Exciting news! Nicole Kidman will join Colin Firth and Mia Kasiwoska in the first English language film of South Korean master, Park Chan Wook! The film, called Stoked and due to be released next year, is a thriller intriguingly scripted by Prison Break actor, Wentworth Miller.
In case you are not up to speed with it, this is my take on the advent of South Korea cinema, which to me, is currently the best in the world. There is just something in the production values, the quality of the script, the incredible acting and a knack for producing some of the most jaw dropping endings that has elevated it to the forefront of world cinema, with several awards in major festival to prove it.
It all started off with Quentin Tarantino, Asian cinema connoisseur extraordinaire, awarding Old Boy by Park Chan Wook with the runner up prize at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2004 (losing out for the top prize Farenheit 9/11, the tragedy!). And South Korea has since been churning out a constant stream of excellent films, while neighboring Japan and China are struggling to catch up with their past cinematic glory.
Following masterpieces include The host and Mother by Joon Ho Bong, Secret Sunshine and Poetry by Chang Dong Lee, and Thirst by Park Chan Wook again (my personal favourite, a reworking of that French classic Therese Raquin, with added vampires!)
I love the way it has managed to tackle such incredibly varied and well worn genres as revenge films, thrillers, family dramas, and creature films even, and make them feel fresh and new, often by intertwining them in the most unlikely way, while adding its own offbeat sensibilities and unique styles. As different as they are, all these films share a few common traits: the strong family ties, the sense of values, the dramatic and emotional intensity... (I have never visited South Korea but based on these films, I imagine it to be the Italy to its so much more reserved neighbour, Japan!)
So it is everybody's guess how Park Chan Wook is going to tackle the Hollywood juggernaut that has crushed many talented world cinema directors before him (its latest casualty Florian Henckel von Donnersmark, who went from Oscar glory for the Life of others to directing last year's biggest disaster: The tourist!). And working with a script he has not written will be an added challenge. While I have the utmost confidence in him, we'll just have to wait for Cannes 2012 (wild guess!) to find out!