Beoning [Burning] (2018)

Beoning
Director: Chang-dong Lee
Writer: Jungmi Oh, Chang-dong Lee
Based on: Haruki Murakami‘s short story Barn Burning
Cast: Ah-in Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jun, Soo-Kyung Kim, Seung-ho Choi
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 30.10.2018
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Plot:
Jong-su (Ah-in Yoo) meets Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jun) again by chance: they grew up in the same neighborhood when they were kids and are now both pretty much on their own in the big city. Hae-mi asks Jong-su to watch her cat while she goes on a trip to Africa. As he is quite smitten with her, he gladly agrees. When she returns, though, things don’t really take the romantic turn Jong-su had hoped for. Instead Hae-mi introduces him to Ben (Steven Yeun) who she met on the trip. Jong-su is in euqal parts jealous of and fascinated by the richer, suave Ben who he doesn’t trust at all.

Burning starts off well but loses steam in the last third or so, leaving me with an overall feeling of disappointment: despite many good qualities, the film could have been more in my opinion.

The film poster showing a man in a hoody running through a sunset landscape.
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Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Sorry to Bother You
Director: Boots Riley
Writer: Boots Riley
Cast: LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Kate Berlant, Michael X. Sommers, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, Robert Longstreet, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Lily James, Forest Whitaker, Rosario Dawson, W. Kamau Bell
Seen on: 4.8.2019

Plot:
Cassius (LaKeith Stanfield) lives with his girlfriend, the artist Detroit (Tessa Thompson), in his uncle Sergio’s (Terry Crews) garage. Money is tight and that doesn’t really change when Cassius starts a new job as a telemarketer. But success is just around the corner when Cassius discovers his white voice and uses it in his sales. At the same time though his co-worker Squeeze (Steve Yeun) is starting to raise concerns about the products they are selling.

Sorry to Bother You is a wild film, in the best sense: it takes you into entirely different directions and it has so much fun with exploring and experimenting, that it doesn’t matter in the slightest when things get a little messy. I was thoroughly charmed by pretty much everything about it.

The film poster showing LaKeith Stanfield with a bandaged head.
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Mayhem (2017)

Mayhem
Director: Joe Lynch
Writer: Matias Caruso
Cast: Steven YeunSamara WeavingSteven BrandCaroline ChikezieKerry FoxDallas Roberts
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2017
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Plot:
Derek (Steven Yeun) is an attorney for a big law firm. Or rather, he was. He was just fired for a mistake he was framed for. As he still grapples with that fact, the office building is put under quarantine: a virus has spread in the building – a virus that makes everybody lose their impulse control. This provides Derek with the perfect opportunity to face the executives and give them a piece of his mind. And he doesn’t even have to do it alone: as luck will have it, disgruntled client Melanie (Samara Weaving) has her own plans with the executives.

Mayhem is incredibly entertaining and fun. It breezes along from one bloody, gorey scene to the next, leaving no space for a second of boredom.

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Okja (2017)

Okja
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writer: Joon-ho Bong, Jon Ronson
Cast: Seo-Hyun AhnHee-Bong ByunTilda SwintonGiancarlo EspositoJake GyllenhaalShirley HendersonSteven YeunPaul DanoLily CollinsJeong-eun Lee
Seen on: 12.7.2017
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Plot:
Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn) lives with her grandfather Hee Bong (Hee-Bong Byun) and with Okja. Okja is a genetically modified breed of superpigs. To see how the animals fare, twelve of them have been placed in various situations worldwide to see what environment suits them best. It turns out that Okja is the winner. That means that they find themselves confronted with nature filmer Johnny Wilcox (Jake Gyllenhaal) who has been sent by the corporation Okja actually belongs to to publicize the result of the contest. But even though Wilcox is not the most charming individual, he quickly becomes the least of Mija’s problems as she has to fight for Okja and their life together.

Okja is sweet and it has a great cast. It has a political message that it puts front and center, but unfortunately that message is muddled at the best of times and incomprehensible at other times. When you make a film that so obviously has something to say, when that something remains that unclear, the entire experience is frustrating and nothing else.

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