William Schwartz

William Schwartz
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
I've had a lifelong interest in film and precociously watched Ebert and Roeper on TV with my dad. I moved to South Korea in 2011 and even though I couldn't speak the local language I went to watch a local film without subtitles (Howling) and was promptly wowed by how much Korean films could communicate just with high-calibre acting and excellent technical presentation alone. Late in 2012 I started writing for www.hancinema.net, and by 2013 I was a full-time staff writer covering both South Korean films and South Korean dramas. To better acquaint myself with the region's film history, as well as film critique in general, I moved to be near the Korean Film Archive in Seoul and studied at the library / film cinematheque there for three years. While Facebook changes have badly damaged our site's revenues I continue to publish two film reviews a week as I am now the only English language reviewer who regularly writes about contemporary South Korean theatrical releases.
Publications: HanCinema

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
No Score Yet Detective K: Secret of the Living Dead (2018) The script reads like someone wrote a completely serious Joseon-era vampire mystery, and then some producer arbitrarily decided to throw Detective K and Seo-pil in there to lighten the mood. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet Be With You (Ji-geum Man-na-leo Gab-ni-da) (2018) The movie delves into the ways in which love is a conscious decision, even if we don't realize it. Soo-ah's presence looms largely over Woo-jin and Ji-ho even in death, because they allow her to. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
91% Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018) Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum is unapologetically a gimmick horror film, where the only relevant character trait is narcissism prefacing a cosmic reminder of just how insignificant any individual human life really is. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet The Accidental Detective 2: In Action (2018) Sure, we want Dae-man to follow his dreams. But we're also constantly left wondering whether Dae-man is actually any good at his stated dream profession. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
86% The Great Battle (2018) I loved how brute force is never the answer- trying to shove soldiers into a bottleneck just gets them killed, which is why Emperor Taizong keeps having to regroup the army, to his increasing psychotic agitation. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet Dark Figure of Crime (2018) While Tae-oh would obviously like us to believe that he's some sort of psychopathic criminal mastermind, we see pretty consistently that the man is just, well, really petty and obviously starved for attention. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet Feng Shui (Myung-dang) (2018) Note how Jae-sang and Ha-eun manage to build up an entire team of highly skilled geomancers, most of whom never actually do anything. Seriously, the most I can remember about those guys is that one of them stutters a lot for exactly one scene. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet Intimate Strangers (2018) Sometimes the mockery is gentle, other times farcical, and other times it feels like the universe is playing a horrific joke that only seems funny to us because we know the situation isn't as bad as it looks. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
No Score Yet The Battle: Roar to Victory (2019) The Battle: Roar to Victory does not deal with patriotism in the abstract but rather more immediate reasons why a person would give up their lives to face certain death at the hands of well-equipped career soldiers. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2019
80% Ghost Walk (2018) Since writer/director Yu Eun-jeong leaves the viewer in constant flux over whether Hye-jeong can actually change past events, so too, do we feel helpless as she does. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 11, 2019
83% Exit (2019) This is a movie that really fundamentally gets how disaster movies aren't about the spectacle or the tacked on romance or the backstory, but all the delightful problem solving. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 11, 2019
91% Right Now, Wrong Then (2016) The film isn't an exercise in story as much as it is one of concept- the gimmick this time around being how the "wrong" course of conversation can lead to the "right" results, and vice-versa. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet You Call It Passion (Yeol-jeong-gat-eun-so-ri-ha-go-it-ne) (2015) The stakes in You Call It Passion are relatively low, and the eventual movement of the plot toward an exposé about a false accusation doesn't really do much to up the ante. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet Plan Man (Peulraenmaen) (2014) The titular Plan Man is not some starry-eyed movie ideal of charming wackiness. His obsessive compulsive disorder is a genuine sickness, and the movie treats it as such. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
78% U ri Sunhi (Our Sunhi) (2014) The various men in Our Sunhi live in panic of the idea that all the experience they've had, all the wisdom they've gained of the world, that all of this might be for naught since no one will ever actually listen to what they have to say. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet 11 A.m. (2013) 11 AM may seem to waver in parts, but by the end its general message about human nature is an unmistakable one. This is a film that mocks it audience with characters who are too smart to live. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet Nae-ga sal-in-beom-i-da (Confession of Murder) (2013) What really makes these action sequences work is the well-developed sense of staging that goes with them. They all favor a rapid sequence approach of problems and solutions. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet Kang Chul-Jung: Gonggongui Jeog 1-1 (Public Enemy Returns) (Public Enemy 3) (2008) Much like Cheol-joong, Won-sool is motivated by an obsessive desire to make people take him seriously. Neither man ever appreciates that the harder he tries to look cool, the less cool he actually is. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet Guns & Talks (Killerdeului suda) (2001) Huge portions of this movie are just writer/director Jang Jin showing off the latest in wacky camerawork and musical synchronization. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 28, 2019
No Score Yet Man On High Heels (Hai-hil) (2014) Man on High Heels kind of wants to be a silly comedy where Cha Seung-won puts on a dress, but usually it's just about the very depressing events in his transgender character's life. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 7, 2019
