SATURDAY, MAY 8 | SPECIAL SNEAK-PREVIEW | 7:00 PM | DWNTN
DATE: SATURDAY, MAY 8
TIME: 7:00 PM
(South Korea, 2009) Dir.: E. J-Yong; Scr.: Youn Yuh-Jung, Lee Mi-Sook, Choi Ji-Woo, Ko Hyun-Jung, Kim Min-Hee, Kim Ok-Vin
35mm, 105 min., color, narrative, in Korean w/ E.S.
During the last decade, Korean pop entertainment, mainly in the form of TV dramas, movies and pop music, conquered Pan-Asia, especially Japan, and niche markets around the world. It became such a phenomenon that the term “Korean Wave” or Hallyu was coined, creating a cross-cultural and cohesive brand that distinguished Korean entertainers as cultural ambassadors — ironic, given Korea’s past history of colonization and repression at the hands of the Japanese. Emerging talents including likes of Rain (FULL HOUSE, NINJA ASSASSIN), Lee Byung-hun (A BITTERSWEET LIFE, GI JOE) and Lee Young-ae (JEWEL OF THE PALACE, LADY VENGEANCE) served to bridge the gap between prejudice and histrionics (read: everyone wanted to be Korean!). Aside from the almost shallow veneer and conventional story structures of TV dramas and the emerging K-boy band scene, auteurs were being nurtured in Seoul and gaining international recognition. Directors like Park Chan-wook (OLDBOY) and Bong Joon-ho (MEMORIES OF MURDER, THE HOST) raised the bar of Korean pop culture, garnered invitations to the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals and brought an aesthetic, energy and feel to Korean cinema reminiscent of the Hong Kong Renaissance of the early 1990s.
However, with the downturn of the economy, rising costs, changing tastes in pop culture and a saturation of bad, formulaic content, the Korean Wave has crested. Whether the industry can reinvent itself and raise the bar once again rests on the shoulders of the likes of director E J-yong, currently among the brightest of Korean cinema’s emerging game changers. His growing portfolio of films — UNTOLD SCANDAL (2003), DASEPO NAUGHTY GIRLS (2007), and his latest, THE ACTRESSES — reflect a distinct diversity of flavor and theme, and identifies director E as a tour-de-force in reshaping the Korean Wave.
Six actresses, across different age groups are brought together on Christmas Eve for a once-in-a-lifetime Vogue magazine cover shoot. Of course, when working with actresses with their respective entourages and demands, anything can happen. Shot documentary-style, THE ACTRESSES is rife with industry jokes, low-blows, egos, and insecurities. Working without a script, the multi-generational cast created exaggerated representations of themselves, creating their own dialogue and playing up varied facets of their private and public personas. Nuanced performances from Kim Ok-vin (THIRST), considered the next big ingénue, as a quiet, somewhat dark personality and Choi Ji-woo (WINTER SONATA) as an ice queen with a legion of adorning Japanese fans to die for, are just some of the meta-storylines that converge with fact and fiction.
Influenced by the work of Robert Altman, THE ACTRESSES is truly a new kind of Korean film. In the heavily regimented Korean star system where image is everything, it is very interesting to see these actresses riff on their various quirks, ranging from alcoholism to plastic surgery. For the audience member who doesn’t know a lick about Korean entertainment, THE ACTRESSES succeeds as a universal insider comedy and as a hilarious and intimate portrait of celebrity and womanhood. But for true afficionados of Korean pop entertainment, THE ACTRESSES is the film for you!
— Anderson Le