Kim Ki-Duk, part of the so-called Korean New Wave that came to international attention in the mid to late 1990's, sure can paint a pretty picture. The question still remains though, can he put any pop into the palette like his fellow new wavers? Less brazen than Park Chan-wook (though equally enthralled by style over substance) and less aloofly cinematic than Hong Sang-soo (though with an equally inspired taste for filmic history) Kim Ki-Duk is the middle ground of Korean cinema. A film artist who plays at pretension, teases us with zeitgeist, the whole time driving his cinema right down the proverbial middle of the road. I suppose that makes Kim the Steven Spielberg of Korean cinema.
Telling the Morpheus stripped story of a girl who thinking herself too plain for her boyfriend's attention disappears only to reappear months later, new face in tow, to see if she can win back the very man she left in the first place, Kim paints his canvas with the broad colourful strokes of an expert painter. These quick, flashy brushstrokes sure do concoct a beautifully stylized film d'art, but at the same time they show that Kim has nothing to say about anything once the paint dries. There is always the Bohemian attitude of art for art's sake - and that certainly has its merits, which is why Time is not the poorly judged mistake it might have been - but in the end, being a film with such ample room for a psychological thesis on beauty and the importance of appearance (sort of a modern take on some of the themes in Vertigo) it is a shame all we get is a pretty picture. [07/11/07]