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'Money' Comes Up Rather Short

2009/09/03 | Permalink | Source

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

Ten rising South Korean filmmakers present seriocomic stories about money matters in the omnibus project "Short! Short! Short! 2009": Show Me the Money.

As much as the opening film for the 10th Jeonju International Film Festival is about money, the tight budget for the project ($5,000 per director) is most palpable. The screaming individuality and experimentalism of each episode compensate, but commercial prospects seem slight and the flick will most likely find a small niche in arthouse cinemas.

The omnibus reel opens with Choi Ik-hwan's one-cut flick "Our Last Words, Live". The "Life is Cool" director offers a mock home video featuring two despairing young men, who, defrauded, bankrupt and about to get arrested for false charges, try to assert their innocence by recording their last words on tape before committing suicide. But life ― and death ― are often beyond one's control.

In "A Tip for Cigarettes" by Nam Da-jeon, a news reporter stages a story about teenage smoking. What seemed simple enough ― paying an underage smoker to act like she is asking a homeless man to help her buy cigarettes ― ends up costing more than she had bargained for.

"Sad Movie" helmer Kwon Jong-kwan brings a tender teen story with a harrowing twist in "Coin Boy", in which a sack full of coins ― and dreams ― can become a lethal weapon.

In "Anxiety" by Lee Song-hee-il, the headline-making auteur of "No Regret", talented actors Park Won-sang and Park Mi-hyeon play a couple at a crossroads when financial troubles hit. The highly nuanced piece is propelled by mounting emotions, and shows how trust and relationships can be easily compromised.

In "Saw", Kim Eun-kyeong presents more of the thrills and suspense she showcased in her feature "Roommates - 4 Horror Tales". One rainy night, a young man prepares to close his hardware store but is interrupted by a bewitching, bloody-handed woman looking for a saw, but rather short on cash.

Yang Hae-hoon, who directed the hit indie flick "Who's That Knocking At My Door?", offers a surreal, sarcastic criticism of capitalism. "Sitcom" features two former sitcom stars, No Hyung-wook and Yoon Yeong-sam, as a pair of dumb-and-dumber defenders of justice and actress So Yoo-jin as a party-going heiress, who become entangled in a series of mishaps that result in unforeseen shifts of power.

Chae-gi contributes something more slow-paced in what is ironically titled "The Fastest Man in the World". The black-and-white digital movie captures the (un)eventful day of the "urban nomad", the penniless homeless man. The film draws out poetic rhythms from mundane habits and what often goes unnoticed, such an oppressive slant of light that fills a public bathroom.

"Neo Liberal Man" is the latest from Yoon Seong-ho that showcases more of his creativity from "Milky Way Liberation Front". This mocumentary follows the whereabouts of a man who won the lottery every week for over a year, played by quirky actor Im Won-hee, and the social controversy elicited by his incredible luck.

Roller Coaster vocalist Jo Won-sun makes her acting debut in Kim Seong-ho's "Penny Lover". An older woman receives a "special" coin from her young lover. Several years later, the young man has gone his way, but the penny remains in her purse.

Last but not least, Kim Young-nam ("Boat")'s "Hundred Nails and a Deer Antler" features a couple of the most idiosyncratic actors, Oh Dal-soo and Jo Eun-ji. In this warm, episodic tragicomedy, Mi-suk (Jo) demands that her former boss (Oh) pay her overdue paycheck, but the conversation goes off on a strange tangent.

In theaters Sept. 10. Distributed by KT & G Sangsangmadang.

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