No Score Yet Good Morning President (Gutmoning peurejideonteu) (2009) Good Morning President is intrinsically flawed because what we really have here are three really good ideas for punchy, ninety-minute comedies compacted and stretched out into a one hundred thirty minute omnibus. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 7, 2019
No Score Yet Aneun yeoja (Someone Special) (A Girl I Know) (2004) I am reasonably sure Someone Special is intended to be ironic. But it's relevancy in this day and age is dubious. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 7, 2019
86% The Vanished (2018) By playing the movie as a whodunit rather than a dark psychological comedy, director Lee Chang-hee kills a fair amount of the impact. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 22, 2019
No Score Yet Puzzle (2018) There's a video game like roteness to the narrative structure. Do-joon finds a bad guy, and punches him until he gets a clue that leads to the next bad guy in the next mission. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 22, 2019
85% The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion (Manyeo) (2018) While The Witch : Part 1. The Subversion has an absolutely pitch-perfect final half-hour, I'm still somewhat miffed about all the pacing issues up until that point. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 22, 2019
62% Rampant (2018) While Rampant is all right with genre beats the movie easily lapses into extended stretches of generic boringness. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 22, 2019
80% Birthday (Saeng-il) (2019) Birthday is about coping mechanisms, some destructive, and some pointless, and some counterproductive but others do manage to work. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 22, 2019
No Score Yet Black Summer (2018) Scenes of quiet contemplation get to be overbearing, especially when the few moments of genuine extrapersonal drama are so short by comparison. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 22, 2019
75% Default (Gukgabudo-ui Nal) (2018) Jeong-hak predicts every stage of the crisis simply by asking what's the most evil, unscrupulous thing powerful people would do in reaction to the latest piece of bad news - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
No Score Yet Mal-Mo-E: The Secret Mission (2019) As long as it lasts, MAL-MO-E: The Secret Mission proves a beauteous journey. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
80% The Drug King (2018) The tunes are almost never actually appropriate for the situation, especially if you're listening to the lyrics, and Doo-sam is exactly the kind of guy who doesn't. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
No Score Yet Sunset in My Hometown (2018) I like how Sunset in My Hometown is not afraid to call Hak-soo out for being a pretentious jerk whose main issue with Byeonsan is that he thinks he's too good for it. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
No Score Yet On Your Wedding Day (2018) Any of the four different eras could be a fully-fledged movie on its own. They all have strong, engaging storylines. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
No Score Yet High Society (2018) High Society takes outrageous setpieces and somehow manages to make them seem incredibly dull. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
No Score Yet February (2019) There's not much to like about "February" but it's far more relatable than I'd like to admit. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
No Score Yet Innocent Witness (2019) While we see Soon-ho as coming to understand autism, in reality he is still always treating Ji-woo as an other. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
80% The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale (2019) All the scenes I describe come off as exactly as disjointed and bizarre in context as they do in this mostly out of context review - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
No Score Yet Svaha: The Sixth Finger (2019) I was hoping for a story to connect all this crazy stuff together, and I never got one. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
No Score Yet A Resistance (2019) While "A Resistance" makes Yu Gwan-sun seem heroic, the film does not make her actions feel tolerable. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
67% Money (2019) "Money" suffers from being poorly edited and at two hours far too long. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
100% The Spy Gone North (2018) The main qualification for being a good spy is being a good liar, and a sufficiently consummate liar will use that skill at all times even with alleged allies. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
81% A Hard Day (2015) There's a constant feeling of "this plan really shouldn't work" that's reenforced by the sheer number of times someone almost stumbles onto Geon-soo's ridiculous plot. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
94% Train to Busan (Busanhaeng) (2016) Seok-woo comes to realize that selfish short-sighted attention is inherently inhuman. Metaphorically, it's what separates us from the zombies. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
95% The Handmaiden (Ah-ga-ssi) (2016) The visual design of The Handmaiden is itself borderline pornographic- which makes the movie pretty impossible to dislike. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
No Score Yet Cheol-won-gi-haeng (End of Winter) (2015) This is a film about a family who is stuck with each other, literally because of a snowstorm, and metaphorically because they're family and can never really escape each other. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
92% On the Beach at Night Alone (Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja) (2017) Yeong-hee lives in her own sad little world, and through On the Beach at Night Alone, we feel sorry for her. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
70% The Merciless (Bulhandang) (2017) At one point the characters get so bored with each other and the story that they get distracted by a random background woman's butt. I didn't blame them. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
64% The Battleship Island (2017) Don't mistake The Battleship Island for mere torture porn about how the Japanese Empire was bad. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
81% Believer (2018) Believer is in the awkward position of having its supporting moments be so good that they just call attention to how mediocre the main plot is. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019
29% Illang: The Wolf Brigade (2018) While the movie is technically masterful, the moral implications are profoundly disturbing, and only made worse by the tacked-on happy ending. - HanCinema EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2019