by Swhite, April 5, 2013

Swhite's Weekend Movie Picks
These three movies seem to have nothing in common but they all share a unique trait, they are all unconventional in their own way. Even thought the genres are very unalike there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Country: South Korea                                     Year: 2011                           Genre: Drama, Law

Kang In-Ho (Gong Yoo) is the newly appointed art teacher at Benevolence Academy, a school for hearing-impaired children. He is excited to teach his new students, yet the children are aloof and distant, trying to avoid running into him as much as possible. In-ho does not give up, however, trying to show the kids that he cares. When the children finally open up, In-ho faces the shocking and ugly truth about the school and what the students have been enduring in secret: their teachers have been physically and sexually abusing the children. When he decides to fight for the children’s rights and expose the crimes being committed at the school, In-ho teams up with human rights activist Seo Yoo-Jin (Jung Yu Mi). But he and Yoo-Jin soon realize the school’s principal and teachers, and even the police, prosecutors, and churches in the community are actually trying to cover up the truth.

Although this movie is truly heartbreaking and can be perceived as disturbing, the story behind it is truly beautiful. I consider it unconventional because the performance Gong Yoo gives is brilliant in this movie, I'm used to see him as the love interest of some goofy leading lady, but his role as a committed teacher who is not afraid of defending his students through to the bitter end is touching. Also, I find refreshing the fact that even though it is a true story, the movie doesn´t try to sugar coat the end of it, or any of the scenes for that matter, showing that sometimes the corrupt ones trample the righteous people.
I do not recommend this movie for highly impressionable people, but if you think you can handle the hard but inspiring plot (even leaving a few tears behind) then this is a much-recommended drama.

Country: South Korea                            Year: 2006                 Genre: Comedy, Romance, Supernatural

Young-goon (Lim Su Jeong), a young woman working in a factory constructing radios and who believes herself to be a cyborg. She is institutionalized after cutting her wrist and connecting it with a power cord to a wall outlet in an attempt to "recharge" herself, an act that is interpreted as a suicide attempt. Her delusion is characterized by refusing to eat (she instead licks batteries and attempts to administer electric shocks to herself), conversing almost solely with machines and electrical appliances, and obsessively listening to her radio at night for instruction on how to become a better cyborg.

Il-Soon (Rain), a young male patient hospitalized for anti-social behaviour and kleptomania (stemming from schizophrenia) becomes fascinated with Young-Goon. He is described as having "no sympathy" for his fellow man, believes he can "steal" other people's souls/attributes, and frequently wears handmade rabbit masks. He fears that he will eventually "shrink into a dot" and is seen compulsively brushing his teeth when nervous or upset. His habit of covertly taking the traits of his fellow inmates makes him the frequent target of scorn: however, he is shown willingly accepting and returning certain traits to their owners after he has had his fill of them.

II-Soon becomes interested in Young-Goon. He will try to help her achieve her mission as a cyborg, developing feelings for her through the process.

This movie is one of my favorites. I know it sounds like a bad mix up between a sci-fi movie and a romcom, but it is really good, and surprisingly well done. The quirky element of this movie is not the fact that it is a movie whose main characters are mad, but the fact that they are in love, and above it all, their relationship works perfectly. Though the girl is not very interested in the beginning, while the story progresses, she finds herself paying attention to the poor guy who does everything in his hands to keep her healthy (and does it quite creatively I might add).
This movie shows a bond between two people that goes beyond the mere acts of romance and enters into the territory of madness, where it becomes something weirdly unique but functional.

Country: Taiwan                                      Year: 2010                                      Genre: Comedy, Drama

Doris and Josie are two sisters who open "Doris’ Café". The sisters receive housewarming gifts from friends for their opening, believing most of the items are throwaways. But when customers start to ask about purchasing some of the items, the sisters decide to implement a unique bartering system for the store. In the beginning, each sister had her own perspective of life, one very economical and the other very whimsical, but in the end, they barter their own perspectives, and choose different life paths.

Taipei Exchanges revolves around a couple of sisters who have very different ways of seeing things. Doris is very practical in the beginning, trying to make the dream she quit her job for to work and Josie just wants a car and sees barter as the easiest way to get it. The movie is unconventional in many ways, but to me the most important is the manner the story is portrayed, since it actually seems like a documentary of the girls´ business but along the way it becomes a barter of itself. I think the movie just deals with the concept of subjective value (the value of an object based on the want or need of the buyer) in a very interesting way.