Tuesday, January 15, 2013

'You once said you loved me, and now hysteria?'

I don't know about love, but there was definitely some hysteria this evening. I went to see a Korean indie movie with my friends, Lady PP, Suspenders and Class rep (I'm calling her Class rep because I haven't actually seen her since orientation, and simply that's what she was at the time).

I hope a can formulate some sense during this blog post. There was definitely a lot of sense lacking this evening, there were couple seats, free calendars, convection ovens, opening/ending credits three quarters through the film, David Lynch like character switching, followed by a rather high-brow director's question and answers session.

Firstly, I want to explain the convection oven. Who brings an oven to the cinema? Lady PP of course! I'm not quite sure how the self-professed events organiser, who has a serious penchant for writing lengthy aims and objectives for her personal goals, and recording extremely comprehensive travel inventories, manages to be late for a film screening. My only explanation is that she got so caught up in planning the planning, she lost track of time. I did wonder why she was messaging me from the north side of the river, when I was actually travelling to our meeting point on the south side. I figured she had it in hand, it's usually me who's late right. Finally, she messaged me and admitted she was going have to get a taxi, would be late, and would be bringing the oven she'd gone to collect with her. The oven being a quintessential part of her new year's plan to bake more, so quintessential it spent the majority of the evening being her foot rest in the aisle. Joking aside, I did feel a sense of affinity for her efforts. See my previous post about my personal bonding session with my own microwave oven.

When we arrived we picked up our tickets from the box office, and left Lady PP's for her to collect. We were given complimentary calendars which I got extremely over enthusiastic about, and then gushed how wonderful the free gifts were to the strangers behind us in the queue. Suspenders and I were assigned a couples seat, my first couple seat experience. This wasn't all that pleasurable, as we aren't officially a couple I felt like my personal space was encroached upon more than usual. Also, when either of us moved, the whole seat moved, we had no choice about the matter. Although we giggled about it, I made a concerted effort to sit stiller than usual. I was rather mindful of the motion sickness sensation I'd experience whilst watching the Life of Pi in 3D last Friday. I didn't want to re-visit, or inflict this sensation on another person. Lady PP finally arrived with her convection oven, her expression was a combination of defeat and triumph, we chuckled at that, too.    

We got free tickets to view this independent Korean film (with English subtitles), the synopsis read like this:

"Title : Stateless Things (Korean title : 줄탁동시)
Director : Kim Kyung mook
Synopsis : Hyun is a gay prostitute. He gets to know Seong-hoonwho is a separated fund manager. They begin to live together. But, they collapse after Seong-hoon's wife visits their place. Joon wanders about the downtown streets of Seoul and works for a gas station. Calling to claim his overdue wages, he fights against the gas station manager. He runs away with Soon-hee, an ethnic Korean. The two boys strive hard to survive, but circumstances drives them to despair. They decide to commit suicide. One faces death, through which the other meets new life."

So, I was expecting a gay love tragedy, yet initially I found myself watching a north Korean defector striking up a relationship with another down-trodden foreigner. The formation of their friendship was quite moving, and there were actually some quite nice arty shots of Seoul. I felt for this character's life struggles. His story portrayed a darker, estranged and grittier side of Korea than usually shown at the cinema or on TV screens.

The second main character I felt less of an affiliation for, he was a foppish, sullen 'kept' young man living in a glitzy apartment paid for by his lover. He said very little, and brooded a lot. There were some quite graphic scenes with his lover, which lingered on a bit too long. In fact, there were several parts of the film that were unnecessarily slow and drawn out, perhaps it was to add to the overall uncomfortable nature of being a 'stateless thing'.

How did we cope with this sense of awkwardness? Well, we whispered and giggled about our shock and confusion like little school children, I also found myself checking my watch a few times. This makes the film sound less than intriguing, it really wasn't. It was more too confusing, particularly the ending. I thought these two young men had perhaps been the same person, with some form of personality disorder. If it wasn't for the question and answer session with the director afterwards, I'd probably still be under this impression now. I still don't understand the ending. To quote Suspenders "Seriously, what just happened?" I have a feeling I missed a significant part of the plot, but I doubt I'll get chance to watch it again. This was a very special uncut viewing, the film struggled to get a rating to be shown in Korean theatres due to the explicit content.

I've never experienced a question and answer session with a director before. He wore a baseball cap throughout, so we couldn't see his eyes, just the shadow from the peak of his cap. There was an interpretor, and a girl with a microphone who ran dutifully around the audience taking their questions. I felt quite nervous, knowing the director was watching our reactions. Especially, since I was struggling to stifle my confused hysteria. I smiled and glanced at Lady PP, she gave me a knowing look before quickly averting her gaze. I found the audience asked very long and complicated questions, but I have to admit that it did help clarify some things for me. Overall, it was a rather strange, confusing, and yet a highly entertaining evening.

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