SHOW ME THE MONEY 11 (Mnet)
Kim Jieun: The eleventh season of “SHOW ME THE MONEY” is here. This year saw the highest number of applications from 30,000 aspiring rap artists. The first cut-off reduced that number to 108, and the merciless maws of the second cut-off – AKA the “Fire Pit” – leaves just 44 standing. It only makes sense the contestants have to bring their A-game every single time without saving anything for later, not only to make it to the next round, but also to show the world how much they want this, how confident they are in their skills. “This could be my last chance, hang my future on each (rap) line.” But there is still room for nuance in this cutthroat atmosphere. “I do hope they do well,” says Lee Young-ji, one of the contestants during the second qualifying round, watching a fellow rapper hopeful. As the first-round qualifiers wait tensely in the green room, while no doubt winning is on everyone’s mind, each person still sincerely wants the other to leave everything out on the stage, no regrets. “Don’t trip over the words this time,” they tell Polodared, referring to the previous season where Polodared slipped up with his lyrics in the second round and cursed on stage, thus summoning the wrath of the internet upon himself. When Los shares his private struggles, the group empathizes. Each rapper selected gets a genuine cheer, and no one skimps on applause for those who clinch the “ALL PASS” privilege. “SHOW ME THE MONEY” has always pushed contestants to the edge of the fabled “fire pit” of red-hot competition. But as the seasons pile up, people have come to see that a single season does not determine an entire career trajectory. Each year, the show gets better at blending competition and mutual respect. No matter the kind of TV editing techniques the show might employ, hip hop’s tradition of “respecting” artistry as much as “dissing” fakeness is gradually receiving better representation.
Im Sooyeon (CINE21 Reporter): A perfect locked-room murder case with only one suspect. Could an attorney with a perfect record successfully defend this suspect? The CEO of an up-and-coming IT firm enjoying an extended hot streak, Yoo Min-ho (So Ji-seob), is charged with the murder of Kim Se-hee (Jin-Ah Im) with whom he was having an extramarital affair. He procures the services of the top attorney in the field, Yang Shin-ae (Yunjin Kim). She has made a name for herself winning acquittals for clients whose guilt seemed almost unquestionable. Though his chaebol father-in-law has called in favors to have Yoo Min-ho’s arrest warrant declined, when prosecutors secure an eyewitness, the situation reaches fever pitch as this could be enough for the courts to issue the arrest warrant the very next day. Yang Shin-ae presses him for the truth, arguing that she needs to know in order to establish an argument to defend him in court. The narrative momentum and suspenseful atmosphere of “Confession” is driven by the white-hot intensity of the dialogue between the two leads. Each new clue that emerges brings to focus finer details that force a revision of the flashback scene. This prevents monotony and masterfully sustains suspense for the entire runtime. The backdrop of wintery mountain ridges shrouded in cold mist threatens to consume the delicate truth at any moment. Here, in this perfectly secluded mountain cabin looking out on a lake, dark and brooding under mid-winter ice, the scene is set for truth to meet the light of day in a chilling yet fiery final revelation. The film follows the classic murder-mystery format made popular by Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, and John Dickson Carr, upon which the story expertly delivers the cathartic release genre fans would expect from a thoroughly competent commercial movie of this kind. “Confession” is the Korean remake of the 2016 Spanish film “The Invisible Guest” which is currently available on Netflix, Wavve, TVING, and WATCHA.
Seo Seongdeok (Music Critic): “Always Sunday” gathers together music perfect for when you have nothing much to do, for those easy Sunday afternoons. True, it might appear to be just another playlist of chill music, another familiar chill-out playlist, something slow and easy that gently engages the senses. But “Always Sunday” rejects pigeonholing songs into sequestered genres of jazz, house, and such, which is a frequent practice when compiling chill music playlists. Instead, the organizing focus is upon the emotive nature of the track names themselves, and this draws out a surprisingly poignant coherence from a mega playlist of 30-plus hours and almost 500 songs that are not limited by genre, period, or region. From Thelonious Monk’s “Caravan” released in 1955 all the way to Makaya McCraven’s 2022 album, “In These Times,” the playlist has it all. The Peggy Lee standard “Me And My Shadow” is followed by “The Ride” by Joan As Police Woman. And what about two delectable pieces from either side of the globe only being appreciated 30 years after their releases? These are “Que mapa?” from Brazil’s Arthur Verocai and “Haenim” – a poetic name in Korean for the sun – by the Korean artist Kim Jung Mi. Can this playlist handle the impassioned riffs of jazz guitarist Gábor Szabó? Most certainly so, if the track is “A Day In The Life” which was Szabó’s foray into psychedelic pop. Each moment is a slice of eternity to be savored, released, then delightfully rediscovered. Shuffle mode recommended.