BUSAN, South Korea — The rainy season is officially here, and with torrential downpours still to come, what better way to spend your time than cooped up in a cozy movie theater? Starting this Saturday, the Busan Cinematheque is showing a variety of contemporary world cinema, including three English language films.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Ken Loach, 2006
Saturday June 25 at 19:30 (one showing only)
Veteran filmmaker Ken Loach is best known for depicting the harsh realities of the working class in movies like “KES” (1969), “My Name is Joe” (1998), and “Bread and Roses” (2000), but it wasn’t until departing from this familiar environment in “The Wind That Shakes the Barley,” a period-piece about the end of the Irish War of Independence and the ensuing civil war, that he won the coveted Palme d’Or. After being nominated seven times, it’s possible that the 2006 Cannes Film Festival jury awarded him this prestigious prize more in recognition of his lifelong contribution to cinema than the cinematic achievement of this particular film. “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” is neither the most representative sample of the director’s work, nor the most original; indeed, the brother-fighting-against-brother civil war metaphor is a little timeworn, and the overall direction is exactly what you would expect from a historical drama. However, if not measured in the context of the filmmaker’s larger oeuvre, it’s a perfectly watchable movie.
Mike Leigh, 2010
June 28 – July 23
For screening times, go here.
Pretty much everything I just said about Ken Loach’s “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” applies to the latest film by his fellow compatriot Mike Leigh. A far cry from his best work, “Another Year” hardly lives up to the incredibly high bar he set for himself with movies like “Naked” (1993) and “Secrets and Lies” (1996), while also not being downright bad. But unlike Loach’s film, an unusual departure in style and content, this is a pretty typical Mike Leigh picture, and for that reason his lack of form is less forgivable. If he had been more ambitious and come up short, I would be sympathetic, but to do the same basic thing he’s always been doing, only worse, comes off as lazy. “Another Year,” about a year in the life of a happily married couple and their not-so-happy friends and family members, would more aptly be titled “Another Mike Leigh Film About Miserable People.”
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Woody Allen, 2010
June 28 – July 24
For screening times, go here.
I made my opinions about Woody Allen pretty clear in my last article, but to elaborate, let me just say that if I were to decide to give his films another look, I wouldn’t start with his most recent work; I’d probably go back at least 20 years, when he still had the semblance of a soul. “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” looks as unpolished and formulaic as any of the whopping twelve movies he’s made since the new millennium, with the exception of “Match Point” (2005), where he at least tried to do something new and different. At the rate that he churns them out, and the striking similarity of every new project he takes on, it’s hard to take anything he does seriously anymore.
You can read more of Jacob's take on film on his blog, You'll Never Be Hungry Again
For more info on Busan Cinematheque, go here.