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I’ve finally started chewing away at the pile of Asian movies that I have, so I thought I’d post some short thoughts about some of the movies that I’ve watched.

Haeundae (Tidal Wave)

I thought this movie was going to be a catastrophe movie, where you get to follow people during a natural disaster, but it isn’t really. The movie starts out with a Tsunami hitting and killing amongst (many) others the father of the lead female character who is played by Ha Ji-won (whom I know from 100 days with Mr. Arrogant). Then we get to know the people who were affected by the first tsunami as well as a geologist who thinks a “mega tsunami” could hit Korea. Among the characters I found another familiar face in Lee Min-ki who was in Romantic Island as well as in Be Strong Geum-soon, who plays a life guard named Hyeong-sik.

The better part of the movie plays out as kind of a drama about these people while you’re waiting for the inevitable disaster to hit.

A drama mixed with comedy, I should say. There was one scene where I laughed a lot. It’s when Hyeong-sik is rescuing a girl who has fallen off a yacht at sea. Very funny.

The movie was OK, I guess. Not more than that.

200 Pound Beauty

200 Pound Beauty is a movie that I’ve heard a lot of people like on forums and such. I’m a bit confused about the movie. On one hand I really enjoyed watching it. It’s very touching. And part of the message of the movie is that the main character has to stay true to herself. But then there’s the other part where, at least this is what I read into it, if you can have surgery to fit the ideals of today, then go for it.

But all in all I have to recommend it after all. It’s well made and has both funny and emotional moments.

If you, by some very odd coincidence, are choosing between these two movies — go for 200 Pound Beauty.

Paprika

I bought this movie a long time ago (3 years I think), but I hadn’t watched it until recently. I wanted to see this movie before going to watch Inception, because I had heard that there were some similarities, and I would rather have Inception remind me of Paprika, which I picked and no one wanted to watch, than the other way around (if that makes any sense).

I liked Paprika. And as far as the similarities go, it wasn’t much like Inception (or vice versa). Paprika is “weirder”/more dreamlike and leaves a greater impression in my opinion.

In Paprika they use a experimental device to record a patients dreams as part of psychotherapy. Paprika is a woman who is giving unauthorized dream therapy to a police officer. Then there’s someone who, as it appears, has stolen one of those devices and started using it to terrorize people by entering their minds while they’re awake and feeding them a psychotic dream. The boundaries between dream and reality start to blur.

If you were me 4

If you were me 4 (시선 1318) is the fourth in a series of short film collections produced by the national human rights commission of South Korea. I bought it last summer because Park Bo-young (Scandal Makers) is in one of the films.

I really enjoyed watching If you were me 4. I watched all short films in one go, but you can watch them one by one too. They are a bit on the “deeper” side of film making. Not popcorn movies.

The first film is called Blue Birds on the Desk and is about two class mates, both named Jin-ju, who are the top and bottom performing students in the class. Park Jin-ju (the best student) seems to have it all, but the pressure of staying the best is getting to her. The movie is kind of a semi-musical, with people singing in some scenes.

The second film, U and Me, is about a shy boy who is about to be sent to Australia by his parents and a girl in the same high school who is on the weight lifting team. The girl thinks about quitting, but her dad is so proud of her accomplishments. It’s about how they feel about their future. The score is very nice in this film.

Third there’s Relay. This is the film with Park Bo-young in it. It’s directed by the same guy who did Il Mare. It’s about some high school students who take turn caring for a baby that they’ve snuck into school in order to protect the young mother from being expelled and having her baby taken away.

The Theory & Practice of Teenage Dream starts out with a girl beat-boxing and then continues with some students who talk about their future and rumours about how a girl died in the field they’re in. You really have to be a speed-reader to keep up with the subtitles for this one.

The final short film is Girl on the Run. It’s about a girl who is a runner. When her school cancels the track team she’s offered to join the rest of her friends in another school in Seoul, but her father won’t let her. So she runs away. Her mother finds her and takes her on a trip to Seoul. I liked this film the most of the five. Very nice.