Chapter 556

He had gained momentum. It now felt natural for him to go to the shooting set after school instead of going home. The change in his everyday life had now become so smooth that going home after normal classes felt weird to him.

And today, he finally threw his body into awkwardness. Maru was waiting for Bangjoo in front of the ticketing office. They originally planned to come together after school, but Bangjoo had said that he had something to do so he had Maru go ahead. It was Wednesday afternoon. Usually, he would be at the acting club, the shooting set, or at school to shoot the short film with the film production club, but today, he left all that behind and came to the cinema.

Maru picked up a pamphlet before sitting down in the lounge. Lee Hyuk, Yoo Joongang, and Kwon Dayoon were drawn on it in black and white, standing side by side under the title ‘Those Guys’. They were grabbing each other’s hands, but the enraged expressions seemed to explain the relationship between the three. On the top left hand corner, it said ‘Return of director Park Joongjin from Spring Calendar’. The director of this film was more well-renowned than the actors. The pamphlet advertised the director quite blatantly.

Maru looked at the people lined up outside the ticketing office. It was a pretty busy hour and there were a lot of couples. Most of them seemed to be wondering what they were going to watch. Among the titles airing right now, there was no ‘big’ movie. No foreign Blockbusters, nor any domestic ones with famous actors.

It was a night before the storm. The release lineup for May, which was next month, was crazy. Whether the publishers were confident, or they just screwed up the release timing, he did not know, but the titles that many people looked forward to would start airing in about 2 weeks time. ‘Those Guys’ hit this blank spot. Whether or not it would do well, Maru did not know.

‘He’s late.’

There was no need to hurry since ‘Those Guys’ was airing on screens 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 at different times, but Maru started getting worried since Bangjoo did not show up even after 30 minutes. He should have told him if his business took a long time, so Maru wondered what was going on.

At that moment, he got a phone call from Bangjoo. When he picked up the call, Bangjoo was saying that he had just arrived at the cinema while heavily breathing. Just then, Maru heard a not-so-unfamiliar voice amidst the heavy panting.

“Who did you br….”

Just as he said up to that point, he saw two boys opening the door for the emergency staircase. One was Bangjoo, who was on the phone, and the other, who stood next to him, was Chihwan.

“Seonbae-nim!”

“I’m here!”

Bangjoo’s greeting was as loud as always, while Chihwan’s greeting was a little less loud but still enough to attract attention. Maru groaned and ended the call.

“Why are you here?” Maru asked Chihwan.

“I wanted to watch it as well. Bangjoo seonbae-nim is the senior I like the most after you, Maru seonbae-nim.”

“I was just about to go, but Chihwan said he wanted to watch. I helped him finish the props so that he could come. Of course, we got permission from Daemyung-seonbae.”

Miso wasn’t here today, so Daemyung was in charge of everyone. As Daemyung was pretty lenient, he would have a hard time holding Chihwan back if he asked earnestly.

“No wonder you were late. Are you sure you finished your job?”

“Daemyung seonbae-nim double-checked mine. I seem to be quite talented at sewing,” Chihwan said proudly.

Bangjoo looked at Chihwan as though he was proud of him.

“Were you two always close?”

Since he rarely spent any time in the acting club, he did not know the relationship between the juniors. The two were similar in regards to the point that both of them were overflowing with energy, but just because they had similar personalities didn’t necessarily mean that they were close.

“At first, I thought he was someone with no bone in him, having only his height, but he turned out to have quite a refreshing side to him.”

“I thought that Bangjoo-seonbae was weak too at first because he was short, but I liked him after I found out that he’s full of energy.”

Both of them remarked similarly. It seemed that they were close enough to joke around with each other.

“Seonbae-nim. Let me watch it with you. I want to see you two acting.”

Chihwan jumped around like an excited puppy on a snowy day. Bangjoo also got swept up by Chihwan’s mood and jumped around.

