William Schwartz

William Schwartz
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
I started reviewing South Korean movies in 2012 for HanCinema (www.hancinema.net) following a lifelong interest in film. I have also done extensive research into older South Korean film as well as North Korean films at the Korean Film Archive in Seoul.

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
80% Scenes from an Empty Church (2021) Scenes from an Empty Church is immediately distinctive as a snapshot of COVID culture that's already unrecognizable, despite most of us having lived through it. - Book & Film Globe EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 30, 2021
63% The 8th Night (2021) The 8th Night is not a particularly weird movie, although there's definite menace in the atmosphere. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 30, 2021
47% False Positive (2021) That's just the endpoint of Lucy's bizarre adventure, where she has to rationalize the fact that she feels like garbage with the fact that she's following her doctor's orders and that's what respectable people are supposed to do. - Book & Film Globe EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 30, 2021
No Score Yet Inside the Red Brick Wall (2020) Pre-familiarity with the subject matter is clearly assumed with the editing, to the point that the documentaries are nearly useless to viewers hoping to be educated. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2021
94% Plan B (2021) While Sunny and Lupe may have their typical teen girl insecurities, they're for the most part cheerful relatable characters who use modern buzz words they don't totally understand to try and make sense of a world to which they're still trying to adapt. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2021
67% Killed My Wife (Anaereul Jukyessda) (2019) Unique in its sheer mundanity, reading like a part of a hobo's obituary. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2021
No Score Yet Seobok (2021) The grim, impersonal nature of the stakes in SEOBOK make for a powerful representation of suicidal impulses. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2021
No Score Yet Troubleshooter (2012) Troubleshooter only manages to be a good movie rather than a great one. As an overall product the film is forgettable even if the individual parts can sometimes border on genius. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2021
72% Night in Paradise (2020) Night in Paradise is overly long, poorly edited, and lacks bite. Even strong action scenes can't compensate for the trite melodrama. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted May 3, 2021
No Score Yet Another Public Enemy (2005) The only halfway interesting scenes are where Prosecutor Kang is depressed enough from his failure to make progress at boring meetings that he stumbles around drunkenly for a little bit. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 24, 2021
88% Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005) Therein lies the fundamental absurdity that defines the film. The characters in Welcome to Dongmakgol all want to do evil, yet often have to be talked into it. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 24, 2021
44% The Battle of Jangsari (2019) The production team pulls no punches when it comes to the terrifying nonsense of war - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 24, 2021
66% Crisis (2021) Even the most heroic actions don't really feel heroic because, as the closing subtitles remind us, the opioid crisis didn't go away just because it stopped being such a big news story. - Book & Film Globe EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 17, 2021
82% 1987: When the Day Comes (2017) Throughout 1987: When the Day Comes we mostly see Investigator Park through the eyes of his victims- as a crazed psychopath who cannot be stopped and cannot be negotiated with...a fitting metaphor for the South Korean dictatorship as a whole. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 18, 2021
100% A Werewolf Boy (2012) In excellent subversive faction, it's the feral boy that really connects with the viewer on screen. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 18, 2021
69% Space Sweepers (2021) I was caught off guard by the sheer quantity of badly paced infodumping...there is yet more exposition and backstory well into the second half, every single time dragging the narrative to a crawl. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 18, 2021
No Score Yet A Special Lady (Mi-ok) (2017) There's a shocking failure to communicate that drives almost all of the conflict in A Special Lady to the point that I was rooting for Sang-hoon in spite of his clearly being presented as a jerk. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2021
No Score Yet A Dog's Courage (2020) What starts out as a story of survival turns into an odyssey, at the clear expense of a well defined moral message. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2021
100% The Call (Kol) (2020) The Call is a movie that thrives on its effective use of mysterious atmosphere. Director Lee Chung-hyun makes that much clear from the earliest scenes, which contrast a modern-day social drama with a past day freak show. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2021
87% BLACKPINK: Light Up the Sky (2020) BLACKPINK changes languages from English to Korean to Thai seemingly at random. But as I saw more of these discussions, I could detect a more consistent rhythm in the way they discourse, synchronizing their thoughts to one another. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2020
No Score Yet Fukuoka (2019) Zhang Lu's characters persist in the dreamlike world that can only really be described as existing in a foreign country. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2020
85% The Swordsman (2020) Writer/director Choi Jae-hoon has crafted a surprisingly ruminative and moody action flick about power and politics. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2020
100% An Old Lady (2019) More than being about sexual assault and elder abuse as hot button issues, An Old Lady is a character study. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 30, 2020
No Score Yet Between The Seasons (2018) Between the Seasons is a superb exposition of existential crisis as its characters ask themselves who they are, and what they want, and never really coming up with a satisfying answer. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 30, 2020
