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London Film Festival Preview: Doomsday Book
Manish Agarwal , October 10th, 2012 03:47

South Korean sci-fi triptych screens at the 56th London Film Festival

Kim Jee-woon and Yim Pil-sung started working on this science fiction anthology - comprising a trio of unrelated apocalyptic tales - six years ago, but it wasn't until 2010 that the South Korean writers-directors raised sufficient cash for completion. Opening chapter 'Brave New World' is the weakest story, its viral epidemic manifesting as familiar zombie and toxic secretion symptoms, albeit with the ooze factor vividly realised.

There's an elegant shift in tone for the second segment 'Heavenly Creature', which sees a transcendentally minded robot achieve enlightenment at a Buddhist temple, shielded from its disapproving parent corporation by some enraptured human monks. This philosophical vignette explores a fascinating nexus of ideas - ancient and futuristic, spiritual and secular - utilising suitably serene cinematography. The final part, 'Happy Birthday', is the clincher: an ingenious hybrid of disaster movie tropes - a meteor is set to destroy Planet Earth! - surreal family comedy and uproarious media satire (TV newscasters breaking down on air, shopping channels selling armageddon accessories). Imagine a contemporary Doctor Who episode scripted by Douglas Adams, fizzing with wit and humanity. Doomsday Book can't be recommended highly enough; fingers crossed a UK distributor picks it up for a theatrical and DVD release next year. In the meantime, be sure to mark your diaries for November's London Korean Film Festival.