“What do you think a good film is about?”
“A good film is a good film.”
“That’s too generic.”
“The question is too abstract, so I can’t help it.”
“That’s why you’re no fun, Maru-seonbae. What do you think, Ando-seonbae? What do you think a good film is?”
“A good film? I guess it is something that a lot of people watch, I guess? If many people watch it that would mean there’s a good message and is entertaining, so that would mean that a good film is something that is watched a lot?”
“No way. Then are all the films in this world that aren't ‘major’ bad films? Because no one watches them?”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Then what do you mean?”
“If you ask that specifically, I guess I have nothing to say.”
“What the heck.”
Maru quietly ate the fried dumplings during Sora and Ando’s discussion. Sora praised this place for its dumplings in this neighborhood, and indeed, they were really good. It lived up to its reputation. The other members of the film production club, who sat around the table in the living room, didn’t care whether or not their club president and this rookie director were discussing or not and just kept eating. Thinking that they were wise to do so, Maru also moved his hand.
“Maru-seonbae, don’t just keep eating and tell me something.”
“A good film. Who else would discuss film philosophy in depth if we don’t when we’re the ones making one? All of you, please stop eating and participate in the discussion. The dumplings won’t run away.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure. I think they will run away.”
Maru looked at Sora’s face and put some dumplings in his mouth. Crunch - just as he was feeling bliss from the sound of crumbs breaking apart in his mouth, he saw Sora bring the tablecloth. It was placed on top of the fried dumplings which were still giving off some steam.
“Eat after we talk.”
“Aren’t you overusing your authority?”
“I’m worried because you’re all eating like you’re possessed.”
“Let’s rest when we can. Looking after the health of the staff is one of the director’s jobs. Isn’t that true?”
Maru looked at everyone else in the film club. Everyone nodded as though they were waiting. Sora twitched her cheeks before removing the tablecloth again. The 9 seconds of the forced barrier was over.
“Why don’t you talk about it first? About what a good film is,” Maru said to Sora.
“I asked because I’m not sure.”
“You’re saying that you are not sure, so you must be thinking about something, right? Tell us about that. A film follows the ideals of the director, not the actors or the staff. Tell us what you think a good film is. We’ll come up with something after we hear from you.”
“Maru’s really good at talking.”
Ando gave a thumbs up to Maru. Maru did the same back. A treaty made under the shade of the fried dumplings was formed. While Sora organized her words, the men reached out to the fried dumplings in a busy fashion. Eating was the best course of action here.
“To me, I think a good film is… something that makes you watch twice.”
She made a proud smile after saying those words. It seemed that she quite liked her own answer. Maru briefly counted the number of remaining dumplings. There were still quite a lot left. If he wanted to eat in peace, he had to seal this little director’s mouth shut.
“What if the film is not kind to the audience? What if it’s riddled with trivial foreshadows and tricks that only the director can see, making the audience unable to understand if they don’t watch it two or more times?”
“Hm, I guess you can’t call that a good film.”
Sora licked her lips and fell into thought again. Meanwhile, Maru reached out to the kimchi dumplings. The fried dumplings were good, but the moderately sour kimchi dumplings were incredible as well.
“A film with a lesson… is too obvious. Maybe a good movie is a fun movie after all?”
“We want answers, not questions. Also, pass me that pickled radish over there.”
“Hey, everyone’s thinking about this right? You’re going to have to talk after I finish my part; about what makes a good film.”
Sora passed over the pickled radish with a suspicious gaze.
The members of the film production club started looking at each other worriedly.
Maru also sped up his thought process. This picky director probably won’t let everyone off easy. She indirectly mentioned this topic back when they were buying the dumplings from the restaurant. It was as though she was declaring that these dumplings were the fuel for the discussion. If he actually didn’t say anything after eating the dumplings, she might actually start pecking him like a bird. Maru could always run away with the excuse of going to the acting club, but the next shoot was a problem, so he had to end this somehow.
“I’ll be off to the toilet. It’s a small one.”
Maru looked at Sora, who stood up with a smile on her face just as he was about to put a piece of pickled radish in his mouth. Everyone else looked at her like they chewed on something bitter as well.
“Did she really have to say that?”
“I’m sure she was born as a girl because of a mistake when she was supposed to be born as a boy. Minji, do something about your friend.”
Minji, who was in charge of writing everything down, nodded her head without saying anything. This girl was really shy and did not speak a lot. She was the polar opposite of Sora.
“Maru-seonbae, Ando-seonbae, what are you going to do? From the way she’s talking, it looks like she’s going to talk about it for the whole day.”
“True. She held me back for three hours during editing last time. It still gives me the chills when I think about it.”
The members of the film production club, including Ando, all frowned. Maru did not ask what that was about. He could imagine from just their expressions.
“Should we just decide on an answer ourselves and put an end to the conversation?” One of the juniors from the film production club said.
It was a nice idea. Since this was a discussion, Sora should probably stay quiet if the majority of people said the same thing. She might not like that answer and would keep asking more questions about it, but that shouldn’t last that long.
“So, what is a good film in the end?”
And now, the topic, without its owner, was thrown onto the table again. The only thing left now was to come up with an answer that could satisfy Sora.
“A good film, huh.”
While Maru washed his mouth with some water, the film production club did not say anything. Somehow, the atmosphere turned strange.
“A good film is an interesting film.”
Maru quickly suggested something since he felt that a whole other discussion was about to take place. According to their original plan, everyone had to accept this answer, but everyone tilted their heads in a serious fashion.
“Then what makes something interesting?”
“Interesting is about being interesting, isn’t it? Like laughing. You don’t say it’s interesting when it’s sad.”
