Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
NYAFF ’15: Socialphobia
is a better time to be a relative grown-up than a kid, because you will not
look freakishly strange if you keep social networking at arm’s length and ought
to be wise enough to understand why that might be a good idea. For those who
still do not understand the risks of oversharing and flame-wars, Hong Seok-jae
explains it once again in Socialphobia (trailer here), which screens as
part of the 2015 New York Asian Film Festival.
a Law & Order-ishly ripped-from-the-headlines
story, a young soldier has committed suicide, but instead of sympathy, a troll
using the handle of “Re-Na” has offered up a series of vile comments. This has
generated considerable netrage, particularly with two with students preparing
for the Police Academy exams. At the insistence of the more gung-ho Ha
Yong-min, Kim Ji-woong agrees to join a small gang of rage-rootsers, who want to
take their online outrage offline, by paying her a visit in the flesh, which of
course they will broadcast online. However, they will wish they had a tape
delay in place when they arrive at the woman’s apartment, finding the door wide
open and Re-Na dangling from a noose.
is no way they can deny their involvement, since tens of thousands of online
gawkers witnessed them apparently hounding the woman to death. Her real name
was Min Ha-young, but it turns out she had an even more notorious “flamer”
identity online. They also soon learn her “Re-Na” twitter account was hacked.
Ha soon suspects they were set up to cover for a murder, so if they can catch
the killer, they just might salvage their hopes of becoming cops.
about the internet just brings out the stupid in people, so every mistake these
knuckleheads make is wince-inducingly credible. Hong dexterously keeps
increasing the temperature on Kim and Ha, like frogs in slowly boiling water,
but he loses the handle on the hyperventilating climax.
faux-vérité vibe gives the film you-are-there immediacy and the entire cast
looks like it was plucked out of bargain basement internet café. While Byun
Yo-han is a bit stolid as Kim, Lee Joo-seung is appropriately tightly wound and
jangly as Ha. Basically, we can believe this young ensemble is capable of a
wide range of morally problematic behavior, which is a disturbing commentary in
shares some thematic similarities with Solomon’s
Perjury, it lacks the Japanese film sequence’s depth and scope. It is sort
of like comparing a line of shots with a multi-course banquet. One is instantly
effective, while the other is much more nourishing. Still, SoPho definitely succeeds as a cautionary tale. After watching it,
you will want to run multiple virus scans on your computer and then dunk it in
industrial strength disinfectant. Recommended for fans of Unfriended, Socialphobia screens
tomorrow (7/4) at the Walter Reade, as part of this year’s NYAFF.
Labels: Korean Cinema, NYAFF '15