NYAFF.."Dance With the Wind"

Today was the second day of attending the NY Asian Film Festival. Out of all the films I planned to see, this was the film I was anticipating the most. I knew I was going for work purposes, but I couldn't help but insert my own personal biases toward Korean films. Not only was it a romantic comedy (my all time favorite type of genre...and yes, my tastes drive home the stereotypical girl preference)....but there was dancing! Call me strange, but I am a sucker for any movie that showcases dancing. I've even stooped as low as to watch "Centerstage" since dancing was the main focus. I was imagining this film to be compared to "Strictly Ballroom." I couldn't wait to see if my assumption was correct.

I walked in at 8pm, a half hour before showtime and was slightly disturbed to find absolutely no crowd. No lines, nothing. I was insulted on behalf of all korean romantic comedies out there. Around 8:15, a small crowd started to form. Even though the film was supposed to start at 8:30pm, the 6:30pm screening hadn't even let out yet. Instead of crowding at the bottom level of the theatre, people started to form a line up the stairs. This was good to alieviate the bottle necking effect down below, but wasn't wise as far as control. Anyone could stand on the stairs even if they didn't have a ticket and get in. The ticket takers and ushers were no where to be found. Finally at 8:30pm, the crowd was let out and we were let in. The sense of urgency to have the film start on time, the people standing in the back of the theatre wearing headsets were glaringly missing. But since no one seemed to be worried about the late start, I wasn't either.

I looked around the audience and noticed that this night's crowd mostly consisted of young Asian professionals. Probably Korean. In the year's past Koreans came out in droves to support the Korean films showcased in the festival. My Sassy Girl, JSA and Chingu all were sold out. JSA was so popular that they added another screening to meet the high demand. Tonight would not be a sold out show.

A few minutes later a man introduced the start of the show. I couldn't help but be disappointed that Grady wasn't introducing the film. His energy and exaggerated voice stirred the crowd into excitement and always induced laughter. This guy was bland and barely audible since microphones didn't seem to exist in the theatre. He simply said that the drawing was about to happen. Tonight was a chance to win:
*"God of Cookery" DVD
*"Double Vision" VCD
*Zatauchi Tshirt
I crossed my fingers hoping that my name would be pulled and I could win the "God of Cookery" DVD. We had screened "God of Cookery" at our festival, but I wasn't able to watch it myself. The names were announced quickly and without any flare. My name was not called. Would I ever win one of these drawings?!

"Dance With the Wind," directed by Park Jun-Woo gave us a glimpse into the shady world of..gasp, dance. Starting with the jive and working up to ballroom dancing, Poongshik (played by Lee Sung-Jae) is innately drawn to dance. He finds himself seducing married women and taking their money, not because he's a gigalo, but because of his deep love and need for dance. Yeonhwa, an undercover cop is assigned to the case to bring Poongshik down. Apparently Poongshik seduced the wrong woman, the police captains wife...and now justice must be served. Yeonhwa is checked into the hospital with a fake neck injury to get closer to Poongshik, who for reasons that aren't explained upfront is also serving time in the hospital. Poongshik tells Yeonhwa the story of his life, how he became a smooth, sauve, irressistable ladies magnet, but most importantly, a passionate dancer. There are more twists and explainations to his story, but what shines out the most is the appreciation for the art of dance. Also, there are laugh out loud, funny moments. The best scene by far is the first dance instructor Poongshik seeks out. A tiny old man who can barely stir in sugar for his tea, but becomes a young 20-something year old man again once he starts to dance. The last half of the movie starts to drag, and the ending is not clearly defined, but all in all a very enjoyable film.