The delightful new film from Festival favourite Hong Sang-soo (In Another Country) presents two variations on a potentially fateful romantic encounter between a filmmaker and a painter, tracing each to its own very distinct outcome.
The latest film from Festival favourite Hong Sang-soo pursues the always-alluring possibility of love down two very different paths. In Right Now, Wrong Then, Hong presents two variations on a potentially fateful encounter between a filmmaker and an artist, tracing each to its own very distinct outcome. Continue reading
Hong Sang-soo Gets in Touch with Inner Frenchman in Night and Day
A Korean in Paris
By Scott Foundas Tuesday, Oct 20 2009
‘We can’t easily tell night from day during the summers here,” observes one character early on in Hong Sang-soo’s Paris-set Night and Day—a nearly throwaway line that circumscribes the sense of physical and spiritual dislocation felt by the film’s protagonist. Like most of the director’s leading men, Kim Sung-nam (Kim Yeong-ho) is a hangdog, self-absorbed, soju-guzzling Hong alter ego—a fortyish Korean artist who flees to the City of Lights after an episode of recreational drug use leads him to believe he is under police investigation. There, he rents a room in a crowded boarding house and resolves to lay low until he can safely return home to his wife, Sung-in (Hwang Su-jeong), or else find a way to bring her to France. But resolutions aside, it isn’t long before Sung-nam finds himself navigating Hong’s trademark gauntlet of awkward seductions, casual betrayals, and ghosts of girlfriends past. Continue reading
NYFF perennial Hong Sang-soo’s latest may be his wittiest—and his most deeply felt—work to date. Toggling between the present and the past, reality and fiction, and divided into four chapters (and different points of view), Oki’s Movie recounts the amorous and artistic adventures of talented young director Jin-gu (Lee Sun-kyun), his middle-aged cinema instructor, Professor Song (Moon Sung-keun), and Oki (Jung Yumi), the woman who loves them both.
As “Pomp and Circumstance” wryly plays throughout, the protagonists nobly fumble their way through romance and work, culminating in Jin-gu’s disastrous post-screening Q&A. Hong’s eleventh feature is a comedy with tremendous emotional heft, concluding with a heartbreaking précis on the vagaries of the heart and the terrors of aging. Continue reading
Kwon (Seo Young-hwa) returns to Seoul from a restorative stay in the mountains. She is given a packet of letters left by Mori (Ryo Kase), who has come back from Japan to propose to her. As she walks down a flight of stairs, Kwon drops and scatters the letters, all of which are undated. When she reads them, she has to make sense of the chronology… and so must we. Hong Sang-soo’s daring new film, alternately funny and haunting, is a series of disordered scenes based on the letters, echoing the cultural dislocation felt by Mori as he tries to make himself understood in halting English. At what point did he drink himself into a lonely stupor? Did he sleep with the waitress from the Hill of Freedom café (Moon So-ri) before or after he despaired of seeing Kwon again? Sixteen films into a three-decade career, Hong has achieved a rare simplicity in his storytelling, allowing for an ever-increasing psychological richness and complexity. Continue reading
Jo Munkyung (Kim Sang-kyung) — a would-be filmmaker on the cusp of immigrating to Canada — bumps into old friend Bang Jungshik (Yu Jun-sang). The two sit down for drinks and reminisce about their summer vacations, which coincidentally took them both to the coastal city of Tongyeong. We discover their holidays overlapped in other ways, including separate encounters with Wang Seongok (Moon So-ri), a somewhat neurotic tour guide who Munkyung doggedly pursued. This typical late-period Hong setup is enhanced by a back-and-forth flashback structure (recalling the experiments of his earlier works), greater-than-usual levity, and a nearly screwball performance by Moon So-ri (Oasis, A Good Lawyer’s Wife). Continue reading
Sunhi (Jung Yu-Mi) graduated from college, majoring in film. In order to ask about a recommendation letter from Professor Choi (Kim Sang-Jung) to study in the US, she visits her university after a long time. Sunhi expects Professor Choi to give her a good recommendation letter because he likes her. She also meets two other men she knew: Moon-Soo (Lee Sun-Kyun), who just became a film director, and Jae-Hak (Jung Jae-Young), who is a well established film director. Continue reading
Is she tired of life or love? Why else is Haewon falling asleep in a restaurant? Haewon, a student, feels abandoned. Her mother is about to emigrate to Canada and Haewon has decided to end her affair with one of her professors because he is so unsupportive. Not only do Haewon’s fellow students get wind of the affair, but her married paramour refuses to accept that their relationship is over. Confused, Haewon withdraws into her shell. Other men cross her path which eventually leads her to an old fortress in the mountains above Seoul. There she finds not only rice wine and a familiar melody, but also a bold escape route.
In his previous films, Hong Sangsoo explored love’s unfathomable paths and the impossibility of relationships from the point of view of his male heroes. Now he changes perspective. However, the emotional world of his protagonists is no less puzzling and fickle – just like Haewon herself, a young woman who likes to dream. And perhaps this film is simply one of these dreams, from which she will awake to find herself in the strangest of places. For who can say how unreal our waking life is, or how real our dreams?