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Yoo Ji-tae's Movie Picks

2010/04/08 | Permalink | Source

Actor Yoo Ji-tae [Lee Jin-hyuk/10Asia]

"I don't concentrate on a particular theme. I'm an omnivore when it comes to watching movies. I like classical movies but also quite randomly watch and randomly feel, from modern films to independent films to avant garde". Yoo Ji-tae, with a 12-year acting career under his belt and a promising director, is widely known to be a movie-lover. His taste, which does not converge at a single point, resembles his filmography. He has been busy on the big screen where his roles have ranged from melodrama to horror to artistic films to commercial films.

And he who speaks as from a third person's perspective when evaluating his own acting, has gained more depth while producing his own short films. Even when we put aside the fact that his productions received favorable reviews at several international film festivals, his movies are far from being light. It is because Yoo as the director believes "making a film in itself is a noble act and have risked everything in life". That is why the path he takes as an actor, a director and audience cannot help but become increasingly serious. But being able to not become bored when such an element of seriousness is added is a privilege only one who is addicted can enjoy. "Making films is like taking drugs. Actors feel a pleasure when they deliver well but directors feel they have poured out everything they have in the sole fact that they have completed a movie. It's impossible to compare the pleasure you get from it". That is why Yoo fails to become worn out when it comes to acting, filmmaking and watching films. Below are the movies he says are by directors he so loves, envies at times and wants to become like.

1. "Maborosi"
1995 | Hirokazu Koreeda

"In the beginning I thought it was a study on Hsiao-hsien Hou's works. Although it actually was dedicated to him too. But I became startled at the director's details while watching the movie. So much that I would spring to my feet at times and repeatedly let out exclamations. It was different even down to the minute detail in how the main female character mops with a wet cloth. Tadanobu Asano's brief yet firm excellent performance was impressive too. His expression right before he dies was really good in particular. I had been wondering why he had on such an awkward expression, whether he really was an actor, when I realized it was a face he put on prior to his death and I felt he was really an outstanding actor". When the person you thought was the closest to you and you knew better than anyone takes his own life, how does the person left behind go on living? Yumiko (played by Makiko Esumi), who had left her hometown after leading a peaceful married life until her former husband commits suicide, returns after remarrying, to find that the traces of her dead husband have continued to exist. The director's keen eyes which look thoroughly into the main character's life composed of life and death is impressive.

2. "The Nightmare Before Christmas"
1993 | Henry Selick

"Tim Burton's comic imagination stands out in the films he makes. Of them, I think animation was the closest to his fundamental ways of thinking. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" in particular lingers in my mind because it is similar to my own childhood. The director had said that he made the film based on his memory that when he was young, he spent Christmas alone watching a horror film when everyone else was having a good time. I too was lonely and bored on Christmas. I first became interested in welfare too after thinking that I want to have fun with children who are lonely on December 25. (laugh) So that's how I've been spending every Christmas every since, at the place I chose by closing my eyes and picking a number in the phone book". Disney meets Tim Burton for "The Nightmare Before Christmas", a movie which takes a major step forward technically in stop-motion animation. But no significance can compare to the appearance of Jack (Danny Elfman). The Christmas uproar that skeleton Jack causes is cheerful and brilliant throughout. The film was recently reissued in 3-D format.

3. "Gloria"
1980 | John Cassavetes

"It's John Cassavetes' masterpiece. He himself used to be an actor but made a huge statement on the radio one day. That if he makes a movie, he will achieve both critical and commercial success. But it really did happen. Cassavetes is like a one-man band -- he will handle everything from the shooting to editing. The fun thing is that he doesn't pay attention to the response by critics. Unlike people who want their movie to seem good, he'll edit out moments where during press screening for his movies, the reporters said good things. (laugh) His eccentric character has come to be respected by other directors. I myself have thought I would want to become such a director". Gloria (played by Gena Rowlands) is a strong woman. She will shoot her gun on a main street in broad daylight and threaten the mafia. But to six-year-old Phil (played by John Adames), she is just a cool and good woman. Phil, who is alone after his family is killed by the mafia and Gloria, who runs away, become family and friend to each other.

4. "X-Men"
2000 | Bryan Singer

"I think Bryan Singer is a genius director. 'X-Men' could have become your typical film but it was adapted into by him perfectly. It also helped people rediscover the appeal to comic books. It's very hard transform your color commercially while not letting it exhaust but he's a director who knows how to do it. I had the most fun watching the first of the 'X-Men' series. I know you'll think I only like old-fashioned movies but I'm not like that. (laugh)" Mutant heroes with supernatural powers. "X-Men" has enough cinematic value in that it visualizes their powers and shows satisfying action scenes. But Bryan Singer's superhero flick also cleverly portrayed the social ills rooted deeply inside American society. The problems, such as how even in our own society, we do not accept difference and discriminate racially, were not handled lightly in the film.

5. "Magnolia"
1999 | Paul Thomas Anderson

"When I was young, there was a time I declared that I'm all about oddness. I even used to go around saying, 'Films should be odd", but that started with me loving Paul Thomas Anderson. (laugh) 'Magnolia' in particular -- how could the film be so odd? Toad rain falling from the sky... Such imagination and oddness stimulated me a lot. To the extent that I adopted such oddness into my own film". Many characters appear in "Magnolia" yet none are exceptional when it comes to their acting skills. The feast of actors including Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman who make each scene their own, make the viewer become convinced even of their complex relationships and nonsensical plot development.

Reporter : Lee Ji-Hye
Photographer : Lee Jin-hyuk
Editor : Jessica Kim
<ⓒ10Asia All rights reserved>

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