Kogonada’s sophomore feature film, After Yang, isn’t the only project he has coming up. He is also, along with Justin Chon—Twilight supporting actor turned filmmaker—adapting Min Jin Lee’s best-selling novel, Pachinko, into a lavish limited series for Apple TV+. Together, Kogonada and Chon are producing and co-directing Pachinko, which dropped its first trailer yesterday. It looks exquisite.
Individually, Kogonada and Chon are distinctive filmmakers. Kogonada has an almost architectural approach to visual storytelling—which suits his debut film, Columbus, very well—and Chon has a looser, more naturalistic style, and both filmmakers get vibrant performances from their casts. The trailer looks like a true meeting in the middle of their two styles, looser than Kogonada has been to date, more formal than Chon usually goes for, but beautiful regardless. The story follows a Korean family through several generations as they emigrate to Japan, then America, and then back to Japan throughout the 20th century. The anchor is Sunja, the matriarch of the family. In the series, Sunja is played by three actors: Jeon Yu-na in childhood, Minha Kim as a teenager/adult, and Oscar winner Youn Yuh-jung in her elder years. The cast also includes Lee Min Ho, and Jin Ha (who is great in Devs).
I hope Pachinko doesn’t get lost in the streaming shuffle, but Apple is sometimes an idle supporter of their own shows (they’re even worse with movies). Of course, there is Ted Lasso, a show they only really started pushing AFTER it took off and started winning awards. More recently, The Afterparty has been steadily gaining steam, but much like the first season of Lasso, it’s largely happening without any big push from Apple, it’s coming from comedy nerds proliferating in-jokes and references online, and sharing clips of stand-out moments, like Ben Schwartz’s rap song. Pachinko, though, isn’t a comedy that lends itself to easy online sharing. It’s a drama, and it SHOULD be treated as one of Apple’s crown jewels for the year, given the talent involved and the prominence of the novel, all of which lends itself to prestige packaging. Here’s hoping Apple actually puts some oomph behind this one.