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Posts Tagged ‘Steven Yeun’

Clockwise from upper left: Steven Yeun, Youn Yuh-jung, Yeri Han, Noel Cho, Alan S. Kim

“MINARI” My rating: B (VOD)

115 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Like the young characters in “Minari,” writer/director Lee Isaac Chung grew up as the offspring of Korean immigrants in rural Arkansas in the 1980s.

Based on that knowledge it can be safely said that big chunks of this excellent family drama are autobiographical.

But even if we knew nothing about Chung’s background, “Minari” is a so crammed with moments of overwhelming specificity that you’d immediately identify it as having been pulled from real-life experience, particularly the experiences of a child now looking back with adult eyes.

Jacob (Steven Yeun) and Monica (Yeri Han) are a Korean couple who, after years on the West Coast, have relocated to rural Arkansas.

Jacob is tired of his job sexing chicks for a poultry producer (basically he spends all day staring at the nether regions of fluffy yellow creatures; the males are destroyed for being of no commercial value). He has uprooted Monica and their children David and Anne (Alan S. Kim, Noel Cho) and deposited them in a rather rundown doublewide trailer in the middle of a pasture.

Jacob is bent on realizing his American dream; to be precise, he wants to produce Korean vegetables for his many fellow countrymen now living in the USA and craving a taste of home.

Monica is dubious.  She’s not thrilled with their shabby  new digs. Jacob’s entrepreneurial quest strikes her as more selfish than practical. She frets that little David, who has a heart murmur (he’s always being told not to run, and always does, anyway) is an hour away from emergency medical care. These tensions will put no little strain on the marriage.

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Ah-in Yoo, Jong-weo Jun, Steven Yeun

“BURNING” My rating: B 

148 minutes | No MPAA rating

Class warfare, economic hardship, generational conflict and, who knows, maybe even a murder are the issues swirling around in  “Burning,” a film that seems in no hurry to get anywhere but in which, we realize much later, every moment counts.

Chang-Dong Lee’s drama — South Korea’s official nominee for this year’s Oscar for Foreign Language Film — centers on Jong-Su (Ah-in Yoo), a twenty something living on the economic edge in modern Seoul.  It’s not clear exactly how Jong-Su survives. We see the army veteran lugging bagged clothes around the streets, but whether his business is legit or not is never plumbed.

He’s schlepping his way through the day when he stumbles across Hae-Mi (Jong-Seo Jin), with whom he grew up in a rural farming community.  Hae-Mi is now employed as a sort of model; clad in a cheerleader outfit she hawks bargains on the sidewalk outside a department store.

She’s bouncy and adventurous and claims to be on a spiritual quest.  After bedding the bowled-over Jong-Su she asks him to feed her cat while she goes searching for inner truth in Africa.

Jong-Su agrees (he never sees the cat but the food bowl keeps emptying and the litter box keeps filling); moreover he uses his visits to Hae-Mi’s one-room apartment as an opportunity to masturbate.  He may not be a very demonstrative guy, but it’s pretty clear Jong-Su is smitten.

Which makes it all the worse when Hae-Mi returns from Kenya with a new guy in tow.  This is Ben (Steven Yeun, late of cable’s “Walking Dead”), who is clearly playing in another league.  Ben dresses well, drives an expensive sports car, seems utterly unimpressed by anything (at one point he claims never to have wept) and, when asked what he does, replies “I play.”

Jong-su, who wants to be a novelist (though we never see him writing), takes to calling this new acquaintance “the Great Gatsby.”

At least Ben lets the puppylove-tormented Jong-Su  hang out with him and Hae-Mi.  One one particular weekend the three party on Jong-Su’s rundown family farm (his divorced father is in jail after an altercation with a neighbor); during a marijuana-steeped evening Hae-Mi does a naked dance as the sun sets and Ben reveals to Jong-Su that his hobby is setting fire to the ugly plastic-draped greenhouses that litter the landscape.  (more…)

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Steven Yeun

“MAYHEM”  My rating: C+ (Opens Nov. 10 at the Screenland Tapcade)

86 minutes | No MPAA rating

Joe Lynch’s “Mayhem” more than lives up to its name.

This giddy celebration of pointless violence finds Steven Yeun, late of cable’s “The Walking Dead,” playing attorney Derek Cho,  an employee of a take-no-prisoners law firm that represents the worst in contemporary American culture and capitalism.

Framed by a fellow attorney for a major screwup on a big case, a defeated Derek is cleaning out his office when police surround the firm’s high-rise  and inform those inside that a particularly malevolent virus has been detected on the premises.

Known as ID-7, this nasty bug causes the infected to lose all the inhibitions that normally keep us from sexually assaulting and or mercilessly beating our fellow men.

An anti-virus has been released into the building’s air conditioning, but it will take eight hours to kick in. Until then the place is under strict quarantine.

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