Towards the end of last semester I decided I had to change the final graded assignment for the students in my writing class. I’ve found that by using the old ‘write about what you know’ ploy I could give them assignments on something that they can relate to and movies were a pretty good way of doing that.
Going to the pictures in Korea is by far one of the most popular ways for people to spend their free time. In fact, I’m sure (for those of you in the same boat) if you ask any regular university student “how often do you go to the movies?”, they’ll probably answer on average “once or twice per month”. It’s about $8 per ticket (although 3-D rip-off flicks will cost you more BUT early morning showings will be cheaper), and I’d say for 2 people you’d spend $20 all in – tickets, popcorn, drinks, transportation. Probably decent in comparison to what you’d pay in the UK?
Anyway, when I’m trying to give the students some ideas to write about, it never fails to amaze me just how many of them will write about the same thing. Not their ‘style’ of writing, but more like the actual subject they end up writing about.
It’s not their fault, but it’s more down to what’s available and showing at the local multiplex that must influence their decisions (and taking peer pressure etc into account). This semester (this being the first time that I’ve done a 5 paragraph essay for a final assignment with them) the winner had to be ‘Inception’. I’d say that out of 60 students there were at least 10 who chose this movie as their ‘favourite’ or most ‘memorable’. Although the movie was released in the summer of 2010 and added to the fact that most of them can’t remember what they had for breakfast (I could be added to that statistic at times myself) it was quite refreshing for them still to be so enthusiastic about this particular film. I quite enjoyed ‘Inception’, (and the South park spoof episode) and I guess it proved that you could make such a thing as an intelligent blockbuster movie.
There was the occasional student who chose something like Fellini’s “8 1/2”
However, according to a recent article in Time magazine it’s said that sales at the box office in the US have decreased by about 4.5% or $70 squillion dollars. My heart bled for the poor lambs. After a bit more of a trawl through my Twitter feed (yes, I know…) I came across an interesting piece by Roger Ebert (he of the thumbs up/down movie review show) who came up with a list of reason why. I’d go as far as saying that I’m not too fussed if the movie companies or multiplexes are losing money or not. And I’d also go along with his opinion in #6 on his list when he puts it down to a lack of choice, and therein lies my point. The selection of movies in theatres in Korea is pretty poor and when the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US kicks in it will undoubtedly get worse. Hmmmmm?
The other day I was walking through a nearby multiplex when I saw this huge (and how can you miss Sarah Jessica Parker’s HUGE old horseface on an even bigger banner?) poster for this movie called “I don’t know how she does it”. It doesn’t come out until the beginning of February next year (they’re just teasing me for the next month or so) and that’s it – that’s the biggest movie to get here in February 2012? I’m sure we’ll still have either Holmes or Mission Impossible straggling about then too, but Sarah Jessica Parker? Really? If the movie’s anything like the poster suggests (and it suggests it’ll be like all the worst Kate Hudson movies PLUS Sex & The City combined) that it’ll be utter shite and a complete waste of mine and yours hard-earned. That said, the choice is yours.
Still, wouldn’t it be nice to think that from time to time movie theatres in Korea wouldn’t have to kiss Hollywood’s arse and show what will probably be a huge waste of time and money (but will no doubt do well), but instead there would be a niche for just that something a wee bit different? I know, it’s a pipe dream. It would be even better if point A were to come to fruition that there would be a readily available medium where we could keep up with what’s showing on a regular basis (this website does a decent job of maintaining listings ). Moreover, I can navigate my way through most Korean cinema sites to check to see what’s showing, but try booking a ticket without a Korean ID number and see how far you get? It’d also be an idea to get more Korean cinema’s to show more of their Korean language films with English subtitles as I’m sure given a choice between spending 2 hours in the company of Seabiscuit or checking out something locally produced would be a (sometimes) welcome alternative.
EDIT: I’ve just read the movie poster and it says that SJP’s movie “Can You Tell What It Is Yet (or whatever it’s called) is based on a New York Times bestseller. That’s it, I’m definitely reserving tickets for the first night!