(Movie Review) ‘Cobweb’: Kim Jee-woon’s ode to Korean filmmaking in 1970s

Director Kim Jee-woon's new film "Cobweb" captures the ugly, honest truth of the Korean film industry in the 1970s and agony behind the scenes in a satirical spin, showing why cinema of the past is essential to the period we're in today.

Kim's 11th feature work focuses on an era of Korean film history that probably isn't the most appealing to a mass audience, when films were still shot in black and white and under strict censorship guidelines.

The gripping story about moviemaking unfolds in a chaotic manner, switching between color for scenes behind the camera, and black and white for a film-within-a-film sequence.

The story follows tortured director Kim Yeol (played by Song Kang-ho), who is haunted by the delusion that his latest film would be a masterpiece if the ending is reshot.

Kim, who was an assistant director to late master Shin, drew attention for his debut feature but is now ridiculed by critics for his corny melodrama movies.

He wants to reshoot the film, but the proposal is snubbed by the production company and government authorities.

Craving recognition, Kim gathers the exhausted cast and crew to reshoot the ending scene for two days, but the situation doesn't go as smoothly as he wished.

In the embedded film, lead actor Kang Ho-se (Oh Jung-se) plays a rich man married to Lee Min-ja (Im Soo-jung), who engages in an affair with a factory employee (Krystal). However, the actor also has an affair with Han Yu-lim (also played by Krystal), the rising actress who plays the role of the factory employee.

Shin Mi-do (Jeon Yeo-been), the heiress of the production company, is overly passionate about the project despite opposition from the company chairman (Jang Young-nam), creating tension with Han.

The color part is constantly clamorous and chaotic, while the black-and-white scenes gradually shift genres from romance, thriller, action and horror.

Some sequences detail how much work goes into achieving perfection in terms of actors' performances, cinematography and execution.

To shoot a fire scene in a long take, all cast and crew should make no mistakes in their respective roles once the set is on fire. Kim drives them to an extreme situation, even risking the lives of some people.

The actors and crew at first seem to be caught in a giant cobweb, but when they watch the final movie at a theater, it feels like the magic touch has pulled them together.

The movie offers a plentiful range of emotions: It's fun, satirical, sad, inspiring, thrilling and scary. The beauty of the film lies in its unpredictable plot that keeps viewers guessing from start to finish.

The strong ensemble of cast members is also notable.

Song, the star of Oscar-winning film "Parasite" (2019) and the 2022 winner of the Best Actor award for his role in "Broker," conveys the sense of obsession, anxiety and relatable melancholy that gives the entire film depth. He seems like director Kim's on-screen alter ego in their fifth collaboration.

The mise-en-scene, music and fashion of the 1970s blend well into the theatrical tone of actors of the time.

"Cobweb" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival's Midnight Screening section in May and is set to hit local theaters Sept. 27.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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