Friday, April 22, 2011

301/302 (1995)****

Reviewed by Shu Zin

301/302 is a Korean thriller directed by Cheol-su Park, who here tells a story about a writer from apartment 302 (Syn-Hai Hwang) who goes missing. She has some serious issues with eating and food; her neighbor in 301 (Eun-jin Bang), coincidentally, has become obsessive about cooking. 302 addresses women’s issues in her articles, and sometimes she gets quite racy. “Terms for an Ideal Sex Life” is what she calls one of them, as the camera observes her, wittily, at her desktop. We get to know first her neighbor, and then, in bits, the writer herself, as a detective tries to figure out what has become of her.

The story is told from various points of view, and there are some understated funny bits that surprise, and an especially good solitary eating and drinking scene that delivers just a little ecstasy. Soon after, two storylines take off at a gallop into unexpected territory, and disturbing sets in. This makes the overall pacing of the film’s storytelling somewhat awkward. The timeline sashays about some, but if you go with the flow, you’ll know enough by the end, and it is so much fun getting there. The cinematography is consistently exciting, with bright contrasts, big color, and nothing blurry or shadowy. The design of the production is marvelous to look at; there are some excellent, loving close-ups of food sizzling or bubbling, or being chewed, gleaming wine glasses on a shelf, a timer on the counter of a high tech kitchen - you get the picture: a love of visual detail. Recommended.

Reviewed by Shu Zin

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