Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Secret Life of Wonsuk Chin

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty may not be a perfect movie but it turned out to be a perfect one for me at this juncture in my life.

Walter and I may not have much in common but I used to have an active imagination like him. I don't zone out like him but man, I was so many things in my dreams. Lately, I don't do that any more maybe because my dream kind of came true. Yes, I became a filmmaker, the one dream of my life. But the reality set in and many years went by without me doing anything satisfactory.

If you know a little about my career, I made a couple of interesting features at the turn of the century and then didn't do anything for a while. It wasn't like I wasn't trying. After "Expats" fell apart, I tried to be a producer, a distributor, and even a radio jockey. Nothing substantial.

Although it sucks to be a struggling filmmaker, there's nothing like making movies, where my imagination can run amok. So I went back to writing and if you're connected to me on Twitter or any other social media, you know I wrote a screenplay called "Ape of Wrath," a comedic mockumentary, a sort of cross between Ed Wood and This Is Spinal Tap. Just like Walter Mitty got on the plane to Greenland, I am embarking on this exciting yet nerve-wrecking journey.


Coincidentally, I visited Greenland last year, something I never thought I would ever do. It was an incredible experience. Standing in front of all those icebergs and glaciers, I realize how beautiful our planet is. Over there, life was HFR 3D. Being alive is a great thing. Being relatively healthy is a blessing. Being driven to make movies is what I am here for.

So here I am, discarding cynicism and doubt, pursuing my dream once again. And yes, my dreams are vividly back in technicolor again.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Favorite Movies of 2013

Okay, it's that time of the year when we all pick our favorite movies of the year. Here are my 10 favorite movies of the year.

(Some of these movies opened last year but I saw it this year. Also, some of them have yet to be released but I was lucky enough to have seen them in festivals.)



1. Nebraska
2. 12 Years a Slave
3. Gravity
4. The Act of Killing
5. Blue Is the Warmest Color
6. Inside Llewyn Davis 
7. Silver Linings Playbook
8. Enough Said
9. All Is Lost
10. Before Midnight


And here are 11 more wonderful movies which could easily make my top 10 depending on my mood.

1. Captain Phillips
2. The Square
3. The Hunt
4. Fruitvale Station
5. Like Father, Like Son
6. Francis Ha
7. The Past
8. Nobody's Daughter Haewon
9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
10. Blue Jasmine
11. Zero Dark Thirty

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Favorite Movies of 2012

Alright. Although I'm not a critic, I love picking my favorite movies each year. It's a good way of looking back at what movies I saw this year. As always, I pick among the movies I saw this year no matter where I was. Since I split time between the U.S. and Korea, some movies have yet to be released in Korea or vice versa. If you wanna know what movies I chose last year, you can visit here.

My Favorite Movies of 2011

So, this is my top 10 favorite movies of the year and honorable mentions.

1.   Life of Pi (Ang Lee, USA, China, 2012)

Actor friend Jeffrey Wright who worked with Ang Lee in Ride with the Devil, once called him an angel (pun on his name). After I saw Life of Pi, I now call him a God making such a stunning film. How does he do it? How can he keep challenging himself and yet even his failures are more interesting than other filmmakers' great works? Haven't seen such a cinematic 3D since Avatar and it's better than Avatar.



2.   Amour (Michael Haneke, Austria, France, Germany, 2012)

I saw this film on December 20 and I said, if the world ends the next day as the Mayans falsely predicted, I'm glad it would be the last film I'd see in this world. It was a painful film to watch because I saw my dad's health deteriorate over the years although I wasn't there for him all the time like Georges did in the film. Made me think about life, death and love and as the title indicates, love is a powerful thing.



3.   A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, Iran, 2011)

Finally saw this film early this year. This was the big art film from last year which won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film and it deserved it. It shows us the contemporary Iranian society which is changing and it also teaches us no matter where you live, human beings are the same.



4.   Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, USA, 2012)

One of the quirkiest films in years. Wes Anderson is like our generation's Woody Allen films. Like a generation before us grow old with Woody Allen's films, we grow old with his films except that Anderson unfortunately makes far less films. Make more, Wes!!! Speaking of them, they share the same initials. Coincidence? :)




5.   Searching for Sugarman (Malik Bendjelloul, Sweden, UK, 2012)

Truth can be really stranger than fiction. This film proves that. As a film, it might not be a superior one but the story it's telling is so incredible that it makes it to my top ten list. More than anything else, it's inspiring. Rodriguez is a decent human being and gifted artist. That alone is a triumph.




6.   The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Belgium, France, Italy, 2011)

Heard great things about the Dardenne Brothers but never saw any of their films until now. This was a tough film to sit through but at the end, it was such a rewarding experience. The allusion to the Bicycle Thief is obvious but I saw a little bit of the 400 Blows, too. How did the Dardennes get such a powerful performance out of such a young inexperienced boy? Interestingly, this film and Beasts of the Southern Wild have something in common. A kid's sense of abandonment. One film shows the harsh reality as it is and the other shows it through the the child's fantasy. Both are excellent in their own ways.





7.   The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, USA, UK, 2012)

Chris Nolan did it again. This film is so operatic and epic that I could almost see the musical version of TDKR a la Les Miserables. Hey, you've got the talented Anne Hathaway. You might as well.




8.   Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin, USA 2012)

This is truly one of the most impressive debuts in years. I'm not sure if Benh Zeitlin can repeat this again but this film works thanks to one thing. It's the most powerful performance by the then 6 year old Quvenzhané Wallis. If I were an Oscar member, I would vote for her as the Best Actress. She's that good. Hypnotic.




9.   Argo (Ben Affleck, USA, 2012)

We often laughed at Ben Affleck. This guy who did Gigli? We wrote him off. How wrong were we? I heard good things about Affleck's previous directorial works (Gone Baby Gone, The Town) but I didn't know he was this good. Argo takes place in the 70's and it does resemble the movies made in the era. American films in the 70's were amazing and this one could be up there with them.




10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, France, UK, Germany, 2011)

Okay, when I first saw the film almost a year ago, I had no idea what the film was about. Then, I saw it again. It became clearer to me. I still think about this film these days. Although directed by a Swedish filmmaker, it is a quintessential British film at its best. A beautifully rendered film. I still don't understand what the movie is about, though.




Of course, if I can include more movies, these following movies are as good as many of the films I mentioned above. Who knows? I may like them better on a given day.


Bernie (Richard Linklater, USA, 2011) 
Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, RomaniaFranceBelgium, 2012)
The Descendants (Alexander Payne, USA, 2011) 
End of Watch (David Ayer, USA, 2012)
The Invisble War (Kirby Dick, USA, 2012)
Nameless Gangster (Yoon Jong Bin, Korea, 2012)
National Security (Jung Ji Young, Korea, 2012)
Skyfall (Sam Mendes, UK, USA, 2012)
Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, Canada, Spain, Japan, 2011) 
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (Alain Resnais, France, Germany, 2012)