What happened, in a prominent strain of American crime films beginning in the 1940s, was a coalescing of narrative and stylistic influences that included the Anglo thriller, the American vernacular school of hard-boiled crime writing (whose best-known representatives were Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler), and a chiaroscuro visual style that owed no small debt to the German Expressionism of the 1920s — a legacy that could be accessed with relative ease, as many of the leading lights of the Germany film industry had decamped to Hollywood in advance of or during the European political catastrophe of the 1930s. (Hitchcock, it should be mentioned, had himself been profoundly shaped by the time he spent around German studios in the 1920s.) In his 1972 essay “Notes on Film Noir,” Paul Schrader defines the emergent noir style through its propensity for nocturnal settings, “oblique and vertical lines,” flashback-heavy narratives, and “compositional tension,” as well as that oft-cited, catch-all symptom of “postwar disillusionment.”
None of this is accidental. K-pop has become the international face of South Korea thanks to an extremely regimented, coordinated production system. More than any other international music industry, K-pop has been strategically designed to earworm its way into your brain — and to elevate South Korea and its culture onto the world stage.
How did we get here? Through a combination of global political changes, savvy corporatization and media management, and a heck of a lot of raw talent being ground through a very powerful stardom mill.
Don’t Skip Out on Me shines a light on the broken-down and the drifters; it is a bruising yet surprisingly tender study of the need for human connection, and the way that urban landscapes can be more isolating than any wilderness.