Maru had a headache. He felt like he brought some toddlers to a theme park. What if I lose them, what if they cause trouble, what if there’s an accident - he hadn’t done anything, yet he felt tired already. Maru sighed in a small voice before walking towards the ticketing office.

“Bangjoo-seonbae, what kind of movie is this?”

“An acting movie. I had to roll around in the dirt in the mountains.”

“Wow, did you use wires and things like that too?”

“For this one, I had to use my body instead of relying on contraptions. I was like Jackie Chan. There was total chaos when fighting in the mountains. It was summer too, so we were sweating throughout the whole shoot.”

“Sweat and fists. A movie for a man, huh.”

“An awesome one for sure.”

“Will I get to see you in it?”

“Probably.”

“Wow, you’re a film actor.”

“Stop that, you’re making me embarrassed.”

The people lined up outside the ticketing office looked back and giggled. Maru did not look back. He pretended that he didn’t even know them. His head was filled with the thought that he should choose a different screen from theirs to watch. Unfortunately, the thoughtless duo called out to him with ‘Maru-seonbae’ and caught up to him.

“Seonbae-nim. I will buy the popcorn.”

“Then I’ll buy the coke!”

“Good. Let’s go, Chihwan.”

“Yes, seonbae.”

Maru stroked down his face with his hand. The lady at the counter, who was asking him which seats he wanted, chuckled. She calmed her expression and asked him to assign the seats, but there was still a smile around her eyes.

“I don’t know them.”

An awkward excuse subconsciously escaped his mouth. Maru nodded towards the lady who gave him the tickets while saying ‘yes’ with a smile, before turning around.

“A man should have onion-flavored popcorn!”

“Good! Onion!”

He heard voices from the convenience store far away.

How should he put this… It felt like Bangjoo was let loose. Maru realized how scary friends who clicked together could become. Chihwan was way more cheerful than normal as well. No, he was beyond cheerful. He looked mentally ill.

“The two of you, you really shouldn’t walk around together.”

“Why?”

“Why is that?”

Do you really have to ask? - these words came up to his throat, but Maru suppressed them. It would be fine as long as he wasn’t involved. It would be much more relaxing for him if he thought that he was just taking a couple of ponies for a walk.

“Don’t shout inside the theater.”

“Seonbae-nim. That’s obvious.”

“Seonbae. That’s called etiquette. We aren’t kids.”

Maru quietly calmed himself down as he watched the two enter the theater while laughing.

“It’s my bad for asking to watch it together.”

He shook his head and walked into the theater. After looking around the theater for a bit, he sat down on his assigned seat. Bangjoo gave him a cup of coke and put a  bag of popcorn on his knees saying that it was his. After about 10 minutes of ads, the lights dimmed.

Maru looked at Bagjoo’s facial expression. Even though he was so excited, he was now looking at the screen very nervously. That sense of nervousness seemed to be contagious as Chihwan, who sat next to Bangjoo, also looked at the screen without saying anything.

The shoot for this movie was done without a script and everything was done on the fly with instructions from the director. Maru did not know how the movie went, nor how it ended. He looked forward to - and on one hand, was uneasy about - how complete the film would be, when literally everything was planned out.

One hit wonder. This term was often used in the music industry to refer to composers or lyricists who left behind just one, incredibly good, song. The movie industry wasn’t that different. The reason the word ‘genius’ wasn’t used was because the directors who created incredibly good pieces disappeared after leaving behind just one work. Director Park Joongjin was also dubbed a genius with ‘Spring Calendar’, but ever since that, he created experimental works, turning away from the masses and capital.

This was an era where money controlled everything. Even the purity of the title of genius would turn cloudy if there wasn’t enough money to back it up. Director Park Joongjin had returned to the commercial movie industry. For Twilight Struggles, Maru could say with confidence that it was the combined work of the director, staff, and the actors, but ‘Those Guys’ was different. Bluntly put, the success or failure rested on the director’s shoulders alone. It was a one-man show from him after all.

If the movie succeeded, it was thanks to the director, and if it failed, the director would take the blame. This directing style was just that extreme.

