Throughout December, J.R. Jones and I will take turns writing about our favorite films that had their Chicago premieres this year.

For me, Lee Chang-dong’s 2007 feature (which received a belated theatrical release in Chicago this past January) is the greatest film yet produced by the so-called Korean New Wave, a synthesis of that movement’s general tendencies into a grand philosophical statement. This shares with the films of Hong Sang-soo a willingness to confront characters at their most needy and short-sighted; with Im Sang-soo’s work (and Lee’s own Oasis) a righteous anger at South Korea’s ostracizing of social outcasts; and with Park Chanwook and Bong Joon-ho an unsettling depiction of violence that emerges fluidly from dramatic development.