A thinner, lighter, and more homogenized sampling of Asia’s ongoing favorite New Wave than we’ve grown used to from previous Subway Cinema–curated editions, this fall’s NYKFF harbors no breakout auteurist marvels, just solid mainstream genre expertise. Of the melodramas—which are among the most poetic and sure-footed currently produced anywhere—Lee Jae-han’s A Moment to Remember begins with a mismatched Splendor in the Grass romance between a developer’s forgetful daughter and a laconic construction worker and then blooms into full-on disease-of-the-week tearjerker. The distinction lies in the details (including a disarming bit of business with a doomed purse snatcher on a motorcycle) and in the illness—Alzheimer’s—which precipitates all manner of agon about the relative meanings of love and memory.
Lin Chan-sang’s The President’s Barber toys with the national consciousness, reviewing the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s through the eyes of the eponymous, somewhat Gump-like haircutter ( Memories of Murder‘s Song Kang-ho). But the slate is thickest with thrillers—straight-on K-horror (Ahn Byeong-ki’s Bunshinsaba), horror farce (Kim “Attack the Gas Station” Sang-jin’s neo- Topper hoot Ghost House), and bloody Seven dittos, including Byeon Hyeok’s The Scarlet Letter, in which a philandering detective pounds away on an elusive murder case while balancing two pregnancies, and Kim In-shik’s Hypnotized, a Poe-esque, zoom-zoom exercise in psycho style involving a self-destructive therapist falling in love with a Medusa-ish schizophrenic.