Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
MOMI Korean Cinema Showcase: Choked
so many folks on the make, somebody ought to be making money, yet everybody in Kwon
Youn-ho’s world keeps falling further and further behind. Life is grim but the performances are first
rate in Kim Joong-hyun’s Choked (trailer here), which screens
this Sunday as part of the Museum of the Moving Image’s Korean Cinema Showcase.
has issues with his mother Hee-su.
Calling her nutritional supplement business a pyramid scheme would do a
disservice to pyramid schemes. She
simply absconded with her investors’ money, leaving her son to face the
music. Unfortunately, he inherited none
of her smooth talker charm. Still hoping
to start a new life with his materialistic fiancée Se-kyung, Kwon must dodge
debt collecting thugs after hours, while doing his own thuggery during the day
as an employee of a real estate developer determined to clear the tenants from
a block they have their sights on.
can you say about a film whose most sympathetic character is a psycho-stalker. Her name Seo-hee and she is truly
pitiable. While she entrusted Kwon’s
mother with money she could not spare, it is really the emotional betrayal that
torments her. Watching her make new
mistakes that compound old ones is an excruciatingly true to life viewing
Park Se-jin gives a bravura performance, tapping into all kinds of emotional
anguish and vulnerability, while keeping Seo-hee’s manifest shortcomings relentlessly
front-and-center. In contrast, Um
Tae-goo’s painfully reserved work as Kwon sneaks up on viewers after the
fact. Coming in somewhere in the middle,
Kil Hae-yeon brings a subtle twitchiness to Mother Hee-su that is just right in
critics have fallen all over themselves to praise Choked as a commentary on the financial crisis and the various resulting
austerity programs, but there is something deeper afoot here than recessionary
woes (though granted, those are not helping anyone). Even with bulging bank accounts the principle
characters would still have trouble maintaining honest and healthy
relationships, especially those involving intimacy.
Lee Jin-keun’s HD cinematography is not out to
razzle dazzle, but it reflects a sense of the metaphorical twilight in which
the characters perpetually operate. A
grim but powerful work of cinematic naturalism, Choked is recommended for the impact of its three very different yet
equally effective leads when it screens this Sunday (11/18) at MOMI in Astoria,
Labels: Korean Cinema, MOMI