Sunday 8 September 2019

TWO FOR THE ROAD TO PORDENONE- Barrie Pattison reports on one off screenings of ANOTHER CHILD (Yoon-seok Kim, South Korea) and MARIA AND THE OTHERS (Nely Reguera. Spain)

Here’s two for the road before I set out for Paris and Pordenone, films from a couple of the one-off screenings that are becoming the core of my experience of new movies.

Koreans are now doing six hundred films a year. The KOFFIA  Korean Film Festival delivered Miseongnyeon /Another Child directed by Yoon-seok Kim one of their leading stars whose work we know from the violent thrillers Hwanghae/Yellow Sea(2010)  and The Chaser/Chugyeogja (2008).

This one pivots on feckless (usually shown feckful) dad Kim who is having an affair with So-jin Kim owner of a roasted duck restaurant without his church going wife knowing. The wife has made a killing in the real estate market by buying their flat in her own name.

Film opens with the couple’s school girl daughter caught spying on the restaurant. The situation is complicated by the fact that dad’s tootsie’s own daughter Se-jin Kim goes to the same school. Their encounters include a face off on the school roof, an area roped off after the girls started using it to smoke, and a punch up which crashes through a re-enforced glass door. After that one, the girls finish the movie with cuts healing on their faces. Their ineffectual, baton waving teacher Hee-won Kim, seethes with frustration at his lack of authority in the situation. 

The men in this film tend to be contemptible. Se-jin Kim’s own dad shows up mainly interested in squeezing some money out of his estranged family and is upset to realise that his daughter is too young to take out a credit card in his name.

Complications multiply stoked by messages on lost cell ‘phones. The pregnant restaurateur has to be rushed to hospital by her rival who picks up the bill for her upgrade to a better ward and is shown (nice touch) mopping up the blood on her car seat afterwards. Se-jin Kim insists on repaying her out of the family’s thin bank roll. At the hospital dad Kim hides from the girls, marking time behind a pillar on a moving escalator.

The mix of comedy of embarrassment and touching moments is a tough act for a new director to pull off.

You’re unlikely to see this one but the rest would be a spoiler if it did ever show up.

Finally, it's only his two sisters who get to see the premature baby in its incubator. Sister Se-jin Kim  starts washing bootees and resolves to quit school, the way her own mother did, and raise him herself when none of the parents show willing but they come to the ward to find his incubator empty. The child has not been adopted as they feared but died and been packed in a cardboard box for the crematorium.

They pursue van driver Jong-jun Jeong (finally a sympathetic male character) who lets them ride along and gives them the box containing the remains which Se-jin Kim  brings to school causing another clash with her fellow daughter.

Jeong-eun Lee has thrown dad out and So-jin Kim, embarrassed by the breast milk showing through her blouse, has realised that he’s not going to settle with her. Scene of him being mugged at the sea side resort where he thought his friend would put him up but instead pushy local woman Jeong-eun Lee hits him up with a fee for parking in front of her home on the breakwater and the bike kids waylay him at night. Finally, his estranged wife has to pay his cab fare back and drive him from the flat he no longer shares to the hospital with a suspected broken arm.

Ends with the two girls in an abandoned fun fair deciding the fate of the less than a hand full of the dead baby’s ashes.

Sharp, well-chosen images emphasize nicely shaded characters, making the piece more than normally promising but they can’t get through it all before attention becomes strained.

The Cervantes Institute gave us a viewing of the 2016 María (y los demás)/Maria and the Others, the first feature of former assistant director Nely Reguera, a vehicle for great looking Bárbara Lennie, known for Todos lo saben/Everybody Knows(2018)  and particularly as the TV host in El rein /The Candidate2018) now making a try at a lead with the responsibility for carrying a production. 

At thirty-five Lennie is the support of her aging father José Ángel Egido, fussing about his diet and medication while holding down a job with a small publishing venture where she hosts signings for their authors as well as stacking the books.

In the nature of these films, she finds herself being sidelined when dad’s fifty-ish Argentinian nurse Marina Skell becomes his fiancée, without showing suitable concern about his gastric reflux, and the happy couple plan on selling the now closed family restaurant. Lennie’s brother is tired of working for others as a chief kitchen hand in London and had designs on re-opening the place. Meanwhile her publisher boss has lined up a novel by an established author to take the place in their schedule that Lennie wanted to fill with the book she has been working on since college. 

Things aren’t so good with her lover Julián Villagrán either. He won’t introduce her to his little daughters. Coyly framed sex scenes suggest senorita Lennie isn’t going to reward her fans but she does get around to a nude scene.

A series of events accelerates her discontent. Arrangements for the wedding mean digging out the Sabima tree that has always been in the family yard. Selecting the wedding dress has Barbara looking killer in the demo model she’s trying on, outshining the bride. Sending the glamorous selfie off isn’t received well when she’s trying to force the issue with the boyfriend. (“she brought a teddy bear” one of his little girls observes) It all increases her felling of frustration. Having to rescue Skell from the surf just stokes resentment.

Barbara oversleeps and the wedding arrangements go to pieces - “There are no canapes. The guests have nothing to eat.” She lets them get on without her.

Performances are good and the piece is exactly set in Galacia but they can’t convince us that what we are seeing is serious drama rather than handsomely mounted soap.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.