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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

entry arrow1:40 PM | Sweet Confection

It was quite a relief to stumble onto Kyu-Dong Min's Antique Bakery [2008], because I was already despairing whether I could find a Korean film that would do some justice to queer characterization in film. This one does not do it -- surprise, surprise -- but what it has saves it from being a total bore. And what does it have? It has an interesting story to tell, and tells it with the come-on of so much great food, all of which are photographed spectacularly you can almost taste them. It also has plenty of charm, so much so that it draws us in into the strange dynamics of four men in an unlikely friendship, all of them connected by the pastry shop they all work for. Based on the popular Japanese manga, it tells us the story of a troubled but easy-going scion of a wealthy family who opens the bakery in question and hires Korea's best pastry chef to work for him. The pastry chef also happens to be a one-time high school classmate who used to have a crush on him, and whose heart he has broken. Into the mix comes an ex-boxer with a sweet tooth and a bumbling bodyguard. Their easy-going camaraderie, their unfolding secrets, and the comic ways with which they deal with each other provide the film's narrative backbone, which is strong enough to withstand the story's strange detour into serial killer procedural territory. Still, even when it does that, the director seems very sure of his material that he is able to juggle so many subplots without faltering, without losing our interest. Perhaps the performances here are what ultimately makes it worthy of viewing: the actors do make their characters believable and emphatic. And who's to decline the invitation of seeing a film with beautiful boys combined with delicious cakes?

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