The best way to get away from yet another episode of "East Enders", "Coronation Street" or other ubiquitous soaps is to turn off the telly, leave the house and see a movie. Unfortunately, the pictures are so expensive these days that watching paint dry is sometimes more compelling than any remake of a classic by a Hollywood Studio bankrupt of ideas. Fortunately, The Korean Cultural Centre has a free solution for this every Thursday evening.
Their popular series of free film screenings are a revelation, as you get to see films you've never imagined. The screening of "Animal Town" by Jeon Kyu-hwang was a rediscovery of how powerful the slow burn can be, which I first Witnessed when I saw "The Wicker Man".
Animal Town" is the story of a convicted paedophile who's down on his luck, living a block of flats due to be demolished and made redundant from his job as a labourer. Another sub-plot is about a printer and his mundane life too, which Jeon captures in great detail and with great accuracy. When a wild boar is spotted in the suburbs of Seoul, their lives intersect in plot twist after plot twist.
When working as a taxi driver, the paedophile kills a customer in an argument over missing a turn. He is so wracked with remorse, he tries to hang himself, only to be strangled and cut down by the printer. Surviving a simultaneous suicide attempt and strangulation, the irony is he dies in a car accident when he swerves out of the way of a wild boar.
The wild boar is a double metaphor for the way we regard paedophiles and justice (we all know what a pig is slang for), as he is keeping his urges in check by medication. What makes this film all the more chilling is the final sting in the tale: the paedophile killed his daughter, which is inferred when his wife literally fades out of the picture, showing an empty child's bed.
This makes the film all the more powerful, as I was expecting that he abducts and rapes a child on the fringes of South Korean Society who collects cans for a living. Now I realise it was a red herring, a projection of the father's grief as well as a lust object for one of the most contemptible characters in Korean Cinema. Strangely, the film humanises him by showing the mundanity of his existence, which makes him more despicable.
Given that it's not everyday that you see these films, you're in for a real treat because this year is the Year Of 12 Directors. For 2012, these popular screenings are showcasing the work of one director each month and you get four films from each one.
In October, November and December, you get Im Kwon-taek, Song Hae-seong and Lim Soon-Rye respectively. You might as well surprise yourself and see what they have on offer in place of yet another tedious soap, you might find something you'll like.
If, like me, you like Hong Kong CatIII (even just for the pretty Chinese girls like Chingmy Yau) and Japanese films, it would pay to expand your cultural range. To book your free film, go to the Korean Cultural Centre's website and see what's on offer. They have nine down, three directors to go but you have loads more to discover beyond Eastenders (it's far too western).