Everyone’s talking about Avatar and Alice. Even ComiCon had it’s moments with a potential stampede when rumors about Depp stopping by quickly spread. At least that’s how I describe it, since I had to duck and cover. But, there’s something more interesting in theaters today.
I went to a screening of Bong Joon-ho’s latest film, MOTHER. It is a funny, creepy, exciting murder mystery that also explores the mother-son relationship. And, yet another example of the latest cinematic talent out of Asia.
Hong Kong dominated for years, giving the west stars like Jackie Chan and directors like John Woo to fall in love with. Hollywood has had a long relationship with Asian cinema. The Pang Brothers minimalist horror film, Gin Gwai was remade as The Eye. Andy Lau’s Infernal Affairs 1,2 and 3 were merged to become The Departed. And, Japan’s Takashi Shimizu brought us his own remake of The Grudge.
Korean Cinema, sometimes referred to as Han Cinema, brings something new to the mix. The latest wave of movies out of Korea cannot be held in a narrow category. One thing they do have in common is the unexpected angle used. Stories that have been told since cinema began are updated and given new and broader perspectives. The subject matter ranges wildly from romance-starring septuagenarian lovers, to horror-where the monster is revealed immediately, to history-taking on brotherhood, loyalty and the effect of history on the present during the Korean War in the 1950’s, to mystery-a woman in ancient Korea use forensic science to solve a murder.
Last year, Na Hong-jin premiered his first film, The Chaser. It was picked up by an American studio before it even hit the film festival circuit. I’m curious but wary of how American film will deal with a story with a sympathetic serial killer and corrupt ex-cop/pimp as the hero. But, it’s due out in 2010, and rumored to star DiCaprio. That’s a story that could only come out of Korean Cinema today.
This is inspirational for design, marketing, branding, etc, because it shows how a creative mind can tell the same old story in a new way. The old quote, “There’s nothing new under the sun” is often used to discourage designers and artists. It may be true, but how you look at and how you show the same old, same old can create something new.