Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Yeonghwa ’12: A Fish (Mulgogi)
never know how much you will miss someone until they run off to become a
shaman. Just ask Professor Lee Jeon-hyuk. He is determined to drag his wife home from
her spiritual retreat, or so he thinks.
Things will get metaphysically messy in Park Hong-min’s A Fish (trailer here), which screens as
part of this year’s Yeonghwa Korean
film series at MoMA.
has hired a cringy private detective to track down his wife. He inspires little confidence, but evidently the
gumshoe has found the missing spouse on southwestern Jindo Island. The academic and the professional sleaze will
share an awkward journey that is unlikely to produce a heartwarming reunion. Meanwhile, two apparently unrelated bickering
strangers find themselves deep-sea fishing together, even though they have no
previous memories and no idea how they got there.
a darkly cosmic story involving the sport of worm-drowning, A Fish would be a highly compatible companion
film to Park Chan-wook and Park Chan-kyun’s iPhone-shot short Night Fishing. In fact, it is almost exactly the same film, building
up to remarkably similar revelations.
Yet, the Park Brothers’ big fish tale is told in a much more economical
thirty minutes, even with the musical prologue. However, Park Hong-min’s fish madness is
distinguished by what might be the most unnecessary use of 3D to ever baffle bespectacled
viewers. Small in scope, but moody and
murky in tone, Park’s approach to A Fish just
does not cry out for the sensation of depth perception.
Jang-hoon’s performance as Prof. Lee is about as uptight and tightly wound as
is humanly possible, whereas Kim Sun-bin is just about as convincingly annoying
as the detective. While her character
closely guards the film’s secrets, Choi So-eun at least suggests great depths
of sensitivity as the wife turned shaman.
The entire cast fulfills their functions like good soldiers, but the overall
battle plan never really comes together.
Though the primary players and shamanistic
elements work well enough in context, A
Fish tries too hard to be a mysterious mind-trip, losing sight of the
fundamental human element. Frankly, we
feel like we have been down this lost highway before. Best saved for fans of David Lynch and his
imitators, A Fish screens today
(9/22) and Wednesday (9/26) as part of Yeonghwa:
Korean Film Today, now underway at MoMA.
Labels: Korean Cinema, Yeonghwa '12