Saturday, September 25, 2004

Foreign Affairs

My Sassy Girl

With the release of the original "Star Wars" trilogy on DVD for the first time, I have been in a movie watchin' mood. Nothing beats microwave popcorn and a good flick. Often times my friends don't understand why I will jet out to view the weekend matinee by myself. A lot of people believe that going alone means you're lonely and desperate and have no social life. They think that movies are only for taking their dates to. More often than not they like going out in big noisy group socializing sessions. However, one of my biggest pet peeves is talkative movie watchers, and so typically, my enjoyment of the film consists of my ability to attend the cinema with as few people as possible. I personally prefer to concentrate on the story and what is going on up on the screen without distraction. I guess I am a hard core movie viewer that way. However, don't misunderstand me because I do like going in big noisy group sessions, but only when I've already seen the film.

Another big pet peeve of mine is when people won't go to a foreign film because as one of my friends once stated, "I don't like having to read my movies", or "Reading the movie is too hard"... these people obviously have trouble reading. All I can say is that's part of the enjoyment of experiencing a film from outisde our culture. It is a minor one that goes away when your reading speed picks up, and if it still bothers you then I can only recommend hooked on phonics.

For me, foreign films often contain a fresh perspective on classical themes. Lots of myth and legends become interesting again when the retelling of it has an outside perspective. Especially with Asian cinema. Also, a lot of the times, I am acquainted with entirely new stories and concepts. Watching films from other cultures also broadens my understanding of those various cultures and their traditions. Even fiction films have a multitude of information to learn from the movie going experience. Simply to see other countries, hearing new languages, and learning about things that don't fit into my own cultures frame of thought is refreshing and rewarding. People, who can't enjoy a movie because it has subtitles and have to "read" the screen obviously don't care about expanding their own culteral mind. Instead of perceiving it as a challenge and an enhancing experience, they shrug is off as, "But I don't like reading my movies". Bleh, thank you for your contribution to humanity. Next time I'll take you to see a good book.

"My Sassy Girl” or the original Korean title of "Yeopgijeogin geunyeo" is my all time favorite romantic comedy. For a romantic comedy it runs over two hours, and that may be long compared to American romance and funny films, but it keeps your attention and emotions going the entire ride. "My Sassy Girl" is like no other film I have ever seen. The first time I watched it I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more. I really connected with the characters, and the jokes were beyond funny, even in the context of my own culture. It plays from the univesality of romance we so commonly understand.

Sadly enough, great foreign films such as this get bought up by Hollywood, and instead of releasing them state-side, they make remakes of the film with American casts. I can't stress the danger of this, because when you do an "Americanized" version of these wonderful films... you loose everything culturaly significant about the original. Movies such as, "Shall We Dansu" and "Infernal Affair" are both being remade by Hollywood starring A-list actors, as is "My Sassy Girl". The problem arises then, that will Hollywood be able to make a better film than the original? Most likely not.

"My Sassy Girl" is about two couples coming together by a string of odd circumstances. The charm of the characters is so overwhelmingly fascinating that it keeps your attention the entire way through the movie, and the drama and humor has you laughing from beginning to end. Even if you don't know about Korean, or Asian customs, the movie is full of running gags, and strong personalities directed with perscision that lead to all out hilarity. I roared my head off when I first watched this film, and I didn't understand but half of what was going on. Now that I bought it, I can't get enough of it. I understand it fully, and I get a better enjoyment out of it now than when I first viewed it. This is an extremely rare quality in films these days.

If you are looking for a great comedy, or a romantic comedy, or a fun experience with our South Korean friends, find yourself a copy of "My Sassy Girl". It may be difficult to find, but its well worth it. I ordered my copy from the L.A. based and also You can find most any Asian film on DVD to buy at these websites.

(This film does not exist in the U.S. My DVD is a Region 2 import. It is in its original language with English Subtitles)

You can read more about "My Sassy Girl" at the Internet Movie Database,

For those of you who are wondering about my own personal top favorite films... they are (subject to change):



3. Shimotsuma Monogatari

4. The Matrix (trilogy)

5. Spirited Away

6. STAR WARS (trilogy)

7. Life Aquatic

8. I Heart Huckabees

9. You've Got Mail

10. Lord of the Ring (trilogy)

(Runners up: Phantom of the Opera, Moulin Rouge, Face/Off, House of Flying Dagers, Kung Fu Hustle, Snatch, Meet Joe Black, Georgeous, The Fifth Element, Indiana Jones (trilogy), Braveheart)

Other foreign films worth checking out include:
Hero, Spirited Away, Kung Fu Hustle, Iron Monkey, Ringu (The Ring), Infernal Affair, Bayside Shakedown (I/II), Trick, Battle Royale, Onmiyoji (I/II), The Returner, Run Lola Run, House of Flying Dagers, Monsoon Wedding.


Blue Ink said...

i have yet to watch sassy girl! and i want to watch it! preferably a version with english subtitles hehehe. hey, how did u pick up japanese and korean so quickly? i tried learning japanese. till today, i only remember ichiban and neko LoL

Tristan Vick said...

I lived in Japan for a year. My fiance is of course Japanese, and I had two years of Japanese study at the university level before I went. I only know some catch phrases in Korean, the Korean DVD does in fact have English subtitles. Hehehe, so I copt out there. All my roomates in Japan were Korean though, so I do know some good words! Now go get this movie, and watch it!

Blue Ink said...

ohh lucky u, japan's like one of the top few big cities to be in!