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Archive for January 29th, 2018

by Jared Dec

Io Island – Ki-young Kim

South Korea 1977 112m

p Woo-seok Lee d Ki-young Kim w Yu-sang Ha ph Il-seong Jeon ed Dong-chun Hyeon art Myeong-su Lee m Sang-gi Han

Hwa-shi Lee, Jeong-cheol Kim, Yun-seok Chul, Mi-hye Kwon, Jeong-ja Park

Come eat your food!

Many in the cinema world at large have now heard the name of Ki-young Kim. Most however are really only aware of a single one of his films, The Housemaid, largely due in part to the critical accolades it has received from both critics of its native country and to Western film giants such as Martin Scorsese. What one will soon discover upon investigating deeper into Kim’s filmography is that he was anything but a one-hit wonder. Kim was a dentist by trade but somehow made a complete career shift into making films off of expired film stock left over by the american propaganda units after the Korean War. Kim can be credited with giving Korean cinema its first true auteur, developing a signature style that was reminiscent of Hitchcock but remains distinctly his own. Large portions of Kim’s filmography are unknown in the West, with all but one of his films made prior to The Housemaid being lost to the ages. However, of those that have survived, Io Island is a standout indeed now blessedly available on a passable DVD release from the fine folks at the Korean Film Archive.

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by Sam Juliano

The baby boomer era was a time when trading was all the rage.  Whether one wanted to swap eight cent stamps because the design on one was cooler, or a Mickey Mantle for a Roger Maris baseball card, because the latter had just broken the all-time single season home run record.  Bulging Halloween trick or treat bags after almost four hours of ringing bells and knocking on doors usually yielded prime candy items set for brokering.  How about a snickers bar for a mounds almond joy?  Maybe a chunky for a Forever Yours bar?  Those living near Palisades Amusement Park in northern New Jersey across the Hudson River from Manhattan engineered major trades every June when their free strip of tickets to the park included nine rides and a frozen custard.  The adventurous kids who couldn’t get enough opportunities to ride the Himalaya or the dizzying Round-Up gave up their ice cream to those with a sweet tooth.  Then there were those colorful marbles, matchbox cars and Universal monster models.  The girls were always moving dolls around, and swapping accessories for their houses.  And how many don’t remember hearing “I’ll give you New York Avenue and Mediterranean Place for Marvin Gardens and five-hundred in cash?  The general rule of thumb was to hold fast to anything that someone else wanted badly.  Usually the owner did that as confirmation that their possession was more valuable than the item being offered to obtain it.

This dogged conviction is the central conceit in Ariel Bernstein’s I Have A Balloon, a dialogue driven picture book about an owl and a monkey living in a forest who play rhetorical tug of war over a mighty appealing red balloon owned by the hooter.  The owl’s initial ambivalence about the celebratory object undergoes change when a an envious monkey tries to con him out of it.  The owl launches the discourse with a simple sentence that is so deadpan that it easily segues into humor.  I have a balloon.  The money swings in on a branch parroting the owl’s statement of ownership.  The owl then repeats the same four words to emphasize territorial rights to that which he holds by a string.  The book’s illustrator, Scott Magoon, an acclaimed veteran of several popular and critically lauded titles renders the book’s art via the digital medium.  His work is attractive, bold and vividly attuned to the changing dynamics in a story about youthful fickleness and intense desire which is probably the beginning of obsessive compulsive disorder.  The monkey starts to make observations about the balloon, that unbeknownst to the owl are the precise reason he would love to the ownership of it change hands.  That is a big balloon.  That is a shiny red balloon.  The owl steadfastly corroborates the monkey’s disguised yearning. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

Long time Allan Fish friend and protege Jared Dec, an amazing college student from the Bay area in California has resuscitated a cherished Wonders in the Dark institution by adding to The Fish Obscuro series with some intriguing rarities.  Today marks the second week running that Dec has unearthed a hard-to-find title, and is graciously making it available for those interested with another stellar assessment.  Jared’s new series is a real boon to the site and its erstwhile discerning cineastes.

Today the annual Mock Caldecott voting will be conducted in the Number 3 School Annex, where around 230 first and second grade students will be casting ballots for their favorite picture books of the year after months of scrutiny.  As always I will post the results on next week’s MMD. (more…)

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