Cobweb is a fresh, funny send-up of the South Korean film business, Latest Movies News - The New Paper

Cobweb is a fresh, funny send-up of the South Korean film business

Cobweb (M18)

132 minutes, opens on Thursday
4 stars

The story: It is the 1970s and movie director Kim Yeol (Song Kang-ho) has wrapped filming on his latest work Cobweb, when he is gripped by a vision of a powerful new ending for the story. With a new screenplay in hand, he fights to get a reshoot. Producers and studio executives consider his idea an expensive vanity-driven mistake, as do his lead actor Kang Ho-se (Oh Jung-se) and actress Han Yu-rim (Krystal Jung). Government film censors reject his new text, saying it will corrupt public morals. But Kim persists and soon finds allies willing to buck the system.

South Korean film-maker Kim Jee-woon has created some of the most interesting films of the last two decades.

His blood-soaked revenge thriller I Saw The Devil (2010) is revered for its brutality and tension.

Feel a need for goth haircuts, motorcycle stunts and train robberies? Try his eccentric but wildly fun take on the spaghetti western, The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008).

His latest work casts a satirical eye on the movie industry, which he portrays as filled with phoneys, bureaucrats and jealous hacks who call themselves movie critics.

Kim, the director of this film, shares the same last name as Kim the director character played by veteran actor Song.

The naming is probably intended as a joke because, in this story, the reluctant actors who return for the reshoot appear to be playing characters who echo some aspect of their lives.

Recent Hollywood takes on the movie industry suffer from reverential nostalgia (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, 2019) or a hyper focus on drugs and decadence (Babylon, 2022).

In the South Korean movie business of the 1970s, there were no rock stars or inconvenient drug overdoses, but if Cobweb is correct, it was a time when profits were surging and studio bosses ran roughshod over artists. The creative people had to be crafty to beat the system.

The less said about the plot, the better.

The story does not contain major twists, but there is great satisfaction to be had in the way it reveals fresh information about characters and their true motivations.

The peeling of the onion layers takes the viewer into hilarious comic interludes involving actors who despise their castmates and producers desperate to get into the good graces of the civil servants and studio executives.

The best thing about the story is that even Kim Yeol is not above skewering.

Cobweb is a South Korean send-up of the artistic egos in the movie industry starring Oh Jung-se (facing camera). PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

Is he the visionary he thinks he is or an egomaniac seeking one last shot at glory? Is his new ending any good or is it more of the same trashy melodrama the former wunderkind has been reduced to serving since his fall from grace?

Kim Yeol is going with his gut, because at his stage in life, that is all he has left.

Hot take: Underdog artists are up against tight-fisted studio bosses and government censors in this uproarious take on the South Korean movie industry.