Life is Cool (그녀는 예뻤다)

August 14, 2010

Not too long ago, I made a comment that the number of good Korean animations was so scarce, I could count the number with my one hand. So it was a strangely fateful turn of events for me then to, by sheer chance, stumble across an obscure Korean animated film titled Life is Cool, because it was one of the most witty, intelligent and mature animation I had the pleasure of watching. There were still hidden gems yet to be found in Korean animation industry, and this blatantly obvious realisation made me feel so foolish for making such a baseless statement.

Life is Cool is a completely rotoscoped film inspired by Richard Linklater’s Waking Life, yet possessing a distinctly unique look and feel that distinguishes itself. Its visual style is played in lower key and lacks the wild deformity of Waking Life, but its sketchy scenes still vibrate and pulsate in such inexplicable sensations, the overall tone of watching the film is almost like traversing that hypnotic chasm between real and surreal. Rotoscoping was done over live-action shots of characters played by highly recognised and talented Korean actors, so there are subtle nuances in what they say and do that are difficult to capture with conventional animation. The dialogues and characters’ movements flow so naturally, and its writing so witty and intelligent, there is not a moment that feels mundane in this movie.

At its core, the relationship between the three best friends and their common romantic interest is what keeps us engaged throughout the movie. Their interactions always feel genuine and down to earth because each characters are so carefully crafted with substantial background story and delicate characterisation, which is quite unlike (fortunately) many Korean dramas where ridiculous interactions are dictated by coincidents and amnesia/other plot devices. Ultimately, Life is Cool is a wonderfully human and mature story of three grumpy middle-aged Koreans finding more cool way to live a life, through their meaningful interaction with one woman, and each other. Personally I would have liked more tension and the events to unfold in more dramatic fashion, but I suppose that would completely override the general atmosphere and theme of the movie.

You might relate to the story more if you are a middle-aged man looking for a woman but I am sure most young audience will still get plenty out of the film like I did. Life can be so cool, but sometimes we get chained down by our narrow and ideal visions, never satisfied with what we have and always blind to plenty of opportunities lying before us. Sounds like Tatami Galaxy right? Below is the theme song for the movie, Life is Cool by Sweetbox. Enjoy, and stay cool.

*It is pity that the only subbed version of the movie doesn’t offer a translation that does justice to the nuances that can be found in wonderfully crafted dialogue.

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6 Responses to “Life is Cool (그녀는 예뻤다)”

  1. Some guY Says:

    Have you seen the work of this Korean animator?

    Entering the Mind through the Mouth
    by: Jin Sung Choi

    His work is AMAZING!

  2. RyanA Says:

    Life can be so cool, but sometimes we get chained down by our narrow and ideal visions, never satisfied with what we have and always blind to plenty of opportunities lying before us

    Gah! It’s funny because I sense that it’s a multi-dimensional restriction; could be adventure, could be romance, business, etc. Anyhow, will take note of this in my library for now :)

    The animation style reminds me of A Scanner Darkly.

  3. gaguri Says:

    @some guy
    If it’s as good as you say, I will save that clip to savour properly when I’m more in mood for some good cinematic experience. Thanks, I’m always open to any good Korean animtors!

    @RyanA
    Ah, I haven’t seen A Scanner Darkly yet but I think you’re right on the spot (just looked at few screencaps), because it looks like Linklater didn’t go quite as wild with his visuals in Scanner compared to Waking Life. If you enjoyed Linklater’s work then I think you will likely enjoy this too.

  4. Celeste Says:

    Yay! Korean animation! :)

    I think my interest in non-japanese animation for adults (non-pandering I guess would be a better phrase) is already stated, but this seems like a really awesome movie – must pick it up sometime.

    It’s nice to see the rotorscoping done in a slightly more low-key way – I personally found Waking Life a little jarring to watch. Have you ever watched Waltz for Bashir? also very good rotorscoped (actually it might be toonshaded 3D renders, don’t quote me on this) animation.

  5. josephsiar Says:

    Mmmm….

    I wasn’t able to find out how to send you a message so I’ll just comment here : P

    I discovered your blog just a little while ago and have been busy getting all the movies, shorts and series that you have recommended. I mean, It’s not everyday that you come across a Masaki Yuaasa fan ; )

    Now, I would also like to ask you for a little help. Right now I’m working on my thesis and I’m researching Utena’s architecture. I already read your article about it (great help!!) but you also said something about another article that I have been unable to access ( http://claiming.wordpress.com/2009/01/25/utenas-revolutionary-architecture/ ) . I would like to know if you have access to it and can provide me with the article or contact the owner or whatever.

    I’m terribly sorry to ask this out of the blue but I have no one else to ask.

    Thanks!!

  6. gaguri Says:

    @Celeste

    Check my archives for post on Waltz with Bashir =D

    IIRC, Bashir wasn’t made using any rotoscoping, it’s closer to cut-out animation.

    @josephsiar

    I’m assuming the author of that blog post no longer wants it to be public, but I will send a message to him in any case for you. I’ll drop another reply here if I have more information.
    *check your e-mail~


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