Lies (Gojitmal) (1999)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-The Tracker; Nine Queens; Walking On Water; Monsoon Wedding
|Year Of Production||1999|
|Running Time||102:33 (Case: 85)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Sun-Woo Jang|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Lies is not pornography. Not quite. Pornography involves nudity and depictions of sex intended to titillate and sexually arouse. That is not the intent here. Here the nudity and sex are an integral part of the story — it would be difficult, nearly impossible, to tell the story without them — but many of the images are unsettling, even disturbing, rather than arousing. I regard myself as very open-minded on this subject, but there was one scene I found repelling. All I will say is (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) "go look up coprophilia". The scene is short, and the people involved are not really coprophiliacs, but...
This is the story of two people, their relationship, and what it does to them. The man is known throughout the film as J, played by first-time actor Lee Sang-Hyun (who is a sculptor in real life). J is in his late thirties, and a sculptor. The girl / woman is known as Y, played by first-time actor Kim Tae Yeon (who is a fashion model in real life). At the start of the film, Y is in her final year of high school, preparing to go on to college. The only other characters we meet during the film are Woori, who is Y's best friend, Y's brother, and J's wife — although we don't really get names for the brother or wife.
The film opens with Y on her way to meet J for the first time. They have spoken, even flirted, on the phone, after Y first called on Woori's behalf, but they have never seen each other. They meet, go to J's apartment, and engage in extensive, but fairly conventional, sex. It's only in the "afterglow" that we learn that this is Y's first time, and that her reason for wanting sex is that both her elder sisters were raped (the oldest committed suicide afterwards), and she wanted to choose her first sexual partner. She doesn't especially enjoy it. Woori is upset when she finds out, because she had something of a crush on J, but she gets over it.
It's only at their second meeting that an unusual element starts to creep in. While engaged in sex, J starts to slap her. Then he has her bend over and he beats her backside and thighs with a stick (a broom handle, or perhaps slightly thicker). The film maker ensures we know that these are not little love-taps, either, by having her show Woori the deep bruising inflicted, and later the cuts and welts. The beating increases, but she bears it stoically, until one time she cries. He's upset and asks if she likes it. She says that she doesn't, but bears it for his sake. He's contrite, and insists that she beat him instead. She's very reluctant at first, but quickly starts to enjoy the reversal. The voice-over points out that J is not a sadist, because the pain is just a form of foreplay, to be followed by sex, rather than a substitute for the sex itself.
The story is more complicated than the sex, though. J's wife is away in Paris, but she calls and insists that he come over to help her prepare for an art exhibit. Y is going to college. They have trouble finding time together. Y's brother is concerned about the relationship. Y is forced to leave college for a while to avoid him. Things get confused, but only for a while. I won't explain the event that changes things.
A strength of this film is that while one may not be interested in this particular fetish, the film makes it comprehensible how someone might be.
It's interesting to watch Y's evolution from timid school girl to self-assured young woman through the course of this film. Her hairstyle changes seem designed to reflect this, and the passing of time. By the end of the film you feel certain that she has used J as part of her transition from girl to woman, and no longer needs him. J, on the other hand, seems used-up and discarded. Their final sexual encounter makes this quite clear. I began by seeing him as the abuser, and her as the victim. By the end of the film my mind was changed.
This film is shot mostly hand-held, with some extreme close-ups, particularly at the beginning. That's unusual, but even more unusual is the way that we get brief interview footage of the two leads before we see them in the film. Kim Tae Yeon is unsure whether she'll be able to handle the nudity required. There's nothing but a caption with their name to indicate that this is each of them as actor, rather than as character. It is odd how the director lifts us out of the film and then drops us back in. In another scene we hear the director say "Cut!", but the camera keeps rolling. There's a scene much later where a voice-over talks about how the lovers met at a particular train station in the book — another instance of lifting us out of the film. Perhaps the director is trying to unsettle us (it works!), or perhaps he's trying to reassure us that it's only a film.
In ways, this film resembles Lolita, in that it is the story of the impact on a man of an all-consuming affair with a much younger girl / woman. You could almost call this a cautionary tale.
This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced. That's the intended ratio, but it's annoying that it's not 16x9 enhanced. I'd much rather pay a little more for a dual-layered disc, if that's what's required to get a 16x9 enhanced transfer.
The image is good, particularly bearing in mind that it is not 16x9 enhanced. There are some shots where focus is lost momentarily, a few where the picture is a bit soft, but generally the image is fairly sharp and clear. Shadow detail is somewhat variable, but generally quite good. Film grain is only noticeable in a few shots. There's no low-level noise.
Colour is dull, but this is likely the production design, rather than the colour rendering. Skin tones look natural (important, given the amount of skin on display). There are no colour-related artefacts.
There are more than a few small film artefacts, but nothing troubling.
There's quite a bit of aliasing, but it's never really annoying. There's no real moire and there are no MPEG artefacts.
There are no subtitle streams — the subtitles (in English) are burned into the image. They are easy to read, seem to be well-timed, and make sense (I don't speak Korean, so I can't tell you if they are accurate).
The disc is single-sided and single layered, so there is no layer change. I'd have welcomed a layer change if it meant that we got a 16x9 enhanced transfer.
This disc has a single audio tracks, labelled as English (it isn't — it's Korean), provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 (not surround-encoded) at 224kbps. I suspect it was labelled as English to simplify things on players that auto-select language.
The dialogue sounds clear, and is probably easy enough to understand if you speak Korean. There are no blatant audio sync errors, but it does seem a little out every so often — not a huge problem unless you speak Korean, I guess.
The music is credited to Dal Palan. A lot of the film is without score. The opening theme is unusual, and kind of industrial.
Neither the surrounds nor subwoofer are used by this straight stereo soundtrack.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static and silent, featuring a beautiful still of Kim Tae Yeon.
An interesting trailer.
Four pages explaining what the director was hoping to achieve.
We get a brief bio for each of the leads, and a filmography for the director.
Some of Madman's recent efforts in interesting cinema:
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version of this disc was released early in 2002 by Fox Lorber. I don't have definitive information, but it sounds as though the English subtitles are a subtitle stream on the R1, so you can turn them off (which you can't do with our Region 4 disc. Other than that, the two discs sound similar, although I can find nothing that tells us about the extras on the R1 disc — perhaps there are none? The R1 is not 16x9 enhanced either. It seems that there's no reason to buy the Region 1 over the Region 4.
One of our readers has written to tell me that all the extras, except for the Madman propaganda, appear on the R1 version. From his description, the two discs are pretty much equivalent in quality. He has confirmed that the English subtitles can be turned off, although this is really only useful if you understand Korean. He also told me that the R1 run-time is 106:59, which, allowing for the 4% speed-up of the PAL transfer, is pretty much the same as the run-time of the R4.
Lies is an involving and disturbing film that's definitely not for everyone.
The video quality is good, but not very good.
The audio quality is adequate.
The extras are fairly basic.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|