“Does that mean that sad films aren’t good films then?”
“Hm, that’s not right. What do you think, Ando-seonbae?”
“Isn’t ‘being interesting’ a combination of many things? You can say that the four major emotions: happiness, wrath, sadness, and pleasure are all interesting things.”
“Then is a good film something that contains a variety of different emotions?”
“If you think of it like that, every film in this world becomes a good one, you know? There aren’t movies that have no emotions in them. There’s no way there’s a movie about a rock as a protagonist or something.”
“What do you think, Maru-seonbae?”
The gazes gathered on him. Maru stroked down his face and sighed in a small voice. They had forgotten about their original objective and walked right into the swamp of discussion.
“Hello, people? If we keep doing this, we might have to do this the whole d….”
“What’s this? You’re talking about something interesting while I wasn’t here?”
Sora’s voice could be heard from behind him. Only then did the film production club widened their eyes in surprise, realizing the seriousness of the situation. Maru shook his head in resignation. Sora sat back down.
“I thought about it in the bathroom…. Oh, the bathroom is a really good place to think of ideas. If you can’t think of anything, try going to the bathroom. Anyway, I had an idea about what makes a good film the moment I sat down on the toilet.”
Toilet - Maru scratched his eyebrows as he looked at Sora and Minji who sat next to her. Sora was the one who said those words, but it was Minji whose face turned red. He was reminded of Aram and Jiyoon. Perhaps there were a lot of cases where friends had opposite personalities? Though, compared to these two, Aram and Jiyoon could be considered to have similar personalities. Sora and Minji were actually polar opposites.
“Ehem, listen carefully. A good film is a touching one. It’s a bit obvious, but don’t you think this is the definition of a good movie?”
“That’s right. It’s a clear answer without a better alternative. Our director is really amazing.”
Maru struck first. At the same time, he signalled everyone else with his eyes. Everyone started agreeing and said that Sora was right.
“Right? A good film has to be a touching one, right?”
“Of course. Well, then. We now know what a good film is about. Let’s strive to produce a touching film in the future.” Maru said as he cleaned up.
Since the shoot was over, he just had to go home now. By agreeing with Sora’s conclusion, the discussion came to an end.
“Do you think that way too, Ando-seonbae? That a good film is a touching one?”
“Well, I do.”
“That’s a rather lukewarm answer.”
Maru signalled Ando. This was a trap. An endless, inescapable battlefield of discussion lay ahead of this road. Treading lightly would delay his golden time to go home. He wanted to prevent that at all costs. Of course, he was all for getting inspiration about the film with constructive discussions. That is, under the condition that he wasn’t here.
“It’s just that it’s not like the film we’re shooting is touching.”
“Hm, isn’t it rather dramatic and touching when the main character stops being bullied?”
“For the main character, probably. But at that point, the audience would probably be focusing their attention on the transfer student. A character they were sympathizing with is getting abandoned by the main character, so getting touched from that is a little….”
Ando just had to tread on the taboo area. Sora’s eyes shone. They shone to the point that it was unpleasant and it seemed that Maru wasn’t going home during sunset.
What a group of inconsiderate young people. Maru looked towards the other members of the film production for help, but they had joined the discussion instead. Having finished preparations for battle, the film production started the unending war.
Maru scratched his eyebrows and looked at the others who were gaining energy. He had forgotten for just a moment. These people refused to shoot a film but did not hate film at all. In fact, their main activities before the shoot began were to watch movies and discuss them. They were given a splendid topic of ‘what makes a film good’, so it was obvious that they fell for the trap.
They were all talking about it with joy. Was this youth? It was so brilliant that it was hard to look at. This old man, who was nearing fifty, felt faint because of their clear eyes. His heart was too weak to endure the heat of youth.
“Then I’ll just take my leave….”
He tried to stand up and leave but was immediately caught. It seemed that they didn’t have any intentions of letting him go. A warm shower, a light dinner with some cold beer, and a soft sofa to finish it off. Wasn’t the best rest for a modern man tapping buttons on the remote control before eventually falling asleep? That dream was being blocked by these passionate youths. Maru felt like his soul was escaping his body.
“A good film is a good film.”
“That’s too abstract!”
“There’s no sincerity in that!”
“That’s right, Maru-seonbae. You are an actor, so you have to give me something better than that!”
Urgh, he felt his head aching. He wanted to run away to the acting club. He wanted to run to the boring shooting location.
“Everyone, a good film is one that makes a lot of profit,” Maru said in a small voice.
“What the heck? I will not accept an answer that’s too tainted by money,” Sora remarked.
“She’s right, that’s going a bit too far. Art isn’t about money.”
Ando shook his head.
“Right. Art is truly art when it’s independent of money. Oh! What about this? A good film is something that’s independent of capital. In that sense, independent movies are good films.”
“No way. There are lots of good commercial films as well. Does that mean that The Godfather is a bad movie? No, right?”
The members of the club spoke one after another.
After listening to the film theory coming out of everyone’s mouths, Maru quietly spoke,
“Uhm, got some soju??”
Everyone looked at him once before continuing their discussion as though nothing had happened.
Maru lied on his side like a pill bug and curled his body.
Man in his forties, dried out by the heat of youth, sleeps here.
“Seonbae! Say something for our film.”
“I think this is an important problem.”
Maru blocked his ears and shook his head.
These were scary people.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Lol, I love how it goes from 'let's finish this quickly' to stepping right into the trap.
It feels like a smaller version of 'why do people only have two legs' convo that the writers used to talk about with Daemyung
This entire convo seems exhausting.