Karen Han is a freelance film critic who has written for Vulture, Slash, Vaniety Fair, The Atlantic, Village Voice, Vice, Verge, Thrillist and many more.
Why do different critical voices matter?
It's a matter of perspectives. Everyone has blind spots, and a spread of critical voices ensures that those blind spots don't overlap. Sometimes it's a case of championing a work that might otherwise go ignored, sometimes it's a case of making sure that an instance of insensitivity and ignorance is pointed out instead of glossed over, so that it hopefully won't happen again. In other words, it's all a learning experience, and making it a more open discussion can only make the field better.
What inspired you to be a critic?
Some of my fondest memories are of going to see movies with friends, and then piling into a diner afterwards in order to talk about what we'd just seen. Criticism has been, for me, a way of replicating that experience, albeit on a much larger scale. Maybe it seems like too simple of an answer, but: I like talking about movies!
What films are you excited about right now?
In terms of films coming out soon, I was very taken by Andrew Haigh's new film, Lean on Pete. I'm a big fan of Haigh's work, and Charlie Plummer's performance in the film is absolutely incredible, especially given that he basically carries it singlehandedly.
What “hidden gem” do you think deserves more attention?
I'll take this opportunity to stump for Waikiki Brothers, a South Korean film from 2001, directed by Yim Soon-rye. Soon-rye is considered one of the few leading female auteurs of Korean New Wave cinema, and the film, which focuses on a group of former high school friends and bandmates now trying to navigate middle age, is testament to her reputation. The last scene (and even just the song that plays over it) makes me cry every time.