video! It has since been removed but the fact that it had been censored in the first place is a little concerning, especially when you consider what other content is out there that doesn’t get censored!!!

JUN. K – MS. NO TIME

Just like fellow 2PM band member Junho, Jun. K’s latest Japanese track (and the rest of the Album!) is nowhere to be found on music platforms in the UK!! So, I’ve been watching the music video over and over again! And seeing as this was his last solo promotion before going to the Army I’m sad that I can’t listen to the rest of the album!!

Ms. No Time is such a cool 90’s sounding track and the music video is so colourful and creative.

L.E.J – POUPÉES RUSSES

These three French women are so talented and their style of music is so unique (mixing rnb, classical instruments and vocals with pop). And their first album of original songs Poupées Russes (they became famous for medley mash-ups of popular songs) has become one of the most interesting albums I’ve listened to this year so far!

SEUNGRI – 셋 셀테니 (1,2,3!)

With literally every other member of Big Bang enlisted in the Military Seungri has made a comeback to tide us over for a little longer!

At first, I wasn’t keen on the song but after a second listen I became obsessed! It’s too damn catchy. The music video is pretty awesome too as it either was or looks like it was shot all in one take!! And the 50’s aesthetic is super cool! Now it’s time to check out the rest of the album.

MALIYA – BREAKFAST IN BED

This song is perfect for a chilled out Lazy Sunday morning! I found this track while listening to my discover weekly playlist on Spotify and I fell in love immediately!

MALIYA has such a soulful voice and the whole vibe of this song feels very late 90’s and early 00’s r’n’b pop! The rest of the album Ego also fits nicely with the aesthetics of Breakfast in Bed

ANGÈLE – LA THUNE

A cool laid back reggae-infused French Pop track is just what I needed this summer.

This bizarre Bonnie and Clydesque video is rather amusing, especially the critique on Social Media!

JAIN – COME

While this song is a little old (from 2016!) it was a recent discovery for me, my discovery of this awesome track was partially due to my French studies and also from my Spotify Recommendations!

This song is so catchy and perfect for the summertime and I love the African influence her music has as she spent much of her childhood in Africa. The Editing in the video is so cool and clever!

Okay, so that’s a wrap up on my Music I’m Loving Right Now Vol. II.  Don’t forget to stay tuned for Vol. III which will be coming in the Autumn Time.

Let me know in the comments section what you’ve been listening to recently as I’m always on the look out for cool new music to listen too