Maru was curious. He wondered if the director dubbed a genius, albeit not willingly, would continue his reputation as a genius. Also,  what kind of direction he would show in the final outcome.

The shoot was quite short, but during that time, Joongjin had never shown any hesitation. He looked like he was just bringing the perfectly clear picture from his head to reality. He shouted ‘action’ and ‘cut’ without any hesitation.

Eventually, light returned to the darkened screen.

Maru crossed his arms and focused on the film.

The start was the sound of a wave.

* * *

“I’ll be off to the toilet!”

Chihwan went to the bathroom as soon as he left the theater. Maru looked back inside the theater, which was giving off faint light inside.

“It’s really well-made. Really, really well-made.”

Maru understood just a little how direction can overwhelm acting. The story of the film was stereotypical. Some might even say that it was on the level of a B-movie. This film did not contain character reflections, philosophical content, or satire. It just started and ran towards the end.

Friendship, betrayal, and revenge. This was something that was talked about for thousands of years, and they were still being used as main plots nowadays as well. The recent trend was to give a twist to boring clichés to make them look new, but director Park Joongjin seemed to be laughing at that notion as he directly showed everything. There was no foreshadowing, nor any kind of props that represented a character’s current state of mind. In fact, he even added narration to prevent any misunderstandings. To be precise, he did not give the audience any time to think.

Being drunk on watching.

Maru wanted to judge the movie as such. An absurdly close friendship between two men, an understandable betrayal, then revenge. Plus the love story of a woman who was stuck in between the two of them. Joongjin seemed to be telling the audience to not think about anything as he just mercilessly dragged the plot from beginning to end before putting it in the goal.

“It feels a little...vain.”

Bangjoo suddenly said. Maru knew what he meant by that. They ran around the harbor like their life depended on it, and they rolled around in the dirt in the mountain for half a day. The scenes they had to get injured to shoot, were mostly edited.

Even that edited part was muted the whole scene, so the voices of the actors could not be heard. About 10 seconds. That was how much their effort amounted to in the final work.

“But it was still good. It was really cool. The scenes just flashed past without any sound. I even forgot that I was in that scene and just kept watching.”

“It’s about 10 seconds, but I’m good with that. The people watching this movie will definitely remember those 10 seconds.”

“But it still feels off. I understood when I watched the movie. That director should be able to shoot this kind of movie regardless of who was there. I lose my energy when I think about how the director does not need actors.”

Bangjoo dazed out as he looked at the theater. The lights were coming back on in the darkened room.

In a state of deep immersion, muting the whole movie for about 10 seconds should have been a big gamble. The silence increased momentary concentration, but it would break the mood if it was too long. In that sense, Joongjin distributed the time perfectly. He used the muting to make the audience tense up even more and just progressed on with the story without any room for rest. The calm music just before the silent part should have been intentional as well. The silence, which he thought was just a rest, actually made him tense up even more after all.

Then there was his way of handling people. He turned the idol singer Kwon Dayoon into an adorable lady. It was to the point that Maru couldn’t think of any other actress that fit the role. However, it wasn’t that Dayoon’s acting was good. He knew because he saw her at the shoot. She was bad at acting. Only when Miso coached her for dozens of minutes before every shoot could she barely get a cut done. She was just that bad at it.

Yet the lady on the screen looked adorable. The plot and the direction of the movie made her perfect. To be honest, it felt like a scam. According to what he saw from her during the shoot, Dayoon was definitely not an adorable lady.

“You two, why do you look so dark?” Chihwan returned from the bathroom and had asked.

Maru shrugged and started walking.

Joongjin denied that he was a genius and disliked being called such, but this movie seemed like it would give him the genius title once again.

It was quite ironic.

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

KTLChamber's Thoughts

Oof, just imagine Jiseok was in the group as well. That would be hell for Maru

Editor's Note:
I wonder if Dayoon will come back later as a 'good' actress at least to the public anyways.