Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Busan Continued

The festival is beginning to wind down and people are walking around with a glazed look of too many late nights on their faces. The parties have continued with three to four being given each night, but I pretty much hit the wall on those since it feels like all they do is shift the guests and food from one venue to another. The weather has brightened up considerably though and I had a chance to take a long romantic walk along the beach with myself! I also wandered the back streets of the area where the festival activity is going on – the Haeundae area – and found it charmingly littered with gobs of small bars and love motels. This felt more like the Busan that you often come across in Korean films where it seems to usually be depicted as a tough hard drinking city where getting smacked on the head is the norm. People have told me that the best lodging bargains in Korea are the love motels where you can get a nice room with internet, wide screen TV, room service, a DVD library and player all for about $60 a day. And the beds vibrate. What more could you want?

I have checked out another six films over the past two days and will get reviews up over the next few days – some good stuff for the most part. Here is the first one I saw.

Sky of Love

Director: Natsuki Imai
129 minutes

If pain collected in your body like fat cells do, I think much of it would have come from that first love in your life. When you watch a film like this one and you are past the age where boy bands mean very much all you can think to yourself is thank god I never have to go through that ever again. Yet there is a certain purity in that pain that is never the same no matter how many relationships you go through in life. First love is a subject that Japan takes seriously in their movies and they churn them out fairly regularly with a well tested formula of innocence and tragedy awaiting the viewer. These films are quite popular around Asia and I have noticed many of them showing up in theaters in Hong Kong and around Southeast Asia. First love hurts everywhere, but the Japanese seem to have gotten it down better than anyone.

Sky of Love hits you with a lethal combination of cuteness and tragedy that is hard not to fall victim to. I assume the audience around me at the Pusan Market was a fairly hardened jaded one, but sniffling was heard from every corner and everyone seemed to wait until the end credits were over so that they had time to compose themselves a little bit before facing the lights in the lobby. I told the TBS representative (producer of the film) that the film had everyone in tears and she says “I know, we should have had Kleenex available for people”.

It begins in the present like a lot of these films seem to with the female character Mika (Yui Aragaki) looking back and having an internal narration with herself along the lines of how much her life was affected by the love of one man. Steady yourself for a flashback – some seven years in this case back to the first year in high school. Mika is your typical film school girl – the adorable girl next door type with a dewy complexion, bright eyes and a smile that radiates. During summer break she begins getting calls on her cell phone from an unknown student who refuses to reveal his identity, but rather than this giving her the creeps and calling the cops she begins a summer full of conversations with him and sort of falls in love. When he finally comes forward she realizes he is Hiro (Haruma Miura), a blonde haired, earring wearing kid from the wrong side of the tracks – a thug as she tells her friends. But he wins her over with a water hose rainbow and the two fall in love. In truth he is a totally sweet kid and he tells her that he wishes he was the sky so that he could always watch over her. Well love never comes easy in these films and the young couple is hit with just about everything the screenwriters could think of other than alien possession. To some degree it is almost too contrived – I mean how much bad luck can you have – but for this kind of film more is better and the theater full of sniffles was the best indicator that it worked.

According to Variety the film is based on a cell phone novel of some 11 million readers. Now what on earth exactly is a cell phone book?

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