94% Deliver Us From Evil (Daman Akeseo Goohasoseo) (2020) Crisp and beautiful as the movie's visuals are, writer/director Hong Won-chan never loses sight of the fact that every scene of this movie represents a tragic, senseless loss of human life. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 30, 2020
No Score Yet Steel Rain (2017) While consistently excellent in individual sections, the ambiguous genre mix of Steel Rain does a lot to dilute the impact. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 1, 2020
94% Nugu-ui ttal-do anin Haewon (Nobody's Daughter Hae-Won) (2013) Excellent self-critical stuff, the kind of movie a person could use to remind themselves that breaking up with an ex-lover was probably the smartest possible move. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 1, 2020
88% #Alive (2020) #ALIVE plays its setting too safe, and while the end product is certainly watchable, it's ultimately nothing special. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 30, 2020
No Score Yet A French Woman (2019) The dull expository sequences of the film rather understate just how destroyed Mi-ra's world is and how that's warped her sense of self. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2020
82% The President's Last Bang (2005) Scenes of grotesque violence are handled oddly lackadaisically, with the occasional low-ranking character meekly suggesting that maybe this isn't such a good idea before reluctantly agreeing to follow orders anyway. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2020
No Score Yet Bori (2018) Stripped of sensational elements, Bori's own message is simply that the deaf lifestyle is different, containing remarkable nuance. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2020
No Score Yet Sun Mool, (Last Present), (The Gift ) (2001) It is in this moment, more than any other, that we are reminded that Yong-gi is thoroughly a clown. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 4, 2020
No Score Yet Horobicheu-reul wihayeo (My Piano) (2006) It's the budding emotional relationship that changes Ji-soo's attitude rather than Kyeong-min's abilities. Where My Piano gets surprising is its general take on reality. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 4, 2020
No Score Yet Wedding Dress (2010) Wedding Dress is a story about making yourself happy to make other people happy. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 4, 2020
No Score Yet The Abductress (2015) While The Abductress isn't quite pornography I frequently felt while watching this movie like an explicitly soft-core take might have been an improvement - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 28, 2020
No Score Yet Yeolliji (Now and Forever) (2006) We get half of a happy movie with aggressive romancing, then half of a sad movie with aggressive moping around. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 28, 2020
No Score Yet Curtain Call (2016) Several scattered strong concepts and setpieces aren't enough to save Curtain Call from mediocrity. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 28, 2020
No Score Yet Bulg-eun gajog (Red Family) (2013) Red Family has aged horribly and no aspect of it can be used to meaningfully discuss the cultural distance between North Korea and South Korea in the present day or even back when it was made. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 9, 2020
No Score Yet Jeni, Juno (2005) Jenny, Juno is, for better or worse, trapped in a cycle of its own idiot teen logic. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 9, 2020
No Score Yet The Terror Live (2013) The Terror Live expertly manages to keep scary situations getting even scarier, as even when the degree of danger hasn't changed, the personal visceral level is ratcheting up. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2019
86% The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2014) While The Admiral: Roaring Currents has the obvious trappings of a patriotic story about Korea's darkest hour, director Kim Han-min wisely decides to instead focus on fear. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2019
No Score Yet Run Off (Take Off 2) (2016) The movie is not only generic it's rather pointless, good for little more than background noise for a person engaged in a more mentally intensive task. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2019
70% Ashfall (2019) Atrocious editing and an overly long running time turn Ashfall into a disaster of a disaster movie. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2019
No Score Yet Bring Me Home (Find Me) (Na-reul cha-ja-jwo) (2019) The main moments of terror are startlingly mundane. In a screenplay that probably looks predictable out of context writer/director Kim Seung-woo-I manages to wring out some fairly powerful tension. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2019
No Score Yet Black Money (2019) I can appreciate the pedagogical aims of director Chung Ji-young trying to go over a real-life financial crime case within the trappings of a more typical crime thriller. But these elements are often distracting and detract from each other's point. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2019
No Score Yet Hit-and-Run Squad (2019) Hit-and-Run Squad spends far too much of its runtime trapped in overwrought drama with obnoxiously clichéd speeches about how you can't go evil to fight evil, or something. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2019
No Score Yet I Can Speak (Ai Kaen Seupikeu) (2017) For all her bluster, Ok-boon is a surprisingly lonely older woman, and it's to the credit of I Can Speak that we never really pity her. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
80% Take Point (2018) Take Point is brilliant work that, far from romanticizing the work of private military contractors normalizes it as just a very bad job. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
100% Masquerade (2012) Even though Ha-sun is impersonating a King, it's the small changes he makes that cause the most dramatic impact. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
No Score Yet The Divine Move 2: The Wrathful (2019) For an action crime film that just so happens to be centered around a board game this is surprisingly dark broad spectrum morality about the nature of human sinfulness. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019