Of all of the film-makers of what would possibly loosely be referred to as the brand new Asian wave of the twenty first century, maybe essentially the most difficult and mysterious – and doubtless essentially the most garlanded on the European competition circuit – was South Korean director Kim Ki-duk. He made motion pictures which have been surprising, scabrous and violent – but additionally usually hauntingly unhappy and plangently stunning and generally simply plain bizarre. However they have been unusually hypnotic. In 2011, I used to be on the Cannes Un Sure Regard jury which gave the highest prize to his opaque docufictional piece Arirang, and although I battle a bit now to recapture the temper of certainty that led us to that call, there isn’t a doubt about that Kim’s work had a commanding impact.
In reality, Kim himself may be a extra outstanding determine himself have been it not that he was concerned within the #MeToo controversy – three actors accused him of sexual assault which resulted in a superb for the director and inconclusive recrimination within the civil courts.
For all that he was recognized for excessive brutality and arthouse exploitation his masterpiece – and one of many nice works of recent Korean cinema is his Spring, Summer time, Autumn, Winter … And Spring (2003) a potent and enigmatic parable which manages to be each serene and gripping on the similar time. The seasons of a younger monk’s life, below the care of a clever elder, are proven in an everlasting cycle as he journeys in direction of a fraught enlightenment. It’s that rarest of issues – a genuinely religious movie.
Non secular isn’t precisely how you’d describe the remainder of Kim’s work, although there’s a distinctly Greeneian dimension to his Pieta (2012) a movie of warped Christian imagery which gained the Golden Lion at Venice. A lowlife mobster brutally recovers money owed by forcing his victims to stage crippling accidents in order that they’ll accumulate insurance coverage cash which he’ll then pocket. However then a lady seems claiming to be this gangster’s long-lost mum, agonised with guilt at having deserted him as a child, and setting him on this evil path. It’s a wonderful premise and whereas not fairly a masterpiece, does present Kim’s actual fascination with a state of grace.
As for the extra violent motion pictures like The Isle (2000), Unhealthy Man (2001) and 3-Iron (2004) they’re stylishly made and earned Kim a cult following. Like his nice Korean modern Park Chan-wook, he knew stage violence, and like Lee Chang-dong he was concerned about Christianity and the lifetime of the spirit. However Kim’s movies had an unruly punk Buddhism that was all their very own.