(aka "Ad Lib Night" or "Aju Teukbyeolhan Sonnim" )

 

directed by Yoon-ki Lee
South Korea 2006

 

With his third film, Ad Lib Night (seen at this year's Berlinale), Lee Yoon-ki has crafted a hybrid of sorts – an amazingly powerful film where the internalized suffering of one character is countered by the frequent and repeated emotional outbursts from a group of others. The film opens in Seoul, with two young men approaching a woman they see on the street (Han Hyo-ju), convinced she is Myeong-eun, who ran away from their village several years ago. Though she denies this several times, they aren't entirely convinced. Regardless of her true identity, they ask if she will accompany them to the village to say goodbye to her (or Myeong-eun's) father, who is on his deathbed. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, she agrees to join them.

The bulk of the film (which takes place over a single night) is set in the dying man's home, where an extended group of inheritance-hungry family members alternates between bickering and shedding crocodile tears while waiting for the old man to shuffle off this mortal coil. Surprisingly, the focus shifts from the mystery woman, whose function as ad-libbing stand-in daughter becomes secondary to the various mini-dramas played out between family members. The transition is quite subtle, and the film even becomes comical for a time before slowly drifting back to the question of the identity of the still-unnamed woman. The dynamic Lee creates between the dysfunctional (albeit tight) family unit and the outsider is nothing short of brilliant.

The film is bookended by two extended (and beautifully shot) driving sequences, and it is on the journey back to Seoul that we learn a bit more about this woman. As it was in This Charming Girl, the information doesn't function as a third act reveal or a simple answer for audience placation. Instead, we are sharing a cathartic moment, a first step, perhaps, towards healing. Lee's aesthetic intimacy – filming mostly in close-ups, limiting the perspective (mostly) to that of the woman – allows him to pull this off without a hint of schmaltz or sentimentality.

Excerpt from FilmBrain

Poster

Theatrical Release: 14 October 2006

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: HB Entertainment (Limited Edition - Korean Version) - Region 3 - NTSC

Big thanks to Luiz R. for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

HB Entertainment

Region 3 - NTSC

Runtime 99 min.
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.43 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Korean Dolby Surround 5.1
Subtitles Korean, English
Features Release Information:
Studio: HB Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Dual-Layered DVD
• Audio Commentary with Director, Han Hyo Ju, Kim Young Min, and Kim Jung Ki
• Making Of
• Press Conference
• Poster Shoot
• Trailer and TV Spot
• Music Video

DVD Release Date: January 22, 2007
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 12

 

Comments:

I wasn't expecting too much from this DVD nor from the movie, but this simple looking single disc release is above average and turned out to be one of the pleasant surprises of 2007. The DVD is actually dual-layered (package info is inaccurate!) and the amount of diverse supplements is more than enough for a single disc... but unfortunately un-subtitled as usual.

Filmed in HD with a raw and cold look, the photography still manages to keep an inviting feeling that is presented here with a vivid image that can't be judged as less than satisfying. Among the qualities are a clean progressive transfer, low noise level, precise saturation, and better balanced contrast than most of my other Korean DVDs. However, sometimes the shades could be a bit more detailed and one or two minor issues could have been improved, but overall this is quality stuff even more if you consider the low budget production.

Since the movie is not too demanding or dependent on the sound a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix can be seen as overdoing, but a very clean and background-detailed sound presentation is supplied by it, ending up providing an involving real-like surround environment symmetrically complementary to the raw cinematography. The minimalist soundtrack music, quite similar to Kazuhide Yamaji's work for the movie "Hanging Garden," is rarely heard but is seemly incorporated to the movie mood possibly even taking more advantage of the sound mix quality than the rest. So, I think the Dolby 5.1 mix was a good and adequate choice that delivers the goods without deviating attention from watch you see.

The English subtitles for the movie seem correctly translated - no problems come to my mind. The un-subtitled extras range from the Making-Of... to the poster shoot, all with a good image quality even-though they are interlaced. There is also a Korean audio commentary track, but remember, no subtitles available.

Lets not forget that the gem here is the film itself. Adapted from a Japanese short story and reminding me of "Flower Island" in style, the story that begins with the question "Are you Ko Myungeun?" unfolds during an intriguing and sometimes creepy trip that becomes more like a flashback for the main character where she fluidly makes entrance into other's people's reality like if it were, or once were, her own. Therefore, very subtly, the movie explores the notion of identity and the contrast between the country's in family life-style and big city nowadays lonely individualized realities.

Super performances in an exquisite drama presented with good sound and image quality. Recommended!

 - Luiz R

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Thinking of buying from YesAsia? CLICK HERE and use THIS UPDATED BEAVER PAGE to source their very best...

Distribution

HB Entertainment

Region 3 - NTSC




 

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