Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
KAFFNY ’12: Magic and Loss
Sugino could be considered Asia’s Parker Posey.
As an actress and producer, she has helped get numerous indie films off
the ground in several countries. Though
her career is still young, she has already been the focus of a mini-retrospective
at the most recent Tokyo Film Festival. New
Yorkers will have the chance to see some of Sugino’s indiest work in Lim Kah
Wai’s Magic and Loss (trailer here), which screens as
part of the 2012 Korean American Film Festival New York’s opening night double
women have come to a picturesque Mui Wo beach resort that looks like it could
have been inspired by Patrick McGoohan’s The
Prisoner. The sign at the
registration desk says “full,” but there do not seem to be any other guests
besides Kiki and Kkobbi—and they both have coupons. However, since the bellhop seems to be the
only employee, overhead must be low. He
is quite solicitous of Kkobbi, knowing she is Korean, but his reception is less
gracious for Kiki after learning she is Japanese. Playing her namesake, Kiki Sugino’s well
known Zainichi Korean heritage (a native born Japanese citizen of Korean descent)
might indeed be significant to international audiences watching M&L.
and Kkobbi become fast friends, or so it seems.
Frankly, the latter’s attitude appears ambiguous to say the least. Nonetheless, they explore the natural
beauties of the HK island paradise. Yet,
there are hints of something unsettling, in addition to the generous servings of
M&L is not the sort
of film to put all its cards on the table.
After all, that would be telling.
It is perfectly content to leave viewers in a state of unresolved
ambiguity (only heightened by the post-credits stinger). Yet, for hardy cineastes, it is still quite
watchable thanks to the combination of the pleasant scenery, the wonderfully
expressive (and cute) Sugino, and the attractive Kim Kkobbi.
Lim tries not to overdo the Lychian excesses, M&L seems to parallel Mulholland
Drive in several respects. There is
certainly an ominous vibe to the proceedings, despite the sun and surf. In fact, he creates quite an effective
atmosphere of mystery, but the drama (unfolding through largely improvised
dialogue) is frustratingly ill-defined. Really,
would it have killed anyone to give us a few more concrete narrative hooks to
Regardless, for hardcore film students, M&L offers plenty to debate. Its plethora
of multi-multi-hyphenating (directed by the Malaysian-Chinese Lim and co-produced
and co-starring the Korean-Japanese Sugino) also makes it quite the fitting
selection for KAFFNY. Make no mistake, it
is a serious film, requiring serious patience.
Recommended for rabid Lynch cult-followers and admirers of Sugino’s
work, Magic and Loss screens tomorrow
night (6/5) and Saturday afternoon (6/9), when this year’s Korean American Film
Festival New York opens at the Anthology Film Archives.
Labels: KAFFNY '12, Kiki Sugino